Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tamarind of London, Newport Beach, Restaurant Review

Newly opened in Newport Beach, Tamarind of London inherits buzz from its Michelin star-earning sister restaurant, but, while the food is flavorful, it doesn't quite meet the hype.

7 out of 10 Peppers = Spicy

As I was changing into my "nice" clothes in the cramped bathroom of Crystal Cove Promenade's Pier 1 Imports, I had a realization. I am not the target demographic of Indian restaurant Tamarind of London. If I was, I'd have a second home in Newport Beach, where I would have changed in a leisurely fashion into my "everyday" clothes, then dropped $100 on dinner at the newly opened Tamarind without a second thought. Or I would have gone on a vacation somewhere that wasn't a essentially a staycation -- we'd just drove into Newport from a one-night trip to San Diego, during which I petted goats at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park -- and would have been wearing nice clothes to begin with.

But alas, Nick changed clothes in Starbucks and I changed in Pier 1, and together we made it on time to our reservation at Tamarind, probably the most buzz-worthy Indian restaurant to open in Southern California this year. Tamarind of London (as the name says) is a British import and its sister London restaurant has even earned a Michelin star, hence the buzz. Some of the menu items are even directly brought over from the London restaurant (and are indicated as such on the menu). The Newport Beach restaurant opened in Crystal Cove Promenade about two weeks ago.

For those of you haven't been, Crystal Cove Promenade is a mid- to high-end shopping center (at which I spent an embarrassing amount of money buying peacock feathers at that Pier 1). The good news is, unlike downtown Newport, there is a lot of free parking here. (There's also valet at the restaurant; it's $4.) And, though most patrons at Tamarind were dressed up, there were a few patrons there wearing jeans.

THE SETTING

The coolest thing about Tamarind's look is the exhibition kitchen. You can literally see the tops of the three tandoori ovens and the chefs were all dressed in starch white preparing orders. I found myself wondering what would happen if one accidentally spilled butter chicken sauce all over his white uniform. Luckily, there were no such party fouls during our visit.

Most of the color scheme is earthy browns. Nick was impressed by the decor. I wasn't blown away by it, but I think it had too masculine of a look for me. I tend to like feminine flowing fabrics and the like. Still, it looked like a big investment was put into the decor.

It felt a little stuffy when we entered, especially because the first thing we were asked was if we had reservations (highly recommended, by the way). We did indeed have them, so we were walked to a comfortable booth. I guess I see why Tamarind is so focused on reservations though. By the time we left, there were at least 15 people waiting for a table.

Our server was knowledgeable and attentive. So much so that Nick suggested she was "trying too hard" and hoped the service would be a little less in-your-face as the restaurant settles into its groove.

THE FOOD


Like many high-end restaurants, the portions at Tamarind are small. I've never understood that. Do rich people eat less? We figured entrees might be small though, so we ordered multiple things to share. Like most Indian restaurants, food here is served family style.

I still had to drive the hour back to West LA after dinner, so I got a nonalcoholic Mango Mojito. (The restaurant also offers a Mumbai Mojito with Bacardi Limon Rum, if you're looking for alcohol, as well as a large array of other creative cocktails.) With just a hint of mango flavor and a generous helping of fresh mint, I found it delicious. When you consider the ice and the lemon quarters in the glass, it was a small portion though.

Nick got an alcoholic London Underground. It's a blend of Old Raj gin, lemon, (homemade!) honey, and coriander syrup. Nick said it was so strong it reminded him of a Long Island Iced Tea. I gave it a few sips. I'd recommend it, but yes it is strong.

For an appetizer, we ordered Chicken Tikka. It was OK. I was thankful it was juicy, but it lacked flavor without the accompanying sauce.

As a special that night, the restaurant had an Almond Date Naan. It was superb. It was a sweet naan that was perfectly cooked and fluffy. The "almond date" part was a paste that was pressed into the naan. The flavor reminded me of the paste in a fig cookie. Nick didn't like that this naan wasn't good for sopping up savory curries though. It was too sweet for that. Honestly, maybe it should be moved to the dessert menu, but most people would probably think a naan dessert was weird. It came with four pieces, which was a decent portion size.

Nick ordered the Butter Chicken, a classic. The sauce was so smooth and so delicious. I loved the flavor. Nick enjoyed the flavor too, but said it was pretty typical of butter chicken, which, because of its buttery delicious ingredients, is kind of hard to mess up. He didn't think it earned the $19 price tag.

I picked the Prawn Pepper Masala. I appreciated they the spices were used liberally; there were whole peppercorns in there. But overall, the flavor didn't really sink into the prawns. It was just OK.

At $3, I thought the bowl of white rice was a rip-off. I initially said we didn't need rice for that reason, but Nick got halfway through his dinner and decided he couldn't finish it without rice. So we got one order of it, but when we got the bill, it was billed as $4. As a stereotypical frugal Indian woman, I was not going to let that slide. I admire the restaurant for how it handled the situation though. I was friendly about the price problem (don't want to make a scene in Newport Beach, after all) and simply asked the server if she could doublecheck the price before she ran my card. She came back super apologetic and said that I was right, the price was $3 and it was the computer that had been programmed incorrectly. She said that because they were now in the midst of fixing the pricing in the computer, the restaurant would just comp our rice. Integrity means a lot to me, so I do appreciate the gesture. (Though I am still tempted to sneak in $0.10 worth of rice with me next time!)

Tamarind offers a mix of traditional Indian and fusion desserts. We opted for fusion, with the Seven Spice Molten Chocolate Cake. Highly recommended! It was a creative lava cake, in which Indian spices flavored the chocolate. I was impressed that you could taste the spices through the chocolate. As I discovered when creating my Dark Chocolate Coconut Curry Bark, it is a challenge to get Indian spices to push through strong-flavored chocolate. Nick said the cake was the best thing on the entire menu.

The total damage to our wallets? $93, before tip. For us, the food was certainly above average, but the quality didn't justify the price. If you're in Orange County and it's quality Indian food you're looking for, I'd suggest Traditions in Tustin.

But it's not just about the food at Tamarind. It's about the entire experience -- the exhibition kitchen, the creative fusions of ingredients, and the customer service. (As we exited, an employee, most likely a manager, actually said bye to Nick by name, presumably because of his OpenTable reservation.) So, to that end, I say, if you're the restaurant's demographic -- with expendable income and interested in buzz-worthy place to eat on a Saturday night -- then get on OpenTable and make that reservation. If you're not that demographic, I'd suggest the restaurant's happy hour, which is at the bar only and offers discounted drinks and a limited menu, just to see what all the fuss is about.

For me, personally, it's not worth it to make that drive again, but I'm glad I made it once.

And I'm putting my petting zoo jeans back on.

Tamarind of London, 7862 E Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92647. (949) 715-8338.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lawrence of India, Culver City, Restaurant Review

Lawrence of India offers affordable Indian cuisine, attentive service, but just average flavors.

6 out of 10 Peppers = Medium

Happy Thanksgiving all! I hope you're having a wonderful day and enjoying all of the food (hell yeah!) that goes along with the season.

This year, I'm thankful for so many things. Nick and I live together, FINALLY. Coming from traditional households, we didn't live together until we were officially married. That meant that for three years we were taking turns commuting each weekend from Long Beach (where I lived) to Pasadena (where he lived). With LA traffic, it seriously felt like a long-distance relationship sometimes. But now we both live together in West LA, and it has made all of the difference in how much free time we each have.

West LA has so many perks, and one of them is that there are so many Indian restaurants. I think there are five within walking distance of our place. (And, of course, I don't just eat Indian food all the time, so I love that there are a ton of other types of restaurant within walking distance as well!) This is our experience at Lawrence of India on Venice Boulevard in Culver City.

THE SETTING

After working his way up from pantry boy at the Ashoka Hotel in New Delhi, India, Lawrence immigrated to the U.S. in 1975. He worked as a chef at an Indian restaurant until in 1986, when he opened his namesake restaurant in Culver City. That restaurant was open for 11 years, after which he took an 11-year hiatus from the restaurant industry. Then in March of 2010, he reopened Lawrence of India at the current location.

It's a hole in the wall and sadly easy to overlook. The staff was telling us how they were hoping for outdoor seating (to attract the eye of passers-by), but the landlord won't let them. However, I honestly don't think it would make a difference in catching the eye of drivers or pedestrians. The bigger obstacle is a tall partial wall at the Venice side of the complex that blocks the view of the restaurant and the complex's other tenants.

Once inside, I noticed the cool fabric-adorned seating and the green and gold color scheme.

Before I get to the food, I do want to give props to the excellent customer service here. We got attentive service from all the employees, plus we even got some items on the house. I was concerned that may have been because I'm a food blogger, but after Googling some other reviews of Lawrence, it seems like a few extras are pretty standard here.

THE FOOD


The food here is inexpensive, which the frugal part of me of course loves. The restaurant specializes in both Indian and Goan cuisine (Goan cuisine uses more coconut milk and more cardamom than Indian cuisine, according to the restaurant's staff). Unfortunately, taste-wise it's just average.

I started with the Signature Iced Tea, a Goan specialty of the restaurant. It was sweetened, and the blend of spices was excellent. I could really taste the cardamom.

We got an order of Chicken Pakoras for an appetizer. These are boneless pieces of chicken dipped in chickpea batter with spices and deep fried. Not the healthiest thing on the menu, but generally pretty tasty.

My order (the Chicken Saag dinner) came with soup, but our first freebie was that Lawrence whipped up an extra Lentil Soup for Nick. (I should note thought that one freebie that restaurant does NOT provide is papadum. Weird.) It was just OK. Nick added salt to his. The texture was odd. It was like the lentils were pulverized. I would have liked it better if the lentils were left whole. (The other option with the dinner choice was salad.)

Brown rice also came with my order. (I could have gotten white rice, but since it was up to me I chose the fiber-rich option.) I liked the fried onion garnish on top.

I chose naan (the other option was roti) for my bread. As you can see, this was an unusually-shaped naan. It was also unusual in the taste department. I was not a fan. The flavor and the texture were both off.

The dinner orders don't come with vegetables, but Lawrence whipped up a freebie for us. A sweet idea, but sadly, I didn't like the flavor at all.

My main dish was Chicken Saag. Unfortunately, this was just OK. It really needed more flavor. I felt like the spices should have been tripled to be to my liking.

Nick ordered the Lamb Biryani. It was a small portion, but Nick enjoyed it. He felt the spices were on the mark.

I give Lawrence props for his creative takes on Indian dessert. He offers kulfi in unique flavors (well, unique for Indian food): vanilla, chocolate (what we got), and coconut. These are his own creations. I'd recommend the chocolate one for sure. The texture and flavor was great.

One last freebie, which I think the restaurant gives to everyone, is this traditional Indian palette cleanser of seeds at the end of the meal.

Nick in general liked this restaurant more than I did. I think because he was enamored with the custom service, whereas I was kind of bummed with the quality of several of the dishes. For the variety of food though, I don't think the price can be beat.

The restaurant is in LA Bite as well, which means we may be turning to it on a lazy day sometime in our future. Now that we don't have to waste hours commuting, we have time to be lazy and just enjoy the day :)

Lawrence of India, 10032 Venice Blvd., Culver City 90232. (310) 841-6559.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Steamed Chicken Momos with Garlic-Cilantro Tomato Dipping Sauce Recipe

Here's an easy recipe for delicious fresh Nepalese-Tibetan dumplings. (Thanks to Rubina for the recipe!)

Ingredients:
FOR THE FILLING:
2 lbs. ground chicken
1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
2 bunches spring onion, finely chopped
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. ginger-garlic paste (available at Indian grocers)
1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp. ground coriander
salt, to taste
red chili powder, to taste
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 cup warm water

FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE:
3 roma tomatoes, diced
5 garlic cloves
1/2 onion, diced
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
(optional) Thai chili peppers, to taste

FOR THE WRAPPERS:
~50 store-bought wonton wrappers (available at most grocery stores, in the refrigerated case near the tofu)
cooking spray

You'll Also Need:
a steamer, a blender

Step-by-Step:

1. Make the filling: Mix the 11 filling ingredients (chicken, onion, spring onion, cilantro, ginger-garlic paste, cumin, coriander, salt, chili powder, oil, and water) together in a mixing bowl and let it marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. In the meantime, make the sauce:
a. Fry the diced onion and garlic together until the onion turns translucent.
b. Add the turmeric. Saute for several minutes.
c. Add the remaining dry spices. Saute for several minutes.
d. Add the tomatoes. Let it cook for 5 to10 minutes on medium.
e. Add the cilantro and (optional) peppers. Turn off the heat.
f. Add the teaspoon of sesame oil.
g. Put it all in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl.
3. Lay a wonton wrapper flat. Scoop a small amount of the filling into the center. Use your finger to apply water to the wrapper edges, then fold it closed. Continue filling and sealing wonton wrappers until you have at least enough to fill up your steamer (about 11 in mine).
4. Spray the steamer tier with cooking spray. Boil water in the bottom of your steamer. Place the uncooked momos on the tier, making sure to leave gaps in between so the steam can come through. Place the tier on top of the boiling water, and steam for 8 minutes. Remove momos from steamer, and put in your second batch (which you can make while the first batch steams, or have your guests help fold them when they come over). Serve with the tomato dipping sauce.

Makes about 50 momos.


The AHH Factor: Momo making was going great. Even though it was the first time I'd ever made momos, the Nepalese-Tibetan dumplings that Nick loves (and his whole family is experts at making), I was confident. I'd seen momos made before and gotten a fool-proof recipe from Nick's cousin Rubina (that's her recipe above, with some slight tweaks based on what I had on hand). Nick was even helping me fill and fold the wonton wrappers. It brought back fond childhood memories, I think.

His mom (AKA my new mother-in-law) was in Los Angeles on vacation. Nick suggested I impress her by making a Nepalese dish, and, since we'd gotten an awesome steamer as a wedding gift, momos were the obvious choice. And Rubina, who lives in Denver, was being amazingly helpful with all of my dumb questions, including ones I was sending her via text message while I was mid-prep.

So, what could possibly go wrong?

As I'm trying to be witty around my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and my sister (who was in town from Houston), my first brother-in-law (her husband), and keep an eye on my rambunctious 2-year-old nephew, Nick asks me a question. "Hey, are these momos done?" I steal a quick glance at the steamer, where the momos I'd set down about 5 minutes ago but hadn't yet steamed (the serving tray was full) were sitting. "No," I replied, "but I'll go ahead and steam them now." Nick gets a weird look on his face. "Uh, cause I just ate one."

AHH. Apparently, I should have been watching 29-year-old Nick, NOT 2-year-old Sanjay. Holy crap. I had no idea what to do. Make Nick throw it up? But he'd already eaten a bunch of other appetizers, so that seemed even grosser than what the uncooked dumpling could be doing to his insides. Plus, oh my god, his mother was standing just in the other room and if she found out what was going on, she was going to be so appalled that I can't even steam a freakin' momo properly. My head was just spinning. Nick, despite the fact that he/we may have just given himself food poisoning, was the calm one. He ushered me out of the kitchen and assured me he'd be fine.

We both managed to eat the rest of the meal. Nick, ever the sweet tooth, even ate several desserts, apparently already over the food scare. I, however, ever the worrier, researched all the foodborne illnesses I could think of over the next few days. But at the time I'm writing this two months have passed, and I am happy to say that no momos have been thrown up, purposely or otherwise.

Next time I make these I am kicking Nick out of the kitchen. Oh yeah, and according to his mother's (only!) critique, adding more salt.

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

FoodBuzz Festival Photos

Looks like I'm going to make my two posts this week! It's a pre-Christmas miracle.

As promised, here of some of my photos from the I <3 FoodBuzz Festival. If you're a food blogger and you didn't make it this year, I'd highly recommend attending the 2012 festival. It was inspiring.


Sabra sponsored the welcome reception, which meant hummus, hummus everywhere. I've never seen so many flavors of hummus together in one place before, which, coincidentally, was a big improvement from a grocery store experience back when I lived in Georgia. Me: "Excuse me, where's the hummus?" Him: "What's hummus?" Oh, and these toasted chickpeas with coarse salt shown in the photo were amazing. I think I'll be making these at home for a healthy snack.

The Electrolux Comfort Food Buffet was especially impressive because 1. It's comfort food (duh!), and 2. the dishes were inspired by FoodBuzz blogger recipes. Jessica Merchant inspired the Brown Sugar Butter Roasted Chicken, Georgia Johnson inspired the Tuscan Beef Stew, Mara Rosenbloom inspired the Whipped Potatoes with Pecorino Cheese on Meatloaf Muffins, Jenna Weber inspired the Baked Four Cheese Macaroni, Jean Pope inspired the Potato-Broccoli Soup, and Susie Anderson inspired the Butternut Squash Risotto.

I loved how everything was bite-size -- perfect for sampling. The desserts in this photo are: Heirloom Pumpkin Tart, Creamy Italian Nougat and Valrhona Chocolate Ganache Bites, Double-Gem Pate de Fruits, Colorful Christmas Macaroons, and Silky Pome egranate, Candied Kumquat and Fresh Pomegranate Seeds and Candied Kumquat.

Farihah Ali of Spice's Bites was the only person I knew before I attended this show. We were friends from back when Atlanta was my home, and I hadn't seen her in five years. In addition to having an amazing food blog, she's one of the most genuinely kind people I've ever known. (She gave me a lot of pointers when I was trying to get saagAHH off the ground.) And on Saturday night, some amazing news was announced about her blog -- Spice's Bites is a finalist in the Alexia "Reinvent a Classic" competition. Go to www.facebook.com/alexiafoods to vote for Spice's Bruschetta Waffle Bites to be the next Alexia fry flavor.

Cheese is probably my all-time favorite food item, so of course I was thrilled there were so many cheese manufacturers represented at Saturday's Tasting Pavilion. This photo is of some of the deliciousness at the Jarlsberg booth.

Of course I had to stop by the booth of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, since my hubby Nick is from Alaska. We both love Alaska seafood -- though can be frustrating that Nick pretty much refuses to eat seafood from places other than Alaska. (One night I made tilapia for dinner, and Nick actually resorted to fast food instead.)

Hell yes. Indian food was represented at this event with The Chai Cart, a San Fransisco-based company that sells ready-made chai in a bottle (just add milk). The company is in the process of getting a permit for an actual chai cart, which sounds better than an ice cream truck if you ask me. Speaking of ice cream, I just checked out The Chai Cart's website and it looks like Masala Chai Gelato bars are available as well. Yes, please.

Godiva was one of the festival's sponsors, so we got to try so many of their products. Can you believe I just bought my first ever coffee maker, just so I could drink the samples they gave us here at home? Usually I tend to give away food freebies that I can't use, but in this case I just invested $30 (not bad, right?) for a coffee maker instead. This photo is of some of the chocolates that inspired the company's coffee flavors

I get a kick out of pretending to be more sophisticated than I really am, so tasting different vinegars was right up by alley. These vinegars were by Saporoso, which ages them much longer than most store-bought vinegars.

Here are Spice's Bites amazing Bruschetta Fries, served as an appetizer before the Saturday Night Gala Dinner. Go to www.facebook.com/alexiafoods and vote for them, so you can try them too! (The winner will become the next Alexia fry flavor.)

More India representation with these Vegetable Samosas, served with Tamarind Dipping Sauce, as the appetizer course for the sit-down dinner.

So terrific to meet Ngoc of San Jose Food Blog. We have a lot in common; her blog is all about dining out and home cooking in the San Jose and the Bay Area. What else do we have in common? We're wedding twins. What does that mean exactly? We both tied the knot with our hubbies on July 30, 2011. (Clearly, the best wedding date ever ;) )

More dessert-y things to sample. The San Francisco Trio consisted of Cowgirl Creamery Cheesecake, Sourdough Bread Pudding, and Scarffen Berger Chocolate Mousse.

By brunch on Sunday morning, I was so satisfying stuffed that I wasn't planning on eating much or taking any more photos. But then I saw this dish. Sorry the photo is horrible (I have obviously not mastered the art of the iPhone photo yet), but I had to share this cool Indian breakfast idea. It's Sindi Breakfast Daal with Curry Roasted Cauliflower and Crispy Almond Slivers. What a cool idea.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

4 Goals Inspired by the FoodBuzz Blogger Festival

Celebrity chef Tyler Florence made a guest appearance at the 3rd Annual FoodBuzz blogger festival.
On Friday, I was getting a little panicky. And for once, it wasn't because I was running late and about to miss my flight. (Who am I kidding? I don't even panic about that any more.) It was because I was running on time, which was giving me too much time to think: Was going to the I <3 FoodBuzz blogger festival a mistake?

About three months ago, I signed up to go to the annual festival, a premiere festival for food bloggers from all over the country and who are all members of the FoodBuzz network. I'd been excited by the prospect of the festival ever since I joined FoodBuzz a little over a year ago, but as my flight to San Fransisco approached, it seemed daunting all of a sudden. I was going by myself, I personally knew only one other blogger who'd be attending (and was worried that her success might mean she wouldn't want to hang out with me), and I'm just so embarrassed by my to-do list for this blog and how so little of it has been accomplished. Wouldn't it be better just to stay in warm LA in my cozy condo and read a book?

Of course, realistically, there was no way the frugal part of me would let that happen. I had already paid for my airfare and hotel room, after all. I'd better be on that damn plane. And, in all seriousness, even with all of saagAHH's shortcomings, or maybe because of all of saagAHH's shortcomings, I desperately wanted to attend the festival to reinvigorate myself about my blog. I wanted to learn about best practices. To meet success stories in person. To find out how to take my blog to the next level. And just formally re-focus myself from wedding mode to blog mode.

Turns out, the festival was just what I needed. It was just amazing. (And well-organized, so kudos to FoodBuzz for that!) I loved all of the gourmet food samples (next year, I'm bringing a bigger suitcase!) for sure, and the fact that for once I wasn't the only person who wants a little bite of everything. But as the type who learns most quickly in a structured classroom environment, I loved the three classes that I took the best. At the stage my blog is in now, the best stuff I took away from the classes is also the stuff that's the most obvious to any experienced blogger. But I think it has the potential to make a world of difference in my blogging experience. These are my new goals for the next six months:

Post regularly, in my case my goal for the next six months is twice a week.
Several of the panelists in the first session said that their readership stats showed linear growth. It was all about posting regularly and just persisting at it that grew them to the HUGE audiences have now. And one said how she had an audience of 37 people for a while and even if she still only had 37 readers, she'd still be blogging just for them. I love that. In my head, I was feeling sorry for myself that I work a full-time job, do all kinds of home-related errands, and make dinner every night, THEN still have to make time to blog. When I'd read an amazing food blog -- gorgeous well-propped photos, clever writing with clean editing, a frequent posting frequency, etc. -- I'd just assume that the person must be a full-time food blogger. But about 95% of the bloggers at this festival work full-time at something else. Some even work full-time, go to school on nights and weekends, AND still blog. And some freakin' have KIDS! My eyes were opened to the fact that I have no excuses anymore. But those Family Guy marathons that my DVR and I like to have, well, I think they will be up first time-sucker to be sacrificed. (Though I'm sure Brian at least would empathize.)

Start a Twitter page specifically for this blog.
It took me an entire year to start a Facebook page for saagAHH. It does take up a little more time, but I've already seen it reflected in improved blog stats. And in addition to reaching readers via Twitter, it seems like that's the best place to stay in touch with the great bloggers I met at the festival. At first, I figure I'll just link it to the blog's Facebook page to make it easier on myself.

Experiment with taking my camera off auto-mode.
A DSLR is definitely on my wishlist, but that list is so long and, well, right now our heater is broken, our shower door won't shut, and I still have to pay for a plane ticket to Anchorage (my hubby's hometown). A DSLR is on my one-year goal list, but for the next six months, I want to mess around with my point-and-shoot and learn exactly what all of the manual setting do. So far I have learned what "white balance" means.

Experiment with fun propping. I love beautiful photos. When it came to our wedding, that was the one thing that caused a huge argument because I just wouldn't compromise on it (and great wedding photos are expensive). It's like gorgeous photos activate some much-ignored part of my brain that just lights up when I see a well-composed photo. And I love the gorgeous and bright things that other food bloggers use to make their food look even more appetizing. The panelists told us about thrift store finds, the joy of IKEA, and even buying cheap samples of fabric and using them as "napkins" in photos. We learned a bit about color wheel basics (relating to how to know what color to put in the backdrop) and what shapes of plates to use to create different kind of energy in a photo. I just kept thinking that I should so get some amazing Indian accessories and use them enhance my photography. Like those metal bowls that you see in Indian restaurants and experimenting with using my Indian clothes as backdrops, as I rarely ever wear them anyway. (Though I'd have to keep that a secret from some aunties.)

I feel like just making those four things and growing with them would be a huge step forward for me. Then I'll move on to my next set of goals :)

Oh, and I thought I'd share one of the many Tyler Florence photos I took (above). I'm not really into celebrity culture (that makes me an anomaly in L.A., but so be it), but I DO appreciate that he took a good chunk of time out of his busy schedule to be so generous with us. He gave away some cookbooks and did a demo on stage at the Saturday night dinner.

I have a ton of other photos from the festival, so I'll try to post those later this week.
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