I'm a Foodie!

Let’s be clear about what a foodie is. According to Wikipedia, a foodie is an informal term for a particular class of aficionado of food and drink. Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, foodies differ from gourmets in that gourmets are epicures of refined taste, whereas foodies are amateurs who simply love food for consumption, study, preparation, and news. Gourmets simply want to eat the best food, whereas foodies want to learn everything about food, both the best and the ordinary, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food.

That pretty much sums it up for my husband and me. Although we have always loved food, our evolution into foodies has taken place in the last two to three years. We plan vacations around restaurants we want to try, sign up for cooking classes, wine tastings, etc. It’s not uncommon for us to have two or three foodie events on our calendar in a week.

Our most recent excursion was a trip to Montreal. If you haven’t been to Montreal, I highly recommend it! We arrived on Thursday and ventured off to our first celebration of food, aka lunch. It was the only meal my husband Scott had not carefully selected the restaurant for so it was somewhat of an adventure for us. We enjoyed the food but more importantly the conversation we had with the chef/owner of the restaurant. Not only did he validate Scott’s list of restaurants we planned to try, he suggested a couple of public markets and shed light on a couple of restaurants we weren’t aware of.

A few highlights of the trip were eating at Garde Manger. Chuck Hughes is the owner/chef and one of my favorites on the Cooking Channel. The food was awesome and Chuck was there! I had the best oysters I’ve ever had along with the most wonderful foie gras. Foie gras is huge in Montreal. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. It might not sound appetizing, but it’s really very tasty!

We also went to a restaurant called Joe Beef and Scott got to meet one of his culinary idols, David McMillan. To read Scott’s review, check out our newly unveiled food blog (www.YouNeedToEatThis.com). Not only does David run a successful restaurant, he has two award winning cookbooks, and was one of three restaurant owners highlighted on Anthony Bourdain’s show The Layover when he visited Montreal. We had a wonderful time getting to know David and learned a lot from him. Honestly, meeting amazing people in the culinary world is almost as much fun as trying their food! When David referred to food and restaurants in Montreal, he used terms like “it’s important that you go to…..” “It’s important that you eat…..” He recognized us as the foodies we are and wanted to help us experience Montreal to the fullest. What a class act! The way he spoke about food, the passion that he had, made me realize why and how he is so successful.

We also enjoyed shopping at two public markets where we got to try authentic French pastries, talk to a cheese maker and taste his amazing camembert, and of course, get a lollypop made of natural Canadian maple syrup. So fun!

After experiencing so much amazing food, I decided I wanted to learn how to make wonderful, interesting food as well. So, I’ve taken a pasta making class where we learned how to make aged parmesan gnocchi, egg yolk ravioli, tortellini and saffron pappardelle. It was so much fun and not that hard to do. I can’t wait to apply the skills I learned for my next dinner party.

I also learned how to make cheese. My father was a cheese maker when I was a little girl, so the thought of his daughter having a desire to make cheese made him happy. I learned how to make mozzarella, ricotta, and camembert. When I took this class I realized this is definitely a passion of mine. I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. I plan to continue taking classes and make many more wheels of cheese. Why not? What an awesome hostess gift, Christmas gift, or, quite frankly, treat with a bottle of wine on a Friday night!

As Scott and I got more involved in the foodie world it became increasingly more important for us to support local farmers, support the farm to table concept, and take better care of ourselves by eating food that is good for us; food that isn’t filled with preservatives. A year ago I joined the Leadership Board of Slow Food Madison. Our mission is to work to make the food system better, clean, and fair with volunteer-powered events. Slow Food is essentially a movement against fast food.

My choice to be a foodie has really affected my life in so many ways. I have met amazing people, tried amazing food, and now I’m working with a group of people to bring awareness to the public about eating and appreciating good food.

The next time you and your family decide you want to eat out, I challenge you to drive past that drive through and find a place that takes pride in supporting a local farmer. Bon appetite!