Food fit for a circus clown: Behind the scenes in Ringling Bros. kitchen

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, I met chef Michael Vaughn who feeds about 200 hungry entertainers who live in some of the 61 train cars parked just outside of town. Chef Michael says he likes the adventure. “It’s definitely the greatest show on earth. We are the world’s largest city without a zip code,’’ he adds. The 16-year saw-dust veteran may have learned to cook in the south but his cuisine spans several continents. His international mix of patrons come from seven continents, including Uzbekistan, Uruguay, Russia, Mongolia and Paraguay. Michael invites the animal trainers, trapeze artists and others to bring him recipes and teach him about their special dishes that personify their home country.

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Online holiday and Christmas shopping: Five great wine and food gifts

Each year, it can be a struggle to find just the right gift… the right mixture between snarky and original yet useful. Frankly, if someone is into wine or food, gift selections are a bit less challenging and cheaper than an electronics nerd or car enthusiast but if you’re going on ten years with a foodie, the gadgets might have run out. Or have they? I wrote about 25 pretty cool, unique items last Christmas that you might want to check out, but here are five food and wine items new to the market.

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Life in California, Part 8: Lambs, Greens and Grape News Network

Part 8 in Taylor Eason’s blog series about transitioning to life in California from Tampa, Florida. In this episode: Buying a whole grass-fed lamb, attending parties at J and Jordan Wineries, judging collard greens at Vision Cellars.

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Life in California, part 6: Foodie flush, speakeasys and #WBC11 bloggers

Part 6 in my series of posts about my recent transition from Tampa, Florida to a new life in California. In this episode: lemon cucumbers, farmer’s markets, Bourbon and Branch speakeasy and the wine blogger’s conference.

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Life in California, part 5: Newfound popularity, food foraging and meeting James Laube

It’s amazing how popular you become when you have a house in northern California. Even one with pink carpet and hideous rose-print wallpaper. I actually underestimated the power of a second bedroom in wine country. Out of the 60-something days in June and July, we have hosted (and will host) 18 nights with various guests, mostly from Tampa. And we love it…it’s like having a little dose of “home” away from “home.” It hasn’t sunk in that we live here yet.

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Don’t punt on Clearwater’s Café Ponte

Having enjoyed dinners at Café Ponte sometime back, we happily found an encore performance. As soon as you enter, the welcoming host assures that you are in good hands. Proprietor Christopher Ponte, who trained at Johnson & Wales University and later at the Cordon Bleu in Paris, has also worked at the famed Taillevent in Paris and continues to earn a litany of accolades.

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Thai Temple tops for Tampa Thai tastes

Consider Wat Mongkolratanaram a way station for hungry nirvana-seekers who can’t cross the Universal Dateline. Every Sunday, the Thai temple affectionately nicknamed “Wat Tampa,” opens its compound, about a half-mile from U.S. 41 on the banks of the Palm River, to sell an amazing array of foods and produce.

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How health departments can squash food entrepreneurs: Forage SF at risk

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending an underground “Wild Dinner” in San Francisco. 80 people in an expansive, borrowed loft descended for a weekend evening to dine on food prepared by a chef who foraged all the food for this dinner. I know… uber California, right? Suffice it to say that this chef goes above and beyond what the celebrity toques do today.

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Life in California: Tang, The Retreat and miso soup

The last time I came back from Tampa, I brought my orange tabby cat, Tang, to The Retreat. He bravely – and thankfully, quietly — endured the 15 hour flight plus shuttle plus car ride to Forestville. So now it’s Tang and the Tree People. I share 300 square feet with a large orange tabby. He’s extraordinarily happy since he has me all to himself, instead of sharing with his kitty housemates. He sheds everywhere but hasn’t relieved himself in an inappropriate ways. I’m grateful since my landlord reluctantly agreed to let me house him in the Retreat.

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What exactly does "good" olive oil mean?

When browsing through recipes or watching cooking shows on TV, I’ve noticed something about the mention of olive oil. For example, on the Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa” with Ina Garten, when it comes time to utilize a drizzle, splash or heaping amount of olive oil, Ina precedes to say, “use some good olive oil”. It got me thinking, what exactly does she, or anyone for that matter, mean by good olive oil. Is it the flavor of the oil? The region where it comes from? Does the price point determine if an olive oil is good?

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