I'm off in the morning for Texas and 5 cities and classes in 6 days: Houston (Tue.), Austin (Wed.), San Antonio (Thurs.), Dallas (Fri.) and Ft. Worth (Sat.)--all at the various Central Market Cooking Schools. Two weeks ago I did a similar tour, but closer to home: Atlanta, Nashville, and St. Louis--all at the Viking Cooking Schools. It was a very successful week, well attended with some interesting interviews along the way (The Kelly Twins on Food Talk Radio in St. Louis was, especially, an hour of total fun!).
I also ate at some great restaurants, including Sotto Sotto in Atlanta (modern Italian), Niche in St. Louis (a future James Beard Award winner, for sure--American farm to fork cuisine with beautifully balanced flavors), and Monell's in Franklin, TN (a converted brick jail house featuring wonderful family style meals of southern classics like fried chicken and catfish, corn pudding, perfect cole slaw, barbecued potato salad, and apple pie. Can't wait to see what surprises await in Texas.
The best news about the tour was how well the breads turned out and the response from the attendees. I think the spent grain bread and the dark vollkornbrot (also called schwartzbrot) were the surprise hits. Many of the attendees had never had anything like either of them, and their responses confirms my hunch that dense, complex rye breads like vollkornbrot will be the next big thing in artisan breads, and that spent grain breads will explode in popularity as soon as local bakers and brewers figure out how to join forces and crank them out. Remember, you heard it here first!
Also, for those who have been following my writing journey, I completed my MFA in Creative Writing at Queens University on January 12, and have sent my thesis off to a publisher for consideration. It's called "The Leaven Factor," a series of personal essays and memoirs of my spiritual journey in both life and bread. I will keep you posted as things develop, but I am hoping this will be my next book. Another lagniappe that came from the Queens program is that, upon graduating, I was asked to join the faculty as a guest lecturer during the next residency, in May. This is very exciting for me personally, as I believe the Queens creative writing faculty is quite possibly the best in the country. It also allows me to stay involved with all the students and faculty I've grown so fond of during my two years there. More to come on this, for sure....
Will post again when I get back from Texas--going to get some of that great barbecued brisket!