A Day at Eat Write Retreat

Wondering what exactly goes on at a food writing retreat? Well, our schedule was packed with cooking, photography and food styling classes, writing workshops, and panels filled with experts giving us the scoop on everything from how to work with PR agencies to how to get a cookbook published. It was an intensive learning weekend, that is for sure! Here’s a snapshot of some of the things I experienced along the way.

I started my Saturday bright and early with a hands-on cooking class at CulinAerie in downtown DC, where we prepared (and ate!) three dishes with endive:


Endive, Avocado, Tarragon, and Grapefruit Salad


Olive Oil Braised Endive with Gremolata


Endive Spears with Scrambled Egg, Manchego, and Chorizo


Okay, so as you were reading that, how many of you pronounced endive as En-DIVE? Yeah, me too. Well, at least I was pronouncing it that way, until I sat next to Rodger from California Endive.

It turns out that the correct pronunciation of the endive you see above is On-DEEV. There is another variety of endive that is pronounced EN-DIVE, but this particular variety that most of us are accustomed to using is ON-DEEV. Check out this explanation and it will all make perfect sense.


photo courtesy of www.mangotomato.com

After cooking class, it was on to a writing workshop with the amazingly talented Monica Bhide. I love her writing, so to meet her in person was a real thrill. Since I’m in the publishing business myself, I’ve been to many author events and trade shows over the years, and I have to admit that I’ve been disappointed more than a few times when meeting the writer behind my favorite works. However, that was not the case with Monica. I was blown away by her personality and her entertaining style. Now I want to devour everything she’s ever written!

Since it’s a food retreat, we can’t go more than a couple of hours without a meal, so after our food writing workshop, it was time for a two hour lunch at McCormick and Schmick’s. With wine pairings. Oh boy.


Anchovy and Roasted Beet Salad

Caramelized Onion, Roasted Chioggia Beets, Spring Greens, Italian Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Garlic Marinated Spanish White Anchovies

paired with Mirassou Moscato 2010


Wild Alaskan Halibut

Miso Broth, Spring Local Mushrooms – Maitake, Enoki, Crimini
Baby Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, Oven Dried Shitake Flake, Tempura Spring Onion

paired with Mirassou Pinot Noir 2009


Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake

Strawberries and Rhubarb, Mascarpone Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream

paired with Mirassou Riesling 2009


While my body was begging for a nap, the schedule wasn’t allowing for that. Instead, it was off to photography and food styling with Renee Comet and Lisa Cherkasky.  When it was time to style our own plate for photographing, someone had to go first, so my new friend Jessica and I volunteered to be the team to put together the “easy” plate.

photo courtesy of Allie at www.liveeatlaugh.com


Considering we grabbed our props, prepped them and styled them on the plate in less than 10 minutes, I think we did a pretty good job…..

photo courtesy of Renee Comet Photography


Once the photography class was complete, we had about 30 minutes to relax before it was time to head out on another fun adventure- a tasting tour of Capitol Hill with DC Food Tours.

Yes, I know. MORE eating!

Our guides not only took us to some fabulous ethnic eateries, but they also gave us a walking tour of the neighborhood, pointing out many interesting bits and pieces of history. If you’re ever in DC, I highly recommend incorporating this tour into your itinerary.

1st stop: Capitol Hill Tandoor & Grill

what we ate: Mulligatawny soup, tandoor chicken, basmati rice, naan

I have a weakness for Indian food, so I gobbled up everything on my plate.

2nd stop: Levi’s Port Cafe

what we ate: NC style bbq, mac & cheese, greens, sweet potatoes and cornbread

Being from Tennessee, NC bbq is not really my thing, but the mace & cheese and the greens were delicious!


photo courtesy of Allie at www.liveeatlaugh.com

3rd and final stop: Las Placitas, a Salvadorian restaurant

what we ate: marinated beef, fried plantains, yuca, and papusas

This was my favorite stop of them all, but unfortunately I was so completely stuffed that I could barely eat anything. I would love to come back here again one day on an empty stomach and feast!


So that’s glimpse at one full day of Eat, Write, Retreat. One full day = one fully belly.