What an awesome family from Kansas who were staying at the Longboat Key Club Hotel! We had a great session with great weather.
Last Friday, I was all jeeped up and heading towards the airport for my flight from Sarasota to NYC to attend a food photography and styling workshop led by the incredibly talented Béa Peltre whose blog “La Tartine Gourmande” is a visual feast for the eyes and a wonderful glimpse into her life and culinary pursuits. This is one of those times in life when you “just do it.” I have been subscribed to her blog for a while now, so when I got the feed one morning for her upcoming workshop in NYC, I immediately hit the “pay now” button on Paypal. I think I gave it a second or two of comprehension, but it was one of those instances where random thoughts (how to get there, where to stay, how to justify the cost, tell the husband, etc.) just kind of dash across your brain in a short-circuited fashion. I got in – and seriously, this sold out in the matter of hours (maybe minutes?). The only thing I did know is that the dates of the workshop were perfect as my son would be away at his Duke summer program. I didn’t quite lose my mom hat in this flurry of signing up. 😉
Getting into JFK was a hair-raising experience as we were approaching the runway just ahead of a severe thunderstorm. The plane was lurching every which way, people were making the sign of the cross, but I had a retired commercial pilot and his wife (also from Longboat Key) in my row and he said it was just bad wind. Um, okay……
So I finally got to my hotel – I stayed at the Park South Hotel Friday night since it was south of Midtown and closer to Union Square where those of us attending the workshop would be meeting. Very nice boutique-style hotel, and they even offered WiFi for free. Probably doesn’t really matter considering the price of the room, but it still felt like a perk. Wandered around the Murray Hill neighborhood for a little while until the next line of thunderstorms came through. Back to the room, my laptop, and room service.
Saturday dawned sunny and a little less humid. I found a Starbucks down the street (not exactly a challenge) and returned to my room to pack up my things and catch a cab to the Union Square Greenmarket. I was really excited to meet the other attendees and Béa, as well as Karen Mordechai from Sunday Suppers whose loft in Williamburg, Brooklyn we’d be working in. Sunday Suppers is the name of her blog and the loft holds a lot of cooking classes, events, and special dinners.
I was about 20 minutes early, so I did a spin around part of the market, and then started looking for ladies with cameras near the 14th Street Whole Foods corner of the square.
That’s Béa on the left and Karen on the right. From there, we wandered around the market as a group, picking up produce and taking pictures. Fortunately, we weren’t going to have to come up with our own recipes – Béa had already selected two tartines and two desserts for us to make. Okay, less stress, thank you. Did I mention that Béa just had a cookbook released? Please check out “La Tartine Gourmande – Recipes for an Inspired Life” – even if you don’t cook, the drool-worthy photos are worth it! All of recipes are also gluten-free if that’s something that interests you. You can find it here on Amazon. And did I also mention just how nice she is? She has wonderful stories and beautiful memories to share.
We left the market and took the L train to Brooklyn. Oh and did I mention that I had my heavy carry-on bag with me? Luggage and millions of concrete steps do not go together, especially those of the “up” variety as was the case when we arrived at our Bedford Ave stop. Bless Karen’s heart for ordering cars to transport us the rest of the way to the loft.
Ah, the loft. Gorgeous all-white space, huge windows, state-of-the-art commercial appliances, and lots of props. And – a team of ladies who were in the process of making us a delicious lunch.
Lunch was wonderful (potato frittata, roasted beets, asparagus) as you can see as were all the gorgeous ingredients on the counter……
After lunch, we got down to the business of styling and photography. Being that there were just 12 attendees, we all got to spend some valuable one-on-one time with Béa. After breaking into four groups of three, we prepared our recipes, selected props, and lastly a place in the loft to shoot our finished dishes. The following are my two dishes, one a tartine (of course!) and a dessert of strawberry tiramisu:
Now for fun, let’s post a “before tips from Béa” and the final shot once again, which can be labeled as “after tips from Béa.” Her suggestion to me was to my my spoon lengthwise along the dish as opposed to it’s original position. She felt she was seeing the spoon and not my dessert, and she was right. Look better?
Our workshop concluded with some post-processing information that Béa shared with us. Her processing is fairly minimal and stressed the importance of white balance and proper cropping. She also critiqued a few of our images which was very helpful.
After that, we said our goodbyes and promises to get in touch online. I went back to Manhattan to the NY Hilton for a last night of “I haven’t been on a trip by myself in 13 or 14 years” festivities which again included my laptop and room service. I know, I lead an exciting life.
Flew home to Florida Sunday afternoon and straight into Tropical Storm Debby. That was probably the longest descent I ever experienced on an aircraft……we came in from the Atlantic, then went way south, then went north, and then finally came across Anna Maria Island and into Sarasota. It’s one of those awful feelings when you just want to get on the ground so badly but instead you keep going around and around. Drove home white-knuckled from the airport listening to one tornado warning after another and hoping that Gulf of Mexico Drive was clear. I didn’t even want to think about the notion of perhaps not having power which would mean not being able to get in the house.
Welcome to another monthly challenge with the ladies of The Inspired Plate! Back in January, 15 of us joined forces to challenge ourselves in the area of food photography and styling.
And speaking of food photography and styling, I attended an incredible workshop in New York City yesterday with none other than Béa Peltre who is an AMAZING food photographer and stylist, as well as blogger. I can’t wait to share yesterday’s experience in my next blog post!
Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my hotel room at the New York Hilton trying to get this month’s challenge post done while keeping one eye on The Weather Channel (and hoping that I don’t have any trouble flying back to FL this afternoon due to Tropical Storm Debby) and wondering how to describe the execution of my “Fish Two Ways – Raw & Cooked” assignment. Well, it started off on the right foot – after shopping at Southgate Plaze, I wandered over to Siesta Key to check out Big Water Fish Market which opened last November. He had a beautiful selection of fresh fish and although I think my heart was set on Chilean sea bass, I really felt like I should go with grouper since it’s so indigenous to Florida. He pulled out a tub that just came in from the gulf waters – and talk about fresh! We captured my “raw” photo there and I thanked him for his hospitality and for allowing me to take some pictures. It’s a wonderful market and I’m sure they will be very successful.
I only had once chance to develop my recipe and to get it prepared – I decided to alter a recipe I’ve made with Chilean sea bass and changed it up by adding a new layer of flavor with mayonnaise and Monterey Jack cheese that was inspired by a recipe of Paula Deen on the Food Network site. Okay, so a little decadent as compared to my original recipe! I held off getting it into the oven as it was going to be dinner (I’m not crazy about letting a fish dish sit or to reheat it) and all the while thinking I would have plenty of natural light. Ha! What I didn’t notice was the storm approaching from the south and before I knew it, it was almost dark as night out. At that point, the fish was in the oven, but my entire plan for the photography setting was basically screwed. I would have to pull out my Lowel EGO lights and either move everything into the office where I had room to set up the lights, or to try to squeeze a light in my original setting. I just was too tired and feeling too rushed to try to recreate a setting, so I put a light on a chair in between my sliding door and tabletop and hoped it would work and not blow out exposure.
It worked – it’s a bright image but I breathed a sigh of relief that I was able to get the assignment done. The recipe for Grouper Monterey Jack with Leeks and Shallots can be found near the end of the post.
Please continue on to see what the other ladies in the group showcased this month – next up is Cayce Wegman | Boston, MA Photographer.
Grouper Monterey Jack with Leeks & Shallots
With age comes new adventures and opportunities. Part of me wants to turn the clock back to the days when my son was little; other times I embrace his journey into young adulthood.
As my son departed for the Duke TIP three week summer program on Sunday, my mommy emotions were escalating in competing directions……feeling so proud that he was invited to this program and knowing what a great experience it would be for him in so many ways, but on the other hand, feeling almost panicked with the realization that time is going by so quickly now. These are three weeks I don’t get to spend with him or to capture some memories with him.
He gets to create his own memories. Independent of me.
It’s called growing up and letting go.
And I know he will be just fine.
Packing – actually easier for three weeks than a week. I think everyone knows by now that packing is not my favorite thing.
Quarters for laundry.
Ready for departure.
Entering the dormitory.
Setting up his room.
Final photos before Alex encourages us to be on our way….
We’ll see you in three weeks!
Although I love the photo sessions that I do with the many folks and families from across the country who visit Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island each year, it is equally as nice to be contacted by and to work with a local family. This session was a blast – we started off at Durante Park on beautiful Longboat Key (where it briefly started to rain) and then ventured to the beach where we concluded the session.