Wednesday 4 March 2015

Food photography tips and tricks from the Fat Girl Food Squad

These days, we Instagram our lunches, snap photos of our lattes and set the stage for what we eat. But how do we do it well? Over reading week, I made my way over to Le Dolci Cupcake Shop with camera in hand for a photography crash course. The workshop was led by Brilynn Ferguson, the photographer behind the Rock Lobster Cookbook and Yuli Scheidt, Fat Girl Food Squad's resident photographer.  

Here's what I took away: 

Flashes are evil and natural light is king. If you’re shooting at a restaurant, it’s best to go during the day and jostle for a window seat. If the lighting is low, you can always use items on the table to stabilize the camera. Water glasses make great temporary tripods.

Humanize your photos by showing people in the frame. If the photo is flat, see what happens when you add your hand to the shot. If the burger is boring, take a bite out of it. The best food photos tell a story.

It’s easy to feel self-conscious staging a food shot in public. Someone in the workshop commented, “Maybe you just have to pretend what you’re doing is important.” To that Scheidt said, “No. Believe what you’re doing is important. Because it is.” Some may call it playing with food. She calls it photography.

I left the course empowered to get the shot I want. To move things around. Stand up and take an aerial view picture. Ask to sit near the window. Tell a friend to put their hand in the frame. The best food photographers do all of these things. So why shouldn’t I?

If you take photos of food, what are your tips? 

Wednesday 11 February 2015

Sip on tiki and snap out of winter

I've been known to distract myself from old man winter through my cocktail column on She Does the City and lately I’ve been on a tiki kick. The tropical flavours and playful presentation instantly transports me to summer. I wanted to learn a tiki recipe from the best, so I reached out to Blair Reynolds, owner of Portland’s famous tiki bar, Hale Pele.

I visited Hale Pele last summer when I was eating and drinking my way through Portland’s eclectic food scene. The bar is a cozy hole in the wall where vintage kitsch reigns and the fantasy of a forgotten era has been brought to life. I ordered an expertly crafted cocktail presented with a dramatic flame.

The bar was covered in curiosities but my favourite detail was the light fixtures made from real blowfish from the 1950's. 

Beachcombers Punch

Blair Reynolds shared the Beachcombers Punch with me, a recipe that comes from the 1937 menu of Don's Beachcomber CafĂ©. The recipe calls for B.G. Reynolds Dons Mix, a tropical cocktail mixer containing grapefruit juice, cinnamon, and sugar. It can be ordered online or purchased at BYOB Cocktail Emporium in Toronto.

¾ oz Fresh Lime Juice
1½ oz B.G. Reynolds' Don's Mix
1½ oz Martinique Rhum
crushed ice

To make this cocktail, pour the lime juice, Don’s Mix syrup and Martinique Rhum in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it and strain into a glass full of crushed ice. Garnish with a lime wheel, mint spring and straw.

The Beachcombers punch pair’s spicy cinnamon and tropical grapefruit with the fresh grassy flavour of Martinique Rhum. It’s perfectly balanced, complex and tastes like summer in a glass. Tiki cocktails have gotten a bad reputation for being sugary slosh but as Eric Felton wrote in the Wall StreetJournal, “The best tiki drinks are, like any good cocktail, balanced. They are also complex. Tart citrus leavens the sweetness of tropical fruits; island spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and all-spice add mystery; and rums of various weights, potencies and flavours are combined to create depth.”

Sunday 13 July 2014

Greetings from the Rockies

Hello friends!

It's been a whirlwind of a summer so far. I've been living in the Canadian Rockies for the past two months, serving in the dining room at a luxury lodge.

Right now, I'm sitting in a busy Starbucks in Banff. I never sit in Starbucks! But the lodge I'm working at is very isolated - cell phone reception is not a thing on Moraine Lake, and the wifi connection is sketchy at best. I rely on my trips into Banff to write these blog posts, catch up with my loved ones, and keep my cocktail column alive on She Does the City.

Did you catch my Canada Day cocktail inspired by a drink right off of Canoe Restaurants menu?

And who doesn't like watermelon jello shots? Especially when you can find a weird way to make them about Beyonce. 

Check out all the posts by clicking HERE

I hope you're enjoying your summer so far! 

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Cocktails, Home Decor and Travel

Hello friends! My latest cocktail for She Does the City is up (You can view the post by clicking HERE)  It's inspired by a carrot caesar that I had from Me and Mine and the juicer my friend Sofia so kindly lent me. I know I say this about every cocktail but this one is ACTUALLY my favourite. Tequila and freshly squeezed carrot juice are a match made in heaven. My brother Michael Morris took the photos. The novelty print wood the cocktail is resting on is pretty awesome eh? I found it on the street. My guess is it came from a shed someone was tearing down.

I'm posting this bedroom here because I don't want to forget where I saw it. It's an IKEA hack using on of the basic headboards and stickwood (link here). I've never used a headboard in my adult life but for my next place, I think this is the first project I'll take on. 

In other news, I've started the countdown for my trip to Moraine Lake Lodge to serve in the dining room. Today I'll be taking my third trip down to MEC to buy stuff for my trip. I'm also gearing up to move all of my stuff out of my apartment, shoot some cocktails and say goodbye to friends. It's going to be a crazy (but fun) few weeks! 

Thursday 10 April 2014

Cocktail Competitions

Ahhh, cocktail competitions. They are a beast! 

My first was the Made With Love event this March where I got to write a review for She Does the City (ARTICLE HERE). It was massive, and I'll admit, nothing like I imagined. I pictured that I'd be seated in a movie theatre with all the competitors lined up on the stage, fancy servers handing out their drinks. With pads of paper at our sides where we could rate the cocktail based on creativity, presentation, taste, texture. My visions of grandeur cocktail competitions were very wrong. They'd have to pay a small town of employees to make that happen. 

In reality, 17 great bartenders set up booths, and the audience went around to each one chatting with the bartender and tasting a 1 oz. sample of their concoction. It was actually way better than I imagined because we got to interact with them. My favourite person to talk to was Jeff Puddy from the Thomson Hotel. His cocktail was magical and savoury and I freaking LOOOOOVE savoury cocktails. The audience voted by handing out a "Made With Love" dog tag that we got upon entry to their favourite bartender. Person with the most tags at the end of the night wins! Jeff got mine. 

My pal from high school Ryan Stobnicky was working the event! Haven't seen that guy in years. Definitely one to watch on the cocktail scene, he's a bartender at the Drake and just the nicest! 

Michael Mooney's cocktail was so great, I can't stop thinking about it. You can read more about it on my review for She Does the City. 

So then I went to my second cocktail competition but a week later, but this time it was all ladies competing, all using spirits from Dillon's Distillery (I also wrote a review for She Does the City and you can READ IT HERE

Ana Wolkowski won the event for her cocktail pictured below. I thought it was pretty genius that she paired the local Dillon's rye with Bellwoods Brewery's Cat Lady IPA. 

These were definitely some highlights of my month :) Hope you guys like the articles. All of the photos were taken by Michael Morris (Click here for the link to his website

Saturday 5 April 2014

Spring Buds

My latest post for She Does the City is UP! (Check it out by CLICKING HERE

Spring is an awkward time for cocktails - I find myself wanting to make really fresh citrusy cocktails but a lot of the bright juicy fruits aren't in season yet. On Monday I went to the Drake and ordered the Vodka Lavender Lemonade cocktail and decided right then and there that this lavender based cocktail will forever be my official drink for the first week of spring.  

Thanks again to Michael Morris for shooting these beautiful photos :) I am practicing my digital photography and taking the A Beautiful Mess photography course and I am still so damn bad. I tried taking pictures of the same scene and they are awful. I really owe so much to Mike for his amazing eye, skill and institution.