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Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Cookie & Treat Swap plus Brunch!

Brioche French Toast at Wild Grape Bistro

This past Saturday a small group of local food bloggers, most of us who had already met a few times before, got together for brunch at the Wild Grape Bistro near downtown Salt Lake City. It was my second time at Wild Grape, but my first time for brunch. I don't know what it is about the idea of brunch, but I have to tell you, it is something I absolutely adore - probably over any other meal. Maybe it is the slightly decadent feeling I get since it isn't one of the 'everyday' type of meals, but always feels like a special occasion in and of itself.

The staff at Wild Grape couldn't have been more wonderful and friendly to us if they had tried. They were so gracious and accommodating to our little group and I am so very grateful to them for letting us hold our Holiday Cookie & Treat Swap at their restaurant. I feel terrible that the name of our particular waiter now escapes me, because I would love nothing more than to mention how perfectly wonderful he was! Anyway, he knows who he is and I hope they enjoyed the plate of cookies and treats we left for the staff to enjoy. If you haven't been to Wild Grape yet, you really should. The food is delicious and the staff is always delightful - I really couldn't imagine having had a better experience!

I was really excited when Wild Grape treated us to their fresh Beignets with Chocolate Sauce and House-made Apple Butter as well - I had wanted to try these as well as the french toast and they made it so I didn't have to choose! The Beignets were absolutely delicious and still fresh and warm - heavenly!

My hubs was a sweetheart and came with me and our kids to the brunch, even though he had to leave for work as soon as he was done eating, and even sitting out in the warm truck with our 2 year old when he had fallen asleep right before we got there. He was such a good sport! He ordered the (shown above) Ham n' Cheese Sandwich which was Black Forrest Ham, Cheddar Cheese, Roasted Apple and Horseradish Mustard - delicious!

I probably went the most decadent of anyone at the brunch and went ahead and ordered the Brioche French Toast (first picture in the post) which is stuffed with Nutella and crusted with chopped hazelnuts, dusted with a generous amount of confectioners' sugar and served with a silky creme anglaise - yes, it was just as good as it sounds too!

I also can't resist an order of good breakfast potatoes - and I was just sure that Wild Grape would have really good ones - I wasn't disappointed!

Be sure to check out everyone else's links below to see not only their holiday treats, but what delicious dishes they ordered from Wild Grape as well - it was a time of gorgeous food and amazing company!

On to the Brunch and the Treats!

While I had the best of intentions to make something new and really spectacular, reality caught up with me this last week and there was just no time to get any kind of big cookie project together. I opted to make a standard favorite here at our house, the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie. I love to make a huge double batch of dough, shape the cookies and keep them in the freezer to bake off warm and heavenly chocolate chip cookies whenever the mood strikes us (which at our house equals out to at least a couple of times a week as an after school or movie night treat!).

Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod, who was kind enough to be drafted to help organize our little get together, made Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies. They were chocolatey and had a chewy kind of crunch from the melted candy on the outside of the cookie that was unique and wonderful. Maria is such a wonderful person and always so willing to help!

Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen was there sharing her wonderful wit and wisdom about blogging, photography, writing and food. It is always a pleasure to spend time with Kalyn - she is so generous with her knowledge and I always leave feeling like I have learned so much!

Dara of Cookin' Canuck came to brunch and is always so fun and happy that she is just a joy to be around! She was even able to get my overtly shy 6 year old to share some answers while he was hiding behind his DS games. Her cookies were these gorgeous Cinnamon and Almond Meringue Star Cookies which were delicious, as well as so pretty!

Tiffany of Food Finery joined us with her stunning and festive colorful Shortbread with Cranberries and Green Pumpkin Seeds - I just love Tiff - she always makes me smile and her cookies were so festive that my son just couldn't get his eyes off them!

Christina of Mele Cotte, was great to meet in person - she has such a fun personality. I know she had a busy day (and I think even a flight to catch!) but I'm so glad she was able to come and visit with us before heading back East. Though she didn't really have a workable kitchen anymore, Chris put together some gorgeous and delicious little Chocolate Mascarpone and Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache Mini Tarts to share.

Barbara of Barbara Bakes, who is a great friend and a perfectly lovely woman whom I am so grateful to have gotten to know in person, brought these perfectly delicious Pecan Squares to share - they have a delicious cookie base with a sweet pecan topping - like having a delicious piece of pecan pie - but only all the best parts and more of it! I can't wait to make these, but I don't think I'll share!

Becky of Vintage Mixer, who is just absolutely darling and just as personable in real life as she is on her blog, joined us and brought her lovely petite little Ginger Creams, which are a family favorite of hers.

Cristie of The Table Runner also came to brunch and also made a cherished recipe, this time from a friend of hers. I was so intrigued by her Cherry Chocolate Crisps (no surprise since they were sandwiched with chocolate!). Cristie is such a sweet lady and is super talented and always willing to share her talents and expertise as well.

Candace of A Little Blog, who happens to be Cristie's daughter, also joined us and my only regret is that I sat so far from her and her mom that I didn't get to spend more time with them! That is just something that we will have to rectify in the future at some more fun events! Candace used her mom's recipe and brought a fun twist on the chocolate chip cookie with her Sweet 'n Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Pretzels.


Amanda said...

Holy cow would you look at all those fabulous cookies!! Everything looks so wonderful. I'm so jealous, there are almost no food bloggers out here :( So glad you had so much fun!

VintageMixer said...

Your brioche french toast looked the best for sure! I'll be getting that next time! Thanks for the post and organizing the event.

Cookin' Canuck said...

My family loved your chocolate chip cookies! Thanks so much for organizing the brunch. It really was fun to chat with everyone and your boys are adorable!

Sherry G said...

Those are some of the most incredible food pictures. I am seriously drooling! I just love looking at pictures of good food!!!

tspegar said...

Thanks for a really fun afternoon Holly! Your cookies were as spectacular as anything you could have brought! YUM!

Quinn said...

Yummy pics!! And how fabulous that you all got together. I'm totally bummed to not have been invited. Please think of my next time. Happy you all had so much fun! xoxo

Barbara Bakes said...

You got some great shots of the gorgeous cookies! I loved all your sweet comments about these wonderful bloggers. I'm honored to be your friend!

Kalyn said...

Wow, your photos are wonderful. It was a lot of fun. We'll have to do this more often in 2010!

Maria said...

Your photos turned out great! Thanks for a great brunch, it really was so much fun and I loved your NY times cookie. I am going to make them for sure! You are the best! Let's plan something again and soon:)

Carrian said...

Holy cow!! Everything looks so fun!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Thanks for posting the food you ate as well as all those yummy cookies that you all shared. Sounds like a ton of fun!

pipedi said...

I love your beautiful pictures! So enticing :)

On your NY Times chocolate chip cookies, the recipe calls for coarse salt. Does that mean kosher, like Diamond Kosher? I have some Trader Joe's coarse sea salt, but the flakes are pretty large. May I ask what you use?

Thanks so much!

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