A Thought For Food http://www.athoughtforfood.net where ideas are brought to simmer Sat, 20 Dec 2014 18:21:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 What I Drink (NYE Edition): The Cider Mill http://www.athoughtforfood.net/cider-mill-apple-scotch-cocktail/ http://www.athoughtforfood.net/cider-mill-apple-scotch-cocktail/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:00:51 +0000 http://www.athoughtforfood.net/?p=16413 I failed at posting a Hanukkah recipe. I had one in my head but never got around to making it. I guess I’ll just have to save it for next year. This seems to always happen to me when it comes to holiday recipes. Even this post, a cocktail to ring in the New Year, […]

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The Cider Mill (Scotch, Apple Syrup, and Grapefruit Bitters) // A Thought For FoodThe Cider Mill (Scotch, Apple Syrup, and Grapefruit Bitters) // A Thought For Food

I failed at posting a Hanukkah recipe. I had one in my head but never got around to making it. I guess I’ll just have to save it for next year. This seems to always happen to me when it comes to holiday recipes. Even this post, a cocktail to ring in the New Year, almost didn’t happen. Vijay, Brandon and I had talked a few weeks ago about doing another What I Drink post, since we had such a blast with the first one. We’re a few guys who not only love food, but enjoy getting creative with our cocktails. And whenever a holiday comes around, you can bet that the three of us have come up with a creative beverage to go with the celebratory feast. But, as I said, we were pretty close to not succeeding in our second installment.

I’m so glad we stuck to our guns, though. Each of us have come up with drinks that use seasonal ingredients and somewhat underused booze.  Brandon’s working with champagne and infused brandy. And Vijay did a little switch up by putting mezcal in his version of a Blood and Sand, and cranberries are always a wonderful addition to a cocktail, both in flavor and color.

As for this little concoction I mixed together, well, it took me a little while until I figured out exactly what I wanted to make.  Originally, I had a hot toddy in mind, but I’d been anxious to try out this little cider syrup trick and I’ve already posted an apple hot toddy… so that was out. Then I considered doing something with mezcal (I know, I’m obsessed), but when I looked in our cabinet, I found that we were all out (GAH!). So, I went with Scotch. Despite my love for a little single-malt goodness, I’ve never had it paired with other ingredients. Well, I’m hooked now. Don’t be skeptical. Try it, and you will be too. Promise.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to whip up something for next week. I might just take a little time off. We’ll have to see. Then again, if there’s some free time and I’m inspired, you may see me pop up here.  If not, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.

Happy Hanukkah. Merry Christmas. Enjoy your Kwanza. Or your Festivus.

Oh, and happy New Year.

The Cider Mill (Scotch, Apple Syrup, and Grapefruit Bitters) // A Thought For FoodThe Cider Mill (Scotch, Apple Syrup, and Grapefruit Bitters) // A Thought For FoodThe Cider Mill (Scotch, Apple Syrup, and Grapefruit Bitters) // A Thought For Food

MORE “WHAT I DRINK” POSTS

Sangre and Sand from Vijay at NoshOn.It

noshonit-sangre-and-sand

Apple and Quince Sparkler from Brandon at Kitchen Konfidence

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Za’atar Roasted Beets with Honeyed Yogurt, Orange + Pistachio http://www.athoughtforfood.net/zaatar-roasted-beets-with-orange-honey-yogurt/ http://www.athoughtforfood.net/zaatar-roasted-beets-with-orange-honey-yogurt/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 05:01:46 +0000 http://www.athoughtforfood.net/?p=16312 We had our neighbors over for dinner on Sunday. They’re a lot of fun. By that I mean that they like to imbibe just as much as we do (and they’re really nice, thoughtful guys). We’ve been known to get sucked into the vortex of their porch, where wine is poured freely and in great quantity. A […]

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Zaatar Roasted Beets with Honeyed Yogurt, Orange + Pistachio  // A Thought For Food

We had our neighbors over for dinner on Sunday. They’re a lot of fun. By that I mean that they like to imbibe just as much as we do (and they’re really nice, thoughtful guys). We’ve been known to get sucked into the vortex of their porch, where wine is poured freely and in great quantity. A quick hello turns into a three hour gossip session.

When we lived in South Boston, we knew our neighbors but we didn’t have a close relationship with any of them. Most of them were pleasant. Others, not so much.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t think much about the whole neighbor thing until we’d been here for a few weeks and got to meet everyone. We live on a smaller, dead end street. Everyone’s been here for a number of years. Many grew up on the street, which I think says a lot about the area.  They all look out for one another, helping with yard work or cleaning the gutters or shoveling. It’s all very sweet, in a Pleasantville kind of way. (Except this is Massachusetts… where everyone has a bit of an edge)

Well, I got off track a bit. Our neighbors. Dinner. Sunday. They came over (at 4, because I know our track record and figured it’d be best to start our martini consumption early). Eric smoked a duck on the grill, I made the sides. One of those sides was this roasted beet dish, which our guests enjoyed immensely. In fact, I knew these two were good people when one of them said, “Oh, are these beets? I love beets!” I hear so much from the naysayers (They taste like dirt! Beets? Gross!) that I was thrilled to have a fan in our midst.

Zaatar Roasted Beets with Honeyed Yogurt, Orange + Pistachio  // A Thought For FoodZaatar Roasted Beets with Honeyed Yogurt, Orange + Pistachio  // A Thought For FoodZaatar Roasted Beets with Honeyed Yogurt, Orange + Pistachio  // A Thought For Food

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Fettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + Manchego http://www.athoughtforfood.net/pasta-grapefruit-sauce-brussels-sprouts-manchego/ http://www.athoughtforfood.net/pasta-grapefruit-sauce-brussels-sprouts-manchego/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 05:01:07 +0000 http://www.athoughtforfood.net/?p=16261 We got home late Sunday evening, unpacked the car, put up a pot of tea, and got ourselves situated on the couch. Maki promptly passed out. We read a little, before heading to bed. I knew that last week wasn’t going to be relaxing. We had a lot on our plates. There was the drive […]

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Fettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + Manchego

We got home late Sunday evening, unpacked the car, put up a pot of tea, and got ourselves situated on the couch. Maki promptly passed out. We read a little, before heading to bed. I knew that last week wasn’t going to be relaxing. We had a lot on our plates. There was the drive down, the multiple days of cooking, which was then followed by a family brunch, a trip to New York to see Hedwig (our second time this year), and a wedding shoot in Brooklyn. It’s not that we didn’t have fun. We did. But it was the kind of trip where we came back and just crashed.

I avoided work as much as possible on Monday. I took long walks with Maki, watched a movie, and I even got myself on the elliptical for a few minutes (having not used it in over a month, it wasn’t the best experience). There was a little time spent in the kitchen, too. For a while now, I’ve been meaning to create a Brussels sprout recipe. My family is well aware of my love of these guys. The web is inundated with Brussels sprout recipes, though (do a search for “roasted Brussels sprouts” and you’ll see what I’m talking about). The goal was to come up with something a little different and yet keep the dish familiar. As I started thinking of what to do with them, I figured throwing pasta into the mix couldn’t hurt. But how to bring it all together? A creamy grapefruit sauce, rich and slightly tangy.  A touch of thyme. A sprinkle of cheese and a hearty dose of freshly ground pepper. And… done.

Fettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + ManchegoFettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + ManchegoFettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + ManchegoFettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + Manchego

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Cranberry Sauce Ice Cream http://www.athoughtforfood.net/cranberry-sauce-ice-cream/ http://www.athoughtforfood.net/cranberry-sauce-ice-cream/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 05:01:01 +0000 http://www.athoughtforfood.net/?p=16236 I’ve been on an ice cream kick recently. And by recently I mean since the beginning of the summer. It was such a harmless idea. My sister-in-law thought it’d be fun to bring an ice cream machine down to the Cape house to show her kids how to make it from scratch. A great rainy day […]

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Cranberry Sauce Ice Cream

I’ve been on an ice cream kick recently. And by recently I mean since the beginning of the summer. It was such a harmless idea. My sister-in-law thought it’d be fun to bring an ice cream machine down to the Cape house to show her kids how to make it from scratch. A great rainy day activity. They loved the ice cream, but were less interested in the process of preparing it. The adults, on the other hand, became obsessed. The vanilla ice cream we made using a recipe from Melissa Clark over at the New York Times was wonderful; smooth, creamy, and not overly sweet. At that point, we were hooked. What would should we make next? 

While there have been a few misses, most have been hugely successful. Favorites were coffee, Oreo, and, the biggest hit, blueberry crumble. I took a short break from making ice cream, but, over the last month, have gotten back into it. Pumpkin was delicious, as was this cranberry sauce ice cream that I prepared for Friendsgiving. Served with apple cake, it was the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Having made four batches of it over the course of a week, I think I could do with my eyes closed.

Part of the joy of making ice cream comes from watching your creation churn in the mixer. For a while, I’d been using a machine that was a gift from my mom. It worked well enough, but it was starting to slow down. Time for an upgrade! I’d heard from a number of people, including my mom, who’s also fallen hard for homemade ice cream, that the KitchenAid attachment worked well. So, I reached out to my friends over there, who were generous enough to send it over for me to play with. Since receiving the attachment, I’ve used it a half a dozen times, and it’s worked beautifully on each occasion. I find that the bowl freezes quickly, which was not the case with my last machine. The paddle does a great job scraping the sides of the bowl, too. Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with it.

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Cauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing http://www.athoughtforfood.net/cauliflower-fig-walnut-salad-tahini-dressing/ http://www.athoughtforfood.net/cauliflower-fig-walnut-salad-tahini-dressing/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 05:01:08 +0000 http://www.athoughtforfood.net/?p=16038 A chill has arrived in the air. It’s crisp and harsh on the nose. Extra layers of clothing and warm, fluffy socks go on before heading out. The pace of our walks has turned brisk.  I look forward to a mug of coffee or tea, as hot as I can get it without burning my tongue, which I’ll make […]

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 Cauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing

A chill has arrived in the air. It’s crisp and harsh on the nose. Extra layers of clothing and warm, fluffy socks go on before heading out. The pace of our walks has turned brisk.  I look forward to a mug of coffee or tea, as hot as I can get it without burning my tongue, which I’ll make as soon as I get home. Maki doesn’t seem to want to spend extended periods of time outside either. As soon as we get inside, she immediately curls up on her bed, as if to say, “Ok, I don’t need to go out there for a while!”.

We’re gearing up for our first Friendsgiving dinner in our house. The menu is coming together: a slow-cooked brisket, smoked on the grill and then transferred to the oven for eight hours, and herb and garlic roasted fish. The side dishes are coming along as well. One that will be gracing our table is this cauliflower salad. Or maybe it’s a slaw. Whatever you want to call it, there are some great textures and bright flavors in this side. And pomegranate adds a bit of tartness and, of course, that pop of color that makes this so striking to look at.

Cauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For Food

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Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg http://www.athoughtforfood.net/lentils-roasted-acorn-squash-poached-egg/ http://www.athoughtforfood.net/lentils-roasted-acorn-squash-poached-egg/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 13:20:20 +0000 http://www.athoughtforfood.net/?p=16122 I have to admit something. This dish wasn’t a recipe I had been developing for months and months. In fact, the whole concept came together in a matter of minutes. Two of its key components, the lentils and the poached egg, were premeditated. But I had NO idea what else to include. When I looked around the […]

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Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

I have to admit something. This dish wasn’t a recipe I had been developing for months and months. In fact, the whole concept came together in a matter of minutes. Two of its key components, the lentils and the poached egg, were premeditated. But I had NO idea what else to include. When I looked around the kitchen for guidance, I realized there wasn’t much to work with; only a head of lettuce in the drawer and a big bag of potatoes on the counter.  And then I saw a small container of roasted acorn squash that I’d prepared the night before. “That should bring the whole thing together.” I thought.

It’s a hearty bowl, ideal for these chilly nights, and, like most of the best weeknight meals, can be adapted based on your crew. The poached egg is a nice choice for protein, as the yolk creates a dressing over the lentils, but sliced chicken or a piece of fish or a crumbly cheese would also make for a nice addition.

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg

 

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Mezcalita de Citrico http://www.athoughtforfood.net/mezcal-citrico-cocktail/ http://www.athoughtforfood.net/mezcal-citrico-cocktail/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.athoughtforfood.net/?p=16048 One of our favorite pieces of furniture is an antique ice box Eric’s mom gave to us as a “house cooling present.” Weighing close to 500 pounds, it took four large men, and some guidance from Eric, to move it in.  It will remain exactly where it stands for as long as we’re here. The thing […]

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Mezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For Food

One of our favorite pieces of furniture is an antique ice box Eric’s mom gave to us as a “house cooling present.” Weighing close to 500 pounds, it took four large men, and some guidance from Eric, to move it in.  It will remain exactly where it stands for as long as we’re here. The thing is a beast. But it’s a beautiful beast and we have a very special use for it: it’s where we store all our liquor. Well, most of our liquor. Beer and wine is stored downstairs. The ice box has everything else. Want bourbon? We have at least four kinds. Gin? Oh, we have plenty of that. Scotch, rum, tequila, vodka? Got it.

Recently, I’ve been playing around a bit more with tequila and mezcal.  I’ve always been a fan of agave-based spirits. Its vegetal flavor (mainly, notes of green pepper) is unlike anything I’ve experienced in other liquor.  I know not everyone enjoys them as much as I do. I have to wonder, though, if maybe the negative association comes from a bad experience with it in college many years ago and now they’ve sworn it off. It might be time to give them another try.

When I’m out at a bar, I’ll often request a combination of mezcal and citrus. I know I’ll get a balanced cocktail with those two ingredients. One evening at The Baldwin Bar, a gem of an establishment that is located north of Boston, I asked Ran Duan, the bar manager, to make me such a drink. A few minutes later, he presented a highball glass with a metal straw sticking out. The first sip took me aback. What is that? It’s good. I know that flavor. I like it. Is that… sesame oil? It may not have been the first time someone’s made a drink with oil in it, but for this guy here, it was life-altering. And that’s where the inspiration for this mezcalita came from.

MEZCAL_Triptych3Mezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For FoodMezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For FoodIMG_1493

You know who else would enjoy one of these drinks? Jessica of How Sweet It Is. Though, there’s a slight problem. Well, maybe we shouldn’t call it a problem… but it’s something that’s getting in the way of her consuming one (or a pitcher) of these: she’s having a baby. A bunch of us bloggers have banded together to throw a virtual baby shower for Jessica. Knowing her, I think she’s going to love every one of these recipes (the epic list can be found below). The idea was to do “trashed up” versions of different food and beverages. When it comes to drinks, though, it’s just all about the booze. And creating a drink that you want to have multiple rounds of. Pretty sure I got those things covered with this mezcalita.

So, I’m raising my glass to you, Jessica! I have no doubt that you’ll be a wonderful mother: caring, thoughtful, and a lot of fun. Just a few more months and you’ll be able to sip on one of these! I’m sure you can’t wait.

Mezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For FoodMezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For FoodMezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For FoodMezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For Food

Other blogs who created recipes for Jessica’s baby shower:

trashed up salads

Gimme Some Oven | Asian Broccoli Salad with Peanut Sauce
The Lemon Bowl | Brussels Slaw with Tahini Dressing and Za’atar Crostini
With Style & Grace | Kale Salad with Apple, Hazelnuts & Bacon

trashed up cocktails

Dine & Dish | Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail
Food For My Family | Cranberry Orange Dark and Stormy Cocktail
Minimalist Baker | Bourbon Pumpkin Milkshakes
Stylish, Stealthy & (sometimes) Healthy | Apple Cider Shandy
A Spicy Perspective | Preggy Punch Mocktail
Girl vs. Dough | Boozy Maple Peanut Butter Cup Milkshake
Honestly Yum | Maple Bacon Pisco Sour
Cookin Canuck | Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
A Thought For Food | Mezcal de Citrico
A House in the Hills | Pomegranate Rosemary Spritzer
The Novice Chef | Ginger Bourbon Apple Cider
Bran Appetit | Citrus Cider Punch Floats

trashed up burgers

Edible Perspective | Meatloaf Veggie Burgers with Mashed Potatoes + Gravy
The Little Kitchen | Salmon BLT Sliders with an Avocado Aioli & Brie
Daisy At Home | Balsamic Beef Burger with Mac and Cheese
Cookies & Cups | Candied Bacon Maple Cheddar Burger
Climbing Grier Mountain | Trashed-Up Steak Burger with Chicken Fried Bacon & Dijon Gravy
Dessert For Two | Bleu Cheese Burgers + Sweet Potato Fries
Country Clever | Fig Rosemary Roast Chicken Brie Brussels Sprout Panini
Foodie Crush – The Best Cheeseburger Soup
Lady and Pups | Spicy Sambal Chicken Meatball Sub with Eggs
Two Peas & Their Pod | Sweet Potato and Kale Grilled Cheese
Bake Your Day | Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich

trashed up tacos

Spoon Fork Bacon | Crunchy Ground Beef and Cheesy Tacos
The Fauxmartha | Boozy Beef and Butternut Tacos
With Food + Love | Harvest Hash Breakfast Tacos
Mountain Mama Cooks | Crispy Kale and Brussels Sprout Tacos with Bacon
Heather Christo | Bahn Mi Tacos with Spicy Sriracha Honey Sauce
A Couple Cooks | Loaded Huevos Rancheros Tacos
Fitnessista | San Diego Lobster Street Tacos

trashed up desserts

Table for Two | Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate, and Brown Butter Shortbread Bars with Sprinkles
My Name is Yeh | Mini Vanilla Loaf Cakes, All Trashed Up
Picky Palate | Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Sprinkle Cupcakes
Sprinkle Bakes | Cake Batter Confetti Cupcakes
Averie Cooks | Easy Homemade Funfetti Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Sweet Phi | Trashed Up Shortbread Cookie Bars
Love & Olive Oil | Loaded Junk Food Brownies
Lauren’s Latest | Bakery Sugar Cookies
Cookie + Kate | Peanut Butter, Banana, Honey and Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Flourishing Foodie | Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
The Sugar Hit | Salted Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream Cake
Hummingbird High | Breakfast Cereal Cake Donuts
Top With Cinnamon | Triple Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Crumb Cake
Bake at 350 | Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sundaes
Simple Bites | Lemon Layer Cake
Bakerella | Baby Block Cake Pops
She Wears Many Hats |  Chocolate Covered Grapefruit

trashed up pizza

Bev Cooks | Beer Battered Fried Calamari Pizza
Rachel Cooks | Apple and Chicken Sausage Pizza with Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Crust
Foodie With Family | Trashed Up Barbecue Turkey Pizza
Shutterbean | Pesto Potato Bacon Pizza
i am a food blog | Grilled Cheese Pizza
My Life as a Mrs | Chili Cheese Dog Pizza
Simply Scratch | Steak + Blue Cheese Pizza with Crispy Fried Shallots and Honey Balsamic Drizzle
The Beeroness | Beer Cheese Tater Tot Pizza
Yes I Want Cake | Roasted Pumpkin Pizza
Two Red Bowls | Bacon Mashed Potato Pizza
Dula Notes | Pork Bahn Mi Pizza
Weelicious | Trashed Up Mexican Pizza Pockets
Take a Megabite | Roasted Beet Pizza
Hungry Girl Por Vida | Hard Cider Braised Pork with Sour Cherries and Cheesy Polenta
Bakers Royale | Trash’d Street Tacos

Mezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For Food

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How I Photograph Food + Restaurants with Canon Lenses http://www.athoughtforfood.net/food-photography-canon-lenses-west-bridge/ http://www.athoughtforfood.net/food-photography-canon-lenses-west-bridge/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 04:01:24 +0000 http://www.athoughtforfood.net/?p=15827 Some people just grow up with a brand. For me, it was Canon. It’s what my parents purchased, thus it’s what I learned on. When I bought my first camcorder in film school, it was made by Canon. As Eric and I started taking trips early on in our relationship, it was a Canon PowerShot digital camera that […]

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How I Photograph Restaurants with Canon Lenses || via A Thought For Food

How I Photograph Restaurants with Canon Lenses || via A Thought For Food

Some people just grow up with a brand. For me, it was Canon. It’s what my parents purchased, thus it’s what I learned on. When I bought my first camcorder in film school, it was made by Canon. As Eric and I started taking trips early on in our relationship, it was a Canon PowerShot digital camera that we picked up. So, it made sense that when I started getting more passionate about food photography and blogging that my first DSLR would be from Canon (naturally, a EOS Rebel DSLR).

Over the last five years of taking pictures (thousands and thousands of them), I think I’ve grown a lot as a photographer. In part, it has to do with the amount of experimentation I’ve done; working with natural light, some basic styling, and composition to get the right look and feel for each dish. But there’s no denying that the equipment I’ve practiced on has influenced my work.

Initially, I shot everything for A Thought For Food using the lens that came packaged with the camera body (often referred to as a “kit lens”). It was an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and the results were ok… but the images were lacking the depth that I strove for. After researching lenses, I decided to purchase an EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens. Everywhere we traveled, every time we went out for lunch, I took that with me. It was light and compact, making it ideal for getting in some quick shots at a busy restaurant. I began a series of posts called Silent Sundays, where I did my best to capture the essence of these establishments. A few months later, I was asked by one of these restaurants to take professional photos for them. They liked what they saw in the Silent Sunday post and wanted me to come in to photograph their new menu items, as well as action shots of the dining room and in the kitchen.

After more work came in, I knew an upgrade was in order.  The best resource out there are other photographers, so I reached out to the ones I’d become friendly with. Everyone told me the same thing: spend the money on lenses… then upgrade your body when you’re ready. Since I’m doing a combination of food/restaurant photography, as well as general lifestyle work, I wanted something that would be versatile, allowing me to not only take pictures of dishes and ingredients, but portraits as well. I borrowed a friend’s EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens and knew that’d be the one to get the job done.

From there, I upgraded my camera body to an EOS 7D. Then I picked up some more lenses: an EF 50mm f/1.2L USM (a worthwhile purchase because of its wide aperture and USM (UltraSonic Motor), which allows the lens to autofocus faster than other models,), an EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, and an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM. Last year, I bought the Canon EOS 5D Mark III (which has a full-frame sensor, versus the EOS 7D which is a crop-frame) At $3400 it’s a scary purchase, but I’m absolutely in love with it. For those who feel ready to make the investment, you won’t regret it.

Now that I’ve given you a little backstory, let me explain what’s going on here. A few months ago, Canon asked me to talk a bit about how I use their lenses to photograph restaurants. To demonstrate this, I went to one of my favorites in the area, West Bridge. The design of the space is some of the best I’ve seen. There’s a balance between rustic and modern that they’ve nailed and this also comes through in the food created by Matthew Gaudet.

You can view more restaurant images over on my portfolio site.

Interior of West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

Photographing Restaurants with Canon Lenses

What’s in my bag: 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Body
Canon EOS 7D Body (backup)
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro USM lens
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
SD cards
Batteries

West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

Interior of West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

Interior of West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens

Interiors + Exteriors

Dining at a restaurant isn’t just about eating and drinking, but environment and mood too. Before photographing a dish, I capture other details: table setups, the bar, the kitchen, as well as any signage or outdoor dining area.

The majority of the time, I’m using one of two lenses: the EF 17-40mm f/4L or the EF 50mm f/1.2L.  The EF 17-40mm f/4L is a wide-angle lens, and, therefore, is able to take in a large amount of space in a single shot. The lens also works well in tighter spaces, such as restaurant kitchens. This is what I use almost exclusively for photographing dining rooms. It should be noted that, like all lenses, the results are different if you’re using a crop-sensor camera. It’s a bit more noticeable, though, when using a wide-angle lens, as you won’t capture the same area that you would on a full-frame camera.

When I want to feature a specific section of a dining room or focus on certain details (a row of tables, light fixtures, patrons sitting at the bar, etc) I switch to the EF 50mm f/1.2L.  This lens, with its large aperture (models vary: f/2.5, 1.8, 1.4, or 1.2) allows for a shallow depth of field; a single item can be in focus when everything beyond it is blurry. I’ll use this when I want the image to feel like it’s from the perspective of the patron: looking across a long line of tables or down at a menu. This is seen in the above vertical images of the dining room and table with a place setting. Since I wanted to keep the majority of those images in focus, I went with a higher f-stop (f/6). Yes, the background is a bit blurry, but the table, plate, glass and chair are all crisp. However, you can see the difference if you look at the below food image (labeled “Quinoa, Char and Kale Salad: Left: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, Right: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM”) that I shot at f/2.8. The dish is in focus, but the areas in front and behind are not. For more tips, and information, be sure to check out the Canon Explore Lenses website.

The size of the aperture on the EF 50mm F/1.2L makes it so more light can enter through the lens opening, thus making it ideal for low-light environments. This can be the case with a dining room, which are usually not well lit (especially during dinner service). The wide aperture allows me to shoot at a faster shutter speed (resulting in a crisper image) or a lower ISO setting (resulting in less grain (or “noise”) in the photo).

What’s nice about photographing a restaurant using a fixed lens like the EF 50mm f/1.2L is that, as you walk around the restaurant looking for something to take a picture of, you already know the field of view that you’re working with. This means that, in your mind, you already have your shot composed, even before you bring the camera up to take the shot. If I were to use a zoom lens, I’d have to look through the viewfinder and then compose my shot. I find this experience far more enjoyable.

Interior of West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens

Quinoa, coconut, radish, pomegranate, and kimchi at West Bridge|| via A Thought For Food

Quinoa, coconut, radish, pomegranate, and kimchi at West Bridge; Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

Food

For photographing food, I’m often inclined to go with a fixed lens: the EF 50mm f/1.2L or EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. The main reason for this is because the subject I’m shooting is stationary and, therefore, zooming in and out isn’t necessary. The EF 50mm f/1.2L is the lens I use most frequently since the EF 100mm Macro would require that I stand in the middle of the dining room to capture a dish. I not only want a crisp, clean shot of the food, but it makes the subject more compelling to get some of the environment around the plate, which the 100mm won’t provide.

With that being said, there are some instances when the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens comes in handy. For example, there are times when a portion of a dish is more visually interesting than the whole plate. We’ll use the beet and salmon roe toast featured below as an example. While this is a gorgeously composed plate, I find that the textures and colors of the dish are what really make it so striking. Therefore, getting in nice and close to the layers of beet, mustard, and roe, showcase it better than the shots photographed with the EF 50mm f/1.2L or EF 24-70mm f/2.8L .

Speaking of the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L. For a while, this was the lens I used exclusively for photographing food. And it does the trick. While I don’t use it as often, I find that it comes in handy when I need to get an overhead shot of a table with multiple plates on it. The EF 50mm f/1.2L, as you can see, isn’t wide enough (I’d have to stand on a chair or ladder to make that work). The EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro definitely wouldn’t be the right lens. With the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, I can usually hover above the table and get the shot that way… but I’m also 6’1″ tall.

Quinoa, coconut, radish, pomegranate, and kimchi at West Bridge|| via A Thought For Food

Quinoa, coconut, radish, pomegranate, and kimchi at West Bridge; Left: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, Right: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

Beet and Salmon Roe Toast at West Bridge || via A Thought For Food

Beet and Salmon Roe Toast at West Bridge; Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

West Bridge || via A Thought For Food

Left: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM; Right: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

Wrapping Up

Yes, this has been an epic post… but a few more notes.

As I mentioned earlier, the lenses are where you should be investing your money. If you’re just starting off in the world of food photography, I’d suggest starting off with an EOS Rebel DSLR and an EF50mm.  In fact, I had the pleasure of testing out a newer model of the Rebel, the EOS Rebel T5i, and an EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro lens, which Canon sent along for me to play with. One thing I enjoyed about it, which I wasn’t quite expecting, was how light it is. I’ve been carrying around a hunky camera for the last few years and it gets exhausting after a while (again, it’s totally worth it).  The EF 50mm f/2.5 is a great intro into the world of fixed lenses. It’s not an expensive investment and you’ll see a huge difference from any smart phone pictures.

And before purchasing any very expensive lenses (we’re talking $1000+), I’d suggest renting them from a photography store. For under $100, you can make sure that the lens works for your needs.

Photographing Food at West Bridge with Canon Lenses  || via A Thought For Food

Salmon  Dish at West Bridge  || via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

DISCLOSURE: This post was sponsored by Canon. As described earlier in this post, I’ve been a long time fan of their camera equipment. All thoughts and words are my own.

 

This post How I Photograph Food + Restaurants with Canon Lenses appeared first on A Thought For Food.

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