I was provided with the opportunity to attend this event at no cost. I do not accept monetary compensation for writing about my experiences. All opinions expressed are my own.
A couple of weeks ago, Ocean Spray kicked off it's 2009 "Bogs Across America" tour in Rockefeller Center in New York City with their "Big Apple Bog," a 1,500-square-foot free-standing cranberry bog that was constructed and filled with more than 2,000 pounds of cranberries. Under normal circumstances, an event centered around cranberries would be an event I'd skip due to my odd cranberry allergy. However, thanks to my awesome friend Grace, I was offered the opportunity to interview Duff Goldman from the Food Network's Ace of Cakes, who had created the cake for the celebration of Ocean Spray's 80th anniversary. Of course, I agreed to the interview (who wouldn't??) and made my way over to Rockefeller Center.
After securing the samples, I walked over to the bog to secure a spot to watch as Duff, Geof, and crew put the finishing touches on the cake. You can see the camera crew standing in the bog with everyone else in some of my pictures. So, yes, they were filming for Ace of Cakes!
As expected, I had a better view of the cake from the other side of the bog.
Before they cleared away their decorating tools, Duff bent down to the bog and pulled a cranberry up out of the water, exclaiming that he was going to "try one"....
Adrienne is a second-generation cranberry grower based in southeastern Massachusetts who "feels passionate about creating awareness and a positive public image for farming." In just a few minutes, Adrienne gave us quite a bit of information about cranberries and about the process of growing them:
- Cranberries are grown in Massachusetts; New Jersey; Wisconsin; Washington; Oregon; and British Columbia, Canada.
- The soils and temperatures of the above-mentioned areas are ideal for cranberry growing, especially since cranberries need cold temperatures at night.
- Cranberries have more antioxidants per gram than any other fruit, including blueberries.
- White cranberries are harvested in August, while red cranberries are harvested between late September and early November.
- Cranberries are full of air, which is why bogs are flooded with water when harvested -- they float right to the top.
This last fact totally explains why some of the Ocean Spray growers, including Adrienne, were pelting Duff with cranberries earlier in the day. They were demonstrating that the cranberries really do bounce!
I asked Duff how he got the inspiration for the Ocean Spray cake, and he told me that he and a bunch of other folks from Charm City Cakes went out to a cranberry bog in New Jersey and learned as much as they could about cranberries and about harvesting them. Duff operated as much of the machinery as they would let him near and participated in the actual harvest of the fruit. To prove that he was listening to what the growers were telling him, Duff told us that "cranberry plants are trained to grow flat so they aren't ripped out of the ground by the harvesting equipment." The Ocean Spray growers standing nearby nodded their heads and confirmed that he was right. Way to go, Duff!
|Photo courtesy of Grace[is]full|
Grace and I asked him what he favorite flavor or variety of cake was, and it took the entire length of the interview and a gentle reminder from me that he had yet to answer the questions for him to finally say "Curry Caramel." Apparently, they're developing a recipe for Curry Caramel Cake at Charm City Cakes (so it's not on the menu yet), and it's quickly becoming Duff's new favorite because it combines salty with sweet. I'm certainly intrigued about this flavor combination and wonder whether I'm brave enough to try and develop a recipe like that in my own kitchen!
[The presentation of the Ocean Spray cake will be included in an episode of Ace of Cakes set to premiere on Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 10pm EST. Make sure you look for me in the background!]
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