The SAVEUR Blog Awards are here, and from a pool of tens of thousands of reader nominations we've selected 78 finalists in 13 categories. Now it's your turn to vote for a winner. Cast your ballot here early and often; you can vote as many times as you like by August 31st. Today: meet the finalists for our Food Obsessive award.
We've all got a thing when it comes to food. But not all of us put it to, well, the internet. These six bloggers aren't afraid to bare their obsessions for the world to see, and they're turning them into fascinating lessons in New Jersey's ethnic roots, the perfect loaf of bread, and Game of Thrones-themed meals.
The Blog: The Inn at the Crossroads is a meeting point between fiction, history, and food. The blog showcases dishes mentioned in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, made popular in recent years by the television show, Game of Thrones. Because the fictional world of Martin's books is inspired by real history, it provides a rich backdrop for building a recipe that takes into account the culture, geography, climate, economy, and trade routes of the fictional setting. Consequently, the blog enables everyday cooks to embark on a culinary adventure closer to the stories they love.
The Blogger: Chelsea Monroe-Cassel is a lifelong artist and fantasy fan who loves bringing fictional worlds to life through the medium of food. Wielding a degree in classical history, she employs a multifaceted approach to researching and constructing dishes from fictional settings for anyone to make in a modern kitchen. While she enjoys the creative process that goes into making a recipe, Chelsea also delights in staging and photographing the dish in a way that evokes its original setting. She is the co-author of the bestselling Game of Thrones Cookbook and author of the forthcoming World of Warcraft Cookbook.
The Blog: The Perfect Loaf focuses on the craft of baking naturally leavened sourdough bread at home. Through incessant testing, experimentation, and recipe development, blogger Maurizio Leo aims to pass on the results of his baking trials so that everyone can bake truly wonderful, healthy bread in their own kitchen. He wants every visitor to discover that naturally leavened bread is both simple and elegant at the same time. To discover that when a baker takes their time to prepare it, to let the natural yeast and bacteria work with the flour and water, the result is something transcendent.
The Blogger: Blogger Maurizio Leo is the self-taught, pathological sourdough baker manning the oven and taming wild yeast at the perfect loaf—it's the intersection of his obsessive personality and entrenched value for good food. On any given day you can find him crafting new bread formulae, dreaming up new flavor combinations, analyzing every nuance of his last bake, or tending to his wild yeast starter. Before baking sourdough took over my life, he claims to have held a masters degree in computer science and was a co-creator of the SkyView app. But nowadays when he's not baking, he's probably still thinking about baking.
The Blog: Cwyn's Death by Tea covers all aspects of buying, fermenting, aging and drinking the world's best puerh tea, a form of camellia sinensis large-leaf varietal from Yunnan, China. Death By Tea features aged and new teacakes, Midwestern crock storage, and the finest tea ware for gongfu tea brewing. Puerh tea is a fermented beverage with complex notes, similar to aged whiskey, and often produces a "tea intoxication." The highest quality aged puerh teas sell for thousands of dollars. Incontinent Old Cwyn pokes fun at puerh hoarding with satire, her unique take on tea news, with original cartoons to send up the oddballs like herself who take up the hobby.
The Blogger: Cwyn's Death by Tea is the creation of blogger Carie Novitzke, PhD from Mauston, Wisconsin. She lectures in tea and education topics, and works in care management for elderly persons and adults with disabilities.
The Blog: Blogger Megan Giller started Chocolate Noise to tell the stories of the best chocolate makers in America, people who are revolutionizing chocolate the way craft beer and specialty coffee have been transformed. Her goal is to cut through the noise of hype, reviews, and top 10 lists to capture a moment in time. Her stories showcase the many different sides of craft chocolate, from bizarre DIY machines to beautiful packaging to food science, all while involving the community and keeping in mind that at the end of the day, it's about eating something delicious and having fun.
The Blogger: Megan is a food writer, feminist, and chocolate eater in Brooklyn. She spends her days thinking about the stories behind the food, with a big stash of chocolate by her side to keep her company. In addition to Chocolate Noise, she writes for publications like Slate, Food & Wine, and Fortune. She's also working a book about American bean-to-bar chocolate, which will be published by Storey Publishing in fall 2017. When she's not eating scrumptious chocolatey things, she's exploring the city with her husband Marcus or hanging out at Prospect Park with her dog Echo.
The Blog: EthnicNJ celebrates the cuisines and communities of New Jersey, one of the most diverse states in the country. Since 2010, EthnicNJ.com has mapped over 1100 restaurants serving some 60 different cuisines, with original restaurant reviews and commentary. All food is ethnic at EthnicNJ, where the best spots for American (BBQ, burgers, hot dogs) and Jersey (disco fries, hoagies, pizza) food is mapped alongside the state's best Jamaican, Peruvian, and Vietnamese restaurants. EthnicNJ's demographic maps illustrate the ethnic roots of New Jersey's population, displaying ancestry and county of birth information for every New Jersey county and town.
The Blogger: Anthony Ewing is a lawyer, teacher and writer born and raised in the great state of New Jersey. His obsessive restaurant research, and reluctance to ask for directions, led him to launch EthnicNJ.com, where he finds and maps New Jersey's best food. When not crisscrossing the Garden State in search of family-owned restaurants and global cuisines, he advises companies on corporate responsibility and teaches human rights at Columbia Law School. Anthony has taught English in Central America, worked on five continents, and raised three children in New Jersey (though two of them were born in Brooklyn).
The Blog: Madame Fromage is devoted to all things cheese, specifically "craft" (not Kraft!) cheese. Blogger Tenaya Darlington's mission is to help people find the hunks of their dreams. On the site, you'll find seasonal cheese board ideas, tasting notes for unusually sumptuous beauties, and pairing suggestions (most recently: cheese and cocktails are her jam). In America, there's a cheese renaissance, so she loves shedding light on the many talented makers she meets along this yellow brick road. To her, a dappled rind is the most beautiful sight in the world.
The Blogger: Tenaya Darlington has a Swiss mother and she spent her twenties writing for a newspaper in Wisconsin, which is where her obsession took root. Madame Fromage became her online outlet for cheese exploration when she moved to Philadelphia at the age of 33. Homesick, she sought out the city's best cheese shop and vowed to eat her way through the entire case of 300+ cheeses. Eventually, the project turned into a book, The Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese (Running Press 2013).