Strawberry-Rhubarb Clafoutis catches some rays at breakfast
Sometimes I get a little over-zealous at the farmers’ market, especially in the late-Spring. I stock up on gorgeous gem-colored cherries, tangy-sweet blueberries, pints of radiant red strawberries, baby beets and rainbow chard, forgetting I made dinner plans or agreed to go to a wine tasting later in the week. As I’m unloading my bags and stuffing my crisper until it’s spilling out the seams like Jack Sprat, I realize I’ve bought way more than I’ll have time to eat without a little strategizing. (And sadly there are weeks I don’t realize this until I the strawberries begin looking like a fifth grade science experiment.)
I used to be one of those people who thought a wine had to be red to be good. But my first sticky-hot summer back in New York City—the kind that has you leaving trails of sweat behind like snail tracks—quickly changed my mind. My fifth floor walk-up on 97th Street had no air conditioning, just two little fans, each the size of a breadbox that blew the sweat around on your body like the drier in a car wash. So, on the hottest days, I stayed out until the sun went down, and my favorite thing to do was sit outside at ‘inoteca on the Lower East Side, sipping a glass of pale, crisp, Italian rosato. Continue reading
I always made fun of those girls who talked incessantly about their weddings, swore up and down and backwards that I wouldn’t be one of them. Even if you’re perfectly fine being the single girl, it’s hard to pretend you give a shit about centerpieces. And save the dates. And whether or not you’re going to have your guests ride around on a decommissioned Disneyland steam train. But I’ll get to that later.
I didn’t get it, ultimately, because I hadn’t planned my own wedding, I’d like to think, not because I was jealous or insensitive. I just had absolutely no idea how time-consuming the whole process could be. But it’s like a full time job, especially when you’re not exactly sure what you want. It took four months to find a venue and nearly a month to deal with the contracts. But now, nearly five months after Neal and I got engaged, we’re just one wedding insurance plan and a couple of signatures shy of having nailed down our venue and our date: April 24, 2010. Continue reading
What do poets and journalists have in common? Unless you’re the talented Amy Scattergood from the L.A. Times, I’d say: not a whole lot. Journalism school ruined my poetry. Wildly lyrical juxtapositions, I learned, had little place in clear communication. I wrote poetry to obfuscate, articles to illuminate. Even when I tried my hand at playfully mixing the two, a la the great Andrei Codrescu, the sentiment fell flat. And since life as a poet offered so few opportunities to make a living that I ended up in j-school in the first place, I knew I needed to find a new muse.
She came dressed at “motivation,” which is funny considering the number of people out there questioning mine in this new era that I’ve taken to referring to as “Post-FBCE” (Food Blog Code of Ethics). Nonetheless, I love finding out what makes people do what they do, to hold their beating hearts up to the world for all to see. Continue reading
Hello, my name is Leah Greenstein and I’m a food blogger. I don’t get paid much for what I write, though I’d love to make a living at it. I do it because I love food and I love writing—even if actually sitting down at the computer can be painful when the sun is shining or I’d rather be making ice cream. Nonetheless, I write. And I take what I put out into the world as seriously as I would as if I were writing for a magazine or a newspaper, not because it’s required of me, but because I think I should. I believe in honesty, fairness and accuracy, and I think everyone has a right to their opinion.
I think the tension between honesty, fairness and accuracy and subjectivity has been the bane of the “journalism” world for decades. All one has to do is watch Fox News and MSNBC to see that different people perceive facts differently. Personally, I like to know what filter someone’s looking through. I read Mother Jones because I know it skews liberal and I read the Economist because I know its writers synthesize everything through an economic lens. If I want human interest, I look somewhere else.
But when I started reading other food blogs, I frequently found myself lost. How did this person get the product they were writing about? Was this nasty review written because of one bad dining experience or two or three? I mean everyone has a bad night, right? I know I had them when I waited tables and when I managed restaurants. And then suddenly, how did my photo end up on that person’s blog. There’s no link, no attribution—that’s stealing!
I started reading commentary about blogs, nasty tirades about amateurs and hacks. I stumbled across stories about Yelpers blackmailing restaurants to get free food or risk getting panned. I learned more and more about people getting plagiarized, their images getting lifted, and people who personally attacked chefs in their reviews, but then didn’t have the courage to put their names on what they wrote.
And it made me sad.
So I started talking to other food bloggers who, I found, were frustrated with the same things. And I found that my writing partner, Foodwoolf, was particularly fired up about the subject. So we set out for breakfast one morning to talk about standards and ethics, about honesty, fairness and accuracy, and expressing our opinions.
What we came up with was this: The Food Blog Code of Ethics. It culls from our personal experiences as bloggers, journalism school grads, photographers, waiters, restaurant managers, diners and common sense. It is by no means perfect, but it’s a way to start a conversation. We hope you join in.
Alex Weiser at the Hungry Cat. Photo by Foodwoolf.
The first time I ever saw a crosne, the grubby looking Chinese tuber known for its crunchy, earthy-sweet flavor, was at the Weiser Family Farm stand at the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. I bought a bag full, along with sunchokes, from a golden-faced man in a wide-brimmed hat whose smile radiated like sunshine on stainless. I met him again, months later, in the same wide-brimmed hat, crunching through Purple Haze carrots at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, and finally introduced myself. Since 1982, Alex Weiser’s friendly face has been working the area farmers’ markets, his face as familiar as the parsnips, potatoes and sprouting broccoli he talks about enthusiastically with local chefs and foodies.
Okay, I have to be honest here—when I first tasted many of the 2005 Bordeaux at last year’s UGC (Union des Grands Crus de Bordeax) tasting in Santa Monica, I wasn’t exactly a fan. For all my excitement about getting to taste Mouton and Cheval Blanc out of the gate, wines that I had only read about, my actual experience was less interesting. Many of the wines were huge, tannic monsters that made your mouth feel like it was stuffed with wine-saturated cotton balls. Subtle cassis, raspberry, anise and coffee notes lurked beneath the surface, hinting at what was to come, but after 20 or 30 wines (I was spitting, I promise) I had the worst case of palate fatigue. Discerning aromatics or flavors was next to impossible another 10 wines in, and all I was left with in my notes were comments about structure and texture.
I’ve been barrel tasting before, and up until the UGC tasting had prided myself on my ability to taste past a wine’s youthfulness, to anticipate its potential. But I realized that Bordeaux was a different animal entirely. At a tasting like the UCG, you’re not trying to determine what the wine might taste like in six months or even a year, you’re trying to gauge the quality of something that, most of the winemakers would hope, will sit in your cellar for a decade or more before the cork is popped. In that case, my crystal ball was quite blurry, particularly since I haven’t had the opportunity to taste many of these wines over time, to have a frame of reference of how they would evolve. It made me appreciate my colleagues at K&L with 30-plus years of experience even more. Not only had they tried many of the wines we sell in their astringent nascent stages, they have watched them mature—first like parents, surprised at how life influences their children, then like grandparents, with decades of life experience lending a little insight into who their grandkids will become.
Strawberries from Harry’s Berries@ the Hollywood Farmers’ Market
Sometimes I think I want to just throw in the towel. Writing is hard work, and some days the last thing I want to do, after a full day writing and editing for work, is to sit in front of the computer while the last hours of sunshine and warmth recede into purplish sunsets. To me a bad day writing is like a bad day cooking—you’ve still got something you created in front of you, but do you really want to eat it? Continue reading
A couple of years ago I didn’t know peas had a season—the only ones I’d ever ate came from the freezer section of the grocery store. They were a standby veg, little green orbs best reserved for swollen ankles and pot pies. But peas are so much more than the Jolly Green Giant would lead you to believe (that deceptive behemoth has lied before, you know). Peas are nature’s indicator species, announcing spring’s arrival louder than any of the birds chirping away the morning news outside my window.
Murcotts at Burkart Farms, Hollywood Farmers’ Market, Murcott Olive Oil Ice Cream
The pile of Murcotts at Burkhart’s farmers’ market stand shrank a little this week, the stack looking more like a pile of bright orange tennis balls left behind on the playground than winter’s citrus bounty. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, you can see the stand above, and the selection is far from paltry. But I’m waxing a little poetic this morning about winter’s waning. There are probably only a few more weeks left in Murcott season, and I’m a little melancholy. I almost packed up my sweaters in defiance of Mother Nature, hoping the razzing would prolong the season just a couple more weeks. But it looks like our wedding is going to be next spring, instead of the fall, and I couldn’t afford to piss her off. I may want more Murcotts now, but next April I want warm days and mild evenings and mountains of springtime produce to help execute the dinner menu that’s slowly evolving in my head. Continue reading