The last time I was at Pizzeria Mozza I sat at the bar, stuffed full of tricolore salad and pizza, unable to stop eating the mango and passion fruit sorbets in front of me. I’ve had Dahlia’s gelatos and sorbets hundreds of times, I even watched them being made when the machine first arrived, but this time I was mesmerized. As I lifted the spoon to my mouth time after time I just kept wondering, how in the world did she get them so creamy?
When I had the good fortune of running into Dahlia at a party just a couple weeks later I asked. The answer, apparently, is simple: invert sugar.
Excuse my dusty cliché, but man does time fly. It’s been more than a month since I’ve written anything here, a month of living by the beach, trying to remember where I put things in my urgency to just get unpacked already, and now it seems that summer is waning with the moon. I’m sorry for my absence; not writing here feels like not talking to your best friend for too long.
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.)
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
I hate dry meat. Most of the time reheated chicken, pork chops and even steak make we want to gag; it’s like chewing on wet cottonballs. So when it comes to leftovers, I prefer to eat things cold. Sometimes I may take this too far (fried rice?), but other times it yields something as delicious as the original dish. On Tuesday, I posted a recipe for Duck with Murcott Tangerines and Beluga Lentils. Since it’s just Neal and I, a dish like this (which serves four) yields a couple of days of leftovers, I decided to cut the duck into bite-sized pieces, toss it all in a bowl, including the lentils, with some baby arugula, fresh Murcott segments, a drizzle of olive oil and the leftover balsamic reduction. It was so good the first time I had it, I packed the leftover leftovers to bring up to San Luis Obispo for a pincic lunch!
I’ve been sitting here all afternoon trying to come up with a story you’d want to read, some literary sustenance about today’s recipe. I’ve been inspired by the recent emotional and personal outpouring of my friends and fellow bloggers White on Rice Couple and Foodwoolf, but the honest truth is this: There is no story; the duck was on sale.
I don’t buy duck often, though not because I don’t like it. I find it challenging to cook, a pile of inedible fat and oily meat if prepared improperly, and too expensive to screw up. So with duck on sale at Whole Foods, and the vision of the Murcott tangerines* from Burkart Farms littering my countertops like freckled orange golf balls, I headed home—a cook on a mission. Continue reading
Let me start first by saying, no, we haven’t set a date yet. Neal and I might be getting married this fall, or we might be getting married next spring. Or maybe we’ll get married fall 2010—though I think I might lose my mind if I’m in planning stages for another year-plus. We figured we’d pick a date once we found a venue we liked. But that’s just it, trying to find a venue has been like Amazing Race meets Survivor. I’ve gotten lost behind the Orange curtain, hit by a cyclist who ran a red light, seen a wedding venue come menagerie and driven all around Sonoma County with Slingblade barking at me from my father’s GPS, “Bear left, cow right.” All this running around is exhausting. And when I get home from a weekend’s worth of talking about tables and chairs and luxury Porta Potties, cranky for having missed my Sunday morning at the farmers’ market, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time cooking.
Which brings me to reason number 2,356 that I love my Le Creuset Dutch Oven: No-fuss cooking. Continue reading
Sometimes money is just not enough. For one of their final projects at Cal Poly San Louis Obispo, Jay Shipman and his business partner, Jack Rice, drew up the plans for a sustainable beef business and wrote a grant to get the project funded. They thought it made financial sense, that it was something that would fill a market niche, and the grant organization, SARS, agreed. But life took hold, and the two graduates never put their plan into play. It wasn’t until a few years later, when Jay’s young wife was suffering from the debilitating effects of rheumatoid arthritis, that the plan took flight. By then it was personal. Continue reading