Eating

Shrub 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

4.14.16 Quaff

Is it spring yet? The calendar says so, but only last week there were snow flurries in these parts. Too little, too late, after an abysmally snow-free winter. Despite the cold, the season is making inroads. The red-wing blackbirds have arrived and some little yellow finches, too. More than one bear has ambled through our yard in search of birdseed. And the first hardy greens are up—garlic mustard and watercress in the wild; rhubarb, lovage and angelica in the garden. There will be nothing new from our local farms for some time, so I can't help but eyeball all that California bounty. My palate craves tender greens and bright, sunny flavors and those luscious lemons, artichokes and strawberries prove virtually irresistible. 


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Bounty bowl 790 xxx
photos by Steven Randazzo & Bette Blau (@whatbette found); food styling by Eugene Jho

3.24.16 Shooting Stars

More than a year ago, a beautiful and mysterious Frenchwoman asked me to partner with her to open a business in Narrowsburg, NY, a centuries-old hamlet on the Delaware River in Sullivan County. Juliette Hermant had a vision of creating a food destination that would showcase the bounty of our Catskill farms, fields and forests. Together, we dreamed up Fish & Bicycle, a bar, cafe and small grocery meant to serve as a gathering place for the community and a place to learn about our region, not only through the food but through workshops with local artisans, botanists, foragers and gardeners. For months, we have been sweating blood to bring this venture to fruition. My friends, this is a big mountain to climb. We have had to raise the finances to make this happen, and that's still a work in progress. We have had to learn about architectural plans, liquor licenses and LLCs. We had hoped to be open by May, but it's looking more like August...or even September. This is one of the hardest things I've ever done and, trust me, I've done some hard things in my life.


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Skillet3 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

2.16.16 Crumb It Up

If necessity is the mother of invention, then hunger must be its father. Rooting around in the kitchen with dinner on your mind, you might come across a crust of bread or a handful of rice and, suddenly, inspiration strikes. So it must have been long ago in Sicily, on a day when cheese was scarce, that some creative cook decided to fry breadcrumbs in good olive oil and toss them onto hot pasta. Eureka! While I can't deny the richly savory merits of Parmesan, I'm equally enthralled by the oily, garlicky crunch of this humble garnish. Scatter it with abandon atop any number of dishes and you, too, will know its many pleasures.


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Jaggery 790 xxx
photos by Pernille Loof

1.19.16 Brown Sugar

Here's what it takes to open a bar and café: Vision. Perseverance. Capital. Architectural plans. Guts. Determination. A liquor license. Blood, sweat and tears. Support from friends and family. Creativity. Passion. Prayers. So if I haven't been around these parts much lately, you'll understand why. We're making progress with Fish & Bicycle and every day we come a little closer to bringing this crazy-beautiful dream to life. I'll share more details and photos with you as they come to light. In the meantime, I've got some gorgeous images from a shoot I was privileged to collaborate on with the gifted Pernille Loof, and a recipe for a delicious cocktail I developed just for the occasion.


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photos by gluttonforlife

12.22.15 Christmas Crackers (& A Caramels Giveaway!)

A recipe for crackers and a giveaway of my coveted caramels (vanilla and chocolate chile)—a humble offering from me to you this holiday season. Just leave a comment here by midnight on December 26th, telling me what you love best about the holidays, and you'll be in the running for a bag of these sweet treats.


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photo by samantha goh

11.24.15 Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

Another month has passed. Are you the same? I'm not. I feel my roots shifting and it's exciting and scary. My jaw sometimes feels weird when I wake up in the morning and I know I have been clenching my teeth as I sleep. Change is good but it can wreak havoc. I have started to emerge from behind my desk, making forays into the world beyond just sending my words out to be read. There I am, above, serving cocktails at an event created by And North; read about it here and check out the cocktail recipes here. Saying yes to many things also entails saying no a lot. Does that make any sense? Redefining your life is a process and I feel like I am approaching a tipping point.


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Mouse 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

10.22.15 Go and Do

Forgive me, dear reader, it's been seven weeks since my last expression. In that time, I've fostered six cats, flown to France, cooked a feast for 20 people, held two demos at the farmers market, created custom cocktails for an event and worked my regular job as a freelance writer. For these and all the wins of my life, I am truly...oh, never mind. The point is, I'm deeply sorry to have neglected my blog the last couple of months but I've been dancing as fast as I can. The good news? I'm going to catch you up with a series of mouth-watering photos. Starting with this one of Mouse, the sweetest, fluffiest kitten that ever lived. She was the runt of a litter of five born to Janet, a gorgeous black cat who came to our door in July, turned out to be preggers and asked for shelter. What ensued was generally chaos, but all turned out well, and we eventually found loving parents for every last one of those adorable interlopers (after they were weaned, ate us out of house and home and chewed everything in sight). I miss them like hell and am so glad they're gone. Another of life's endless paradoxes.


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Mastiha 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

9.1.15 What a Sap

Traces of my recent trip to Greece still echo through my kitchen. The Greek salad simply does not grow old, and I now crave the strong herbal presence of fresh oregano, something I previously shunned. Another very particular flavor I discovered and adore is mastiha, "mastic" in English. This natural sap that weeps from the lentisc tree (Pistacia lentiscus), known as "the tears of Chios" (pronounced "hee-os"), is found only on that particular Greek island. Sun-dried into brittle, translucent bits of resin, mastiha becomes soft and gummy when chewed. In fact, its name derives from the Greek word meaning "to gnash the teeth," and is related to our "masticate." Used since antiquity for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, mastic has a sharp, piney aroma that reminds me of the rosin string players use to treat their bows. Its flavor is equally pungent and strangely compelling.


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Mix 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

8.18.15 Lucky Seven

We read a lot these days about cooking simply—"ingredient-driven cooking" is a phrase that flummoxed me when I first heard it. What cooking isn't driven by ingredients? Since when are the ingredients not supposed to shine? But I think I was just being purposely obtuse because, of course, there are entire schools of cooking that are all about technique. Just learn to make this perfect sauce and the quality and provenance of your pork loin won't matter. That sort of thing. So, really, my cooking is entirely driven by the ingredients. But that doesn't mean I don't like to build layers of flavor in the dishes I make. One of my favorite ways is with finishing. I have an arsenal of powders, oils, salts and other garnishes and condiments that act as perfect punctuation marks, underscoring a particular note or adding an element of surprise. Although Maldon salt in all its crunchy salinity often suffices, sometimes I reach for something more complex, like this version of shichimi togarashi.


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Serve 790 xxx
photos by george billard

8.13.15 In Person

In one month, I will celebrate six years of living full-time in Sullivan County. We bought our tiny cottage as a weekend place in December 2005 and I never could have envisioned the life we would make for ourselves in this area. My visits to the city are now mostly out of necessity and the only thing I really miss are my friends. (Talking on the telephone seems to be a thing of the past and for those of us who grew up during a time when marathon phone chats were a regular bonding activity, texting just doesn't cut it.) Five minutes from our little hamlet of Eldred is Barryville, a town on the Delaware River that is host to our farmers market every Saturday. This year, for the first time, the market is offering hands-on demos from local chefs and purveyors, and I was lucky enough to be invited to participate. 


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