By now I’m sure many of you are aware that Eric and I took a week long trip to Northern California. And, as promised, I’m sharing pictures from our journey… sans photos from our meal at The French Laundry. Instead of talking about each place (we did a lot of boppin’ around), I’m just going to put little labels throughout the post to explain where the photos were taken. We start off in Carmel-by-the-Sea:
There’s no denying the fact that I’ve missed all of you. This past week was the first time in over a year that I didn’t write a post (thanks again to all of the wonderful bloggers who wrote beautiful guest posts for the site), and it took me a couple of days to get used to the idea that I wouldn’t always have access to Twitter or Facebook or WordPress (where I create all of these entries). I must admit that I didn’t stay away the whole trip (thanks iPhone!), but there were plenty of days where there were long stretches without internet or cell phone service. And, I have to say, I quite enjoyed that time.
But now we’re back, having done our job of eating our way through Northern California. I’ll put up a post later with pictures from our trip, but I do want to prepare those of you who are looking forward to a gallery of shots from our dinner at The French Laundry. Not only did I not take any photos during our meal, but I didn’t even bring my camera with me. And I’m so glad I didn’t. My time with my husband, and the incredibly memorable meal that we shared together, can’t be captured in a picture. No photograph could ever do it justice.
Coming back from vacation can be a bit jarring. I particularly miss the long, leisurely breakfasts Eric and I would have together, gorging on baked goods and sipping coffee. But just because we’re back to reality doesn’t mean we can’t find time for such simple pleasures as a relaxing weekend morning breakfast. And there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like a stack of plump blueberry pancakes.
In a little over a month, I will be attending what will probably be my one and only food blogger conference this year. In actuality, the Big Summer Potluck is less of a conference and more of a gathering of very enthusiastic foodies. I didn’t attend last year, but from what I gather from everyone’s accounts of the event, it was a fantastic experience; filled with lots of food, wonderful seminars and loads of laughter. Does it get much better than that?
Here’s the thing, though: I hadn’t planned on attending this year. But as I watched the tickets for the event sell rather rapidly, I just had to jump on the opportunity. One of my big incentives for going (not that I needed much of a push), was the appearance of Debra from Smith Bites on the list. We’ve been Twitter buddies for a while, but have expanded that relationship to e-mail chats about a variety of food blogger-related topics. She was also one of the people who was influential in getting me to redesign my site (and take the plunge and switch to WordPress)… and I have to thank her for that.
Debra is a kind soul, someone who is always willing to lend a friend a helping hand. But not only that, she has a wonderful sense of humor and is never disturbed by my somewhat childish antics. And now I’ll leave you in Debra’s hands… who was generous to write this guest post while I finish my travels.
In my community of blogging friends, I’m always amazed at how much these people are like family. We share each other’s ups and downs, troubles and triumphs, and we always seem to be there for each other with a helpful word of advice or just to listen. Oh…and we can always count on a good laugh! Brian is one of these people that I truly love and laugh with. His blog, photography and tweets are the epitome of love, warmth, humor and doggonit people like him!
So when he asked me to guest post, it was a no-brainer. Of course!! So, for Brian I have pulled out this oh-so-easy but delicious Balsamic, Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.
The Professor and I love to grill pizzas on our Big Green Egg. With the weather finally warming up, recipes like this become a staple for the season. Like all good things Italian (and inspired by a Mario Batali recipe, no less), the ingredients are simple. And like all good Italian pizza, less topping is more. By sparsely layering the ingredients, each flavor in each bite has a chance to shine; in one moment you taste a single ingredient, and in the next bite it’s a perfect symphony of all the flavors. Be still my heart.
While I highly recommend the little cipollini onions for this recipe, you could definitely substitute a sweet onion you have on hand with similar results. For a crispy yet tender crust, it is a good suggestion to par bake the crust before adding the ingredients. Also, if the bottom of the crust gets done first, just put the pizza under the broiler to achieve the golden brown goodness pictured here.
Before sharing this wonderful (and WAY too flattering) guest post from Merry-Jennifer at The Merry Gourmet, I just wanted to let you all know that MJ is a terribly gifted woman… and, apparently, incredibly modest. As you can see below (and from her blog posts), she’s a talented writer and photographer. And she knows a good recipe when she sees one.…
When Brian asked me if I would consider writing a guest post for this beautiful blog of his, I hesitated for a split second. Would I be able to come up with a recipe worthy of posting on his blog? Will my photography be an embarrassment to him? Will Brian’s readers abandon him like fleas jumping off a dying dog when they realize there is an impostor in his place?
Self-doubt is my sidekick in life, you see. She’s been with me for as long as I can remember. She grabs my attention, forces me to listen to her nagging rants, and gets me all freaked out, Finally, after she’s had her say, I can then move on with the task at hand. So, let’s move on, shall we?
Brian’s recipes always catch my attention. The recipes he shares are always approachable, yet there is an elegance to them, and his food photography is part of what creates that feeling. And, while I can’t quite do what he does with photography, our style of cooking and baking is very similar. I’m positive we’d get along famously at a dinner party.
The recipe I’m sharing with you is one that I love, and one that I’m almost certain Brian will love as well – Pistachio Cherry Icebox Cookies. I’ve been a longtime fan of icebox cookies for their endless possibilities of flavors, the use of straightforward ingredients, and for their ease of preparation. Every year I bake several batches of these fruitcake icebox cookies, and I’m always asked to bake more when they’re gone. These Pistachio Cherry Icebox Cookies are a little more refined, more grown up. Their flavor is more sophisticated and complex, with a fine balance of sweet and salty.
Eric and I are currently in California on a week-long trip that’s including stops in Big Sur (for a friend’s wedding), San Jose, to visit my aunt and uncle, Yountville, for our dinner at The French Laundry, and Davis to visit Eric’s brother and his family.
Over the next week, I have some wonderfully talented bloggers who were gracious enough to provide some posts. Up first is Mike of Verses from My Kitchen. What is immediately striking about his posts are how frank he is in his writing. He beautifully articulates stories from his past and finds touching ways to bridge those moments with his deep passion for cooking and food.
It makes reading his blog a joy and I know that after you’ve read his beautiful contribution to A Thought For Food, you will want to rush over to his site.
When I started blogging there were a select few people that I knew of or had come across during my searches. Brian’s blog was one that I initially admired from afar until the first time I said hi via twitter. From there I was able to admire from up close and appreciate his talents in both writing and photography. He has a style that is uniquely his own and I’m always drawn back for both inspiration and the mere love of it all. He knows who he is and it shines through in his work.
To say I’m honoured that he would ask me to write a guest post would be an understatement. I was more than happy to oblige as it gave me the chance to express my appreciation with my words and pictures. Secretly, I was thrilled.
I know Brian is a vegetarian so I tried to come up with a recipe that was both delicious and also fit inside those boundaries that he keeps for himself. Once I came up with the recipe, the rest was easy. Thank you Brian!
This is my story.
When I was a young, freckle-faced boy, I started to witness the deterioration of my family unit. Things had gotten so bad that the mere thought of heading home from school was met with trepidation and fear. Inside our beautiful brick house in the picturesque community on that busy main street in Toronto was a secret ready to be unleashed. Divorce.
Growing up, divorce wasn’t happening with the regularity seen today. Parents stayed together for the children, or because they were too afraid of the prospect of growing old alone. At the slightest hint of a broken marriage, people around town would begin to gossip.
The generation before my parents had made marriage a lifelong commitment. But views on such things were changing and while the concept of divorce was not an easy one to grasp, deep down inside my mother and father knew what was best for them and the family. And so it went. My parents were in the midst of the brand new normal.
The first few years after the split was difficult. All the routines of childhood were broken into smaller, newer routines. Time spent in one house was divided among two houses with schedules so difficult to make out I didn‘t know whether I was coming or going half the time. No matter where I was, I was really never present. And the name calling began between people once married, and now immediate enemies only connected by one sole thread. Me.
As a kid who grew up in Toronto amidst the rapidly expanding concrete jungle and urban sprawl, markets and greenery were at a minimum. I played on cement school yards predominantly hard and cracking. The green field seemed to shrink before my eyes as each passing grade came and went. The idea of home gardens and fresh produce was as foreign to me as another language. And space was at a premium.
When my mother met my step-dad, things suddenly changed. Quickly and without notice or fanfare. Once a one-family unit, I was now about to embark on a journey with three families. My mother’s, my dad’s and my step-dad’s. It wasn’t bad, just different. And change for a kid is the equivalent of the new world order. Change is unknown and the unknown is scary when you’re eight years old.
I remember the nerves I had when it was time to meet this new family: his parents and siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins around my age. We made the trip outside the city to a place I had previously only read about in children’s books or seen in lifetime movies of the week. Large green fields and sprawling properties. And hope. Fields and fields of hope.
Can I ask you a question? I’m not sure if you have an answer or not but I’m really trying to wrap my head around this. All I need to know is: where did our spring go? At one moment it was frigid and snowy, then frigid and rainy… and then sunny and 80 degrees. I don’t do well with extreme temperatures and, despite being fed up with the chilly, wet weather, I was not prepared to be slammed by such a shift.
It didn’t really hit me until we were on the Cape this weekend and I looked around the yard. Now, normally, the weather is a bit unpredictable this time of year. You never know if it’ll be one of those nasty, gloomy, sit in your house and watch movies all afternoon kind of days. Or it could be pleasant out… at least enough to not have to wear a long sleeved shirt. But this weekend was like no other. The birds were chirping, the rhododendron were in full bloom; people were boating and swimming and tanning on their decks. Again, I have to ask? How did I miss the shift between winter and summer?
And with this drastic climate change, I’ve somehow managed to completely neglect some of spring’s prime veggies. I never found time to cook with morels before the season came to an end and that has made me very sad. So I’ve been sure not to miss out on one of my very favorite spring treats: fiddleheads.
I can’t really tell you why I adore fiddlehead greens so much. There’s nothing about the flavor that really sticks out. But look at them, in all their curlicue glory! Their shape constantly reminds me of the books I used to read as a child; something out of Alice in Wonderland or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
A few weeks ago, Eric and I were lucky enough to get a bag of fiddleheads in our CSA box. It was quite the pleasant surprise and as soon as I realized what they were, I immediately got to work thinking about what to do with them. I did my best to resist the urge to make a pasta dish, but, really, I couldn’t. It just seemed like the ideal pairing. Then the question became, what else to add.
When coming up with a recipe, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the possibilities. Sometimes all you need is some guidance. And, so, as I walked home from work one afternoon, I decided to stop off at our favorite local gourmet food store, American Provisions, for some inspiration. Their shelves were stocked with grilled baby artichokes and roasted red peppers and marinated olives. And then I found the ingredient I was looking for: anchovies. Yes, anchovies. Not “eww,” not “gross.” Oily, briny, with that wonderful fishy undertone.