This time of year represents yet another opportunity to wake up from winter’s deep dream and celebrate the rising sap of spring! Flan is on my mind with freshly picked wild asparagus.
I would like to share a recipe for Sformato di Asparagi ~ Asparagus Flan ~ from brilliant chef Angelo Cabani.
Persimmons hang like jewels on leafless branches of the tree, like ornaments. Harvested and strung up in front of Japanese country houses like coral necklaces, this colorful display announces the end of fall and beginning of winter. Time to go in ~and digest~ and dream the year to come. They say if you can dream it, you can make it happen.
I’ve been thinking a lot about beauty lately. How if we look for it, we’ll see it. There’s a feeling of acceptance that comes from the perfection of nature and how it maintains its beauty even as it changes. The Japanese call this wabi-sabi, the simple, slow aesthetic that reveres authenticity above all.
We walked from Magome to Tsumago on the Nakasendō Trail, in perfect Basho poetic atmosphere. The bright orange and red maples peaking through the tall pines gave depth and color to the green and brown forest.
I recently returned from Japan where I encountered persimmons hung like jewels on leafless branches of the tree, like ornaments. Harvested and strung up in front of Japanese country houses like coral necklaces, this colorful display announces the end of fall and beginning of winter.
That memory (read more here) prompted some late-night baking to create a holiday cake with persimmons and pecans, plus prunes with Armagnac! The result: a travel-inspired treat, great for a cup of tea.
Pasta con le vongole verace. It might be my favorite pasta dish when I’m near the sea. . .
This one was a collective effort during our recent Culinary Adventure in the Aeolian Islands, prepared by our group and Chef Michael Sampson at the magical Capofaro.
When cooked in an open kitchen overlooking the sea with Stromboli puffing in the distance, a glass of Regaleali wine on hand, it is even better!
A trip to the aromatherapy garden near Marrakech is not only scintillating, but tasty.
Understanding how to make Berber bread (khobz) is simple, but it’s all in the know-how. Incredible how fast it cooks in the mud Tashelheit ovens. We eat the bread made from freshly ground semolina and barley warm with herb tea from the garden.
After a walk through the garden of various herbs used in distilling, we have a delicious picnic of kefta wrapped around rosemary branches and a vegetable tagine. Did I mention foot baths? Rose argan oil for the face? Come with me to Morocco in March.
Stepping into a culture with an open mind and heart reaps surprising long-lived benefits, a shift in thinking and ways of being. . .
M O D E N A. (Mòdna in Modenese dialect).
An elegant city boasting the no.1 restaurant in the world, Osteria Francescana, the oldest Salumeria in Europe, Salumeria Guisti, and the oldest Balsamic vinegar, well over a hundred years old and used as medicine.( La Vecchia Dispensa being my favorite.)
Bloom will offer drops of “Aceto Balsamico” on your gelato and Bar Guisti will give you a Negroni made with local bitters.
Don’t miss the gnoccho fritto, Tortellini in Brodo and the Lambrusco “metodo classico”. They have dressed it up to match the Bella Figura of this stylish town.
We visit Modena as part of our Culinary Adventure in Tuscany.
Re-Post from Instagram.
On both our trips to Sicily in the Spring and Sicily and the Aeolian Islands in the Fall, we have the opportunity to prepare dishes using traditional Sicilian ingredients, including an expectedly delicious twist on ice cream – with salty, pungent capers.
Capers are one of Sicily’s main crops, and are meticulously picked by hand and then either pickled or salted to preserve them and give them their distinctive taste. Traditionally served in savory dishes, our capers ventured their way into some ice cream!
The ice cream was served in a “roof tile” made out of Sicilian chocolate. This chocolate is equally as special because the sugar is added into the chocolate after it has cooled, so it does not melt, giving the chocolate a grainy – and delightful – texture. More info can be found HERE on one of the oldest chocolate factories in Sicily.
I was in Essaouira, Morocco on 9/11, 2001, drinking tea in a cafe near the beach. I was entertained by this old Moroccan man who came to the bar with his donkey.
He was a character as many of them are, a spring in his step and a twinkle in his eye. I couldn’t help but smile when he used a chair to hop up onto his trusty steed, whom had a potato chip bag on his forehead either for decoration or sun protection.
I was not prepared for what happened that day. No one was. I must tell you the Moroccans could not have been more kind or concerned. Here’s a prayer of peace for that fateful day.