Something Fishy in Finland

Because it was selected as one of the top ten food markets ever by Food Lover's Guide to the World from Lonely Planet, my expectations for the Helsinki fish market were running high and the rest of me was running late. Finland was my first pass at discovering Nordic cuisine and its current incarnations, but the ...

Gypsy Cuisine on the Road

Mamaliga, a cornbread served with melted cheese and sour cream, is part of a nomadic gypsy culture through which we might see ourselves. Wood fires, communal cooking...not so far from the alfresco dining that you and I covet when we invite friends over for a BBQ.  Like polenta in Italy or southern cornbread in the ...

Fiestas in Chicago, LA & upstate New York

Sometimes women cannot live by dessert alone.  We need tequila. As Cinco de Mayo dovetails so nicely with Mother's Day this year, ladies, let's get served. This wall of tequila is the artistic centerpiece of Frontera, Rick Bayless's flagship restaurant in Chicago.  Perfect bar food (mini-enchiladas with guacamole and spicy red sauce by the hearty spoonful, ...

Confections En Terrace in Brussels

The tragedy in Brussels hit me hard. Just as Parisians insist "Je suis en Terrasse" to assert the cultural values of their county, in Brussels, I am in the chocolate shop. Belgium's strength at colonial extractions in the 18th & 19th centuries produced a pipeline of cacao from Africa, and soon a gourmet chocolate industry ...

Champagne Taste in Champagne

This blog, this eclectic little creature who keeps me company, has now given me a reason to celebrate.  I grab a bottle of champagne (yep, always got one) and chill it.  I do not worry about which champagne to choose.  In the only growing region in the world, Champagne, France, my quest was to determine ...

Vegetable Dumplings & New Year in Chinatown

In case you missed The Los Angeles Times writer/author/ethnic-eats guru Jonathan Gold's recent article about dumplings in Chinatown, read.  The Lunar New Year begins February 8.  While you may or may never achieve the delicate balance of soup inside a handmade dumpling made famous by the restaurant Din Tai Fung that Gold profiles, you can ...

I Left My Chocolate in San Francisco

No I didn't. I never leave my chocolate anywhere. But someday I will leave my chocolate in San Francisco so I can go back and get it. You probably already know that that this is the ultimate food town because of the local farmers who populate thriving markets like the famous one at the waterfront ...

Fudge Brownies & Dancer-size Desserts

USC Kaufman class of '19-December 2015 Performance-Groundwork Cornet Chocolate Shop-Brussels, Belgium Desmond Richardson's master class ... While writing grants and brochure copy for the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, I meet a lot of dancers. Most staffers have trained in studios as the athlete/artists that all dancers are. They are disciplined and they don't ...

Moonlight Oysters in Boston

"Listen to me.  There is no more money," said my boss Sam, a stylish, 60-ish adman in his corner office near the Boston waterfront. Photo courtesy of Steve Dunwell A steady parade of us (copywriters, art directors, producers, and associate producers in my case) filed in for raises as late fall faded and winter moved in ...

Hot Chocolate & Day of the Dead in Mexico

Sugar Cookie Skulls from Leite's Culinaria Please do not feel obliged to put chilies in your hot chocolate in the interest of authenticity.  "Mexican Hot Chocolate" with spicy chilies and Aztec branding is a fine trend - you can hardly miss it at Starbucks and beyond.  But to some (full disclosure: me), chilies work best ...

Blue Cheese & Blue Herons on Catalina

Why is Ocktoberfest not a national holiday?  Its happy harvest of craft beer, bratwurst, applesauce and homemade blue cheese crackers turned me into an appetizer champion this year.  Driven by Christian's sailing prowess (he sailed solo from Los Angeles to Hawaii and back last summer; won racing championships; worked the Washington Post; writes screenplays & ...

Apple Pie & Tarte Tatin in Massachusetts

The Berkshires are woven into my life like pastry leaves.  At various times I've worked, schooled, gardened, baked, raised children, raked leaves, planted pumpkins and pondered life here. I've picked many, many apples in this hilly corner of New England. The old family farmhouse we bought 22 years ago has an orchard with 17 apple ...