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 ...

Sugar Pumpkins in Connecticut

Is it their silly, bulbous shape that makes us love them?  Is it their unflinching shade of orange?  Does their candy-loaded symbolism spark memory and ignite neurological pleasure centers?  Do we even need to analyze a love so pure?  Roasted pumpkins melt in the oven - their shapes collapse, their so-bright colors tarnish; they surrender ...

Symposium on Food and Cookery in Oxford

I was here to meet a food historian, a cookbook author and an archeology scholar. I was also here to revisit a little piece of my history as I spent a few summers and glorious weekends in this exquisite place. With a theme of Communications, historians from many countries presented papers on a wide-ranging, eclectic ...

Feeding Refugees in Hungary

Holocaust Memorial & Art Exhibit in Budapest                   installation depicts the shoes of Holocaust victims at the site of their murders In the wake of a large earthquake in Los Angeles in the 1990's that followed a wave of race riots, I wrestled with the constitution of my character.  What purpose did I serve beyond my ...

Sachertorte mit globalism in Vienna

I know, I know...Vienna has always been a cosmopolitan city.  But we approached it as a dessert capital - a singular exemplar; a province of old-world excellence. If other discoveries awaited us in this city, we didn't care. While Vienna delivered on its culinary promise, we could not ignore how it asserted itself as a ...

Beckoned By Black Forest Cake in Berlin

Seriously, this was a business trip. We HAD to find a quality slice of Black Forest Cake even though it was sought only by old-fashioned, German-language-less tourists like me. Most people seemed oblivious to the fact that this cake was born in Berlin. Where was its memorial? Where was its shrine? Susie@Berlin Wall We got distracted ...

Zipping Up the Paradox In Paris

If you've been on a dessert-tasting tour of central Europe for 2 weeks, the dress shops of Paris don't interest you. Over-crowded museums in summer heat are suddenly urgent on your agenda. Then I heard the siren song of this dress, vintage Herve Leger in nude, tags still on, swinging amid second-hand sequined tops and ...

Natalie in New York City

To fully appreciate NYC, you need a person like Natalie as your guide. She ambles lightly to the fun places, asks directions quietly and fearlessly as needed, and her laugh is a chime. She is my daughter, so forgive the brag. She is nomading around the Upper West Side,  Chelsea, Chinatown, Sag Harbor and the Berkshires. ...