Friday, August 21

Postcard from Shanghai – Longtong and Streetfood

Vintage Shanghai Postcard

  See those low red tiled roofs through the smog? They are longtong, the alley ways where you’ll find Shanghai’s famous street food.                   No menu needed. Unless you know Mandarin, order with your eyes. On an unanticipated business trip to Shanghai, I got to sample its street food.  Without any guidebook nor advance planning, I found “breakfast street”, one of dozens traversing busy Nanjing Road. (Click on any photo to get a closer view.)  

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Monday, April 20

My Almond Lexicon – Green Almonds

Almond botanical illustration from Germany circa 1903

“Green almonds” mean a number of things. Newborn Almonds – Almond buds start to appear on the tree right after the bloom, which appears in early winter. (It’s February to March in California and a week or two earlier in the Mediterranean.) As soon as the bloom drops, a tiny budlet appears on the tree. That’s our newborn green almond. You can easily pop the whole thing in your mouth. It is tender and crunchy.

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Monday, April 06

Green Almonds, a Celebration of Spring

Green almonds, a celebration of spring

These fuzzy green pods are green almonds. They are the baby nutlets, which appear on almond trees after the blooms fall. Green almonds, a celebration of spring, mark the calendar in countries where almond trees grow. Cousin to the peach, plum, and apricot, Prunus amygdalus, the almond is the first fruit tree to bloom in spring. Once the fragrant almond blossoms fall, clusters of pale green pods remain on their branches. Called ‘green almonds’, these

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Wednesday, April 01

80 Cakes for Jacques Pépin

Last Friday, members of the International Association of Culinary Professionals honored Jacques Pépin at a gala birthday party in Washington, DC. Under the direction of Bill Yossis, former White House pastry chef, more than 80 people donated cakes made in honor of Jacques’ 80th birthday. I was among them, a nervous wreck. “Of course,” I said when asked. And of course I knew I had to make the cake myself, although Bill had arranged for

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Tuesday, March 03

Committing an Act of Optimism – Ordering Seeds

Jacob's Cattle and string beans

Brutal weather grips much of the country. The raised bed where we traditionally plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day sits under 6 feet of snow. An upcoming trip to Boston, where brawls break out over shoveled-out parking spaces, terrifies me. Bostonians want the city declared a disaster area. Yet today I committed an Act of Optimism. I ordered seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds out of New Gloucester, Maine. A talented gardener and friend introduced me

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Monday, February 23

Almond Bloom 2015

Almond Bloom 2015

Close your eyes. Imagine a tall sky and wide, flat plain before you. The floor of the valley, in this case the San Joaquin in California, is covered in what appears to be a fine dusting of snow. This is the Almond Bloom 2015. You’re driving along a highway, CA-99; tractor trailers haul bales of hay and a 50-car train matches your speed. You pull off onto a secondary road for a closer look. There may

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Friday, January 30

Colorful New Year

Not since the 1970’s have there been so many choices in colorful home appliances and accessories, Lea Eiseman told the audience at last years’ International Housewares Show. (She directs the Pantone Color Institute and helps select the Color of the Year.) But would a Lavender Cream stand mixer make me more likely to bake this weekend? I am not sure but I do know that manufacturers and retailers are banking on color to attract elusive

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Thursday, January 01

I’m an American chef and food consultant living in Connecticut. I work the savory side as a cookbook author and recipe developer but am known for my expertise in bread baking and desserts. As a food writer, I travel the world visiting almond growers, bakers, flavor scientists, pastry chefs and all manner of farm and fishery. Almonds are my passion. And the lens through which I view the complex world of small farms, agribusiness and the

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Tuesday, December 30

Food Writing: Have a Good Appetite?

“The first requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite,” wrote AJ Liebling. By his standards, most people I know are supremely well qualified. If you count yourself among them and are curious about the mechanics of food writing, I will be teaching a class on the subject in New Haven, CT in 2015. Food Writing (HSP249) will be offered at Gateway Community College in downtown New Haven, CT on Wednesday evenings. Aspiring restaurant

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Monday, September 15

Bitter Flavors

I love the bitterness in raw baby artichokes, radicchio, unsweetened chocolate, dark espresso and other bitter drinks. And spices like allspice and cubeb pepper to name a few. I’ve already ordered Jennifer McLagan’s new book Bitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor, With Recipes published by Ten Speed Press. She’s explored neglected foods before in Bones: Recipes, History and Lore. Maybe she’ll have uses for the last wiry arugula in my garden. Of

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"Let no man fancy he knows how to dine
Till he has learnt how taste and taste combine."

-Horace, Satires, 2.4

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