Cooking in Austin















Magical getaway last week to Austin included a nomadic Home Restaurant with a menu influenced by Texas ingredients.  There is a wonderfully large amount of food being grown within the Austin city limits.  Huge thanks to our host as well as Stephanie and Kim (also dinner guests) of the breathtaking Rain Lily Farm for memorable herbs including French Anise Seeds which from now on will be a constant in my DC garden, Sebastian of Countryside Farm for the Wild Hog and Rabbit, Antonelli's Cheese Shop who had an experimental cheese from our favorite Jasper Hill Farm, and Casey the Chef from Justines who cooked with me and helped me gather stellar ingredients for the meal.

Already looking forward to the next!

PASSING (tastes from the kitchen): Black Eyed Peas with Oregano, Roasted Rabbit with Rhubarb Ketchup, Corn and Lime and Garlic Chive, Brussel Sprout with Ginger, Fig Basil and Balsamic, Roasted Eggplant with Small Celery


Turbot with Leek, Armenian Cucumber and Grainy Mustard (24 hour bread)

Arugula with Morel, Porcini, Shallot and Red Wine Vinegar (buckwheat herb bread)

Wild Hog with Basil Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Green Tomatoes, Okra, and Spicy Cabbage (olive oil spelt bread)

Washed Moses Cheese and Walnut Cracker

Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with White Peaches, Blackberries and Anise Cream

Small Bites: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Macadamia Cookie, Chocolate Cake with Fresh Mint, Salty Rosemary Walnut Biscotti, Lavender Cake Rose Icing and Pistachio

Take Home: Warm Fig and Chocolate Bread

Verjus Restaurant, Paris, Vegan Dinner

Martin-Lane and I are vegan vegetarians– we eat very well.  Paris is no exception we have our favorite bakeries, street food, markets, cous cous restaurant, Vietnamese food, falafel... My preference is to eat meals inspired by the freshest seasonal market ingredients, many restaurants in Paris that cook this way are not able to accommodate vegans.  Of course there are exceptions on previous trips we have had memorable meals at Arpege, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and le violin d'Ingres to name a few.  On our trip last week we enjoyed a thoughtful and delicious seven course meal at Verjus.  I cannot recall each dish but the meal included– smoked broccoli, roasted potato with truffle salt and radish sprout, celery root dumplings with dan dan sauce, tofu made by a friend of the chef, cranberry beans, salsify...  Everything we saw at the farmers market and more!

At the end of the meal I asked how often they cook vegan meals and was told this was their first one!  I recommend both the restaurant and wine bar downstairs to both vegetarians and omnivores alike.

A few of my favorite Paris

I just put a list together for a friend going to Paris later this month.

He has been there many times, knows the city well and has friends to visit and events to attend...I made this list of some of my favorite in between any case making this list has made me desperate for a trip to Paris...

Here is the list–

...First of all you may already do this but last trip to Paris was the first time I used my iphone to map from destination to destination, since Paris is all about walking was especially helpful in the old neighborhoods when streets tend to go in circles and having a sense of direction basically does not help at all!

Neighborhood Canal St-Martin

This is where that Tete dans L'Olives store is...about a 10-15 minute walk from most other stuff in the neighborhood, they do have a tiny 8 seat restaurant but meal or no meal I think it is worth a visit just because it is truly one of a kind place.

Le Verre Vole (food and drink), eat, drink or food to take away.

Maybe my favorite bakery in Paris...but that would be hard to say, Du Pain et Des Idees

Specific streets to wander, some independent retail mixed with stores like APC– Rue Marseille, Quai de Valmy, Quai de Jemmapes...

Neighborhood North Marais

Leave some time to wander, there are people making things mixed in with an overwhelming amount of restaurants, cafe, retail...after awhile you might say...not another $2000 robot in an old refrigerator being used as a display case, next to a hand printed tee-shirt, next to a set of pencils I cannot live without, next to the coolest jacket I have ever get the idea– jewelry, vintage, young designers, food...

wander the streets of – Rue du Vieille du Temple, Rue Charlot, Rue de Poitou, Rue Debelleyme and all the little streets near by

a new favorite clothes line discovered on last trip is Venus et Judes 22 rue Debelleyme (wearing their jeans this second)

Merci, 111 Bd Beaumarchais ( a little walk from above streets...could be a combination or a separate destination), Not only is it a solidly good store in a very thought out way...100% of profit goes to charity!!

Two of my favorite farmers markets

Bastille Market open Sunday and Thursday, Lebanese guy makes these sandwiches on dough that he rolls out on this thing that looks like a gigantic pasta maker and then cooks on metal drums, soap maker, salt guy, where I always buy Salt Gris to take home (all three of these spots are closer to the Bastille end of the market)

Marché des Enfants Rouges, not open Mondays and closes mid-day, Small semi covered market I adore, good to get lunch, picnic tables available for eating

A Museum...again there are so many but this is one you might miss...

Musee Carnavalet, Most random Paris history museum.  Kind of like someones basement that happens to be filled with random old stuff from Paris...I expect at some point it will be redone but it is beautifully not put together right now.  Located in a fantastic building with memorable garden.

Slovenian Salt

On a recent trip to San Francisco we discovered Piran Salt from Slovenia at one of our favorite spots Boulettes Larder.

A little research uncovered that the salt has been around for a long time and is still harvested using techniques that are more than 700 years old.   The salt is actually scraped by hand from the salt basins in Secovlje Salina Nature Park on the Adriatic coast.

– our new favorite finishing salt...last night we used it to season roasted green tomatoes.

Watsonville California, Beach and Endless Strawberry Fields Side by Side

I talk a lot about knowing where your food comes from...I have visited many farms near and far, watched animals being slaughtered, I know many of the people that grow the food I eat and I grow as much as I can in my urban yard...but, when I arrived at a friends beach house it made me realize that there is lots that I am eating that I know nothing about!

I had never seen large scale strawberry production...  The house we were so fortunate to visit looked out over the ocean in one direction where sea otters played  just yards from the shore.  However, I was just as intrigued by the view out the kitchen window which was of strawberry fields as far as the eye could see.  Sitting at the kitchen table you could watch the fields being watered, tended to by man and machine and observe the systematic picking of strawberries.

The agriculture in the entire region is intense.  We were one stop north of Gilroy the garlic capital, and very close to Castroville, the artichoke capital, small and large farms carpeted the area.  Although seduced by the fertility of the area I also know that year round food production on this magnitude requires pesticides.  In any case I will never look at a strawberry exactly the same way again.   Next time you are in the supermarket check it out– much of the year the strawberries being sold are very likely from Watsonville, California.

I am happy to of witnessed this large scale agriculture production up close.

Summer Wanderings...Whitmore Farm

Not much blogging lately, we have been having too much fun wandering in DC, near DC and to further points...There have been lots of work projects but in between we have been zealous about exploring and sharing time and meals with friends. In no particular order I will share what we have been up too...

We met Will and Kent from Whitmore Farm a couple of years ago when they were selling at the Rose Park Farmers Market in Georgetown, they are not there anymore but are in D.C. on Saturdays at the Glover Park-Burleith Farm Market.  After a brief conversation we found out that they used to be regular customers at our old restaurant Rupperts when they lived in the city.  Since then they have relocated to Emmitsburg, Maryland where they raise heritage breeds of sheep, goats, hogs, chickens, rabbits and the best eggs we have ever tasted.  A visit to the farm has been on our list, we finally made it!

I must admit that I had high expectations from tasting their food and brief conversations.  The farm is beyond belief– the animals, farm buildings, their home, the barn, the property, the green houses where they are experimenting with the growth of more than a dozen varieties of figs, the machinery storage building that they are constructing without nails, the collection of Anduze Pots, the mobile chicken coops, the spectacularly colored eggs...

We spent a memorable afternoon around the kitchen table discussing the good and bad in certified organic farming, the unique chicken feed and breeds they use to produce the amazing eggs, how they choose what specific breeds of animals to raise, getting a local butcher certified, lobbying in Maryland in regards to regulation of poultry slaughter on small farms, the fact that many of their interns are vegan...

The visit was inspiring. I adore these guys, we are lucky to be able to cook with what they produce.

Hudson New York, Getaway





















Had a couple of days free last week and took a train to Manhattan and then transfered to another train to Hudson NY.  We spent a glorious couple of days hiking, eating, shopping and relaxing.

Stayed at Mount Merino Manor, a five minute taxi ride outside of town–  situated on a 100 acre property, great breakfast, beautiful views of the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River, quiet...

Hiked at Olana which is a 250 acre estate within walking distance from Mount Merino Manor.  It was the home of the Hudson River School Painter, Frederic Edwin Church. Church meticulously designed the landscape of his property concentrating on views that one can see from the various paths on the property.

Ate at two fantastic restaurants which were very vegan friendly and focused on local ingredients, Swoon and Daba.  Both restaurants served thoughtfully prepared delicious food and had lovely small wine lists and excellent service.

Drank coffee at Strongtree a small batch roaster located across the street from the train station with memorable coffee and an enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff.

Shopping is extensive...the only problem with taking the train was there are endless large pieces of old stuff– furniture, planters, garden gates...that we had to leave behind.  There are also very reasonable and well curated vintage clothing shops– a little easier to squeeze a bit of that into our small backpacks. We also found all sorts of small shops where people were making jewelry, painting, churning ice cream...

A few of the favorites we discovered:

Red Chair on Warren- collection of old things from France and Belgium including buttons, plates, fabric, seed packets...

Shana Lee- jeweler who makes the simplest perfect dot stud earrings that happen to be extremely reasonably priced.

Mark's Antiques and Larry's Back Room- great unique unfinished pieces, I hated to leave a very large round cast iron tub that would have made the most fantastic planter.

Look Apparel and Accessories– where I was introduced to and purchased a Didier Ludot little black I cannot wait to return to Paris to visit his shop!

Merci the store

On our recent trip to Paris we discovered a new favorite, a store called Merci– a seemingly casually and clearly perfectly curated and designed space that includes– dining, men and women's clothing, a used book store, art, sculpture, a home section, art supplies, bedding and kitchen supplies.

Not only was it possibly my favorite store I have ever been to but all money made beyond operating costs is donated to charity– the following is from their website.



"I have what I gave 'Jean Giono

Thank you ...

IS AN IDEA in response to a question: How TO How to be FIXED? How to generate funds in a sustainable manner without calling for donations or charity?

IS THE IDEA that one can give his expertise, his time, talent, energy ... by creating success. This was done by the founders, Marie-France and Bernard Cohen, after selling Bonpoint imagining AN EXCEPTIONAL run as a commercial classical and effective and not as a charity store.

That's what some DESIGNERS by producing a special model for Thank you and agreeing to give up their margins. These products are identified by the small gold medal.

That's what the founders being totally volunteer and donating the profits of that business to an endowment they have created to HELP the poor children of the poorest, especially in Madagascar.

This is what the providers PARTICIPATING Thanks, if they wish, to the endowment fund.

We look forward to you reporting the results of this first year. You are SUCCESSFUL thank you! Without you nothing is possible. Thank you.

Canal Saint Martin, neighborhood Paris

I have been stalking the Canal St. Martin neighborhood for more than a decade now.  The first time I visited I knew that it is where I would choose to live if moving to Paris.  It was a perfect place to wander, we found a coffee shop, a book store and a large Antoine and Lili store but it was not full of shopping, galleries or other commerce that often bring you to visit a neighborhood– it just appealed as an excellent place to live.  On subsequent visits we saw new stores popping up, more cafes and it is both a great place to live and a destination.

When deciding where to stay on our most recent trip I learned that a new small hotel had recently opened right on the canal, I did not hesitate, I made a reservation at Le Citizen.  In addition to the hotel being located in what I consider the perfect spot there were many other advantages it was– small, comfortable, you get an ipad lent to you upon check in, the staff and owner are knowledgeable and helpful, the construction and practices are ecologically short it was hard to leave and we will stay there on our next trip.

Staying on the canal gave us a chance to explore the neighborhood, on the street (rue de Lancry) between Jacques Bonsergent (our metro stop) and the hotel there is a paper shop, a fabulous flower store, a variety of small specialty food shops– Italian, Lebanese, Greek, fruit...a late night falafel joint that proved invaluable for an after ballet snack one night, intriguing clothing and vintage stores and a fabulous design bookstore.  There are also several spots that beg you to stop for a drink or a glass of wine including Le Verre Vole and Hotel du Nord.

The blocks surrounding Le Citizen were full of food shops, clothing stores, galleries, flower shops, cafes... I am anxious to explore each one on future visits.  We did find two new favorites: a bakery, Du Pain et Des Idees and La Tete Dans Les Olives.

Since "discovering" Du Pain et Des Idees I learned that the excellent bread is not exactly a secret...Alain Ducasse serves bread from this bakery at his Paris 3 star restaurant, Plaza Athenee.  The Pain des Amis is one of the best breads I have ever tasted– slightly fermented, nutty, whole wheat and woodsy.  We also tried a stuffed bread that was kind of like a French version of an empanada filled with olives and thyme– memorable.  I have no doubt that everything from this bakery is worth trying.

La Tete Dans Les Olives is about a 10 minute walk from Le Citizen hotel.  The tiny store is packed with products from Sicily.  The owner travels to Sicily every year for the olive harvest and processing of the oil and returns back to Paris with a variety of oils that he has made.  He does not own property but rather visits friends olive farms and the names of the oils reflect the owners of the various properties.  The processing procedure is the same for each oil but the tastes vary greatly depending on the variety of olive, soil and other growing conditions.  We tasted several oils and wanted to bring home one of each but settled on two, a very grassy tasting Paolo and a rich and intense oil called Francesco.  We also tasted the most delicious capers, sun-dried tomatoes, fig cookies and a dried persimmons.  This store is worth a detour!  They also do a 5 seat restaurant a few times a week, sadly there was no spaces available but it is on the top of my list for my next visit.

Eating Vegan (vegetalien) in Paris

Every time I go to Paris I forget that it is an oddity to be a vegan there.  There are outstanding ingredients– stellar vegetables, the best bread, availability of a huge variety of foods from all over the world...but the French are committed to their meat, fish, eggs, butter and cheese.  Fancy restaurants with kitchen inventories and large kitchen staffs sometimes are willing to accommodate.  However, smaller bistros with one menu and only a person or two in the kitchen are often unable to prepare a vegan meal.  There are exceptions to this, a few I know of are–  Le Clown Bar we had an excellent plate of seasonal vegetables and lentils, we were unable to get a reservation at La Tete dans les Olives or Le Comptoir (next trip!) but they seemed undaunted by our request and the underground restaurant, Soul Kitchen Supper Club said vegan would not be a problem but they were not open any of the nights we were in Paris this time.

Don't get the wrong idea, we ate well in Paris!!

There are several vegetarian restaurants in Paris, I have not been to many but we did end up eating a lovely meal in between two exhibits at the Pompidou Museum at Le Potager du Marais.  I have heard great things about several others as well.  We had a fabulous lunch made up of several small salads and extraordinary multi grain bread at Bread and Roses near the Jardin de Luxembourg.  There are many cous cous restaurants where it is easy to eat vegan throughout Paris, a favorite is Chez Omar.

Street food is plentiful and much of it is vegetarian, favorites include the Thyms Sandwich at the Bastille Market, Falafel from L As du Fallafel, Japanese choices from a stand called Taeko at Marche des Enfants Rouge (great Moroccan, Middle Eastern and Italian choices too)– and there is always the option of bread and fruit available on nearly every corner.

On our recent trip we also ate at Le Violon D'Ingres where we started with a perfectly dressed salad, followed by a plate of spring vegetables that included fava beans peas and morels.  We ended with a cassis sorbet and fruit.  On an earlier trip we they were happy to prepare a memorable vegan meal for us at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

Our last night we splurged and ate at Arpege a Michelin 3 star restaurant that is unique in that it has an emphasis on vegetables.  They were happy to work with us and forgo dairy as well.

Our meal was made up of lots of tiny courses–

Beet on cracker with chocolate

Potato noodles with herb vinaigrette

Spinach with sesame and bitter orange

Salad with hazelnut butter

Beet and chocolate with balsamic vinegar and spring onion

Yellow beet carpaccio with chervil

Black radish carpaccio with lemongrass

Green radish with caramelized radish and green tea

Baby vegetables with cous cous and cumin

Cassis Pates

Orange and apple with mint and argon oil

Apple and pineapple with olive oil lime sauce and candy


Already dreaming of our next visit!