Tags Posts tagged with "food"


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I stand at the counter of my humid kitchen, hair tied back and hands pressed against the hundred-year-old wood, peering into my glass cabinet for a measuring jug. I double check my sister’s rice pudding recipe, which is also my mother’s, which was also my granny’s. I run my finger down the blue patterned card until I get to the amount of milk needed. The rice pudding calls for two and a half cups of full fat milk.

Fat. I think my mother tried desperately to shield us from that word, which is why, amazingly, I didn’t hear it until the first grade lunchroom. “Who’s the fat girl in your class?” The freckled-faced redhead who would, ten years later, become my prom date, asked me in the lunch line, piling his yellow tray high with reheated tater tots. “What’s her name?”

Unsure of what he meant, I stuck my tongue out at him and didn’t answer, but when I found my seat, I pushed my own tater tots— a favorite food— around the tray, no longer hungry. Looking back now, I realize that was the first time I heard someone defined or identified by something other than her name. And though I didn’t know then the full implications of fat in our society, I had a foul taste in my mouth, like I had just been exposed to a word that was dirty or bad. Fat, I learned in that lunchroom, was distasteful and undesirable. I determined that day to never let the word fat be associated with me. 

In a small bowl, whisk together milk and sugar.

We had rice pudding every Sunday in my childhood home. I loved to have mine with vanilla ice cream, the cool dessert melting with the steaming hot pudding until a cream colored pool formed in my bowl, grains of rice lounging in the middle of it. My mother doled out portions generously, and unfinished bowls were met with raised eyebrows and incessant prodding— rice pudding was wasted by only the troubled or insane. I had reached high school before I noticed my mother only ever gave herself a few spoonfuls of the beloved dish.

Place rice in a buttered baking dish. Add the milk-sugar mixture.

My great aunt became pregnant in the post World War II era, during the last days of the Nazi Occupation of Jersey, a Channel Island off the coast of France. By 1945, most of the Islanders had gone four years without a proper meal. My great aunt had become a skeleton, her hip bones jutting through her skin, her ribs creating waves in the contours of her body. When food shipments finally came in again, she hoarded supplies, stacking high on every shelf tins of meat, fruit and fish. Her cupboards, from then until the day she died, reflected her attitude toward having enough, as though, at any minute, she expected the deafening planes of the Germans to land again on her island.

  She was so thin, at this time, that the doctor told her to drink pints upon pints of milk— that if she wanted her baby not to starve the way she did, she’d better drink enough to feed her. Within three months, my great aunt was overweight. 

She began gorging on Energen Rolls- the forerunner of diet foods. Because they contained so few calories, she always felt hungry. For the second time in her life, my great aunt starved, but now for a different reason, and yet she continued to gain weight. By the time I knew her, she was embarrassed to even leave her house.

In food-conscious people there’s a small delay, perhaps only a half second, between placing one’s hand on the fork and then lifting the fork to the mouth. I watched it in my great aunt and in my mother, and I watched it in “the fat girl” at school. I didn’t understand until years later, when I noticed it in myself, that this happens when the fork carries something much heavier than food: shame. The shame of eating in front of others, the feeling of being big, the idea that every person around the table is counting how many times you lift that fork to your mouth.

In my experience, nearly every woman goes through some kind of battle with food. In an age where food abounds, our stomachs, of all sizes, still crave: acceptance, power, the constant assurance that we are beautiful. Instead of delighting in our food, taking joy in the company of the flavors and each other, we become slaves to it. In these cases, we no longer have the freedom to enjoy rice pudding. We can either stare at it, pretending we can’t hear our own stomachs grumble, or we can eat it with a side of guilt. 

Bake, uncovered, for two to three hours, at 300 degrees.

As smells of baking rice and milk fill the room, I dig out a silver photo album given to me by my cousin Jean at my wedding. It is full of old family photos. I turn to the page that contains the only picture I have of my great aunt. She wears a floral dress that falls to her knees— the photo is black and white so I don’t know what color, but I imagine purple— she wears her thick, dark hair in a practical bun. I notice her size, yes, but first, her smile.  She was so kind, I remember, ever willing to have me on her knee, to listen to my stories and to tell me her own. She smelled of polo mints and soft perfume, and as a small child I adored it when she’d rock me back and forth, folding me into her gentle creases.

Who’s the fat girl in your class? What’s her name? 

I learned at an early age to never ask for second helpings around my granny. She would tut her perfectly painted, pursed lips, and say, knowingly, “Ohhhh, Rach, be careful! You’ll end up fat.”

And there is my mother, who denies herself a proper helping.

And there is my great aunt, who stopped going out because of her size. 

And there is me, getting my wedding dress resized twice because I am losing too much weight, because I can no longer eat a full meal without feeling panicky.

And there is my sister, who I hear crying late at night because she thinks she’s too big.

Fat, fat, fat. 

I throw the photo album across the room. I want to throw away with it every association I’ve ever had with fat. When did we ever begin to associate our worth with our size? When did we ever get the idea that life is better lived thin and flavorless, that if we aren’t in perfect proportion, we should be ashamed to leave the house?

It took me a year to begin eating normally again. Even today, I still get anxious at a restaurant, when the waiter places a large plate in front of me. Carefully, with the side of my fork, I portion off what I will eat tonight and what I will save. I blame this on society: on whoever made my great aunt embarrassed to leave the house, whoever gave my granny a complex about seconds, whoever thought naming a girl the fat kid would be humorous. 

The correlation between shame and food has lodged itself in the women of my family for long enough. I pull the rice pudding out of the oven. A thin, brown, skin has formed over the top, making it look just like my granny’s version, just like the version I watched my mother pull out of the oven on Sundays for years.  Methodically, I dish myself out a cup of it, and pull the sticky half gallon of vanilla ice cream out of the freezer. I march out to my porch, I sweat in the July sun, and I enjoy every last bite. I refuse to feel any kind of guilt or shame. I am doing this for more than me. 

I am doing this because there is so much more to life than fat.

Serve with ice cream and enjoy.

 Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Gratitude Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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A man passes by with three camels on the beach. He does this journey twice every day. The camels are walking behind him on the snow-white sand proudly.

Behind them the endless Indian Ocean shows off thousands shades of blue.

The sun is high up, spreading its burning rays everywhere. It is a hot day, I can feel that my skin is getting tense and I am getting sleepy by the heat as I lie under the palm trees watching the man with the camels. I brought a book to read, but the surrounding nature, the slow sound of the warm and sandy wind is taking the book away from me and turning my head towards the ocean.

A local man is snorkeling front of me. I know this man, I see him every day. He is the one catching the small octopuses that he sells to the kitchen, which makes delicious octopus-stew.

I have never tried to eat octopus before. I found the animal itself already bizarre creature! I did try octopus here and I absolutely loved it.

Over here, the seafood is delicious and always so fresh. The first place I saw sea-cucumber in the ocean and then ate it for dinner. When you are out here, and feel the heat, you relax immediately. The nature, the culture and the weather just switch of your senses and you feel like you have been dropped into the softest bed ever, where you can sleep endless.

They keep you entertained and they keep you on food and drinks so smartly that you never feel the immediate need of anything.

The ocean washes the beach softly, as I walk down there and put my feet into cooling water, I see the man with the camels again. Front of me a boat is floating on the ocean, it belongs to the snorkeling man.

When he appears at his boat I see his necklace again that he made from small bones. Bones of the fishes he caught and was proud of. Some of the bones belonged to his father, who died a few years ago and who was also a fisherman. They keep these bones as trophies.

It is not as bizarre for me as the witch doctors in the Massai villages we visited a few days ago. Being a witch doctor carries out from father to son or mother to daughter. They make contact with the gods and represent present to them for their mercy and help. They are the one that also carry out major surgeries. They keep bones, skulls and teeth from their ancestors to keep the knowledge close and within the village.

The villages are near by the safari area, where we saw the great red elephants. You drive miles and miles into the wild, towards the mountain of Kilimanjaro that looks like a delicious sponge-cake covered by icing sugar on the top. The colorful birds are slowly flying front of it as you drive, hold onto your binocular searching for some more interesting animals.

I see a starfish as I sit down in the water. The animal slowly moves away from me. I look at it and think about the animals I saw since I arrived. What a wonderful wild-life this country has!

On the safari we saw lions chasing gazelles, giraffes, zebras, hippos, red elephant, ostriches, storks, swallows, rhinos and buffalos. We definitely got what we paid for, and more. The lunch was delicious; I have never had to break the shell of the crab I eat. I have never tried making wraps from roasted octopus and vegetables, and I have never seen so many red elephant around a pond like they had below the restaurant’s terrace.

I lie down in the water, same as how the elephants lied down on the pond at the restaurant. I close my eyes, and let the sun stroke my face with its rays, and let waives washes my body and let the wind tickle my nose. I see the huge trunks spraying water on the giant bodies. I see how the small elephants playing with the water. I see how the buffalos watching them from a safe distance and I see as the sun quietly disappears behind the Kilimanjaro.

I open my eyes, I hear they announcing dinner at the restaurant. The live lounge music sneaks into the cricket chirr of the evening. Before I go I look back, the boat has gone and I don’t see the camels anymore. One day is just about to finish at Mombasa-beach, another beautiful and peaceful day is about to come tomorrow

 Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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Before the main course, we feasted on spicy calamari rings, dipped in warm, homemade marinara, I’d created myself.  I never imagined myself standing in the kitchen, dancing to Persian music with my prince, feasting on fresh calamari, in the middle of a tropical, Japanese island paradise.  Nasser slipped in and out of the kitchen snagging a morsel of calamari as he returned to the balcony to grill fillet mignon and fresh vegetables.  Nasser has broadened my horizons: opened my appetite to succulent liver, gizzards and hearts flavored with turmeric, onions, garlic and olive oil, fresh baked salmon smothered with milt and shitake mushrooms, or grilled button mushrooms stuffed with sausage.  My eyes have been opened, as has my palate, but mostly my heart.  My life is full of happy moments and fascinating experiences.

Earlier in the day, I visited Shuri castle and the royal tombs as well as the holiest place of worship in Okinawa with my son, Hunter.  We traipsed up the side of the mountain on an ancient stone path, to see a beautifully lit cavern, over-looking the ocean and the countryside.  Two stalactites dripped into small stone pots; Hunter slipped his fingers into the clear water, which had been considered holy in ancient times.  Hunter remarked that the enchanted place, with its cascading greenery and intricate root systems, reminded him of Fern Gully.  The atmosphere exuded peace.   I had a wonderful time with Hunter.  I wished Nasser could see what I had seen, but he had given me this special time to share with my son.  We had already shared many precious moments in this wondrous place.  We had even visited an untouched beach, just as I had with Hunter today.  How sweet to share these experiences with each of them.  Today, my feet sank in the soft, moist sand as I sauntered down the beach after Hunter.  Then, the surface of my boots scraped against the sharp coral stone and slipped on the green slimy moss.  Hunter remarked, “Mom, you can’t come around here, it’s only for boys”, he teased.   He correctly deduced I could not mount the dangerous, sharply inclined coral island, but I did navigate the less treacherous periphery and joined him round the other side (he had mounted the island and slipped through the opening in the center, whereas I had gone around).  The lilt in his voice belied his genuine surprise, “How did you get here?”  Never underestimate the power of a middle aged woman challenged by her strong, young adult son.  The satisfaction that spread across my lips may have been lost on him as I was out of his line of sight, but I savored the moment, then slipped back around the sharp, rocky face and met him back on the other side.  He collected beautiful coral specimens to create treasures for his friends as I plucked up brilliant pieces of sea glass, surfaces rubbed smooth by the gritty surface of the ocean floor.  The sea mist played with my hair and kissed my skin.  A brilliant blue Ryukyu sparrow played on the sea wall nearby.  Though I had slipped down the concrete wall to the beach, my sore shoulder hindered me from mounting it to return to the car; so, we made our way up the beach to a concrete stair way, collecting treasures along the way.  What a delightful time I shared with my sweet son.

            Back at home, we joined to collectively create a fabulous dinner.  I made the salad: fresh, bright greens, crisply baked pecans, slivers of yellow, red and orange bell pepper, bright red tomatoes, shiny black olives, topped off with tiny, deep red, sweet and sour zerescht that Nasser prepared for me.  He and Hunter grilled fish, chicken wings, eggplant, okra, veggie patties for Hunter, and mushrooms stuffed with spiced tofu.  We enjoyed a sweet Riesling with our neighbor, Loryn, who’d joined us.  Later, Hunter and I would walk her to her friend’s house.  The brisk walk in the fresh, cool Okinawan air awakened me.  Everyone went to bed as I put away the food and washed the dishes…a rarity.   Hunter, Nasser and I usually argue over who “gets” to do the dishes.  How different.  How refreshing, from what I hear of many other families.  But my family is not typical… It is unusual, beautiful…abundantly lovely.

How precious to share these moments from such an extraordinary place, this island paradise.  We have traipsed around, visiting farmer’s markets, peaceful remote villages, desolate beaches.  We have danced at midnight, stopped off at noodle shops, treasure stores, sacred temples, botanical gardens. Life is beautiful beyond imagination and this place is ethereal.  I wish all could see what I have beheld with my eyes, held what I have with my hands, felt and experienced what I have.

 Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Inspiration Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Barton G chocolate indulgence

Barton G chocolate indulgenceBarton G: Celebrate in Tasty Style

Wondering where to celebrate in Los Angeles? Bring your party to Barton G for a night of tempting tasty morsels presenting in a way you never imagined! This place will inspire you to play with your food.

Barton G arrived in Los Angeles in June 2014 and is fine dining joined with fun dining. Each meal is a memorable experience, which fulfills all the senses with enticing fragrances, extraordinary food and over-the-top presentations. After years of success on South Beach in Florida, the restaurant created by Barton G. Weiss is now also on La Cienega in Los Angeles.

Whether it is your birthday, anniversary or just a regular day, you will remember you night at Barton G!


VIDEOBarton G: A restaurant and Theater of Food

Starting with the Electra, Jala-migo and the nitro-bar “Diamonds are forever!” Happy birthday Dad!

A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

Fantastic presentation and taste: Blooming black cod: Alaskan cod with fingerling potatoes and sprouting broccoli A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

Lobster Apicus: 1lb Maine lobster with garlic seared shrimp. Mom says Delicious! succulent! #foodart @Barton_g_la

A photo posted by Lisa Niver (@wesaidgotravel) on

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Let’s talk about British food. I mean, let’s really talk about British food. It’s got a terrible reputation. If you visit, what are you going to find?

Breakfast: Every B & B I’ve ever stayed at offered a full English breakfast—or full Scottish or Irish or Welsh breakfast. In Cornwall, where I live, it’s still, mysteriously, called the full English, although the Cornish aren’t given to calling themselves English. Whatever it’s called, though, it includes an egg, a grilled tomato, a sausage, a piece of bacon, a puddle of baked beans, possibly some fried mushrooms, possibly a piece of black pudding, and definitely some toast set in a rack to cool so it won’t, all the gods of breakfast forbid, melt the better.

The Full English Breakfast (Vegetarian Version). Photo by Ewan Munro, from Wikimedia Commons.
The Full English Breakfast. Photo by Ewan Munro, from Wikimedia Commons.

Maybe you have to be born here to love it. It’s heavy and although it isn’t always greasy, it tends to be. It’s also one hell of a lot of food. And on a personal note, I hate baked beans. Especially for breakfast. But if you stay at a B & B, it’s included in the price, so if you’re short on money you’ll eat it. It’ll keep you going till late in the day. If money isn’t tight, you can ask for just one or two items—toast and eggs, maybe, or a single baked bean and a grilled tomato. Or you can just have cereal. I can’t remember a B & B that didn’t offer that as well.

Lunch: Most lunch places serve soups and sandwiches, which range from good to not-so, and many sell jacket potatoes—what we called baked potatoes in the U.S.—as a lunch. You can get them with just butter or you can add a filling, anything from coleslaw to baked beans (they’re everywhere) to cheese to curry. In Cornwall (or Devon—the counties are fighting a war over who invented them) you’ll find pasties. They’re a meal in themselves, and not a light one. Traditionally, the pasty was a miner’s lunch and it was made of beef, potato, and veggies folded inside a crust, but vegetarian and vegan versions are sold pretty much everywhere. I’ve eaten enough that I’ve started to notice how greasy they are, but you can’t say you’ve visited the southwest unless you’ve tried one, and they are good.

Afternoon Tea: The British really do love afternoon tea. It’s not necessarily fancy—usually just a cup of tea and something baked, and almost anything baked is worth trying. Scones (unless they’re inside a cellophane package) are almost universally good. Cornish (or let’s be generous: Devon) cream tea is magnificent: scones, jam, and a heavy, unsweetened cream called (don’t let the name put you off) clotted cream. Cornwall and Devon can’t agree on who invented the cream tea or on whether to put the jam or the cream on first. My advice? You’re a visitor; do a little of each and avoid offending anyone.

Cream Tea, with Jam on Top and Bottom to Avoid Offending Anyone. Photo by Foowee, from Wikimedia Commons.

Fruit pies are made with a slightly sweet crust. Since I’m American, I’m used to—and actually like—pie crusts that taste like cardboard, but I love the British version. Ginger cake is also wonderful, and coffee cake is actually made with coffee—another surprise for an American, since our coffee cake got its name from being eaten with coffee instead of being made with it. That’s a random sampling. If you can try everything, do.

Evening Meals: These pretty much divide into (a) carryout, (b) ethnic food, (c) pub or, in cities, café food, and (d) restaurant food.

Carryout: In small towns, this will probably be a kebab shop or a fish n’ chip place. In cities, you’ll find a wider range. This is your cheapest option.

Ethnic food: A small and unscientific survey reveals that every town has at least one Indian restaurant. Cities will have a wider range. They’re not necessarily cheap, but many are good.

Pubs and cafes: Pub grub is traditional British food. I wouldn’t say it’ll send you into ecstasy, but it will fill you up. Some pubs have gone high-end and call themselves gastro pubs, with fancier menus and fancier prices. In cities, you may find cafés—informal, lunch-y places—that stay open in the evening and serve evening meals, but in the countryside, where I live, cafes close by late afternoon.

Restaurants: These tend to be fancier than pubs, and pricier. You’ll find menus outside the doors so you can check prices and offerings. Britain’s in the throes of a food revolution and I’m told that some of the high-end restaurants are very good. I’ve never seen the point in spending silly amounts of money on a meal, so I can’t testify on this.

Vegetarian Food: I have yet to find a place that didn’t offer a vegetarian choice, and sometimes a vegan one. It doesn’t always thrill me, but it does fill me up.

Want to read more from Ellen Hawley? Buy her book: The Divorce Diet due out December 30, 2014

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Paris GOODfood+wine The first ever long form radio show broadcast from Paris in English about French food and wine. Find us at World Radio Paris. Fund us at Beacon Reader.

by Paige Donner

Paris is a world capital. It’s also one of the world’s top travel destinations. Last year France logged over 83 million foreign tourists, placing it at the #1 spot for world tourism destinations, according to France Diplomatie.

Not only are those numbers staggering but equally impressive is the revenue this tourism sector generates for France: €13 billion in 2012, up from €7.5 billion in 2011.

And the visitors are certainly international with the greatest increases coming from Russia and Brazil but also from China who registered a total of 1.5 million visitors to France in 2013.

So, the question we here at Paris GOODfood+wine asked was: Where and what are all of these people going to eat?



Paris Goodfood+wine, the very first long format radio show in English about food broadcast from Paris is produced for World Radio Paris. World Radio Paris, launched September 2013, just celebrated its first year anniversary milestone. Milestone because this is the very first English-language radio station – ever! – to be licensed by the state for broadcast from Paris. It took the WRP team, led by station manager David Blanc, ten years of lobbying to secure the necessary licenses and permits from the French government that allow us to broadcast from our antenna on the Montmartre Hill, in central Paris.

And as it is a community radio station, not-for-profit, we are staffed by all volunteers. I am one of those volunteers.

To mark an evolution at our one year anniversary, the team decided to embrace growth and initialize several long form radio programs. I pitched Paris GOODfood+wine, an outgrowth of my weekly World of Wine program I have hosted and produced this past year for WRP.  Paris GOODfood+wine is the first of these to take shape.

Which takes us back to our initial question: Where are 83 million visitors to France, most of whom spend their principal vacation in Paris, going to eat while they’re here?

And what are they going to eat?!

Paris GOODfood+wine  The first ever long form radio show broadcast from Paris in English about French food and wine.  Find us at World Radio Paris. Fund us at Beacon Reader.
Paris GOODfood+wine The first ever long form radio show broadcast from Paris in English about French food and wine. Find us at World Radio Paris. Fund us at Beacon Reader.


Paris GOODfood+wine is the answer to that question, radio style. Yes there are lots of good guidebooks available, several of which I’ve written for myself, including Fodor’s, and currently write for, like USA Today’s 10BEST.com. But with an ever-increasing smartphone equipped population, our  DAB (digital audio broadcast) is available easily with the just-launched WRP Android APP for download onto your mobile device.

So, if it’s your first (or even second or 10th!) time visiting Paris and you want to know, and you want to know NOW, where a few good dining choices are in the city where you are sure to get a good meal, look no further than our restaurant review segments on Paris GOODfood+wine, with guest restaurant critic, Alec Lobrano.  Or, perhaps you would like to visit a few fresh markets while in town, pick up some lovely cheeses, fresh baguettes, maybe a few sausages and some fruit? Our Paris Market Report journalist, Emily Dilling, introduces you to some of the best Parisian fresh markets and talks with some of their superstar fresh produce providers. To round out the program, Gabrielle Mondesire offers insights into some of the more unique aspects of Parisian culinary culture and I, well, I will tell you all about French wines and lead you to some of the city’s best wine bars, wine cellars and wine events and also provide you with in-person interviews of some of Paris’s culinary personalities and people of note.

With Paris GOODfood+wine we hope to share with you our passion for French food and wine as we find it existing uniquely here in the City of Lights, aka the World’s Top Tourism Destination for Food And Wine.

And your support of this tasty radio project is greatly appreciated!


To find out more about Paige and to contact her go to About.me/PaigeDonner


La Ventura: Modern Mexican Food Melts in Your Mouth

I had the opportunity to experience Jeffrey Saad‘s new restaurant, La Ventura, on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City last night. “[Saad’s] insatiable appetite for ingredients and flavors and encyclopedic knowledge of spices allows him to create ‘food without borders.'” I fully enjoyed everything and highly recommend you visit right away.

A few fun facts: Jeffrey was the host of Spice Smuggler on the Food Network and United Tastes of America series on the Cooking Channel.

Join the La Ventura Team for an exclusive Herradura event Tuesday, August 12. Extremely limited seating, call today for reservations.

Excited to try @tastelaventura Thx @breadandbutterpr! Look for @nokia #oneshot #photos #ILoveLA!

Enjoying guacamole, chips and the la Ventura special margarita with herradura double barrel reposada tequila– with agave harvested by Chef Jeffrey Saad. Aged in double barrel! Only 250 bottles exist only created for #LaVentura

At the next table, we are tempted by their order of Mar y Tierra: grilled skirt steak, shrimp with tamarind-chipotle sauce–served with rice, drunken bacon pinto beans & a stack of warm flour or corn tortillas.

Incredible tastes! Achiote chicken Taco, Carne Asada Taco, Grilled Achiote rubbed fish, corn and plantains! Amazing food! Thank you to our wonderful server, Adrian.

Decadent desserts! Homemade Salted Caramel Ice Cream and Churros with piloncillo caramel and chocolate dipping sauces. #Heavenly!

Thank you to Betsy FlanaganBread and Butter PR, Jeffrey Saad and the entire La Ventura team!


The summer day begins in Santa Monica!

Thank you @angelenomagazine for #liveanddine2014 @fairmontmiramar

In celebration of The Restaurant Issue, Angeleno magazine hosted its annual LIVE & DINE L.A. event, honoring the city’s most distinguished chefs and restaurateurs of 2014 who continue to shape and evolve L.A.’s culinary scene. Guests were treated to signature bites and menu samplings prepared by the celebrated chefs, which will be paired with exclusive wines and artisanal cocktails.  Ticket proceeds to benefit Share our Strength.

This year’s restaurants include Acabar | Adoteca | Al Mare | Bestia | Cafe Rockenwager | CAST at Viceroy Santa Monica | The Church Key | Cliff’s Edge | Craig’s | Culina, Modern Italian | Faith & Flower | Fifty Seven | FIG Restaurant | Fishing with Dynamite | fundamental LA | Gracias Madre | Hamasaku |Justice | Malibu Pier Restaurant & Bar | Nest at WP24 | Nobu Malibu | The Polo Lounge | Rao’s Restaurant | SAAM at The Bazaar | Scarpetta | The Wallace | West Restaurant & Lounge | Wine Media Connect and more!

I met  Chef Giacomo from Ristorante Al Mare on the Pier. I enjoyed: Caprese, polipo e patate, pannaciia e ciliegie Learn more at Restorante Al Mare @dinelamare

Next I tried the chicken sandwich on pretzel bread, and mini tropezienne from Rockenwagner. I am definitely going to show up for their $5 happy hour in Brentwood! I ate a sandwich recently at Whole Foods on their pretzel bread which is AMAZING!

The Kalamansi creamsicles from the Nest restaurant at the Marriott in LA LIVE were spectacular! They were made from limes from the #Philippines and were creative tasty creations!

Patrick, the General Manager of Rao’s Hollywood, told me that the roasted red peppers were a family recipe and that their New York City location started in 1896 is the oldest restaurant that has never moved! I cannot wait to go for a full meal!


Jason is a Free Diver and Fantastic Chef! I enjoyed his California Sea Bass and look forward to tasting all his tempting treats at @MalibuPier which is now just two months old!

Another Gorgeous #SantaMonica Sunday #sunset

Thanks to #liveanddine2014 and @angelenomagazine

This is my first instagram inspired Photo Essay! What do you think?

tripe soupTripe Soup

My husband and I were wondering through the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, a few streets from the now infamous Taksim Sqaure. The multi-colored flags strung diagonally across the intersections and alleys waved calmly with the Bosphurous breeze. We came to this part of town on a tip from a friend. We were hunting for street food.
We started with Simit, a bagel-like round of crispy bread topped with sesame. I had mine plain, while my husband had his stuffed with sheep cheese and tomato. These can be sold two ways, soft or chewy to a crisp. I prefer the softer round. The bitter dough and the crunch of the sesame seeds that always get caught in my teeth are truly addictive.

Rows and rows of lemons caught my eye next. There were stacks of perfectly oval muscle shells nestled inside of the lemon rows. Midye dolma, street food style muscles, are served steamed and stuffed with spiced rice and lemon. We stood at the high top table near the cart and kept nodding at the man preparing the muscles in a “keep em’ coming” kind of way. The muscles were sweet and had a fresh thickness to them. The rice had been browned with spices, something like red pepper, thyme, and paprika. We ate about a dozen and ambled onto out next stop.

My sweet tooth kicked in right as the coffee was being poured. A long stretch of thick black brew, no sugar because it was for my husband. However, the tempting frosty square served on the plate with the coffee was all mine. Türk lokumu, or Turkish delight, are soft gelled squares flavored with fruits, flowers and nuts. This one was particularly indulgent with rose water and pistachio. I grabbed a few pieces to go, wrapped in pastry paper, and headed on with the sweetest morsel of candy still lingering in my mouth.

The next food adventure was the most triumphant and trying snack of the trip. “This place is famous! Many people will come here when the bars close” was the advice. What is it famous for? Tripe soup, işkembe çorbası, is a famed Turkish hang-over cure. We took a sharp left down a side street into the small opening of the café. There were four tables, an odd number of chairs, and a few TV’s playing live soccer. Two men sat, hovering over their bowls, in the corner by the window. Before we could sit down, a man with a stained white coat waved us to the back of the shop. His smile seemed to say that he was truly enjoying himself. We hesitated but followed his waving arms.

As our eyes rounded the corner, I realized that he wanted to show us the “behind the scenes” of his small restaurant. There was one large cutting board with minced pieces of grey and pink meat and a large vat built into the counter. The smell was overwhelming; at first it was pungent, like a cheese shop. But, as I stood there longer, it turned more sour and acidic. He grabbed a giant pair of tongs and dipped and swirled the soup in the vat, searching, stirring, searching. All of a sudden, the tongs pulled up the whole, giant, simmering stomach. My eyes widened into saucers, I was nervous.

Two bowls sat in front of us. We were face to face, trembling, having a showdown with the thickening yellow soup. A bowl full of bowels, if you will. Turkish food had not failed me yet, I was up for the adventure. How many times would I be sitting here? How many times do you get such a warm welcome from the cook yourself? How many times do you get to truly eat what the locals eat? We dug in. The texture was lovely, silky, reminiscent of lentil soup. But the smell was ripened, I couldn’t get past the achingly sour aftertaste. We tried and tried to add garlic and hot sauce, to finish a bowl, to be humble travelers. Even though our bowls were not empty, the risk was worth the reward of such a vivid memory.

After we politely put our spoons down and handed over the cash, I was ready for a cab back to our room. In the back of the cab, my stomach was still churning. My husband was laughing at my colorless cheeks. I didn’t want our snack-filled night to end like this. Until I smiled and remembered the handful of türk lokumu still safely tucked away in my pocket.

About the Author: Natalie Cowart earned her BA in Creative Writing from the Florida State University. She currently writes and teaches in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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sandwichThe French, they love their food. You can see this in the quality and freshness of the ingredients they use to prepare their meals. They don’t cut corners either when it comes to their artisan street food either, but if you know where to look and where to avoid you can steer clear of disappointment.

Lunches and dinners in France are leisurely affairs. They often last hours, and the quality of the carefully prepared dishes is an important factor. That’s not to say that you can’t find fast street food in the cities of France just as you would in any other country. Look in the right places and you can find some of the most delicious crepes, filled baguettes, sandwiches and savory snacks.

crepesIn the major French cities you’ll no doubt come across street vendors selling prepared sandwiches, filled croissants and a range of warm snacks near the Paris hotels, transport links and popular tourist attractions. Avoiding them is a good way to avoid food poisoning, which can seriously put a crimp in your vacation while the price puts a dent in your wallet. Try to follow the locals if you can; if a place looks busy and has a large queue of customers, all those people can’t be wrong!

One of the best places to find artisan-quality street food is at the many open-air and covered markets. The sandwiches, croissants and baguettes will be baked on the same day and you can choose from a range of French cheeses and ham. Keep an eye out for the fresh quiches and the huge variety of specialty sausages, as well as the popular cheese-covered sausages sold at the markets. The markets are also the place to go for the freshest seafood snacks and you can even pick up some sushi in many of them.

franceIf you want to be sitting while you eat then remember that it will cost more to sit outside at a sidewalk table; standing at the bar costs less. Again, look for the cafes that are busy with locals, especially during lunchtimes. Tasty, quick and inexpensive meals include the croque monsieur, which is basically two slices of warm crust-less bread filled with Gruyere cheese and lean ham. For something equally simple, quick and inexpensive, choose an omelet served with pommes frites and a salad.

Images by magerleagues, kurmanstaff and sheerluck7 and tornatore, used under Creative Commons license.

About the Author: Hugh Jacobs is a travel writer and self-confessed Francophile who has a particular interest in the works of Alexandre Dumas. When not indulging in French culture, he likes to wind down with some jazz, his favorite musician being Duke Ellington.