Category Archives: To Market

Shiny Fruit

The quality of the produce in Paris is fantastic, but these jewel-like fruits on display at Hediard just cannot be natural.  Do they polish each berry?  Do they have a food stylist come in and spray them with magic shiny stuff?

Hediard, for all things luxurious and delicious.

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At the Market

The Sunday morning market is AWESOME.  I had all these plans to go to these markets all over the city, but the fact is, the one right behind my friend Annic’s apartment is perfect, and I can be certain I am the only American there.  It’s little, just two little streets that cross each other like an X.  The boulangeries, fromageries, caves du vin, seafood markets, butchers, vegetable guys and florists all open up their doors and expand into stands in the street.  Rotisseries set up on the street fill the air with the smell of roast chicken.  The fruits and vegetables are artfully arranged, as if someone was going to take the whole arrangement of haricot vert and use it as a decorative piece.  We have Annic’s big straw bag, and we pop in and out of each store, only buying one or two things at each.  The street is filled with families doing the same, and a relaxed happiness pervades, as if the tradition of Sunday market brings not just good food but incredible comfort. People greet each other and share kisses and jokes.  The street vendors offer you a taste of their produce before you buy, confident that once you have a bite, you will buy from them.  There is intense pride in the products shown.

 

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Whale of a Good Idea

I’m a white plate kind of girl.  But I love these mariner inspired plates.  Wouldn’t the whale serving tray be great with grilled squid arranged on top?  The smaller plates I would use for decoration on a wall.

The plates are by NY-based designer thomas paul.  Available online at lekkerhome.com

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Travel: SF and Pt Reyes

Hiking in Pt. Reyes

Are San Franciscans the luckiest city dwellers in the world?  Within a two hour drive in three directions, they have natural escapes of such awe-inspiring beauty it’s hard to understand why they would ever stay in SF for a weekend.  To the south, it’s the misty redwoods of Big Sur.  To the northeast, the expansive, rolling vineyards of Napa and Sonoma.  And to the northwest, miles of seriously amazing coastline.  I mean, COME. ON.   It’s probably a good thing I don’t live there, as I would spend every minute scheming how not to work.

Waking up to this: Tomales Bay.

Pt Reyes National Seashore is a phenomenal find for people who want rugged, unspoilt nature.  You can walk for miles along a craggy, windswept peninsula, ocean on one side, Tomales Bay on the other, and you won’t encounter anyone else except for the resident elk.

Left, beets at the farmer's market; right, olive oil from Toby's

You can shuck your own oysters at Tomales Bay Oysters. You can hole up in a luxurious, woodsy cabin like Manka’s Inverness Lodge or you can rent one of the waterfront bungalows at Nick’s Cove.  Pick up cheese at Cowgirl Creamery, some bread and vegetables at Toby’s Feed Barn (and an awesome latte) and have a picnic.  It’s laid back, capital L.  On the way back to SF, take your time and cruise Highway One, a picturesque drive that takes you through some dramatic nature, and only south of Stinson Beach (surfer haven) does the road get REALLY windy (ahem, not good if you’re prone to nausea).

Oysters from Tomales Bay on the left, inside Pine Cone Diner

Beautiful brew: left, at Toby's Feed Barn; right, at Blue Bottle

San Francisco is probably the chillest city you can return to.  And chilliest.  It was summertime and it brought with it the requisite fog.  Still, we sat outside at Boulette’s Larder for clean market-sourced food and rose before strolling the food shops at the Fish Pier.  We went over to Berkeley to taste some tapas at Cesar (and I had an incredible version of an old cocktail called the Corpse Reviver).  The best meal, though, was at Delfina, along 18th St.  For foodies, 18th St is heaven.

Dinner at Delfina: Bread with a tomato jam and Ricotta Salata, my favorite dish of grilled octopus with white beans (divine), and the Insalata di Campo

Delfina and Pizzeria Delfina serve up simple, well-executed Italian that makes you realize delicious food does not mean recreating the wheel, it means using really good ingredients in the best way possible.  Bi-Rite Market and Creamery is an upscale grocery shop with lots of their own products, all beautifully merchandised.  Their creamery does soft serve, sort of like a fancy Dairy Queen, with flavors like mexican chocolate and candied walnuts.  Oh yum.

beautiful lunch at Tartine Bakery

Tartine, a bakery on the corner, produces a beautiful loaf of bread- crusty on the outside, soft and pliable and delicious on the inside.  Their double pain au chocolate is a lovely monster of chocolate and butter, the best combination possible.  Am I singing praises too loudly?  Maybe.  But I ate very, very well in San Francisco.

WHERE TO GO:

PT Reyes National Seashore (stay in Pt Reyes Station, Inverness, or Tomales Bay)

High-End: Manka’s Inverness Lodge.  Gorgeous, feels the Scottish Highlands.  Would be amazing to hole up their for a weekend with someone you LOOOOVE.

Nick’s Cove: fun, definitely splurge for one of the waterfront rooms

Low End: there are tons of vacation rentals in the area for about $175 a night, including an beautiful cabin over the water.  We booked late and stayed at the Motel Inverness, which is actually much nicer than a motel (sits on Tomales Bay, views of birds, water and cows grazing in the distance, room decor is 90s rustic, somewhere in between Pottery Barn and Home Depot.    But it was a great location and affordable.

Eat:

Osteria Stellina- It’s probably the nicest restaurant in Pt. Reyes Station.  Organic produce and locally grown items find their way into simple, fresh Italian.  We didn’t try the pizza but it looked fantastic.

Pine Cone Diner- Great for breakfast.  Sit outside at the picnic tables, enjoy the brusque tough love service, order the Hangtown Fry and savor small town life. Read about it on yelp

Cowgirl Creamery, Toby’s Feed Barn: Artisanal goods made with love and meant for a picnic

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Superior Foods: Moscato Grapes

Next time you’re at the market, look for moscato grapes. They are tres special so don’t waste your time at Gristedes, but good grocery stores might have them (they’re a bit expensive). They are so insanely delicious, a treat unto themselves, needing absolutely nothing. Their sweetness is profound. If you can’t find them, try a glass of muscat next time you’re at dinner. It’s a hint.

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The List: Birthday Cakes

It’s not my birthday, although I wish it was.  Yesterday I cruised town looking for the perfect birthday cake for my honey.  It took every last ounce of inner strength to not take home “test” slices. These are my options.  Have you eaten an insanely good birthday cake lately?

Billy’s Bakery: icebox cake or a good old fashioned vanilla cake with snazzy stripes-

Payard- I could go classically french bomb style and order this Louvre cake-

At Ceci-Cela, maybe I just order one of everything–

The boyfriend loves crepes, so maybe it’s fitting to order him one of these amazing crepe cakes from Lady M:

This praline cake from Black Hound in the East Village looks ridiculous.  Just add ice cream.

Is your sweet tooth aching yet?  Visit the sites:

billysbakery.com

payard.com

cecicelapatisserie.com

ladymconfections.com

blackhoundny.com

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Filed under AFB: Where to Go, Entertaining, To Market

Spring Fête

that's the back of my head, at the top left

Now that it’s getting warm all I want to do is throw a party, like this Sunday afternoon party I attended last summer in the Hamptons (see pic above).  My first spring fete will have a Frenchy bohemian vibe (shocker) and lots of rosé and some springy, easy food.  Here’s my plan:

Get a couple of these:

french carafe from a+r store. buy here.

Fill it with this, which is a nice dry $10 rose from September Wines:

Throw down these (because money is no object in my dreams), carpets and pillows from Calypso:

visit Calypso

Go to Blue Ribbon Market and buy a little of this and a little of that:

Then to Murray’s Cheese for more of this and some of that:

And for a treat, I would attempt to make this slow cooked asparagus which is cooked in parchment and is oh-so-pretty and seasonal, from the NY Times (thanks, Em):

And as day turns into night, I would light these, and maybe, oh maybe, we would switch to red wine and order pizza:

$12 candleholders from Crate and Barrel

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Filed under Art/Lit/Design, Eating, Entertaining, Libations, To Market

Fava Bean Dreamin’

Look here at these fava beans I saw at Dean and Deluca.  Spring is really, truly here. I would take this basket of favas and sit down at this sun-dappled table outside a rambling Tuscan villa, shelling the beans and when that was done, I would call my friends and say, hey, come over.

fava beans on display at D+D, left. A villa in Tuscany, left

We would toss the favas with a nutty pecorino, some torn mint and grassy olive oil.  We would break big loaves of bread and few bottles of wine and spend the afternoon here, at this long table under the shade.  We might get hungry again, so we make crostini with the leftovers.  I’ll tell you the recipes after the break.

That’s what I thought about when I saw these fava beans at Dean and Deluca.

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On the Table: Seared Scallop Salad

Here’s an idea for a super easy meal that can only get better depending on the quality of the ingredients you use.  I was standing in the Union Square Greenmarket recently, completely unprepared and slightly overwhelmed as usual, and ended up with a bag of crisp, peppery mesclun greens (you can’t believe how much better they taste than store bought containers), a jar of Rick’s Picks pepi pep peps (if you haven’t tried Rick’s Picks collection of deliciously pickled things, you MUST, it’s worth the $10 I promise), and fresh scallops from the fish dudes.

The next day, I made a seared scallop salad that took about 27 seconds to throw together and tasted so fresh and so good I think it’s worth repeating.  Really, you can throw anything in your salad, the most important thing is cooking the scallops right and getting them right on the salad so the greens can absorb the pan juices and get a little wilted and delicious.

Toss the scallops with salt, coarse black pepper and curry powder.  Set aside.

Clean the greens, slice up the pepi pep peps (red peppers pickled with chiles and ginger, yum), throw in some avocado (which I had sitting around, and I love) and whatever else you want.

Slice half a shallot nice and thin, mince the other half (for salad dressing)

Get about a tablespoon oil (I used grapeseed) nice and hot, shimmering but not smoking over medium high heat in a nonstick pan. You want the pan covered, but not swimming, in oil. Throw in the shallots and let them get crispy (I like crispy bits, plus it flavors the oil)

The pan should be sizzling when you add your scallops.  Let the first side get golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, and flip them to the other side using tongs.  You want the heat high because you’re cooking it for a short time, so it captures all the flavor on the outside, and the inside will cook, but it will remain juicy (and they’ll cook a bit after you remove them from heat).

Place them over your salad, and if you want, pour the pan juices over the salad.

For the dressing, an easy lemon vinaigrette is great: you need good extra virgin olive oil, the juice from a quick squeeze of half a lemon, mix in the shallots, some salt and pepper, and shake it until it emulsifies.  Done.

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Butchers’n’Meat

What charmed me about Dickson’s Farmstand Meats in Chelsea Market was the presentation, each piece displayed like a little jewel.  You could feel the pride they take in offering a beautiful product.  It’s not often I see squab and goat for sale at a butcher shop, so I gave it more points for being interesting.

Dickson's Farmstand Meats

This is Jake Dickson, the owner and meat mastermind.

Today’s butchers look a lot different than they did waaaay back in the day, when long aprons and mustaches were key.

Cute butchers. I love the polished getup at Japan Premium Beef, center.

It was the first time I thought of a butcher shop with any level of aestheticism, but I really need to get on the wagon, because there are a few new (dare I say it) boutique butcher shops in the city, like Japan Premium Beef, Meat Hook, and Marlowe and Daughters.  Still, old butcher shops are are so cool, and maybe a little, more, eh, rugged?

Butchers are fascinating characters, aren’t they?  I’ve always thought of it as such a bloody, thankless job, but I have to admire their understanding of animal anatomy, of muscles and tendons and fat.  It’s an intimate job, and an art.  Speaking of art:

Wagyu beef, left. Roy Lichtenstein print, 1962, right.

The Butcher Shop, Reinier, left. A Butcher Shop in Bucharest, Amedeo Preziosi, right

There is a restaurant in Boston called The Butcher Shop.  It’s a real pretty butcher shop; it’s also a restaurant and wine bar.  I like the idea buying my meat and having it too.

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