slide in to Portland

Partying it up with PhotoShop after a trip to Portland. Check out the nice things I found underfoot. And overfoot. One of these photos is the actual color of my boots….

Sometimes you really need to look down. This is what I found on a plaque on a Portland sidewalk:

We, the citizens of Oregon, recognizing that the future health and well-being of our state depends on the strength and diversity of its people, stand together to celebrate the uniqueness of cultures, lifestyles, ideas and abilities that unite us as a community.

Makes me feel a little better about some of the icky that’s been floating around in these dis-united states of ours. I hope that once this election cycle finishes we can get back to being the actual United States. Portland was, however, a little slice of heaven and a break from all election coverage. And of course a lot of beer and food.

Three of us found an adorable place in the Burnside neighborhood of Portland called Slide Inn. Named after an inn owned by the chef’s family when he was a child, Chef Eugen serves American and German cuisine focusing on (of course, this is Portland people!) locally sourced organic ingredients. But what really thrilled my non-dairy gluten free daughter were the wide variety of items that she hasn’t been able to eat for years without severely inhibiting her digestion. Chocolate cinnamon french toast! She’s ready to move. Apparently Chef Eugen’s wife eats a restricted diet, so he cooks for her as well as the rest of us. The menu is diverse, and everything was absolutely delicious. I recommend a shot of Chef Eugen’s homemade ginger syrup in your coffee every morning.

Slide Inn is on a residential street a block from one of the hip breakfast places in Portland that we weren’t willing to wait 90 minutes to try. And thank heavens they had that crazy wait. Because Chef Eugen is a gem. Not only does he do all of the prep, he does all of the cooking, all of the serving, all of the clean-up and he makes everything from scratch. And because I asked, he very kindly has shared his recipe for his homemade ginger beer with me and you.

Chef Eugen’s Slide Inn Ginger Beer (in his own words)

9 cup water
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup ginger ground
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon dry yeast

Add the tartar, lemon juice, water, ginger,sugar into a pot and boil for 1/2 hour, turn down to a simmer once it comes to a hard boil. Cool down slightly and refrigerate. Let the temperature drop to 75-80 degrees and stir in the yeast. Place a lid on the pot and let the fermentation process begin. You can let it stand for as little as 3 hours or overnight.

I usually do it overnight so that I have a full day of letting it ferment. I like to start the fill process in the morning so that the process can fully complete. The liquid then get’s strained and filled into glass bottles that have a pop top on them. Fill them no higher than 3/4 so that when you burp them the ginger beer will have the space to rise. Place the bottles in a dark room or at a minimum no direct sunlight.

Open the bottle caps carefully and slowly, never fully open them as they will literally explode in your face. When burping the bottles never point the bottles in your or anyone’s face. If you want a sweeter ginger beer repeat this process for 2-3 days, otherwise 1 will do it. Once you have released or burped the ginger beer 3 times you can refrigerate. The colder the refrigerator the less fermentation happens.

*Remember; if it’s not cold enough the fermentation process will start up again, the more that happens the more it will cause gasses to build.

We managed to fit quite a few meals in between walking as many neighborhoods as we could. If you go, here are a couple more places to try. If you find something else that’s great (especially if it’s not in the guide books), let me know.

Keep in touch,

red hills market

Red Hills Market in the wine country south of Oregon. I got dinner to go for 14 people from pizzas, to salads to sandwiches and a whole lot of tea for $150. The food was amazing and the destination was worth the trip.

kopi coffee

In the Burnside neighborhood, Kopi Coffee makes spicy coffees (try the ginger latte…the bomb!) and teas and serves a unique and really delicious brunch menu. Great things come in small packages.

ruddick wood

Ruddick/Wood: yes it’s Newberg which Oregon’s wine country, but it’s Oregon, so I got the beer. And for heaven’s sake just stop fussing and get the fries.

New Seasons Market is everything a local grocer should be. The Portland version of that other national brand.

New Seasons Market is everything a local grocer should be. The Portland version of that other national brand. I got more than a few meals here to take back to my cute Airbnb.

dining with dead presidents


photo courtesy weekendblitz.com

photo courtesy weekendblitz.com

Washington DC has a new restaurant group in town that really likes presidents, at least the dead ones.  Alan Popovsky, who did his share of restauranting prior to Lincoln, opened Lincoln in 2011 and followed it with Teddy and the Bully Bar. Rumor is he’s reviving another dead president as restaurant…maybe JFK or Thomas Jefferson, although I can’t find anything in the restaurant rags since Teddy and the Bully Bar opened. Maybe two presidents are enough to keep him busy.

We visited Lincoln while in DC this summer and while the food didn’t knock my socks off, the artisitic design was a party for my eyes.  The artist Maggie O’Neill pulled it off with some pretty creative concepting that keeps the place fun and light….no deep thinking required. There are pennies on the floor, pennies tufting the big chair that mimics the chair at the Lincoln Memorial, pennies on the wall in the shape of the DC flag, glass jars hanging from the ceiling (the story goes that union soldiers ate from glass jars during the Civil War), the Emancipation Proclamation emblazoned on one wall backlit by color changing LEDs (that thankfully don’t rotate). a textured Jasper Johns’ flag on one wall, paintings of Lincoln. And the servers wear t-shirts with Lincoln quotations. Our server was wearing a most apropros quote: Avoid popularity if you would have peace.

And I want to give not just a nod but a deep bow to Lincoln’s restrooms….they are awesome. Deliberate and detailed and definitely in keeping with the design of the restaurant. Both Abe’s room and Mary’s room are covered in custom murals. Mary’s lean toward the pretty socialite, Abe’s toward men and their tools. Use your imagination. The bar program makes use of house infused liquors, so there is a ‘library/infusing room’ for just this purpose. Quotations a la Abe himself are reminders down the mirrored back hallway. There is not a breath of this place that hasn’t been thought through from an aesthetic and artistic perspective. Hopefully the operation was given as much attention as the artistry….from the customer perspective, definitely fun.

Keep in touch,

1110 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington, DC

food courts are so last century




mercato centrale

photo courtesy mercatocentrale.it

Once upon a time in Europe there were food halls. Well actually there are still food halls. Like the amazing Mercato Centrale in Florence where everything from fish to flowers is for sale along with prepared foods from lovely little cafes and market stalls. During my first trip to Florence, as a child of the 70s and American food courts, I thought I’d entered nirvana. The beauty and aroma of real food, not fried everything sitting in a water bath under an electric sign, was breathtaking. Mercato Centrale has changed since my first visit…what hasn’t changed is the focus on quality food. Meanwhile back in the American 70s suburbs were sprawling all over the place and town centers were either disappearing or never existed. So the shopping mall developers decided they’d move food into their now enclosed shopping malls and kill several birds, literally, with one stone. I’m just guessing, and I could be wrong, that shopping mall developers care more about their bottom line than whether their vendors are selling local organic produce, so what we got was cheap fast food around a sea of plastic tables.

Here we are several decades later, and we seem to have finally caught on. Food courts are so last century. Food halls are what people want…places where food is center stage. Have you noticed? Food courts are dying people so stop building them! Give us a variety of quality foods, some meat to take home for dinner, a cafe or restaurant to relax in, a nice glass of wine and we will spend that hard earned cash. Win win.

Union Market DC

Originally opened in 1871 Union Market has grown and changed dramatically. Today the market offers amazing food and food centric shopping, bbq outside, outdoor movies in the summer. The market hopes to be the center of an entirely revitalized neighborhood that has fallen on hard times. On vacation a couple of weeks ago we saw the building top sign from our hotel and walked over. After the sterility of most of tourist DC, the Union Market was a breath of fresh air, particularly the surrounding neighborhood which is still clearly working class. The market was absolutely packed both inside and out with couples, singles, families all enjoying amazing food and a bit of shopping as well.


I’ve said it before, if you are in New York do yourself a favor and go to Eataly hungry. Several restaurants and cafes, even more take out, and more groceries than you can possibly fit in your fridge. All the shopping you need to do made better with a glass of wine in your hand! Four years old and still buzzing… definitely worth the ride down to Gramercy.

Chelsea Market

The behemoth market of all food markets must be the Chelsea Market in Manhattan. A block wide and a block long (and if you know New York you understand that one of those blocks is damn long), the 15 year old Chelsea Market has everything: cafes, restaurants from petite to super fab, coffee and tea, herbs and spices, libations, clothing, haircare, shoe shine. Seriously everything. The teen who lived at Walmart should have bought a bus ticket east.

San Pedro Square Market

Back on my own coast we have an up and comer down in San Jose, the San Pedro Square Market. On a street that was pretty scary back in my college days, the market has transformed the area to a hub of activity minus the police sirens. At the market you’ll find food, drink, a patio with music and summer evening movies, shops and a barber. Yup, a little swipe from Chelsea.

and back here in San Francisco

We are finally getting a food hall or two. According to Eater SF, the biggest will be located on Castro Street and should open next month. My only question is, what took so long? This is San Francisco people….we pay for food before we pay our utility bills!

Have a great week and keep in touch,

a major ps here….yes, we do have (and have had for a very long time) our beloved ferry building. We can thank the Loma Prieta earthquake for getting SF to finally tear down a nasty freeway that separated us from our beautiful waterfront and gave birth to not only a visitor friendly ferry building but several new restaurants and walking paths along the waterfront. And yes, the ferry building is definitely a food hall. So I apologize to the ferry building for leaving it off of this list. It was, after all, a predecessor to all the rest. (And I was apparently asleep at the wheel…updated June 8, 2015)

the other coast

I just spent an awesome couple of weeks at my home away on the east coast. Being a first generation Californian, I have as much New York in me as I do California. So when someone (like my California sis in law) asks me what to do and where to go, I am an annoying font of unending response. For the obvious (Statue of Liberty, Museums, Macy’s, Ground Zero), buy a guidebook. If you want a piece of my New York, here you go…


photo courtesy airbnb how gorgeous is that basement wall?

photo courtesy airbnb…how gorgeous is that basement wall?

Brooklyn. Airbnb is a great option for apartments that are bigger and much less expensive than a hotel room in Manhattan. And it’s a quick couple of stops from Union Square on the ‘L’ train. Easy peasy. We stayed between Williamsburg (hipster) and Bushwich (artsy) in the most adorable apartment. Walking distance from great Brooklyn neighborhoods (think Chestnut Street for the hipster, SOMA for the artsy).


Seriously eat everywhere. My cousin hooked us up with an amazing pizzeria in Bushwick called Roberta’s. It was totally worth the 90 minute wait, even with a 6 month old. Cocktails and foosball out back keep you happy.


Eat a black and white. It’s not the same as anything made in California and I’m not just saying that. It’s not a cookie and it’s not a cake. Find them in delis and don’t be put off by the cellophane wrapping…they get stale quickly. Don’t share and make sure you alternate bites or you’re not getting the whole experience. Italian ices. When I was little we could buy Italian ices on the street, now you will find them at pizza parlors and even ice cream stores. Ices are something like sorbet…kind of. Lemon is the traditional favorite, but my favorite is always melon. For the best ices you’ll need to buy in Brooklyn or Queens, but you’ll find them everywhere. Don’t have just one. You need to compare.


Use the subway, don’t be a wuss. $2.50 to get in (just put twenty bucks on a metro card) and you can go anywhere you want. You’ll get lost but it’s okay…you’re on vacation. Get a map or an app and figure out what line gets you closest to where you want to go. Look at the map and see what’s at the end of the line so you know which side of the track to board on then follow the signs. If you stay in Brooklyn take the ferry to Manhattan at least once. The waterfront is one of a kind.


Midtown: Don’t wait in the ridiculous line to go to the top of the Empire State Building. It’s a gorgeous building, but a horrendous line. If you want to see New York from the top go to the Top of the Rock. Both buildings are in midtown and you can see one from the other. Walk through Central Park. You have to. And if you can stomach it have a dirty water hot dog…it’s a hideous tradition. If you have a sweet tooth go to Dylan’s Candy Bar and buy mediocre candy in a ridiculously over-stimulated environment. My son’s first stop every trip. If you want to try some amazing chocolate go to Max Brenner’s. Don’t eat there, but buy some delicious, beautifully designed Israeli made kosher truffles. Go to Grand Central Station, find the bar in the center of the station, get a drink and pay too much money to people watch…it’s a gorgeous building. Make sure you look up.

Chelsea/Meatpacking DistrictGalleries and restaurants…do your homework. Spend some time on the High Line, walk, eat, enjoy. The High Line is an abandoned elevated freight rail line that once served the meatpacking district when it was packing meat. Now it’s a unique public park. Chelsea Market is the food hall of all food halls with restaurants that are beyond fabulous. Can you say Buddakan?

Gramercy/Greenwich Village/Soho: Eataly is Mario Bataly’s Italian food mecca with restaurants, marketplace, wine shop. Go hungry. Visit the Strand Bookstore, but only if you go with a friend who also loves books. My people were (kind of) patiently waiting on the sidewalk after about 15 minutes and I was still in the first 1/10 of a mile in and they say there are 18 miles of books. Go to Union Square at night to people watch. Maybe the snake people will be there. Shop on and around Spring Street.

Lower East Side: The Tenement Museum recreated the homes of several turn of the century families that are open for tours…pretty cool to see how my people lived after they came through Ellis Island. Katz’s Deli is famous for their knishes….if you haven’t had a knish in a while you need to visit. And pickles….find a pickle place. Essex Street is a good place to start…you’ll recognize it by the barrels of pickles standing out on the sidewalk. There are a few although once upon a time there were a lot more. Keep your eyes open. Last visit I went to The Pickle Guys…try a few different flavors. And finally find The Doughnut Plant…it’s down below Delancey. The best most interesting and delicious donut flavors you’ll find anywhere. Get something seasonal. Then get a creme brulee and a jelly donut. And go back on the weekend and get some ice cream too.

So there you have it…I’m still a newbie to Brooklyn so don’t have much to say about it yet. But we did love the vibe there. Once the kids are up and out we may just pack up and move east of the East River.

Keep in touch,

great bread is worth a drive


My friends know what a gluten whore I am and have been telling me for years about this little bakery in a little town out in west Sonoma. I know I know, gluten is the devil and all, but this girl likes just a little bit of devil. And the devil always knows where to find me. So Sunday Steve and I drove the second half of his Giro Bello route and I could not have been happier to drive through the tiny town of Freestone and right to the doorstep of the mythic Wild Flour Bakery.

Opened in 1998, owner Jed Wallach makes bread 4 days a week and sells only at his Wild Flour Bakery….no deliveries, no wholesale, no second location and no credit cards. It is everything I have ever heard. The bakery is designed around the bread, and I use the term ‘designed’ very loosely. There’s a brick oven on the far wall, tables for bread making, racks for bread cooling, and bakers moving constantly around the kitchen either making or selling bread. The walls are painted with whimsical murals of birds and, somewhat oddly, an elephant. But the main design element is the bread. All of the day’s breads are sampled at the sales table, so you can decide before you buy (choose whatever is hot from the oven). They start the day with 4 breads and a scone, and over the course of the day add the rest of the day’s menu of about 2 dozen items plus coffee. My gluten free hubby (I know, sad) loved his gluten free cranberry scone. I snuck a bite and it was absolutely delicious…not in the least bit second rate. We brought home 2 loaves: the Egyptian, a sticky delicious sweet loaf full of figs, pears and candied ginger and warm still from the oven; and the Wild Flour signature wheat round which is perfect with a bit of butter and nothing else. Seriously, it is lunch all by itself.

Out back of the bakery is the Wildflower Garden which itself is worth the hour drive from my front door. Sunday was a beautiful day, so we took a stroll and enjoyed the garden along with the bees and hummingbirds. The rows and rows of raspberries bode well for the future of scones. Enjoy my pictures, then choose a day and make the drive. Around the corner from the bakery is a cheese shop which we didn’t stop for (as we were already running quite late for a wedding!)….so next time, bread and cheese. I may never come home.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

if I wanted to work in London

all photos courtesy dRMM.co.uk

This is where I’d start my search. dRMM. Their buzzwords are innovation, collaboration, environment, uniqueness. And, among many other remarkable and award winning projects, their talented team created a house that slides. Tell me you don’t want to work with this amazing group as well. I wonder, would they let me bring my dog to work?

The house is a close collaboration between client/builder and dRMM. Due to it’s rural location and stringent planning requirements, the team created a building that fits the ‘farm’ vernacular in both color and shape,but has a surprising modern twist: the main building is a glass house with a wooden exo-skeleton that slides over it to provide privacy and weather protection. The house is all electric, and the owner has installed a wind turbine to provide needed electricity.

Have an inspired week….keep in touch,

mof…the best of the best


One of the joys of the business that I’m in is the opportunity that I have to work with amazing artisans and artists who ply their trades with their hands. As we push our children harder and harder to intellectual pursuits, are we pushing them away from other work that might be more meaningful to them? Who will bake our break and build our homes, sew our clothes and decorate our walls? These manual pursuits, at least in the US, seem more and more neglected, even discouraged, and yet they are the foundation of all society. While the intellect may serve to elevate society, if it doesn’t have a foundation then where will we be?

In France, these vocational trades are still honored and revered. Nearly a century ago the French created a competition, the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France  (how’s your French?….the Best ‘Maker’ in France), to preserve and uplift over 100 artisan trades from embroidery and jewelry making to baking, butchering and tending bar. The competition is held every four years, and we are smack in the middle of the current competition. Entries were accepted through September of 2013. Competition is underway now to determine the semi-finalists in each category who will compete in 2015 for the title of MOF. Each semi-finalist is judged solely on their own merits and not against the other semi-finalists, and so there is no limit to the number of MOF titles that can be bestowed. Once designated an MOF, the appellation follows the winner throughout his or her career and life and expects the victors to continue to learn and grow within their field in a constant search for perfection.

In 2009  Kings of Pastry was released, a movie that carried us through the pastry world of the 2007 Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. In order to succeed in this competition and earn the acclaim within their field that follows, the competitors spend up to two years practicing and honing their skills. Marriages dissolve, friendships are lost and spirits are broken in the process. But to win the title of MOF is to receive the absolute highest commendation, promoting both the individual and the field in which they practice. This is the foundation on which intellect may soar…and this is one area where the world should be looking to France for direction.

Rant over….now go watch the movie! It’s wonderful. And here are a few more movies on food that I recommend…

Blood, Bones and Butter: Gabrielle Hamilton

blood‘My parents seemed incredibly special and outrageously handsome to me then. I could not have boasted of them more or said my name, first and last together, more proudly, to show how it directly linked me to them. I loved that our mother was French and that she had given me that heritage in my very name. I loved telling people that she had been a ballet dancer at the Met in New York City when she married my father. I loved being able to spell her long French name, M- A- D-E- L- E- I- N- E, which had exactly as many letters in it as my own. My mother wore the sexy black cat- eye eyeliner of the era, like Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren, and I remember the smell of the sulphur every morning as she lit a match to warm the tip of her black wax pencil. She pinned her dark hair back into a tight, neat twist every morning and then spent the day in a good skirt, high heels, and an apron that I have never seen her without in forty years. She lived in our kitchen, ruled the house with an oily wooden spoon in her hand, and forced us all to eat dark, briny, wrinkled olives, small birds we would have liked as pets, and cheeses that looked like they might well bear Legionnaire’s Disease.’

~Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones & Butter

Memoirs often leave me cold, and it takes a really strong recommendation from a very well respected reader to convince me to pick one up. Luckily for me, I picked this one up. You should read this book too. Gabrielle Hamilton doesn’t just introduce her readers to the world of the kitchen, she takes us through the crazy world she inhabited that brought her there. And she does it with a writing style that is both engaging and revealing, and at the same time is well written. There is nothing that bothers me more, and I admit when it comes to memoir I read with a critical and cynical eye, than redundancy or too much telling and not enough showing or the overuse of simile and metaphor. (If run-on sentences bother you, you can skip that last one.) I’ll read a bad story written well before I’ll read a great story written poorly.

Gabrielle cooked for over 20 years before she decided she really was a writer and began work on an MFA, cooking only part time to support her education. The path through her MFA convinced her, along with her part-time cooking gig, that in fact she really did belong in the kitchen, perhaps with a pencil in her hand. After returning to New York  she took a crazy leap and opened a restaurant in the East Village in 1999. Since then she has  won awards for both her chef-ing and her writing. Her convoluted path through lies, drugs, sex, travel, marriage and self absorption, took her on a less than direct path to the opening of Prune. I’m not sure if it’s her crazy story or her descriptions of food and her sense of hospitality, but I want to eat there. Lucky for me I have a trip planned to attend a wedding on the east coast this summer…maybe this will give me reason to be less grumpy about being in New York in July.

Keep in touch,

color: what you see, what it was, what it does

What you see

Check out this free online color challenge by X-Rite, owners of Pantone (among so many others). Apparently color acuity is measured on a scale….see generally where you are on the scale. Are you more or less color challenged than you knew? If you want all the persnickity details, the Farnsworth Munsell 100 Hue Test will allow you to determine the specifics of the color clarity of you and all your co-designers.


 What it was

Medieval book historian and teacher Erik Kwakkel shares this Dutch book on color, called  Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau (Treatise on Watercolor Paints), hand written and published (do you call it published if there is only one?) in 1692 by someone known only as ‘A. Boogert’. Nearly 800 pages of color mixed and described by the author for ‘educational purposes’ during the Dutch Golden Age. You can check it out digitally, or take a little trip to Aix-en-Provence and see it in person at the Bibliotheque Mejanes. Gotta wonder how it compares to the 2100 Pantone colors.

the power of red

If you are a woman trying to attract male attention, wear red. If you want a job, don’t. If you are competing in a sporting event, wear red. If you want to attract customers, paint the exterior red, but not the interior. The color red has a power that seems to far surpass that of other colors. Fast Company put together the information from a number of studies supporting these theories. More than any other color, the psychology of red is not something to discount. So barn red….wonder what the psychology is there?

barn (800x431)

Have a great weekend….hope you find a reason to wear red!

thursday fun

In an effort to embrace Thursday as the new Friday, enjoy these two bits of fun. Yuma Kano is a young Tokyo designer who looks at the ordinary and makes it not so. He’s taken products as mundane as the picnic blanket, the common screw and screwdriver, the used incandescent bulb and recreated them in his own vision. Inspires me to start looking around at what could be instead of what is…..

Photos courtesy yumakano.com

So it’s a lovely Sunday afternoon and you have the option of going to the museum to see some really beautiful art or watching 360 people in duck suits and superman costumes slide down a huge soap covered hill on their bellies. English installation artist Luke Bellam thought that the soapy hill might prove more engaging for the Bristol community. Apparently he was right. Nearly 100,000 people signed up for the available sliding tickets. 65,000 people came to watch the sliders slide. When was the last time you saw that many people at a museum?

Luke will post instructions online for anyone to create their own urban slide…register interest on his website. Are you listening San Francisco? Sign me up to be part of the organizing committee!

Photos courtesy lukejerram.com

See you tomorrow!

vacation in color


our last Hanalei 2013 sunset

It’s April and school is still in, I’m a little frustrated with a project I’m working on, the weather is unreliable….time for a vacation. But time or not, there is no vacation in my near future, so I’m creating palette vacations today. See if these take you where they took me….back to Hanalei ten months ago. Happy sigh.


the pathway alongside the taro fields behind yoga hanalei

hideaways....our favorite snorkeling beach

hideaways….our favorite snorkeling beach

Have a great weekend….find me at Picnic in the Presidio this Sunday!

Gumbo Tales: Sara Roahen

gumbo tales

‘Of all the follies I committed en route to becoming a New Orleanian–pronouncing Burgundy Street like the wine (in New Orleans-speak, the emphasis is on gun), locking my mountain bike on the front porch (once, before it disappeared), agreeing to work on Fat Tuesday–the most egregious was disrespecting the po-boy. Just a submarine sandwich, I’d sneer as another month passed without trying one.  But po-boys are as unavoidable in New Orleans as mousling cockroaches are, and in time the determination of both broke me. I don’t scream anymore when I see the cockroaches limbo-ing beneath the doorsill, and curiosity eventually drove me up Magazine Street to Guy’s Po-Boys.’

My first trip to New Orleans was a few years after Hurricane Katrina. Rebuilding was well under way in many neighborhoods, but there were still piles of rubble that were once homes sprinkled in every neighborhood of the city. And there were neighborhoods that were still nearly vacant. I fell in love with the city on that first trip and have loved it more with every visit since. Food and restaurants, being such a central part of the culture of New Orleans, have led the recovery in many ways. And food has changed in New Orleans since Katrina. You can still get anything fried and seafood with every meal, but there are also fresh vegetables growing in New Orleans and there is a growing movement to eat what is grown locally.

On my first visit I met Nat Turner, a teacher from New York who went to New Orleans after Katrina, then stayed to become part of its future.  Turner, as he likes to be called, is an imposing and charismatic figure who has become an integral part of the Lower Ninth Ward. He opened a school, Our School at Blair Grocery, to teach the local youth that growing and selling tomatoes is more profitable than dealing drugs. They are now selling their vegetables to the once again thriving restaurants of New Orleans.

On my way home from that first trip I picked up Gumbo Tales at the airport. It is, to date, my favorite book about New Orleans and as a newcomer to that amazing world, it was and is my best view in. While each chapter spins around one of the many foods that define New Orleans, the book is about much more than food. It is about the character and feel of the city and people who live there. Just read it.

Keep in touch,

eating fish in a barrel

a rant aside

If you’ve been reading me for long, you know that so-called ‘edison bulbs’ drive me crazy. Yes, they are pretty and trendy and give that old-timey back to the farm feel to things. But they also use a ridiculous amount of energy (versus their light output) and create a significant amount of heat which then needs to be removed (unless you are building your restaurant in the very far north I suppose). So all in all, there is absolutely nothing sustainable or earth friendly or green about them. IMHO, there is no reason to use them….be creative people!

So, as I perused the entries in one of my favorite contests, the Restaurant & Bar Design Awards, in search of something interesting that has been entered from my neck of the woods, you probably heard the cursing. Nearly every US entry not only used the dang things, but they also feature them as a highlight in their photographs! At Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito the designers at least had the decency to use them very sparingly, and did not use them as a detail shot (at least not for the contest). Maybe some people are finally getting past this very over used and tired design trend. Rant over.

Barrel House Tavern

Barrel House Tavern was 2 years in the making in a building over a century old on the Sausalito waterfront. According to the website this was the original ferry landing for the SF to Sausalito Ferry pre-Golden Gate Bridge (1936) and has since been home to Water Street Grille and Houlihan’s. CCS Architecture and the owner, Chris Henry, crafted a warm wood and leather seafood restaurant with soaring ceilings and gorgeous bay views in the neighborhood where Mr. Henry grew up fishing and crabbing. There are touches of earlier CCS projects throughout, but it all comes together to create a singular feel without forcing the heavy ‘concept’ touches of its Houlihan’s past.

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And by the way, if you have a project to enter, you only have until April 20!

Happy Thursday,



chef cam is live!

photo courtesy jamesbeard.org

photo courtesy jamesbeard.org

The James Beard Kitchen cam made its debut today with Daniel Boulud and his team cooking from his cookbook Daniel:  My French Cuisine. I found myself watching as much to see talented chefs making beautiful food as to see if they display the temperament of the many chefs whose kitchens I spent time in many moons ago.

When I first heard they were putting a live camera in the kitchen at The James Beard House I was reminded of the year that one of the football leagues (not the NFL…USFL maybe?) put microphones in players’ helmets. Remember how well that worked out?  Well hopefully this will be a more productive use of the technology and there will be less cursing….or at least the cursing will be in French! I’ve been in an awful lot of restaurant kitchens (often back end toward the kitchen as I was beating a hasty retreat after relaying a less than welcome customer request). Of course I was never in the kitchen of the Daniel Bouluds of the world.  Now you and I and all the rest of them can spend some time in the James Beard Kitchen with the professionals.

So far things are looking very civilized. I admit it, I’m looking for a few fireworks. It’s a kitchen for goodness sake!

cheese, beautiful cheese

photo courtesy cowgirlcreamery.com

photo courtesy cowgirlcreamery.com

Here in Marin we are lucky to have the best cheese on the planet in our very own neighborhood.  And my friend and food writer Brooke Jackson, who was kind enough to invite me to attend the Cowgirl Creamery cheese event that she discusses in her article, wrote a lovely piece on this most amazing food and this most amazing place. So check out the article, then take a drive out to Point Reyes Station and visit the girls and their cheese.  There is a huge lawn in front, so pick a sunny day, take a blanket, bring your fancy picnic basket and a nice bottle of wine, and buy some of the best cheese you’ll find anywhere. You’ll thank me for sure. And if you take home leftovers, I’m told by the Creamery gals that the plastic you’re cheese comes wrapped in is very very bad.  Use paper instead. In my case there is rarely anything leftover…

Hope you’re having a great weekend,