Thursday, December 20, 2007

le monde vegetal

Nature is full of amazing surprises.Some are even good to eat. Now is the season of brussel sprouts, which is one vegetable that I never used to enjoy. I have to admit that growing up, the dish was seldom served, but if it was, it was overcooked ( as they used to do) and served with melted butter ( as they used to do ).The bitternes didn't seem to get tamed by that pad of richness, and so, I always refused the cute micro cabbage.Until rtecently, when I discovered a new technique to sweeten the babies.
You cut them in half, rub them with olive oil and salt, and in the oven they go ( 450o) for 25 minutes until they are slightly caramelized and tender.A handful of persillade (chopped garlic and parsley) brings the hated vegetables to revered status.
I had to buy the prehistoric stalk and had fun holding it up like a weapon of visigoth proportions , or the spine of some martian body.As a seasonal contrast,roses from my garden continue to delight.....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Traffic was the old stop and go.For what seemed forever. I decided to put a Jacques Dutronc CD and was brought under a spell of nostalgia and happiness.Because as I looked to my right, about to cross the bay Bridge to San Francisco one early morning , as the dark was melting into day, the water seemed phosphorescent and glowing,the mist was like a soft silk drapping a shoulder,and the sun, just about to turn a shade of abricot, was going to shine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

puff mommy

This week, I haven't been able to wear my blacks.I have been covered in flour.working with puff pastry. WE are all feeling a little bit bigger in the waist, after sampling airy deep fried puff pastry doughnuts,or potato samosas with cilantro chutney or even those mini"palmiers' with gruyere and smoked ham, or even those "langues de boeuf" of caramelized crispy wafers of puff. I think that I might have to puff a bit as I go up the stairs to the 3rd floor to the big loft where we work.

Monday, December 3, 2007

the season

Driving home in the Santa Cruz mountains, we came upon this vision in the darkness of night.

Monday, November 26, 2007

sunday at the oakland Museum

The exhibit was a retrospective of art from 100 years at the California college of Art and Crafts. I love the Squeak Carnwath, the Manuel Neri, the Nathan Olivera... but after taking a portrait of significant by the koi pond,I was mesmerized by the sight of colors and patterns,water,whiskers,bars and reflections...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

august in November

went to the opening of a wonderfully talented artist named Sherry Olsen. Sherry is a famous ceramicist but her fine art is just as special and haunting. It feels raw ,complex, dark and gentle. She was showing with a couple of other people, who used the traditionnal indigo techniques from japan in wonderful new items of clothing,and others who created little voodoo dolls like mobiles of indigo remnants with human hair. Japanese sake in mini glass bowls and artful baskets of radishes and sushi felt like an extension of the art.
August ,541 college avenue, Oakland CA 94618

glam dot

Saturday, November 17, 2007

a day in the country

It is a bit of a drive, specially when you encounter tons of traffic on the way back, and when you arrive home, exhausted and your nerves on edge. The Sonoma Valley, north of San Francisco is always a treat for the eyes and soul. Even under working conditions and with the loud buzz of leaves blowers and lawn mowers breaking the silence of the vineyards. After all ,all these beautiful estates need to be primped. But I couldn't resist taking a few snaps to give a flavor of fall, of foods I cooked, of colors, of beauty.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Let's pop up the champagne cork, and drink the alchemist breuvage,bubbles bursting in animated pattern in the back of the thoat. Its efffervesence bringing the meaning of life to the lips:short, full of surprises,glorious, exquisite and glowing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

in the hands of Buddha

Last week at the market,I bumped against a bin of Buddha's hands. These wild fruits made their first curtain call a few years ago and I was mesmerized by the weird, probing tapered fingers. Now, it is in the Berkeley grocery store,bins full of them, california mainstream.foodie heaven in the relentless search for the new, the unique, the hidden, the exotic.. My firiend June candies the exotic citrus peel but what else to do with it ? Anyway, I was daydreaming , imagining an orchard, somewhere in California, where the fruit was finally coming to maturity. What does the tree must look like , I ask ? Only to stumble ( once more) onto a dwarf tree at the nursery. I was not looking for a citrus tree then but for some ground cover, Buddha called and took me by his long curly nails to the pretty tree with its huge yellow ornaments.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I am trying to come up with recipes with the little ruby fruit. The one from the Midlle east that (I think) gave its name to the Spanish city of Grenada. The fruit takes work and paper towels to blot the area but it is so worth it:Tasty, bracing, pretty and good for you besides. I had some puff dough left over, so I cut very rustically some circles and topped them with with a mixture of goat cheese, mint,salt, pepper and pomegranate seeds. 15 minutes in the oven. apetizer for fall.By the way, I most appreciate comments on anything or everything.

Monday, November 5, 2007

egg salad

I do not like eggs.never did.viscous,mostly, when they are " a la coque", in their shells. But for some odd reason, blame it on advancing age or what, but lately I have developped I have a terrible fondness for egg salad sandwich. Me, who doesn't love sandwiches, the way Americans do. I would prefer a tartine, anyday, like another compatriote at:, but after all, I will have this egg salad on an open face and cut it with knife ans fork. There.

Start by getting your olive oil nice and hot, add some smoked paprika powder and salt and plop your peppers (dried, otherwise the oil will splatter) and let them do their caramelization alone for a while,turn after you have checked your e-mails, and at the last minute, scatter some chopped garlic, and toss.In the meantime, cook your eggs a la Julia to get them perfect each time,and mix some mayonnaise, salt and pepper.that is IT.Toast your nice slice of bread, smear your egg concoction,top with a tower of mingling sweet peepers and presto.a delicious, hearty lunch.

Friday, November 2, 2007

a visit chez Lulufrank

I finally made a date with daughter so visit her new digs:Industrial Oakland, Bart trains overhead, big trucks making wide right turns unto side street where I finally park, right next to the family owned Thai restaurant, tucked cosily in the old foundry complex, called Vulcan, that is home to about 100 artists. We sit on the deck of the restaurant and share a couple of Thai ice teas, and I get a little more of a sense of where she lives and how. It feels safe, despite the area,and behind the gate, is a little village of funky doorways and garden patios, where art is always prevalent.After a maze of factory coridors covered in paintings, we get to her place, where she has a loft bedroom, that feels like a nest, tucked up a tiny staircase.Below, in the common area, pandemonium:the other tenants deal in junk, and boxes of it, bicycles, buddhas and piles of such allow a narrow path to the kitchen.We listen to her new music, and she tells me how much she loves Biolay, the new French singer-composer.Afterwards, we walk around to the dog park and loop back to the parking lot. We have fun taking pictures of the village that reminds her of Mexico, even if she has never visited the country, yet.

Monday, October 22, 2007

food and art

here are some snaps of my life this past week:

peach tree is making me happy at any time of the year.
down shots can be dangerous for the photographer.....
assistant laughing between hand modeling shots.....
invitation for the opening to my painting show last thursday
food plated and ready to be put on film.
a fall salad at home with the last figs from our tree.Thank you,delicious tree.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


I am starting a cookbook next week and the art direction is" more messy, natural".It is the look of the bite taken out, the spill of the sauce, the preparation revealed, the toothpicks sucked, the plate dirtied.... I like it, it is as is, not any more toward a painterly beauty or food as still life . It is more like you and I do at home, serving ourselves a still summer ( still holding on) salad of heirlooms, peppers, basil chiffonade and uneven cubes of feta.Let's not forget the wine ring on the table,remnant of pleasure just consummed...

Friday, October 12, 2007

tea beige

a tea towel from L'epicerie folle in Paris, matched my set, ready for a tea time with C.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

holding on

I still buy tomatoes by the bag full, peppers in all colors,I keep swearing that it is my last week of white nectarines.... but I cannot help it. I still want to hold on to that summer with all its glory: flowers, lavender breezes, bountiful markets, toasty tanned toes, ratatouilles, tomato basil essence, sweet figs plucked from the branch. This morning, after a rainy day yesterday, the sun was again streaming through the windows, making my heart sing for another beat, or two.This is what the sun creates in me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

finger limes and other surprises

Had a foursome diner at the famous Manresa restaurant in the pretty town of Los Gatos. A special meal was what we had in mind.We chose the tasing menu ( creative and seasonal) no meat but fish o.k for three of us, paired with the appropriate wines. After a warm welcome into the cosy (if lacking in a unified esthetics) dining room, we had the honor of the chef's visit ( my friend knew him),where he threw a bowl on the table and asked us to indentify its content:" chilis,litttle longish padrons???? We were stomped.The chef exulted in showing us the latest in fruit discovery: finger limes.The taste is citrusy, the pulp has the texture of little bursting caviar eggs of lime juice, it looks like a dark green index, curved to beckon.In foodie world,it was definitively a coup.Already we were wowed.Then started a symphony of essences, where the unexpected drew gasps and raves.Amuse bouche: black olive madeleines with a gummy ball of roasted red peppers.a winning, divine pairing of texture and the squeezed soul of each ingredients.I will miss some dishes but I remember well the pumpkin soup poured with a japanese teapot over a cream sorbet
with slivers of limes,the soft boiled farm egg stuffed with a sweet foam and maple syrup, the vegetable garden where each vegetal note where played to its highest level of cellular goodness, the caramelized cube of brioche with roasted plum and sorbet. It was pure gustatory pleasure in discovery.The one off note was the bread: big chunks of forgettable levain style, which did not paired well with all the minute, exquisitely presented dishes.But, otherwise a wonderful, exquisite experience.
My only photo unfortunately doesn't do any justice to the meal, but I wanted to show the quasi religious reverence to the food: a barely cooked tomato soup ( the concentrated perfume of summer) served in a wine glass topped precisely by a wafer of parmegiano.superb !

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

my friend F

There is something sweet and soft about childhood friends. I met F in high school, about 13, which I consider still chilhood,and by that I mean, unformed,the clay still moist, just at the cusp of womanhood, with so much ahead... We were buddies in a small italian class ( most kids took spanish or german) and that intimacy in the tiny 2 rows of desks kept us busy whispering and giggling. Who knew me then , beside my family, and who still knows me now...... Only F, and her sister. It has been a lifetime of mirroring our experiences, our dreams and our pains.Who can still say " I saw your dad on T.V" or like me, who can remember the kitchen at rue d'O. with F's mom busy at the stove, a gauloise dangling at her lips,a sweet Maguerite Duras, keeping the home fire burning with 3 kids, alone? me, for one, may be a few others...Now, we have a ritual when I come to Paris. F takes the day off work and we meet for lunch and whatever tempts us: an exhibit, a walk.Our closeness is made of a lifelong connection, a delicious concern for each other and our families, a tender window opened both toward the past and the future. This last visit, we met at Le Pre Verre and had a great meal, then on a soft hazy afternoon, we set off on foot to The jardin des Plantes, to marvel at the landscaping and to walk arm in arm toward a sweet only good bye.....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I love black

licorice, caviar,dark chocolate...squid ink a little less, so when I saw this decadent black cake, I had at least to photograph it. The shop is cavernous and theatrical, with wide expanses of muslin curtains pushed slighly aside to let you in the one way shop experience.I bought delicious chestnut honey madeleines with a higher butter quotient than most hearts can take, a Jackson Polock mosaic of guimauve ( french marshmallow) with splattered chocolate and mint, tiny wild herbs savory souffles, and bite size green tea financiers that will make you close your eyes.....The shop has also numerous unusual breads, jams, pastries,chocolates.It is called " du pain et des gateaux" ( breads and cakes) and it is on Bd Pasteur , in the 15th arrondissement. a must check.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

shells and nuts

September in Paris can be a little dangerous.Things can fall from trees overhead and surprise you. Of course there can be beautiful mustard color leaves for children to gather in bouquets and bring back to school to draw but my favorite things to collect are some chestnuts ( those are not edible unfortunately) whose skin is as smooth as silk, contrasting so teasingly with their prehistoric shells.....

Monday, September 10, 2007

13 days in Paris

went to see "2 days in Paris" .Bravo to Julie Delpy, for writing ,directing and acting in this little gem. Always loved her in her roles in "before sunrise" followed by" before sunset" which she co-wrote, so I knew she had it in her to do a good job. Of course, I had to indentify slightly, being a "parisienne" exiled in America, with an American significant... it had to have some resonance . So it is my turn to spend some days in Paris now . I will regale you with stories and images upon my return.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

the death of the Jade Lobster

Chinese cookbook.Hot days.The lobster was brought live in a cardboard box. Water spashed on a granite, lobster placed on top to photograph its last moments.Lobster dying of thirst, scrambling. A dim sum chef officialiazed. A snap of the head with a knife inserted in the neck ended its misery. Fancy banquet style, the lobster meat was bathed in a spinach puree to give it the famous jade tone. Green seafood is definitively a cultural ,oddity, no ?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

melons and peppers

HAAAAA, the eating of melons.....In France, the reverence goes to the famous "melon de cavaillon" a little town of Provence. It is prized for its unique fragrance and heady taste, and the juicy-ness of its flesh. But I love all melons.My father, a lover of melons himself,would choose carefully his melons by the famous thumb pressure at the stem, and the ritual sniffing at he other end to inhale its sweetness.Ripe ? yes, perfect, preferably served as a lunch first course, either filled with sherry ( if served as a small half) or with a dash of black pepper, to enhance further the sugar.
Now enter the FRUIT pepper, generously brought back by J from a trip to Holland this summer.Since I cannot read the ingredients list, it seems to be made of a medley of dry berries,pink peppercorns and coarse sugar. I had to try it on a sharlyn melon and it was not only pretty but absolutely delicious with a hint of heat which is the natural complement to the pleasure of eating melons in the summertime......