Thursday, December 31, 2009

chante( the praise of the)relles

A friend biking through the Berkeley hills found these amazing specimens of the delicious chanterelles mushrooms( the big ones are 6 inches across). Very generously he dropped a bag full ( about 2lb !) of them.Pretty and delicately scented, they might go into quesadillas, after being sauteed in butter and shallots, yes Julia, I am with you on that one, no substitute.Or a risotto, or a soup, or all 3 since there is so much of them.thanks N !
Happy new year. Do not know about you, but cannot wait until 2010.....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

diving in

A lot has been said about chocolate. It has been a long time since Marie Antoinette drank hers , dark and foamy, for both pleasure and for curative purposes , as it was then the fashion . The cups were small, more like espresso shots and the spicy brew ( often sprinkled with pepper) would invigorate.
Since then, a crop of chocolatiers have open shops to the cries of pleasure from all of us. I can pinpoint the beginning of the trend to the early 80"s when Alice Medrich served the best truffles west of the left bank in her store Cocolat. Her truffles were traditional and delicious. Since then, artisans have explored various fillings and 'couvertures"( I think that is the term), to a point of Dalinian madness and genius. After all ,who could come up with a truffle filled with a black olive ganache?
Well, who but the brain behind a Toronto candy and chocolate store, adjacent to his spanish influenced restaurant, Cava.
I love the clean design of the box, as well as of the labels.The extraordinary truffles play a quite game of elegant checkers.
The olive truffle was astonishing, the salted caramel unmentionably divine.
So , when in Toronto, run there, otherwise, order may be.....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

lunch from a truck

We went to visit Dot at work today. She works in east Oakland, where you can find many Taco trucks parked in the corner of open lots at busy intersections. The customers are mostly locals, mexican families on their way to a sunday outings, or neighbors yearning for a cheap and fresh authentic taste. A few daring gringos make up the rest of the crowd lining up at the tiny window to place their order and waiting in their car to be called.
I go for the fish taco ( not on the menu) served on corn tortillas, under a pile of just made bracing salsa with sliced radishes and pickled jalapeno peppers.juicy, light , with just the right amount of heat. Significant had the lingua taco ( photographed here) which is his favorite, bringing back childhood memories of homemade braised tongue.
We went back to a patio, back at her work, the sun was shining, and she dressed the unkempt table with a paper cloth.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

flour and flowers

Winter light through my bedroom window.

It is officially winter. Even though here in California, we can have it pretty easy.We get some rain, the occasional freeze lasting one or two nights, and then blossoms will start popping come February first. Today, Christmas eve, it is sunny, with a bright optimistic blue sky. Lately and luckily, there has been a lot of Dot time. we have made for the first time a fabulously rum soaked fruitcake together. It took about 5 cups of fruits and various raisins, when Dot announced that she hated raisins and reminded me of the dreaded red boxes of her childhood.But a fruitcake has to be different ! no ?! specially rum soaked ?!

There has been an interesting kind of ikebana spirit around our house lately.One bouquet is from Dot, delivered this morning, and the other is from Significant who , also so generously, brought this gift home, carefully and creatively picked. Can you tell which is which ?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

cold front

It has been gloves, goose feathers and soup . Some plants have frozen, the deck was icy and slippery.In the car, the heat is turned to high, and the sky is an uncut bolt of dove grey silk.

Monday, November 30, 2009

cecile's gallery

a wonderful opening at Cecile's over a week ago (pix by Dot).Thanks to all who came.I stopped by yesterday , the sun was pouring in through the open French doors,making the art stand out like jewels.

Monday, November 23, 2009


was very much looking forward to our meal at Aziza , the Moroccan restaurant with the Michelin star, with the trendy twists on a cuisine known for its exotic spicing . I have made my own version of couscous for years( brothy, saffrany,with thyme and cumin) and was curious to see the chef's spin on it.
The restaurant is down on Geary blvd, close to the Legion of Honor museum,which is quite a trek.In other words, it would have to be a stellar performance to induce a come back visit. The glass door at the front makes you believe that the space is modern, but upon entering , you are face to face with an ali baba harem room gone Hollywood by way of the medina, all pinks and blues with moorish arches over tables.I liked the red chandeliers and the black and whites print of horses in front of Moroccan buildings, otherwise, despite its attempts at warmth ,it was tacky and left me cold.
I have to say that the food was very, very good.We started with an apetizer of"spreads".my photos are horrible, and I have to confess that I had about 1/2 second for each, as my friends were declaring loudly a state of starvation and that I had the time for one shot each, but still it gives you a sense of the presentation if nothing else.The spreads were creamy to the point of richness, but delicious against the grilled pitas.My friends shared a couple of other appetizers that they declared superb( the meatballs with raisins, the squid) and I moved on to the couscous.Presentation wise,I rate it a :2, taste, a :10. I was disappointed with the lack of invention and home style plating( booooring)but it definitively made up in taste:it was a vegetarian version and true to form, included carrots, turnips, garbanzos, the plumpest raisins,almonds and also rutabagas which I have not seen before in the traditional couscous, which will have zucchini instead( I guess that switch was a nod to the seasonality of root vegetables).It was not brothy at all and I was afraid of it being dry.But it was moist,hearty,spiced just right, and so rich that I think that the vegetables had been stewed with butter.
We shared 2 deserts, and the waitress neglected to advise us that both were similar in case we wanted to consider something else.The service, in fact was lazy.I never felt taken care of.too bad.Now, how did they get that star with that service? On the other hand, I didn't have the exact change for the valet ( he did not either, moment of awkwardness there), and as I was seated, I asked for change and got it promptly,It was the least they could do.We left the place without a glance from the bar staff or anyone, but the valet told us to wait inside since it was cold and that he would come get us.He was really nice.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


If you glance at the sidebar, you will find a new link: my online magazine where you are welcome to play with me.... Let's cover the world in its myriad of wonders and delectables , let's laugh and cry , and may be ponder on what is to come.First issue : all things Spanish.There will be a reportage from Juan Cristian on the Barcelona markets, a story about a couple who came up with innovative and artful ways of resurrecting antique tiles, also from Barcelona, reviews of local Bay area haunts and restaurants and much more to come.So please collaborate and send me anything you have on Spain !

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

about colors and fruits

photo by Dot
Stopping by Dot's place to borrow some equipment, she pointed out this strange and beautiful installation put up by one of her neighbors. It is part art, part bird food may be, a mid century orange mobile of peeled persimons dangling from a coat hanger.... against a california fall sky of not so quite Klein blue but almost.

The other day at the grocery store, in the fruit aisles, It felt that the world had turned orange: persimons, oranges, tangerines were piled high and brought a cheeriness to the place.Of course,that would be unfair to make a ode to the color orange only, when my fruit platter at home makes me adore the warm pastel palette of the other seasonal fruits.

Monday, November 16, 2009

morning light

the golden glow,the shapes it makes,the promises it brings, the mood it carries in its heart.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

lunch story

I love a casual lunch with friends, no stress, all pleasure, specially if it is sort of a potluck affair with a friend bringing salad and the other one a box of gourmet cookies....One of the friends is a photographer that I work with and upon entering my house, she started looking around and with her photographer's eye, wanted to capture the moment in pictures. I handed her my point and shoot, and here are the results.

I think pizza is my favorite food ( not too original there..) and since significant decided that he was gluten sensitive, gone are the days of home made pizzas dripping with seasonal toppings... until friends are coming over and I can serve a mushroom one on a whole wheat crust.To give it a more woodsy aroma, I mixed grated fontina with smoked mozarella, and sauteed my medley of wild mushrooms with shallots, garlic and rosemary and thyme in a bath of butter and olive oil.I like to have an aromatic garlic oil with herbs on the side that I slather on the steaming pizza as it comes out of the oven.It adds another layer of juiciness and kick.C had brought a box of baby spinach into which she added sunny cubes of persimmons, and she finished it off with a scattering of fresh goat cheese, topped by a balsamic vinaigrette.An inch of red wine, then coffee and a sampling of decadent cookies ( from Katrina Rozelle): chewy double chocolate,shortbread with delicate lemony icing were among the favorites. The old cat , always hoping for a savory morsel, was hanging out, looking up at he action in the kitchen, that November day in the middle of this delicious, heartwarming occasion.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

up and down

When watching a movie where the actors are lying down, I have to stretch my neck sideways to look at them straight on, always have, otherwise the connection to the face is lost.So, after drawing my "sartrian heads" ( something about the eyes and a sense of existentialism,divided between the choice of ups or downs ),I kept hitting the rotate button to check on the face up, but I had drawn it lying down, so it had to be that way after all.or not.

Monday, November 2, 2009

dinner with Dot

As we reached her gate, I looked up and saw the moon, a silverish disk, in a california sky on the last day of October. The day had been very warm, the sun had just fallen off the watery edge, casting a faint glow over the line of trees. We were headed to bowls of udon noodle soups in the cosy nook of the Japanese restaurant next door to her place.


The other day, I had to work on a cocktail shot with chartreuse liqueur.Its color gave the name to the pale green hue, it is green because it is made from mountain plants, according to a secret recipe kept conveniently by silent monks somewhere in the French alps.With hints of rosemary and thyme, I thought it would be fitting to garnish it with sugared branches of the aforementioned rosemary.a deliciously winterish after dinner drink, soothing, digestive, promoting introspection and peace of mind

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

boire !

If I miss my afternoon tea, I am not myself. My habits are born of a gene pool of taste and temperament and need. I was told that my grand mother rarely had to drink( but her afternoon tea), and I am kind of like that. I drink a lot at breakfast and then nothing until tea time .So it is tea and tea with a little water sprinkled in between if it is really hot. two breakfast in a day, two special pleasures that I never tire of.

Monday, October 26, 2009

sketches from daily life

I am a bit obsessed by women's plight.It is better than it has ever been, but still cruelty, profit, religious fanaticism seems to prevail in some part of the world

Saturday, October 24, 2009

le blurr

it is the invading line moving elastic like between my life in art and in food. It is my inspiration in the kitchen or at my easel. It feed me me literraly and figuratively.One of my favorite artists has always been Giorggio Morandi, obsessively recreating the same pale tabletop studies in haunting shades of gentle greys and creams. the bottles, the vases and glasses, fragile, feminine,reserved,comforting,strong and soft.
The other day, I was able to "play" with L in her studio and create some images that blended my art work with food. Here is a snapshot of a sweet potato galette with sage butter on a black and white canvas.

Monday, October 19, 2009

kind of poetic greenish blue with tea

after the rain came the tropical humid heat. that was new and welcomed, by me at least. so I stepped back out into the backyard, and as I sat, further into the brambles, to catch the lowering rays, behind the tall bamboos, I found myself surrounded by the healing colors of greens.the bees were making a last ditch effort to lick the last crumb of pollen,and the married squirrels were feasting on my burned toast that I had crumbled and left by their climbing tree.The rosemary bush thought it would be lovely to flower again,bringing the clean scent of wind dried linen to my delighted nose.
My harvesting of full herb leaves, for a French inspired melange of tisanes, is boxed and ready to go.( if you are interested, leave me a note and I will respond)...

I went to meet a friend for tea in a cafe that takes Halloween pretty seriously.

and now it is raining again.

ps; if you have noticed, I love tryptics.But the page format makes them so small.You can always click on an image to make it bigger

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I know some of you like the rain, the sleet, the cold wind, the numbed toes,the slippery roads,the wet heads.
I do not.
Can I please hibernate and meet you when the plum trees flower ? Can I curl up in my downy wraps and wait for the first burst of peas and asparagus ?
Well, I can see that this upcoming darkness and winterizing has gotten me down.Plus, it doesn't help when I get bombarded daily by news of Afghanistan or read accounts of out of control gang war fares in Rio such as this one in last week New Yorker, that I read this morning as as sipped my scottish breakfast tea: "the dead man was young, wearing only red underpants.As they lifted his body, a jet of blood arced some eight feet into the air out of a bullet hole in his back, perhaps in his lungs".....
made me draw some pretty gloomy heads:

Monday, October 12, 2009

in the air

Fall is here.grey sky,chilly mornings and nights,and rain on the way.Yes, we have seasons here, and leaves that turn yellow, red, and brown.
Dot found this fire engine metal desk on the sidewalk and thought of me, I put a curl up leaf on it, tried my" procamera "close up setting on it and you have it !

Friday, October 9, 2009


I admit it. I am addicted.
When I go to bed, I pick up my iphone and open my" brushes" application.Then , I draw , with my fingers, on this bright screen.Every night I try to practice to get all the little details worked out for one piece.I try to develop a style, and play with layers and colors.
I feel childlike,and instead of applying myself to a big piece of paper taped to the wall of a classe maternelle,I play freely and endlessly on a digital canvas,deep in the warmth of my cosy bed.I am having fun ! I have lots to learn and practice, but I will share some of my scribbles so far....

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

sense of taste

C, who lives in New York,just sent me a care package.It is from" Live, live and organic" a company that sells raw, organic foods and skin care products.After lunch, i opened one of the little boxes:the cacao and agave and Oh my !.. the 100% raw ingredients rain forest cacao powder,virgin coconut oil,raw blue agave nectar,cacao butter and Himalayan salt sent me right over the edge of taste.melty mouth feel with an incredibly powerful and intense chocolate that lingered for a very long time. I had worked last year on some raw desserts that were particularly sinful and healthy at the same time.So, I knew that raw goes well with the sweet end of meals.With the treats came a small container of their"bee yummy" moisturizer made with live and organic ingredients.Doesn't that sound amazing ? I love the packaging, the concept and evidently:the results.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

maltese figs

I am 19, worked for the month of July to pay for my summer vacation.A friend who had a brother studying medicine in Malta,proposed to go there.hitchhiking from Switzerland where I had made a stop to visit my parents, all the way down the boot,sleeping in meadows, youth hostels and the like.lugging a backpack through Pompei in the searing heat of August was memorable, as well as the cleanly shaved chest of the sicilian truck driver who took pity......Malta was beautiful, rugged, and very hot.One day, on the side of the road, I saw my first fig tree loaded with dark fruits.a resisting pull, and the tear shaped , organ like jewel was split to reveal its juicy pink center.It was love at first bite.Since then, I wait for the summer to unload its prized fruit,the bite into the crunchy and sweet center, or with the oven roasted ones drizzled with honey ,or tossed in muesli, or savory salad with blue cheese and arugula.My backyard fig tree is the thread to that memory....

Monday, September 28, 2009


une balade is a leisurely taken walk,or drive.Which is what we did. sort of a milestone. first time out in nature in awhile. back to my place of calmness .so strange. the before and after.crossing some sort of looking glass, no backward moves, it is all forward to a life of renewed pleasures and strengh , where the heart is calm and the vision sharpened.

It is also a sense of continuity, you, alive, back in the landscape you cling to in the darkness, you know you are made of soft breaths, but it is still there, welcoming you back.
Significant and I needed to celebrate.
we went to Nick's cove, a restaurant with a terrace over the water.

The weather was unusually hot, and we were seated outside,watching kayakers and geese slide by.
We had a great meal ( organic, local etc).My tomato soup was the best ever: fresh and vibrant as the colors below prove it:

significant made a glowing comment on his cilantro mignonette with lime for his oysters, just plucked from the nearby waters.
What can I say, we live the dream, we live in paradise, don't you think ?
The chocolate orange semifredo with pistacchios lingered on our tongue as we drove home through redwood forests and cow pastures.

Monday, September 21, 2009

soft and bold

a neighbor brought me this explosively bright bouquet from her garden.zucchini flower filled with fresh ricotta and mint, gently fried to a golden crispness, zucchini mini cubed into a rice salad with feta, raisins and mint...... I love summer bounty.
Movement, transformation,confusion: a watercolor exploring my feelings a few weeks ago.

Friday, September 11, 2009

a big jump

Let me reintroduce myself. A woman with legs long enough to have jumped from one bank( glorious, carefree,sunny without a cloud) to the other side( bewildered,lost,cut open ) and managed to make it back to the safe shore, in one long agonizing slow motioned hurdle. All life experiences allow you to reflect ( and I am not the introspective type, more the impulsive one with black and white lenses) but this was big and with the relief that comes with news of good health, I can have a little perspective on it.
I think I was able to separate my physical body from my emotional body in a way that gave me peace in my decision and its consequences. Basically, I relented and accepted. I tried to be as calm as I could be and live each moment , pure as glass. The sense of time is made even more acute in stressful times.You count the days to the big event,then the day comes, and suddenly it is a week after.Inexorably it moves on and changes everything constantly.It is pit of the stomach scary but so achingly soothing when you can recapture the gratitude of each minute, alive and well.
I have been surrounded by beauty.the essence of it:love, love and more love.
What else matters ? it is what makes you fly and give your legs the boost for the jumps,it is the food without which we perish.
I will let myself be cradled , rocked gently on the vaporetto of life, surrounded by cottony waves of love and friendships, I will be present for help when others need it and I will treasure all.