Eyeing the choices arrayed under glass at cheesemongers’ shops is our favorite kind of virtual travelogue. The trail leads through whole nations of dairy art from French Epoisses and Italian Gorgonzola to Spanish Manchego and California’s Redhawk Triple Crème from Cowgirl Creamery. We may eye British Cheddar, but cheeses imported from neighboring Mexico? Not so much. Continue reading →
A person’s first taste of lamb can be one of those great palate-changers, a moment when you realize there is a lot more for dinner than the same old steak. Fresh lamb shank, leg or loin has an earthy richness and complexity that can make a lot of beef and pork seem ho-hum by comparison.
Some rookies are introduced to lamb in the form of a rack or chop at white tablecloth establishments. Others have devoured a gyro with Feta or a curry dish at an Indian eatery without ever noticing that the craveable meat is lamb.
The time: a thousand years ago. The place: the ragged and stunning beauty of the isolated Asiago Plateau, which lies between the Po River and the Southern mountains of the Valsugana Valley. The region will later become part of the Province of Vicenza and a popular and picturesque skiing destination. In summer, modern hikers will delight in meadows of knee-high wildflowers and savor the scent of vanilla orchids and fragrant herbs perfuming the crisp mountain air. But on the dawn of the eleventh century, it lies in the defunct Republic of Venice’s outskirts, remote and sparsely populated.
I have this vivid childhood memory of seeing a man eating pie with cheese at a restaurant. I remember thinking: Why would anyone choose to crown their apple pie with stinky old cheese when they could have a scoop of ice cream melting on top?
My primitive taste buds thankfully evolved and over time I became a food critic and cheerleader for handmade pie in America.
“Soup is cuisine’s kindest course. It breathes reassurance; it steams consolation; after a weary day it promotes sociability, as the five o’clock cup of tea or the cocktail hour.” — From “The Soup Book” (1949) by Louis P. De Gouy
Many folks enjoy recipes. Being able to duplicate a dish correctly makes them happy.
I am not one of those cooks.
It’s a long, windy—and sometimes challenging—ride up to Alison Sweeney’s beautiful Colonial-style home nestled in the Hollywood Hills above Los Angeles. But once you reach the top and get a gander at the panoramic view Ali and her family, husband Dave and kids Ben and Megan, wake up to every morning, you realize it’s well worth the effort. Looking out over the infinity pool that sits in the middle of the well-manicured backyard, all you see for miles and miles below is the City of Angels, and from this vantage point, it looks like heaven.