Spiced Indian Corn

If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “You should go to_________,” I’d have enough money to upgrade on all those flights that I’d be taking, which would make that prolific quantity of air travel a little more tolerable. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate suggestions and people looking out for me, so I don’t miss anything great.

But for anyone who has ever spent an afternoon (or morning, or evening) in an airport, waiting on the tarmac, or in the airport for a delayed flight watching the overworked staff calm everyone’s frayed nerves, or being crammed into one of those remarkably uncomfortable economy airplane seats for 12 hours, perhaps you’ll understand why I’m not all that anxious to get on a plane, in spite of all the great places that I am missing out on visiting.

Indian Spiced Corn

At this rate, I don’t think India is going to happen for me unless I find myself with a month of free time, because it seems like going over there and not spending that much time would be criminal, and they let me sleep in the area where the flight attendants sleep on the plane. (If any are reading, I promise to bring you cookies and treats for our little slumber party.) But for now, it looks like I will only have to imagine the swirl of colors, naans, dust, spices, curries, mukhwas (seed mixtures), animals, chutneys, music, and fiery chiles that all come together in that fascinating country.

So I was stoked when my copy of Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson landed in my mailbox. (See? I’m so lazy, I don’t even like to travel to the store…) Heidi writes the blog that most inspires me to quit blogging since I don’t think mine could ever be as beautiful as hers. Every photo on her site looks like something I need to eat right now, even if it has an unusual name or features an ingredient that I am unfamiliar with.

Spiced Indian Corn

Fortunately I’m not the jealous type so you’ll still have me to kick around a little longer. And to be honest, Heidi’s also a lovely person – and a coffee (and Kouign Aman) pal when I’m in San Francisco – and has shared a glass or two of rosé with me in Paris, too.

In addition to liking the same foods and wines, she also seems to like all the same countries and cuisines that I like, which she features in this gorgeous cookbook, which isn’t just a book of recipes but also a travelogue inspired by her travels to distant lands, as well as her home in San Francisco.

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We sure do have some goofy-named foods in America. Britain has their “fools” and “messes,” and France has “bêtises,” which translates to “stupidities” – as well as pêts de nonne, which, because I’m polite, will only say that refers to the wind that comes out of the backside of nuns – and leave it at that. Stateside, we have our grunts, buckles, and pandowdies, as well as burgoo. And…

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It was quite a summer, starting with sipping homemade cherry wine, a picnic at Versailles, checking out the Le Creuset factory, and frying up a batch of “French” fried chicken in a sizzling pan of duck fat. A few weeks later in the season, I was pulling a cherry clafoutis from my oven, grilling deviled chicken, and pickling strawberries, to take care of the overload from the outdoor…

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While in the states for a vacation this summer, I took advantage of the overload of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, fresh ears of corn, and generous bunches of basil at the farmers’ markets to make this salad over and over (and over and over) again. Romain agreed with me that we could eat this every day. And I think we did! This salad doesn’t have a lot…

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Being stateside in preparation for les vacances (vacation), I thought I’d corral Elizabeth Karmel, who I’d had dinner with last spring when we did a special cooking event together, into grilling dinner for me. I know, it was a little forward, but Elizabeth was the chef/consultation to Hill Country Barbecue in Manhattan, which has the distinct honor of pleasing even true, hard-core bbq aficianados. She’s also…

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Ice & Vice

One of the best parts of summer in the U.S. is heading out for ice cream on a warm evening. Even if you’re someone like me, that always has a freezerful of ice cream, it’s fun to head out somewhere and join others who are cooling down, lapping up cones on the streets and on benches. The most famous ice cream shop in Paris, Berthillon closes at 8pm (and…

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  Last year, for summer vacation, we did a fabulous tour of France. This year, we crossed the pond to do a tour of New England. More specifically, Cape Cod. Since I grew up not too far from the cape, or le cap, as we came to call it during our trip. (Cap Cabillaud doesn’t roll off the tongue quite the same way.) I was particularly…

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Whoops! A big problem with being a seasonally based cook (and in this case, cocktail drinker) is that things go in and out of season. Compound that with the fact that different things are available in different parts of the world at different times – hello my friends in Australia and New Zealand! – and it’s hard to hit it right for everyone. I don’t…

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One of the first books that made me fall in love with France, and French cuisine, was Roger Vergé’s Entertaining in the French Style. Vergé was the chef and owner of Moulin de Mougins, his world-famous restaurant on the Côte d’Azur, near Cannes. I never went, but used to page through the book, admiring the relaxed, friendly lifestyle that always seemed to revolve around a table,…

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