Having returned from my trip to Italy, narrowly escaping the hairy fangs of the too-vigilant EasyJet luggage police, I returned with a suitcase full of great Italian foods: chocolates from Amadei, and Domori, coffee (and more chocolate) from Slitti, jars of bittersweet chestnut honey, 12-year old syrupy Balsamic vinegar, luscious sun-dried tomatoes, and of course, bottles of fruity Tuscan olive oil. Fresh Dried-Pasta I’ve seen…

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So here I was, about to share with you tales of a market visit and meal I had in Florence, Italy, with my friend Judy, better known as Divina Cucina. We found fragrant, tiny wild strawberries, so she made a terrific Panna Cotta to serve with them, topped with a drizzle of aged, syrupy balsamic vinegar. Then while typing away (and procrastinating at the same…

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Trim cube of chocolate Gush out liquid espresso! Clever caffeine cloak

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Gianluca Franzoni is the master chocolatier at Domori. He’s the person who is responsible for selecting the beans and roasting them to perfection. Cacao beans, like coffee, need to be roasted to bring out their flavor. Domori uses no vanilla in their chocolate, unlike other chocolate companies, since Gianluca believes that vanilla masks some of the flavors he coaxes out of the beans to make…

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Here I am in Torino, or Turin, if you’re familiar with the shroud. Being on the road means that I’m in unfamiliar hotels with less-than-ideal access. When I attempted to change the thermostat in my hotel room, the digital display read ‘PARTY’. I don’t know what the ‘party’ mode is, but when I pressed the switch again nothing exciting happened. I’m leading a fabulous chocolate…

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At a recent dinner party here in Paris, I asked a gentleman from New York City how he was enjoying his trip. He responded it was fine, but “I can’t find anywhere to get a coffee in Paris.” There’s been perhaps 3 times in my life where I’ve been speechless, much to the consternation of anyone within earshot. And this is the first time this…

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The other day I was waiting on line at La Poste (emphasis on the word ‘waiting’…), I happened to notice a new series of stamps on sale. Of course, I wanted to take a picture right then and there, but I figured everyone would think that was goofy, so I bought a set to show you: I love these. Stamp dedicated to cane sugar, Cantal…

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There is nothing simpler to make than a fresh fruit granita. For me, the only hard part is finding real estate in my freezer for the pan to stir it up in. But springtime means strawberries. And lots of ’em! Years ago, taste was hybridized out of commercial strawberries in favor of firmness for long-term storage, but many farmers are growing varieties of berries that…

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Forget everything you’ve been told about salted butter. Ok. There, I hope that was easy. (Now forget my last column.) I’ve recently reconverted to salted butter. Most recipe-writers like myself call for unsalted butter because it’s easier to gauge how much salt will be used in the recipe and everyone seems to be on an exactitude kick when baking. Lighten up, home cooks. If people…

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