Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville Virginia fried chicken

I have to admit, it’s been a bit difficult to blog while I’ve been on the road. Much of it is that I have a little MacBook Air computer that I got specifically for travel, whose lightness has saved my back, but the tiny screen makes it hard to write on since I can only see a few sentences/thoughts at a time. In addition to that, pictures get reduced to a much smaller size so I’ve been peering at my screen, hunched over to see the photos that are about the size of a post-it note. No wonder the eye doctor I saw a few weeks ago dialed up my prescription big-time. I fear that the time is rapidly approaching that I’ll resemble Mr. Magoo.

Charlottesville Virginia-22

I’ve been so busy that I arrived home from my trip to Charlottesville to a Final Disconnection Notice from the electric and gas company since I’ve been remiss in paying them, I guess. So if I disappear completely, at least you’ll know why.

University of Virginia

So, naturally, when I was invited by the Department of French at the University of Virginia to come and speak, I didn’t hesitate for a minute to say yes. Because free time is overrated, isn’t it? (Please say yes….)

University of Virginia

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Ovenly

Ovenly Bakery Brooklyn New York City-7

Sometimes when I’m doing events, such as meet-ups and booksignings, people will kindly bring treats for me to eat. It’s always nice when people think of me, and my sweet tooth, when I’m on the road. However there’s nothing worse than trying to carry on a back-and-forth with someone who is chewing on food when you’re not doing the same. It just doesn’t work. My least favorite moment when I’m dining out is when I just put a forkful of food in my mouth and the waiter comes by at the exact moment when I’ve slid the food into my mouth to ask me what I thought of the meal.

Additionally, no one looks good when they’re shoveling food in their mouth, even Bradley Cooper and Angelina Jolie. (Which I’m just guessing, since I haven’t had the chance to dine with either of them — yet.) So when I’m at a public event, I politely set whatever it is aside, continue chatting with people, and revisit it when I have a moment to myself. Wine, however, I’m pretty good at balancing during a conversation.

Ovenly Bakery Brooklyn New York City-3

However my save-it-for-later technique was tested the last time I was in Brooklyn when doing a signing at The Brooklyn Kitchen. Someone came up to me and handed me a big cardboard bakery box full of individually wrapped treats. Almost immediately I tore off the seal and lifted the lid, happy to see almost a dozen different cookies, bars, and brownies, neatly arranged inside.

Ovenly Bakery Brooklyn New York City-9

In spite of guests holding camera phones at the ready, and people lined up to chat, I couldn’t help myself and dove right in, dialing in on the darkest package of the bunch – ripping off the wrapper and tearing off a corner of the salty dark brownie, not worrying about black crumbs on my teeth. (Apologies if you were there and I kept you waiting, but I’m kind of powerless against chocolate.) And in spite of any worries of photos going viral of me shoving food in my craw that resembled an eating contest at a county fair, I was happy to take a break to savor an excellent brownie. Which I think just about anyone can relate to.

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Les restes

Leftovers - les restes

The French don’t really have the same reverence for leftovers that Americans do, which may be a throwback to the time before people had reliable refrigeration – which still doesn’t explain why nowadays, when they do, some people still keep leftovers like beef stew and roast chicken in the cupboard overnight rather than in the refrigerator. But is mostly because when you dine in France, you’re supposed to eat everything on your plate. Although the food in France can be rich – richer than what even us overstuffed Americans are used to (I always find it curious that Americans come to France and by day #3, they can’t eat another bite) – it’s considered somewhat impolite to leave food on your plate. Even a ½ teaspoon of sauce isn’t left behind; it’s carefully mopped up and consumed with a crusty end of bread. And by the end of each course, your plate is expected to be wiped clean.

Leftovers - les restes

The concept of le doggy bag draws snickers in France, partially for the aforementioned reason. An article in Le Monde, which mentions this American pratique courant is titled: I Feel Ashamed to Ask for a Doggy Bag. Curiously, the practice of bringing home leftover wine is considered a-ok. But another reason is because it’s a bit inelegant to traipse across a dining room after a meal toting a bag of food through the dining room, on your way out.

Some restaurants in America will discreetly hold your bag at the host’s podium so you can grab it as you leave, which I know because my normally well-mannered mother was a constant source of rolling eyes to my relatives in Los Angeles when we’d come to visit, because whenever they took us to a nice place for dinner, nearly half the meal came home with her.

Leftovers - les restes

(But probably in weight-conscious Los Angeles, it’s now encouraged. In fact, I once read one of those articles about how to dine out and lose weight, which advised, “As soon as your meal arrives, ask for a take-out container and put half of it in there so you don’t eat it.” I tell you, the day someone tries that in Paris, please invite me to come watch for the waiter’s reaction.)

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Oeufs a la neige (Snow Eggs)

Oeufs a la neige snow eggs Floating Island recipe

When asked about my “desert island” dessert, it takes me about a nanosecond to respond, and I invariably reply that it’d be Œufs à la neige, otherwise known as “Snow Eggs.” It’s one of those classic French desserts that, even though I’m not French, I have a deep fondness – and a sense of nostalgia – for. When I order it in restaurants I am usually disappointed. Often it’s made with pre-packaged crème anglaise (yes, that’s a thing, or powdered) and bottled caramel sauce, neither of which appeals to me.

I want the real thing: Homemade custard sauce, served ice-cold, topped with fluffy mounds of meringue, finished with spoonfuls of almost-burnt caramel, enough to give it a bit of an edge, but not enough to be actually burned.

Œufs à la neige (Snow Eggs)

I don’t make Œufs à la neige nearly enough, which is probably a good idea since I tend to dip into the bowl of meringues, lopping off mouthfuls of meringue along with vanilla-scented custard sauce and a bit of caramel.

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Upcoming Appearances

My Paris Kitchen Book Cover

I’m supposed to be locked away, with my nose to the grindstone. But I’ll be making a few appearances in various places in the U.S. during the next few weeks, as well as participating in a literary festival in Ireland in May. As always, you can find out more information on my Schedule page and you can get additional information, and maps, on the Facebook event pages, which are linked below. Although not necessary, you can RSVP for events if you wish.

Note: If you’d like a signed copy of a book and can’t make it to the event, or any of the events, you can order one through from Omnivore Books and they’ll send you a personally signed copy.

Booksigning at Omnivore Books

I’ll be back in my old stomping grounds. Yup, San Francisco, at the terrific Omnivore Books, signing books from 6 to 7pm. (Facebook event page)


Cooking Class at De Gustibus in Macy’s

On Monday, April 13th, I’ll be teaching a demonstration class in New York City. You can sign up here, while spaces are available. (Facebook event page)


New York Culinary Experience

I’ll be participating in the New York Culinary Experience, leading a master class on April 11th along with other chefs from around the world. More information is at their website.


An Evening with David Lebovitz

Well, you don’t get me for the entire evening, but I’ll be at the University of Virginia on Thursday, April 16th at 6:30pm for a chat and interview. The event is open to the public. (Facebook event page)


Booksigning in Charlottesville

I’ll be at Barnes and Noble in Charlottesville, Virginia, on April 17th at 5:30pm to sign books. Stop by and say hi! (Facebook event page)

Ballymaloe LitFest

Fancy a trip to Ireland? I’ll be at the incredible Ballymaloe School of Cookery in Cork, participating in the Ballymaloe Litfest. The festival takes place May 15-17th. (Facebook event page)


For specific information about any of the events, you are welcome to contact the venues through the links provided. While it would be great to go to other places, I’m all out of miles — so you’ll have to come to me at one of these! : )

Eating Around Queens

Dining in Flushing Queens New York City-8

One of the things about discovering new places to eat in an unknown city is that you spend a lot of time getting around, figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B, then to Point C, and so forth. Sometimes people are kind enough to suggest places that sound good. But when you look at the map, they’re an hour or more away. While the New York subway does go everywhere, when you’re used to living in a compact city like Paris, where if you miss a métro, there’s a very good chance that there’ll be another one in the next three minutes, I’ve been slowly getting up to speed understanding the NY subway system, including the complex weekend closure schedule.

I had a list of restaurants that I wanted to go to, many in Queens, a borough which is known for being one of the best places to experience the multicultural cuisines that all come together in the melting pot of America. While other countries and cities do have good, or great, foods from other countries, according to NewYork.com, there are immigrants from over 100 countries and more than 138 languages are spoken within the 109 square miles of this one borough. And they all gotta eat – and so do I.

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Orange Margaritas

Orange Margarita cocktail recipe-4

I don’t mind spending part of my winter this year in New York. Even though it was one of the coldest winters in history, and on the first day of spring, we had a snowstorm, the beautiful snow blanketed everything in a thick white layer, which reflects the light and kept my mood cheery and optimistic. It rarely snows in Paris and la grisaille (the gray skies, sans la neige — or without snow), can augment the sullen mood around town. And the only people who you’ll see braving the cold are the hardy smokers, God love ‘em, clustered in the doorways of buildings and businesses, trying to get as many puffs in as possible before they can’t take it anymore and head back inside to the cozy warmth, with the rest of us.

Orange Margaritas

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New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder Recipe

If you’re not from a place, you don’t have the same nostalgic pangs for the foods, even if some of us invoke Proust when we bite into a madeleine, or get all bent out of shape when someone messes with a certain food from a particular country or region – even if we’ve never been there.

I’m not a big fan of creamy soups, but I am a staunch defender of New England clam chowder. The word “chowder” comes from the French word “chaudière,” a big soup pot or cauldron. Some say it may have been invented by Breton fishermen in France, who later brought the soup to Canada and New England. Although I am not sure about the Manhattan-variety of chowder, which to me is like adding tomato puree to the dressing for a Caesar Salad, and calling it a “Caesar Salad.” If you’re looking for a tomato-based clam chowder there are plenty of places to find one in books and on the internet. This isn’t one of them.

New England Clam Chowder

I grew up eating New England clam chowder, which we often enjoyed at Howard Johnson’s, the famed roadside restaurant (which was once the largest restaurant chain in America), where Jacques Pépin worked, coming up with recipes in the 1960’s.

The place wasn’t fancy, but it was pretty good; the orange and turquoise roofs were a welcome sight during long drives on the Massachusetts Turnpike. (Most New Englanders of a certain age will remember hearing the phrase; “Sorry, we don’t have Coke. We have HoJo cola. Would you like one?”

New England Clam Chowder

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