Results tagged dates from David Lebovitz

Zuni Café and Chez Panisse

Zuni hamburger with blue cheese

I tried. I gave it my best shot to try and make it through the list of the new places that were on my radar for my visit to San Francisco, the one that I’d been scribbling down for the last few month. But getting felled by a bout of whatever it was that I picked up on my flight sapped me of a bit of my energy. Fortunately, midway through my trip, I was able to rally back and proved myself to be the trooper that I knew I could be. But apologies to the folks who came by to meet me at my event, for the laryngitis that prevented me from expressing my enthusiasm for meeting you! And thanks for braving the cold temperatures to come out and say hi.

Even since my last visit just a few years ago, a bunch of bakeries, chocolate purveyors, bread places, and restaurants have opened in San Francisco that pretty much knocked my socks off. I was also thrilled to see that the city has implemented a city-wide composting program, to deal with all the kitchen and food scraps that normally get tossed. Seeing that has prompted me to take another look at options in my own kitchen in Paris, since it pains me to throw things that can be reused away. (The worm-based composters, which seem to be the best option for apartment-dwellers, make me a little uneasy. I have nothing against worms, but am not sure I could sleep soundly at night with a big container of them wriggling around nearby.)

Zuni burger

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Al Bohsali: Middle Eastern Pastries

arab pastries

It’s too bad that so many people are only familiar with Middle Eastern pastries that aren’t so well made. If you sample them far from where they originate, often they’re made with old or stale nuts, they’ve sat around too long in plastic packages, or the cheeses aren’t exactly fresh. While it’s true that some of them can be a bit sticky-sweet for Western tastes, but when they’re made correctly, they’re just as lovely to look at as they are to eat.

semolina pastry

At Al Bohsali in Beirut, all the pastries are made on the premises. As you get ready to sip your coffee, you can gaze at all the lovely pastries resting in a shiny glaze, presented in wide stainless-steel trays on the counter. Then make yourself a little plate to try a few, which I was happy to do.

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Sharjah Market

coconuts

I have a really dumb habit of always wearing flip-flops, or similar sandal-style shoes, then discovering that I have to do something really precarious a little while later. I remember scaling down rocky cliffs at beaches and almost killing myself, as well as assorted other idiocies attempted with rubber-clad feet. Really, it’s amazing I’m still alive.

market in Sharjah ripening dates

Like the flowing robes, sandals are part of the uniform in many Middle Eastern counties, so I took advantage of the warm weather (and freedom from packing all those socks), and donned sandals when we headed towards the market in the Emirate of Sharjah.

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Fruitcake Bar Recipe

I’ve been making these Fruitcake Bars more and more as the holidays approach. Not only are they incredibly simple to put together, unlike other fruitcakes, these really do taste great.

fruitcake bars

They can be made up to a week in advance, which will undoubtedly help alleviate holiday stress. It’s from my archives but thought it worth sharing again since folks enjoyed them so much at a recent Paris book event (and wine-tasting), and because the baking season is quickly approaching and it’s nice to have a recipe for a very easy-to-prepare dessert or snack.

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Apple Spice Cake

Recently I ate at one of those small neighborhood restaurants whose fame spreads beyond the quartier and people come from other neighborhoods, as well as from other countries, to eat at because it is très reputé.

cake dusting

Le Repaire de Cartouche (99 rue Amelot) is one of those restaurants in Paris. It’s known for very good food and an especially compelling wine list. The prices aren’t too high (although not too low, either) and you can eat very well without spending the equivalent of a three-star restaurant.

dishofapples

Almost immediately after we sat done, something seemed up. Within moments of handing us our menus, the waiter asked if we were ready to order. I was with Maria Helm Sinskey, a well-regarded chef from the Bay Area and co-owner of a vineyard, with her husband. I’d chosen the restaurant because they’re known for excellent game dishes and I figured it was something she couldn’t easily get back in the states.

As she pondered the wine list, the waiter told us we had to order our meal before we could order wine. When we said we needed a moment to scan the interesting wine list, he quickly turned and scampered away in a huff.

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Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe

spooning toffee

In my high school locker room, when the jocks congregated after winning a big game, they’d all jump around, yelling the word, “Sah-weet! Sah-weet! adding a big, tight, thumbs-up for emphasis, while jumping all over each other celebrating their victory.

While not as exciting as a group of sweaty, nearly-naked high school athletes jumping all over each other, I don’t know about you, but what turns me on these days is Sticky Toffee Pudding.

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Fruitcake Bar Recipe (Friendship Bars)

fruitcake bars

Maybe this happens to you. Maybe it doesn’t.

You’re invited to a party and as a nice gesture, you bring something along. Being a baker you decide, naturally, to bake something.

So you get to the party, you’re wining and dining, loosening up and enjoying yourself. But when people find out you’ve brought a dessert, they all of the sudden get very interested in you, and what you’ve brought, what’s it called, how you’ve made it, what’s in it, what’s the recipe, etc..etc…

The most difficult was when I brought a Bûche de Noël to a Christmas party, which is a fairly complicated affair involving spongecake, chocolate buttercream, soaking syrup, and lots of crackly meringue mushrooms for decoration. Some nutty woman followed me around all night with a pen and note pad, prodding me for recipe details and I spent the whole night trying to avoid her.

But let’s say you’ve been working on recipes all day, or adding recipes to your blog. So you go to a party and maybe you’d rather just not talk about what you’ve made: After all, don’t they know you have a food blog and a couple of cookbooks where they can get all that information?

(And no, I don’t have a recipe for Bûche de Noël. But thanks for asking…)

Bakers Edge Pan

So my technique for throwing ‘em off the scent is to make up names for things I’ve baked that mean nothing, something innocuous that no one can possibly question what’s inside it. I’ve brought to parties Chocolate Surprise Cake, Mystery Spice Cake and Baked Summertime Fruit Dessert. But you need to be careful since if you pick the wrong name, something like Chocolate Emergency Cake, you’ll have to explain the story behind the moniker ‘emergency’.
And we can’t have that, can we?

Then there’s Friendship Bars, which is the name I often give these Fruitcake Bars.

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A Date For International Understanding

Although most of the comments and messages I get are friendly and kind, a few do slip through that are less-than-complimentary. A majority of them illuminate the errors of my ways by pointing out the faults in my cross-cultural observations. So I was delighted when I found Socio-Site Scan v1.01, some brand-new software which allows me to simply input all my blog entries, and tells me what percentage of my posts are which are complimentary to one culture, and what percentage isn’t.

So what did I find?

Roughly 67.8% are complimentary to the French, while only 65.3% of what I write was pro-American.
But a whopping 47% were anti-French, followed closely by 45.2% of swipes at my compatriots in the states.

dates.jpg

Since this is the beginning of the holiday season, one full of global good cheer (real or imagined), I decided that since our politicians have been messing it up a bit too long, at least 6 years too long (oops…gonna have to give the site a second run-through), I decided that today I’m calling a holiday truce.

Since there’s no time like the present, I’m happy to start right now promoting international understanding by sharing these divinely delicious dates from Iran, which are perhaps the best dates I’ve ever had. (Insert your own joke here.) They certainly rival the Medjool dates from California, which are excellent as well, although they’re far pricier. Hmm, perhaps I might suggest America trade dates for oil? It certainly would be a tasty trade-off that might make everyone a little less combative.

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