A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to the Savoie, a region of France that was once a dukedom of Italy. As you travel through France, especially away from the center of the country, you see more influences from neighboring countries, such as in the Basque region, where cornmeal and chile peppers figure into the cuisine. In Nice, pistou and socca from Italy are laced in soups, and are local snacks, respectively. And in the Savoie (Savoy), there’s vermouth, polenta, and cheese-filled ravioli, known as ravioles du Royans.

But the most legendary product from the Savoy is Chartreuse, the powerful, complex green liqueur that’s been made by monks in the mountains for over four hundred years. No one knows quite what’s in it, but I needed to make a pilgrimage back to the distillery, which I had first visited over twenty years ago.

You can’t visit the actual distillery anymore, but you check out the aging cellars, the tasting room, and – of course – the all-important gift shop.

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Hoo-boy, a lot has changed in blogging since I started. Back then, people relied on RSS feeds to read blogs. Something changed, and now it’s social media and direct email notification that readers use to connect. I used to think newsletters were adding yet another – sigh – email to my Inbox. But now I find myself looking forward to my favorite newsletters showing up in…

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There isn’t quite a word for “pie” in French. Tourte describes a double-crusted, enclosed pastry of some sort, but isn’t quite the same as pies in the States are. Like dishes from other nationalities and cultures, pie represents a tradition to Americans. Pies are a dessert we look forward to baking when fruit and berries come into season, and they are an essential part of our holidays, like Thanksgiving…

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People don’t associate French cooking with grilling. But if you go to any neighborhood festival in the summer, out in the countryside, there’s invariably a grill covered with sausages, including merguez, lined up and sizzling away, as well as a broche with something turning on the spit, being lapped with flames, roasting to perfection. Another thing that people don’t know, including me, was that you can…

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A few months ago, I started following an interesting-looking Instagram account of a bakery in Paris that was making all their breads using natural leavenings, rather than commercial yeast. I didn’t know anything about it, but not only were they showing impressive loaves of just-baked breads, but they were also experimenting with croissants made with levain (sourdough). The results looked promising. After they opened, I…

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People are impressed with (and a little envious of) the French and their relationship to food, especially a meal. So much so that UNESCO added the gastronomic meal of the French to their list of Intangible Cultural Heritage designations. The gathering around the table to eat is something most cultures engage in, of course, but it seems to carry special importance in France. A French friend…

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While my computer is still in the shop (it’s going on week three…) I’ve been eking out posts while praying to the gods, or technicians at Apple, that I get it back soon. In the meantime, it gave me a good excuse for a cocktail. It wasn’t just the frustration; as soon as I got 3-Ingredient Cocktails: An Opinionated Guide to the Most Enduring Drinks in…

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Once again, I found myself with an overload of fruit. Sure, I like pears and apples, which show up at the market on the cusp of autumn. But I want summer to last as long as possible. So when I see good nectarines, peaches, and plums lingering at the market, I pack my market basket to the brim, carefully making sure the delicate fruits aren’t going to get…

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When it was on the cusp of popularity in the U.S., I sort of introduced crème brûlée to a restaurant where I was working at the time, and, predictably, they took off. So much so, that most of my nights were spent torching crème brûlée as fast as I could. Finally, I put an end to that (popularity is overrated), and that was that. There…

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