Not many of us saw it coming, certainly not me, way back in 1989 when La Brea Bakery opened, and I thought, “Who the heck is going to buy freshly baked bread in Los Angeles? That’ll never work…” And the rest, as they say, is history, as La Brea Bakery and Campanile restaurant, the adjacent restaurant in the same Spanish-style building (that Charlie Chaplin built),…

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  Here’s a round-up of places I visited recently in New York City. One happy change (which is also happening in cities elsewhere) is the proliferation of excellent bakeries making top-quality artisan bread, as well as bakeries with a global focus. While Americans don’t buy bread daily, as the French do, you can get terrific bread and pastries if you know where to look. Restaurants…

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Papaya isn’t a very common fruit in many parts of the world. But if you go to the tropics, you’ll see them piled up at markets, and even alongside the roads, where people are selling the overload from their trees. Papaya is a curious fruit that is often just out of the sightline of our radars, and is usually eaten fresh. Some varieties are spectacularly…

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When I originally came up with this ice cream, the year was 2009, which seems like a long, long time ago, in so many ways. Absinthe had been banned in France since 1914, blamed for a host of societal ills, even being accused of causing people to go crazy (which has since been debunked; most blame additives added to cheap absinthe, which caused brain damage),…

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When I was a kid and we went trick-or-treating for Halloween, we’re run around the neighborhood, collecting candy from various houses, filling our bags with candy bars, sour bites, an occasional apple (ugh!, for a kid…), and assorted other goodies. Once home, we’d spill our loot onto the floor and commence with some serious trading. The ne plus ultra of candies to get were coconut-chocolate…

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I was talking to someone about cookbooks recently. In the age of the internet, things have changed as recipes became available by the thousands, or hundreds of thousands, online. Some are good and others don’t quite make the grade. Developing and testing recipes ensures the recipe is a good one, or at least will work. But when recipes are churned out, or posted by who-knows-who,…

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Spring is the time of year when new cookbooks land. (Fall is the other.) I check out a lot of them, buy them or get review copies, cooking and baking from them. But it’s always interesting when one cookbook comes along, and as I’m reading through it, I realize that I want to make every single recipe in it. But I should backtrack for a…

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It’s almost pie season. Right now, there’s not much fruit available at the markets, but I’ve had this recipe card lingering in my “to try” folder, and decided the time was right to give it a go. This is a pie I’ve enjoyed at Four & Twenty Blackbird Pie Shop in New York and I had the recipe on a card that was in the…

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I get it. Some people have an aversion to making pie crusts. They’re worried about which fat to use; some recipes insist on butter for flavor, others advocate vegetable shortening as the key to success, and lard has its fans. Then there are the processes of rolling out the dough, and baking it, that makes people pause when they want to make pie. I understand…

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