Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Is The Best Thing You've Eaten?

It is a known phenomenon that for the past couple of years the world has been blogging about food. I am no exception. A recent article about people who take pictures of their food caught my eye this past April. "First Camera, Then Fork" was featured in the New York Times displaying examples of people who keep a food diary by way of their blogs. The article made me realize that I have not been so crazy these past few years documenting my favorite foods. I have to say, that in my many travels I have the opportunity to eat many enticing foods and dishes. One of my very favorite sweets is of course, the French Macaroon! Trader Joe's here in the U.S. has them frozen in a chocolate and vanilla variety box. You can order them from MadMacs out of NYC, having them shipped right to your door. The very BEST macaroons, however, are those from Pierre Herme in Paris. These are my three little macs from Pierre Herme that I promptly gobbled down after I took the picture.

French Bread is another weakness of mine. There is nothing like eating a baguette from France, but I will settle for any artisan bread if I am going to eat a sandwich.

Cheese. Need I say anything more? I am a lover of cheese! Hard or soft, stinky or mild. Yummmm!

One of the best dishes I have ever eaten was this one; scallops in a butter sauce, roasted tomato, and a zucchini souffle. I had this on the Ile de Cite in Paris.

But, the most memorable dish EVER was a green bean salad adorned with shaved French pate and sprinkled with a light vinaigrette. I could have stopped my meal with just this dish...but I didn't! :) So, what is the best thing you have ever eaten?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Portobello Road

If I told many people that I visited Portobello Road they would think that I had gone to a unique farm that harvested those large spongy brown mushrooms; the kind that vegetarians use as burgers because they think they are "meaty".

Portobello Road, however, to those who have traveled a little would know that it is a quaint area in London. It is set in the Notting Hill district. The 1999 film, "Notting Hill" with actor Hugh Grant was filmed on the street.

On Saturdays Portobello Road features the largest antiques market in the world. Recently, my husband and I went to London. We both love to go antique shopping. The Portobello Market on Saturday was one of the highlights of our trip.

My husband was looking at old prints, clocks, and paintings. I went to look at silver and lace. There were plenty of goodies to look at.

As the market got into full swing, the food vendors emerged. There were bakery items, vegetables and meats.
Specialty foods included large pans of paella being cooked on huge butane burners, nutella crepes, and Lebanese shawarma spits.

If you can't find anything you really would want to buy, there is a myriad of people that you can watch; whether it be merchants or buyers.

Our trip to the famous market lasted the entire Saturday morning, but it only yielded some lace and a few spoons. We had to be practical about what we could carry back after all. It was truly a great shopping experience, and a wonderful memory to share. If ever you get to visit London, make sure to visit the Portobello Road.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sage or Salvia?

Recently I attended a ladies luncheon where a horticulturist was the speaker. He brought many drought tolerant plants that thrive in the Las Vegas desert. Two plants he presented were a salvia and a sage. I started to think what the difference was between the two. Both are in the salvia family. Both have beautiful fragrant flowers that bees LOVE. But what can you eat? What is ornamental? Our master horticulturist did not know. What good was he?
I came home and looked up the plants in the salvia family. There are 400 different varieties, but there was not a clear picture of if the ornamental plants were edible. This is a picture taken not too far from my house in the desert. You can point out the sage plants by their light green/silver color. The plant in the front is a Texas Sage.
This little sage is from my garden. Edible sage or culinary sage is a wonderful herb that reminds us of Thanksgiving time; stuffing and turkey. But culinary sage is not just and herb for cooking. It actually has healing properties. This fine plant can be made into tea to help an upset tummy. It can dry up breast milk, and it's oils can be used to heal aching muscles.
As wonderful as our traditional culinary herb is, I still beg to question can we use our ornamental sage bushes for consumption? This is a sage plant near my house called a Cleavland Sage. It has gorgeous flowers with a powerful sweet smell. Humming birds LOVE it. As I continued my research I found that the ancient American Indians used this plant to eat. The seeds were used toasted in their dishes, and often ground to a powder to make a type of bread.
Mexican Sage with it's pointy leaves was also used by the American Indians for medicinal purposes. So, although I never had my question answered as to what was edible, I can say for sure that I would not chance eating an ornamental herb. Stick to those fragrant fresh herbs that you buy at your local nursery, and you won't be disappointed....or sick!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One of my favorite flowers is the geranium. It is a common flower that one can spy in most gardening centers, and most certainly it is a favorite of the European window boxes. With it's brightly colored flowers, it paints Spring and Summer gardens in shades of reds, pinks, whites and even periwinkle. What I love mostly about this plant is that you can use it alongside your herbs when you get a gourmet burst of inspiration.

The geranium is in the Pelargonium family. There are 422 different types of the geranium. It is originally an African plant. It tolerates the heat quite well, but don't fret if you forget to water it and it looks dead. Just pick off the old leaves and add water. As it is a perennial, it does go dormant in the Winter. My mother lets her's dry in a paper bag hanging upside down in her basement. In the Spring she adds some water and some "miracle grow". In a few weeks beautiful flowers are gracing her porch.

The scented variety are wonderful used in salads or desserts. There are hints of apple, lemon, mint or rose. Here is a recipe from Martha Stewart that uses the leaves to line a tea cake. Other fun recipes can be found on the Internet.