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Venice & Artichoke Pasta

IMG_3201With the days getting crisp, it seemed like a good time to pick up my much delayed Italian travelogue where I left off – Venice.  I’d been once before on a rushed trip that I would describe as a 36-hours of disorientation broken up by moments of heart-stopping beauty – mostly gilded.  It’s all very romantic until you realize just how lost you are and panic sets in.  A dense concentration of  sites that you have to see at least once surrounded by an even denser network of tourists traps hotels, restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops, it was impossible to visit one without falling into the other – especially during our abbreviated trip.  On the last day, I felt a little bolder and found myself in Cannaregio.  It was the first sign of normal life I’d experienced there, and I promised myself that next time would be different. Read more

Dulce de Grosellas

IMG_3029I don’t remember having currants – red, black, or otherwise – growing up, so I was surprised to find them in one of the older Cuban cookbooks I’d been using, Delicias de las Mesa by Maria Antonieta Reyes Gavalán.   Written in the 1920s, I came across it at the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection.  While most other Cuban cookbooks date from the mid-fifties when everyone was only too happy to embrace cans and convenience, Gavalán’s book captures an earlier time, referencing ingredients and techniques that had fallen out of use but worth reconsidering. The book itself was so worn and frayed that it couldn’t be scanned or photocopied, so I spent most of  my time in the archives furiously taking notes before reluctantly giving it back. It was complete coincidence when my aunt Marta called from New Orleans to tell me her friend had given her a copy of the book that I could have. Read more

Verdolagas con Costillas de Puerco

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I think my relationship with New York is steady enough that I can admit we’d recently hit a rough patch.  I’d spent so much time away last year that it felt like I was living consecutive winters. It wore me down and I took it out on the city that had become all work. Now that we’re having this beautiful summer, every day comes closer to New York’s song-and-dance ideal and I’m in love again. I even gave in and bought a new bicycle -albeit one that is technically older than I am – a copper colored Schwinn Suburban step-through with an honeywood basket. It’s heavy, impractical and my favorite thing in the world right now. Read more

Valdirose, Lastra a Signa, Tuscany

IMG_1266It’s hard to believe now, but I still remember going to friends and family’s homes to see “the vacation pictures”. Magnified on what to me was the big screen, it was one of those things people moaned about (when it wasn’t their own slides in the carousel) but I always loved it – both the scale and the ritual. I hadn’t thought about how obsolete that had become until I came back from a family trip to Italy. Between instagram and facebook, everyone comments on what you’re doing and seeing in real time so there’s not much left to tell and every repeated story feels smaller somehow. Still it’s impossible to travel through Italy without thoughts of futures posts running through my head.  Rather than go through it all in one go, I’ve decided to take it city by city and share some favorites places and the recipes that came from them – starting where we did in Florence.

IMG_1249Preparing for the trip, I’d gone through my typical pre-flight checklist which ranges from the entirely doable (download Lonely Planet guide to ipad) to the highly unlikely (learn Italian). The week before coincided with last looks on my manuscript so I tried a more balanced approach -checking bookmarked links and noting a handful of things I absolutely wanted to see and more importantly – eat.  Read more

The Cuban Table

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I always had a hard time dropping my pencil and turning in my work as a little girl and it’s not much different now. It has been almost two years since I first posted about The Cuban Table, my collaboration with food photographer Ellen Silverman, but I could have happily kept tweaking and polishing it forever. Luckily it wasn’t up to me which is why I have this lovely cover to share, an actual ink and paper bound book on its way, and an official release date from St. Martin’s Press to look forward to this October! Read more

Chimichurri

ChimichurriI’ve never been one for meat and potatoes. I rarely go for the steak frites on frenchified Smith Street and I’m as interested in the sides as the slabs of beef served at steakhouses. While I believe hamburger cravings should always be heeded because absolutely nothing else will satisfy, my own burger attacks are few and far between. Still there are exceptions when I really do love red meat: 1) when my mother who is a genius with a Costco steak and open flame grills for us at home (post to come later) and 2) Argentinian-style churrasco drizzled with chimichurri sauce. Read more

Cúrate on TLK

photographer Christopher ShanePhotographer Christopher Shane

It’s one of the challenges of starting a blog that you hope it will lead you to other things then those other things keep leading you away from your blog.  Last month, a perfect storm of deadlines and travel kept me from posting as often as I would like.  Rather than come back empty handed again, I’d like to have a little more to show for my long absences.  I met chef Katie Button at this year’s SOBEWFF and I was so happy to interview her for The Latin Kitchen.  I knew she had a great back story – neuroscientist, sorcerer’s apprentice at el bulli, travel through Spain where she met her boyfriend then husband then business partner – but what really captured my imagination was her description of Asheville, NC.  It’s where she and her family have set down roots and opened their glowingly reviewed tapas bar Cúrate and prohibition style Nightbell and I can only think of it as Brooklyn in the mountains.  Also, I love this picture of the cherry blossoms that canopy over the restaurant’s front door.

 

 

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