Reading Donna Bell’s Bake Shop Cookbook inspires me to share my New York origin story – or more importantly how I met Darren Greenblatt – one of the writers and co-owners of the eponymous bakery. My older sister’s best friend went to FIT with Darren so he was one of the first people I met when I moved up here to go to school – not that I think I made much of an impression. I was too intimidated by their hard won city cool acquired over the 4 whole years they’d lived there before me.
Part cookbook and part memoir, DBBSC is all about first meetings as it tracks the friendship history between Darren and his partners Pauley Perrette and Matthew Sandusky. It’s very much about being young and new in a city and the families you form. If they get along with your parents (and everyone gets along with the Greenblatts), then they’ll always know where you’re coming from. If they help you build a bakery to honor your mother (Donna Bell’s is named after Pauley’s mother who was a wonderful southern cook) then you’ll always have something in common. Read more
I find an excuse to visit the Publix near my mother’s house almost every day that I’m in Miami. And it’s not for the daily free chocolate chip cookie their Danish bakery has for every child (and shameless adult) who asks – though that doesn’t hurt. When every recipe I attempt in New York turns into a scavenger hunt or compromise, I love the everydayness of seeing these things in a large chain grocery store. Most markets have strong Caribbean or Central American sections, but only in Miami do you see Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and the West Indies represented as well. It’s like shopping in the a pan-Latin future as imagined by dancing dolls of It’s a Small World. Read more
Every January 6th, on El Día de los Reyes, Santa Claus and reindeers are traded in for wise men and camels. Celebrated throughout Spain and Latin America, kids leave shoes out along with grass and water for the camels in exchange for presents the Reyes Magos will leave behind. Growing up, it was one of my favorite holidays because it meant having at least one more gift to open. This year I forgot to leave my shoes out last night and if the camels came looking for straw they were disappointed but I still wanted to post my favorite recipe for Rosca de Reyes. Read more
This past December, I went home to Miami earlier – for Art Basel – and stayed later – for Christmas – then I usually do. I was coming back to a cold, gray winter, so any time spent inside felt like a missed opportunity – as though I could somehow store the sun in my skin and the colors in my eyes to get through the next few months. I put together a too-ambitious list of places I wanted to go but was still surprised when I couldn’t get through it all – though what I did see, I loved. Read more
It was unmistakable. There was a chill in the air this morning. Not a breeze, not a nip, but a chill. This summer went by fast for me and being in the final stretch of recipe testing and writing has only accelerated it. This week I was looking for a substitute for the Cuban aji guaguao and was told that tabasco peppers should work. I stopped by a few of my favorite markets but they didn’t carry them. Earlier this year, I was supposed to visit the McIlhenny Company‘s tabasco pepper fields in Louisiana but the trip was postponed until October. At the time it felt like a long ways off but now it couldn’t come soon enough. With New York produce failing me, I couldn’t wait to be where tabasco peppers were literally growing on trees (or bushes – not sure because I haven’t been there yet). Read more
A few weeks ago, I decided to make Cannelle et Vanille‘s Aran Goyaga’s Swiss Chard, Pear and Gruyère Tart from her new cookbook, Small Plates and Sweet Treats. I’m not sure how to describe this beautifully photographed book except to say that it glows. It actually glows. Read more