We have recently made changes to this page to improve user experience. Please clear your cache to see the latest version.
Show Post Filters
Hide Post Filters

For Your Perusal

Food Lit: Seymour Britchky – Restaurant Reviewer Gone Too Soon

He Had Me At Benihana

“Except for an interlude in the forties, in this country, the Japanese have always enjoyed a reputation for graciousness and hospitality.”  Best-ever opening line in a restaurant review. If you are not familiar with Seymour Britchky, race to your local library, borrow from a friend, or start a query on Google for anything he has written. Unfortunately, I lent my copies of Britchky’s gems to my brother, and unsurprisingly, they were never returned.  There are resellers online, and I  got my latest copies from Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks.

one of the few photos of Seymour Britchky via The Artful DinerIf you are  burdened by whiners on Yelp and  Trip Advisor who practically set fire to a place for one tiny flaw even after being pleased on previous occasions, or because it doesn’t offer a “kids’ menu,” Seymour Britchky is for you. Do you long for good grammar, imaginative sentence structure and correct spelling? Seymour Britchky will make you sigh with nostalgic satisfaction.   Take a  few steps back in time to the latter part of the 20th century when New Yorkers seeking dining advice could be lead by one of the most erudite and  excruciatingly funny  restaurant reviewers of all time.  The rest of us could simply howl with laughter or make a note for a future Big Apple dining experience  from one of the guides  he wrote from 1971 to 1991.

Warning: Britchky reviews should not be read in public situations

While many of the restaurants are gone, it’s fun to learn about what we missed and even more fun to read the reviews of the ones that are still here. You will be tempted to bring this book with you on Metro or the bus to work.  Don’t. Laughing maniacally over Britchky’s review of Luchows may get you in trouble with transit security.  I have tried reading him in the park and found that you still need to be by yourself.  People will sidle over and ask what’s so funny. But in the safety of your own company, it is the perfect reading material to give you a quick jolt of happiness when the day has betrayed you.  And if you are a disciplined person and don’t binge read, Britchky reviews can last over several months.   

So Who Was Seymour Britchky?

Good question.  In the beginning, Britchky was not paid by a newspaper or city magazine, but rather produced his own restaurant review newsletter.  He photo of SeymourBritchky quote in Tasting Tablewas a marketing director who clearly knew how to turn a phrase. In 1971, he started his own monthly newsletter of restaurant reviews, because, as he put it, “I eat three meals a day.”  He paid for his meals, was pretty much unrecognized, and maintained a lack of food critic snobbery that is sorely missed.  His newsletters ultimately were produced by several different publishing houses until he ceased writing his brilliant essays in 1991.  He died in 2004 at the age of 73.  

I personally saw the value and  deft hilarity of his reviews after I, too, had suffered  ridiculously bad meals at The Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel and The Coach House. I had just started La Cuisine, and my husband and I were young and naive when we went to New York for our Big Apple dining experience.  Both of these restaurants had come highly recommended (for different reasons) in some well known guides.  Alas, we followed them instead of Britchky. Of the Oak Room’s pretentious but banal meal, he had written:  “Can the roast beef really taste like medicine,  the red snapper taste like one of  Red Snapper‘s catcher’s mitts?”  The answer to both from our experiences was a definitive “yes.” The Oak Room additionally offered a menu first for me: an Egg Benedict(yes, one half an English Muffin with one poached egg) for over $20.00.   Of the funereal experience we had at The Coach House, Britchky had presciently written, “”Nothing about this restaurant is as remarkable as its reputation.” A perfectly wrought, one-sentence critique the likes of which you’ll never see on Yelp.


River Cafe’s Fresh Raspberry Aperitivo Recipe

Fresh Raspberry Aperitivo Recipe
Serves 6
Needs no addition. Just fresh and delicious. You can add the same puree to a fizzy water for children
Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
  1. 18oz fresh raspberries
  2. 1/3 to 1/2 cup caster or superfine sugar
  3. 1 cold bottle of Prosecco
  1. Crush raspberries and sugar in blender or mortar and pestle.
  2. Pass this through a fine sieve.
  3. Put in cocktail shaker or sieve
  4. Add prosecco slowly to avoid bubbling up
  5. Stir with a long spoon to dispense with foam
  6. Pour slowly into flutes
  1. Organic raspberries usually have more flavor, so use those if possible.
Adapted from River Cafe Cookbook
Adapted from River Cafe Cookbook
Kitchen Detail https://lacuisineus.com/

Valerie Hill’s Coconut Cake

Valerie Hill's Coconut Cake
Yields 10
this is the original recipe that was featured in Majestic Cafe (when it was a groundbreaking restaurant in Old Town Alexandria) and later at Johnny's Half Shell in Washington DC
  1. 337.5 grams or 1.5 cups Caster Sugar
  2. 1 teaspoon Coconut Essence
  3. 1/2 teaspoon Nielsen MasseyVanilla Paste
  4. 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 141.8 grams or 10 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  5. 226 grams or 2 cups pastry flour
  6. 2 teaspoons Bakewell Cream Baking Powder
  7. 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  8. 3 large eggs, separated
For the Glaze
  1. 125 ml or 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  2. 50 grams or 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  3. 1/2 teaspoon coconut essence
  1. Preheat oven 350F; grease and flour 2 9x2 inch round cake pans
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together thoroughly (make take more than once)
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  4. Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition
  5. Mix flavorings into coconut milk and add to yolk mixture, alternating with flour mixture.
  6. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into batter.
  7. Pour into pans and bake about 25 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean.
  8. Cool in pans 10 minutes, then invert on a rack to cool.
  9. Make a glaze by heating coconut milk with the sugar until sugar is dissolved.
  10. Add coconut essence.
  11. Brush tops and sides of cooled cake layers with glaze and allow to stand for 30 minutes before frosting.
  12. Frost with White Mountain, Seven Minute or any fluffy white frosting and cover with unsweetened grated coconut.
  1. We sold a divine coconut essence from France, which is available commercially to the trade, but not in small amounts for individual consumers. There are organic and pure coconut extracts available online and you can choose from one of those.
Adapted from Robin Gourley's Cakewalk cookbook
Adapted from Robin Gourley's Cakewalk cookbook
Kitchen Detail https://lacuisineus.com/

Juicy Post: In Praise Of Polpo, Cicchetti and Bacari

Polpo book cover

Polpo Is More Than A Cookbook

I am a late-in-life convert to bar-hopping, something I loathed in my impetuous youth, despite my friends’ wholehearted embrace of the tradition.  They were able to look past the cheap alcohol, rancid peanuts and processed cheese goldfish crackers always on offer. I just couldn’t.

But bar-hopping in Venice? This is a totally different thing, as I happily discovered with my daughters and husband in recent years.  I’m 100 percent on board.  And Russell Norman has captured it beautifully in his cookbook, guide and sort of autobiography, Polpo.  Titled after his collection of restaurants-bars with snacks, this indispensable book will help steer you toward bar-hopping magnificence, reaching well beyond Norman’s own establishments.  Polpo has several locations in London, and you can check out their very helpful website hereincluding the one below the sidewalk in Covent Garden, where I have happily eaten.

The Joys of Bacari Over Bars

Norman will lead you through the pretty, modest, little bacari of Venice, where you can enjoy an aperitivo or a glass of local wine and eat simple but delicious snacks – cicchetti. Not only does he give you a good list of bacari to search out, but his writing style is so inviting, you can feel the atmosphere of each bacaro from the text.  He includes easy recipes that allow you to reproduce tasty bites for your own aperitivo hour or make several platters (really quite easy with this cookbook) and just stage a bacari buffet.  And should you go to Venice – as you should -take Norman’s guide not only for the bacari suggestions, but also for his thoughtful ideas on how to avoid the incredible crowds that are endemic to this magical city. 

A Meal From Polpo

But back to the cookbook part named after his London restaurants,  (and be advised that like many restaurant cookbooks, sometimes the ingredientPolpo restaurant in London list and directions are  a bit off). You have to use your cooking common sense when you choose through his selection of appetizers, mains, desserts and drinks.  Below are three of my current favorites which I have tweaked slightly as common sense dictated. The salad is a a stunner and can be served as a first course.  or even as a main course if you have used some of his appetizer ideas based on Italian crostini.  The mozzarella bites are great for kids and their parental units alike. The orange cake has a most unusual set up in how you use the oranges and their  syrup – and the cake lasts for several days in a most delicious state. 

If you can’t find or special order the Polpo cookbook in your local  bookstore, follow the link at the bottom of this post to purchase on Amazon. 


Warm Squid Salad with Cavalo Nero & Chickpeas
Serves 6
this is a stunning salad, served warm at any time of the year as a first course or a main.
  1. 1large bunch or two small ones of cavolo nero (lacinato or dinosaur kale are frequent names for this green)
  2. 1 lb cleaned squid with tentacles
  3. Best olive olive for finishing plus one you use to saute
  4. Fleur de sel or Maldon Sea Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  5. 3 garlic cloves, peeled, germ removed if necessary, and finely chopped
  6. 1 red chili pepper, seeded, membrane shaved off and finely sliced
  7. 5 medium tomatoes, quartered, seeds and juice removed, and roughly chopped
  8. 14 oz chickpeas, soaked overnight and then cooked in salted water or broth until tender (but not mushy)
  9. 1/4 cup white wine
  1. Remove the stems from the cavol nero.
  2. Blanch the leaves in boiling salted water for two minutes and then refresh in ice water.
  3. Drain and roughly chop the leaves.
  4. Cut the squid bodies into 1/3 inch rings, the tentacles into two pieces lengthwise.
  5. Pour enough of your frying olive oil to film the bottom of your fry pan and allow to get hot before adding the squid, salt, pepper, garlic, and chili,
  6. Add the tomato, cavolo nero, and chick peas and fold to mix with your spatula.
  7. Add some of the wine and saute over high heat for no more than two minutes.
  8. The greens should have thoroughly wilted and the wine almost disappeared.
  9. Remove from heat, divide on salad plates, swizzle on your best finishing olive oil, check for seasoning, and serve immediately.
  1. You can prepare the squid; precook the greens and the chickpeas; prep the tomatoes, garlic, and chili ahead and then do the cooking before you want to serve. Serving it at room temperature is fine if you want to have a first course before.
Adapted from Polpo - A Venetian Cookbook (Of sorts)
Kitchen Detail https://lacuisineus.com/
Mozzarella Bocconcini
These easy-to-do fried mozzarella balls are loved by both children and their parental units alike
Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
  1. 80gr (2.75 oz) panko bread crumbs
  2. zest from 1 lemon
  3. Tipo 00 all purpose flour with some salt added
  4. small handful of fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  5. 1 medium to large organic egg
  6. 8 oz buffalo mozzarella (I like using the small balls or bocconcini and cut them in half)
  7. Grapeseed oil or other vegetable oil for frying
  1. Mix the panko with the zest and oregano in a dish.
  2. Beat the egg really well with a fork in a second dish.
  3. Put your salted flour in the third dish.
  4. Take a piece of mozzarella (should be around 1 inch -1.5 inch in diameter) and roll it first in the salted flour, then in the beaten egg, finally in the panko mixture.
  5. You can do this several hours before the final frying if you store them in the fridge.
  6. Heat your oil in a deep pan (just enough oil so that the mozzarella floats).
  7. The oil should be between 350 to 365F max.
  8. Bring the cheese to room temperature before frying.
  9. Fry a few at a time, so that the temperature does not fluctuate too much.
  10. They should be golden brown, drained on paper and then served.
  1. We carried a marvelous restaurant-quality panko in the shop, but a really good cooking client discovered the panko from www.uppercrustent.com and I am won over.
  2. You can make a marinara or pesto dipping sauce if you like.
  3. Just have more napkins!
  4. Upper Crust sells a variety of breading products, but for the home cook, it may be easier to order from Amazon. Follow the link at the bottom of the post.
Adapted from Polpo - A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts)
Adapted from Polpo - A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts)
Kitchen Detail https://lacuisineus.com/
Flourless orange and almond cake
Yields 10
A refreshing and hauntingly flavored orange cake for desserts or with coffee or tea.
  1. 2 thin-skinned oranges.
  2. 100gr (3.5 oz) light muscovado sugar (3/4c)
  3. 400gr (14.11oz) caster or superfine sugar (2cups)
  4. 6 medium organic eggs or 5 large
  5. 250gr (8.75oz) ground almonds
  6. 1.5 tsp baking powder
  7. zest & juice of one orange
  1. Norman suggests a 10-inch cake pan but a 9-inch gives you a higher cake, which I prefer.
  2. Grease the pan with oil and line the bottom with parchment.
  3. Grease the parchment and you can film the interior with almond flour, which gives the cake a nice finish -- but it is optional.
  4. Place the oranges into a saucepan with plenty of water to submerge the oranges (you will be using the water later for the syrup).
  5. Simmer the oranges for two hours.
  6. Reserve the cooking liquid and allow the oranges to cool.
  7. In a food processor, add all the muscovado sugar and half the caster sugar, add the eggs and whip until creamy.
  8. Now you cut the cooled oranges into medium-sized pieces and remove seeds before adding them to the processor.
  9. Turn it on to pulverize the oranges into the batter and then add the almond flour and baking powder; process briefly to combine and pour the batter into your cake pan.
  10. My cake was done after 50 minutes, even though Norman suggests up to 1 hour and 30 minutes. The cake is done when the internal temperature is about 205F or if a cake tester/skewer comes out clean.
  11. Now pour the reserved cooking liquid from the simmered oranges into a pan that can hold hold at least 4 cups.
  12. You should have about 3 1/2 cups liquid (you may have to add water).
  13. Add the remaining caster sugar, the orange zest and juices. Bring to a fierce boil until you get a thick syrup.
  14. This can take about 15 minutes or more.
  15. Slice and serve with the syrup and whipped cream or mascarpone cream.
  1. Norman mixes mascarpone with whipped cream to serve, but it is delicious with a complementary ice cream as well.
Adapted from Polpo - A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts)
Adapted from Polpo - A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts)
Kitchen Detail https://lacuisineus.com/

Superior Sources: Why Buy Zursun Beans

The Little  Bean That Could

Zurzun Beans Paris Bistro Mix makes a great salad as well as soup.

The Cuisinettes had the brainstorm that we would become a hotbed of beans, both in the shop and in the online store.  But not just any old bags o’ beans drying out on grocery shelves. Nope. We had in mind the gorgeous morsels grown by small independent farmers under the aegis of Zursun. I discovered  Lola Weyman, who founded the company in 1985, when a chef at Jean Louis Palladin’s restaurant in DC clued me in that they bought most of their beans from her. A tip like that is a culinary gold nugget.

Lola’s company was the first  to offer authentic, US-grown heirloom beans – all nurtured on small family farms in locales including the Snake River Canyon region  known as the Magic Valley Growing Area. This spot’s arid climate; rich, well-drained, loamy soil; moderate temperatures; and stable moisture level have made it internationally recognized as environmentally ideal  for bean growing. We converted many a bean-tolerater into a bean-lover, as many of our customers will attest, because Zursun beans are heaps better than what you can purchase at most grocery stores. 

A Little Helping Of History

In Idaho, where verdant fields of lentils known as the Palouse (from the French word pelouse, meaning “green lawn”), Zursun founder Lola Weyman found several farmers growing unknown lentil varieties. During the late 1980s, Lola began distributing American-grown lentils, to US, Canadian, and European customers. Lola also helped develop new heirloom lentil varieties, like Montana’s Black Beluga, named for its resemblance to caviar; Petite Crimson, smaller and quicker cooking than the standard Red Chief; and an American version of Lentilles du Puy.   Zursun bean field with Jim Soran

Jim Soran,  with 60 years of family roots in the Idaho bean industry, acquired Zursun in 2004. Under his guidance, and the skills of 300  independent farmers who grow beans for Jim, their  heirloom beans are continually inspected during the growing season for plant health, pure strains, and consistent appearance. Jim’s passionate focus on producing the best-quality beans ensure Zursun Idaho Heirloom Beans are fresh, beautifully cleaned and milled.  When the harvest is sold out, as our customers found out, you wait until the next one.  There was never an unending supply, as there is from other purveyors. 

Little Known Facts About Zursun Beans

helpful Zursun beans plant diagram for non botanists

One of the most interesting facts I learned from Jim was that beans and other similar legumes do not have to be bought from organic sources, (and they do grow some certified organic bean crops) as the “seed” matures inside the pods of the plants and not in the actual soil.  The pod provides protection that flowering seed plants like tomatoes and squashes don’t enjoy. Generally, crop rotation rather than pesticides is used on these farms, because there is a low level of insects in this area of Western Idaho.  An even greater plus is that Roundup is not used – soybeans are the main recipient of Roundup – and no soybeans are grown under Zursun.   





Don’t Wait A Little – Order Now!

Since we have closed the shop, Karla Hartzell at Zursun is working on developing an online platform for purchasing their beans. She is taking phone orders at 208 733 4024 or you can email her with queries at [email protected] My preference is to order them in boxes of six baa tested recipe from a Zursun bean baggs (they can be mixed), as that is how they were packed for the shop.  When you get your box, each bean type has a tasty and well tested recipe on the back of the bag.  The Cuisinettes know how good those recipes are, because we’ve made most of them ourselves. Drive yourself crazy choosing which gorgeous beans to have packed in those cartons that hold six bags – right here! The site offers you a listing of local vendors that carry their beans or you can click on the Amazon link below.


Joy’s Pumpkin Cookies

Joy's Pumpkin Cookies
Probably the most famous Cuisinette cookie ever. Stephanie got the recipe from her friend Joy.
  1. 1 cup cane sugar, preferably caster
  2. 1 cup pumpkin puree (organic if possible, but not pumpkin pie filling)
  3. 1 cup unsalted butter
  4. 1 large egg at room temperature
  5. 1 teaspon Bakewell Cream Baking Powder
  6. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  8. 1teaspoon Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste, failing that, a good quality vanilla extract
  9. 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  10. 2 cups all purpose flour, unbleached, unbromated Hecker's Flour is a good example)
For the frosting
  1. 6 tablesppons unsalted butter
  2. 1 cup Light Muscovado Sugar (if you have, 1/2 cup fine maple sugar & 1/2 cup Light Muscovado)
  3. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  4. 1 tsp Madegascar Vanillla Bean Paste or Tahitian Vanilla
  5. 2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Cream together sugar, butter, pumpkin puree, egg and vanilla
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
  4. The above can be done with a pastry blender in a bowl instead of sifting.
  5. Add dry mixture to creamed mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
  6. Drop by 1.25" scoop onto a Silpat or baking parchment, placed on a cookie sheet, or you can pipe with a pastry bag and a large plain tube.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the top springs back to the touch.
  8. For the frosting, mix first three ingredients in a saucepan, over low heat, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth.
  9. Remove from heat and add the powdered sugar. and vanilla. Beat with a hand mixer until frosting reaches a smooth spreading consistency..
  10. Cookies should be frosted while warm and the frosting (which is like a penuche) will set as they cool.
  11. Toast roughly chopped pecans and add with sparkling sugar or decors, or demarara sugar onto warm, but not hot frosting.
  1. Warning: make a double batch!
  2. Cookies freeze beautifully, even when frosted.
  3. Decorate with India Tree Orange sparkling sugar,or their Natural Orange Sprinkles and crushed pecans for added appeal.
  4. I recommend India Tree sugars, a Europrean style butter (less moisture) to make this the superior cookie it deserves to be.
  5. Hecker;s Flour, while not organic is a superior domestic all purpose flour
  6. If you are making this batter into bars (like brownies to be frosted later with the penuche icing), omit the baking powder and soda so that the base is not too cake like. .
  7. If you make the frosting first, apply to the warm cookie and it will melt a bit.
  8. If you make the frosting while the cookie bakes, frosting can be hot on cool cookies or cold on warm cookies.
Kitchen Detail https://lacuisineus.com/

Travel Alert: On The Street Where You Live

Parchement Street with it whimiscal Kite Flyer arched over the houses

A Bit Of Local Lore

Some of the most rewarding tourism is to be had not in well-known capital cities, but rather in less-heralded regional urban centers.  We found just that experience when we visited our daughter in Winchester in Hampshire — 70 miles away from London.  Winchester has its Cathedral, where Jane Austen is buried – and is known as the focus of  a one-off song  – but  is otherwise a little off the grid.

Still, it’s steeped in history, with interesting shops and marvelous restaurants, packed within an easy stroll — regardless of the weather.  Hampshire itself is a hotbed of quality-driven farmers who supply the top restaurants in the UK.  So be sure to visit their farmers’ markets, and if you have rented an apartment with even modest kitchen facilities, you’re in for a treat. 

My daughter lives on a side street off of the “High Street,” which is pedestrianized with a comfortable mix of chains and independent shops and restaurants.  Her little avenue has the Georgette Heyer-ish name of Parchment Street.  And it is a delightful  tiny mix of  residences, eateries, and shops in a few short blocks.  The restaurants  and cafes  alone  made me want to weep, they were so good. The shops (which include several exquisite jewelry stores)  have genuine individual identities,  not the fabricated kind that you find in redeveloped  urban tourist sites such as DC metro’s National Harbor.

How To Eat On Parchment Street

The Corner House

Literally, you fall out our Natasha’s front door and cross the street to this very casual  pub that has marvelous food and bumpy my corner shot of a cozy corner at the Corner House in Winchester UKfurnishings with exactly the right cozy feel. Every appetizer, main course, and dessert was delicious — and we sampled many of each.   It is definitely child-friendly, and whoever bakes their desserts can come home with me anytime. one of many delicious main courses for lunch at Corner House on Parchment Street

their proud photo of the divine brownie with local icecream


Kyoto Kitchen

a corner of the spare but warm dining room at Kyoto Kitchen on Parchment StreetA vaut-le-voyage restaurant run by a Japanese couple (he is the chef and she handles the front of the house). They have their lovely dumplings with a dipping sauce at Kyoto Kitchenown kitchen garden (with wasabi!), and the wines are chosen beautifully to pair with their food.  I know this sounds bizarre, but I had a wasabi panna cotta, which was intriguing and delicious. But order several dishes to share, and you will have no regrets.  It should be on the Michelin radar screen.We had our first bottle of locally made rose champagne here. I’m happy to report that it stood right up to its French counterparts.A local champagne at Kyoto Kitchen

Forte Kitchen

 Parchment Street's own Forte Kitchen's own image of their dining room - love the spidery chandeliersOn the second floor, this establishment is worth the climb up narrow stairs.  My introduction to a superlative Scotch Egg was here.Clever detail on wall of Forte Kitchen staircase And what a fabulous introduction it was!  Again, very child- friendly, with a nice, affordable wine list and wonderful, wonderful food. You will probably climb that wood-spoon- decorated staircase more than once.  They serve only breakfast, lunch, and a delightful tea,  so it is perfect for a stop during sightseeing and shopping.  


my new entree besty has got tobe Forte Kitchen's Scotch Egg

Flat Whites’ Coffee

Stone Mason Court on Parchment StreetMy husband and son-in-law both adored this coffee and breakfast hotspot.  It is tucked away in Stone Mason’s Court, soFlat White's own image of the original truck stand at the Winchester UK Farmers Market you might miss it.  It started out as a food truck and was so popular that they opened in this tiny space. It is truly family run, and their sandwiches, cakes, and “tray bakes” are all hand-done.  They only have a Facebook page, but check it out to get the feel of this itty-bitty snack spot.  You have to go through Stone Mason’s Court on Parchment Street, pictured at left.  




clever menu detail at RwaberryThis is where you’ll find good coffee and other healthy drinks with nice pastries, wraps and salads.  You can come here with your children too.  Don’t let the A really good cappuccino at Rawberry with the Financial TimesVegan nomenclature scare you off (my other half has had some bad experiences in Vegan cafes, and he never lets me forget them). Some of the best Italian-style coffee is found here.  The interior is bright and modern and quite near a delightful children’s toy store.  



And Now For Some Shopping – Parchment Street Style


Their own clever image of the front of TosccanaccioThis shop was my husband’s home away from home.  Lovely selections of wines, some salume and cheese selections, and a big box of fresh eggs from a local  farmer on the counter top!  The manager is quite wine-savvy without being intimidating. They carry an outstanding  Ferghettina Franciacorta Rosé in a keepsake bottle that I have never seen in the US (and we swill lots of Franciacorta). 




is a delightful home decor and gift store that clearly  is owned by a compulsive shopper. It is more of a comfy or shabby-chic store.   You Such an inviting front to Pavia Leewill find something for you or a friend at home, and if you are in Winchester for a longer stay, there are neat 3.5 hour workshops complete with “lashings of tea and cake”.  



Their interior photo at Forme which gives you a bare idea of the store's beautifully curated selelctionForme

Perhaps it is the focus on a well curated selection of French and Italian tabletop that  made me forget how long I lingered in this shop.  Pick out lovely jewelry, a handbag, something for your bathroom, or accessorize your cocktail hour – and have  it  beautifully wrapped as a take-home gift.  Just make sure you have room for it in your checked luggage!  




One of the many high quality treasures found at MantiqueI wish we had a Guy Store like this in Alexandria.  Really cool manstuff, plus a cookbook or two.  How can you resist Vaders Lost Little Princess? Or Beard Oil?  I should have bought one of the Walker umbrellas.  The very clever buyers choose from a wealth of totally cool British suppliers of manliness. 

Bell Fine Art

From Bell Fine Art one of the many small gems found thereReally nifty collection of sketches, watercolors, jewelry, cards, and other pieces from carefully selected artists. Whoever makes their selections  has a great eye and a sense of humor without being kitschy. 

Bite Size Mexican Sopes Recipe

This recipe for mouth watering bite size mexican sopes was brought over from the classic La Cuisine website.

Bite Size Mexican Sopes
These are great fun for kids to make and eat. They can be made whatever size and shape you want.
  1. 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
  2. 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  3. 1/2 lb black beans cooked and pureed (use cooking water to thin if necessary)
  4. 2 bunches cilantro, minced (I include some stems)
  5. 2 6 inch stems of mint leaves, minced
  6. 1/4 cup Mexican or Central American Creme
  7. 1-2 limes juiced
  8. 6 small flavorful tomatoes, diced
  9. 2-3 cups Masa Harina
  10. 1 cup water plus
  11. 1.5 cups queso fresco
  12. Salt to taste
  1. To make the masa: Start out with 2-3 cups of masa flour in a large bowl.
  2. Add about 1 cup cold water and begin to mix by hand.
  3. Add more cold water as needed to form a ball of dough that is soft but does not stick to your hands.
  4. To make Chimol: In a medium size bowl combine cilantro, onion, tomatoes, lettuce, mint, and lime juice.
  5. Toss ingredients with a spoon until well combined and salt to taste.
  6. To fry sopes: Heat a large cast iron skillet on low-med heat.
  7. Add Grapeseed oil or lard to skillet and allow to heat.
  8. Form masa into bite sized discs about 3/8" thick.
  9. Fry until golden on both sides.
  10. Transfer to a half sheet pan.
  11. To assemble: spread refried beans, then crema over, grated queso seco, and top with chimol. Transfer to platter and serve while still warm.
  1. A small offset icing spatula is perfect for setting up the sopes. And as usual a line cook spatula makes flipping sopes really easy. The number of sopes this recipe makes depends on the size of the disk you make.
Adapted from Cuisinette Meals
Adapted from Cuisinette Meals
Kitchen Detail https://lacuisineus.com/

You Need This: Thermoworks Thermapen & Chef Alarm

Thermoworks Thermometers = Best Kitchen Investment

With over 40 years of home cooking and tool testing behind me, I will be posting suggestions about all the goodies you just shouldn’t live without. You Need This will include really good utensilsThe star of Thermoworks Thermometers is clearly the Thermapen and ingredients that will elevate your cooking and make your  recipes be the best they can be.  At the starting line, consider purchasing  the best cooking thermometer – which is hands-down the Thermoworks Thermapen or  the Chef Alarm probe thermometer. 

Why Thermapen by Thermoworks

 Thermapen Mk4 is made in England — not in some electronics sweatshop in a developing nation.  It has thermocouple technology, which allows Thermapen thermometers to be repaired when needed, unlike most digital thermometers on the market. Also, the thermocouple point of fusion (where the temperature registers) is in the very tip of the probe, meaning when you stick it in a steak, for example, you are getting the reading of that one point. An ordinary thermometer registers an average temperature  for the first half inch of the probe, like a dial thermometer. You can do better. Pinpoint accuracy is the name of the game

What Happened To Science?

One of my favorite memories at La Cuisine is the experience with a customer who complained that no matter how many thermometers she had purchased at other places, all of her roasts were overdone.  And she certainly was not going to spend any more money on thermometers.   I told her that a simple test of placing her thermometer probes in boiling water would reveal any accuracy problem.  Boiling water is 212F or 100C.  I received a call from her a few days later. She thanked me for the advice and had tested her existing thermometer,  but wanted to let me know that I had the temperature wrong for boiling water: it was 160F and not 212F. Definitely a candidate for any Thermoworks thermometer!

Beyond Boiling Water and Grilling Steak

So please – take the guesswork out of your cooking with a Thermapen or a Chef Alarm probe!  I use the Chef Alarm with its flexible probe to test oven Another Thermoworks Thermometer to consider is the Chef Alarmtemperatures.  My oven is really hot, so I simply make adjustments in timing.  It works separately as a timer, too. or you can use the timer as an alarm when your roast or frying temperature reaches the desired preset temperature. .  I use the Thermapen to check the doneness of cakes and breads – which is in the area of 195F to 205F.  Use it when you are checking the temperature of your custard base for ice cream or creme anglaise,  which should vary from 160F to 180F depending on how thick you want it to be.  You can purchase replacement probes for the Chef Alarm if you destroy or lose yours.  And you also get a handy-dandy clip from Thermoworks to attach your probe to the side of your pan when you are working with frying oil or sugar syrups. 

A warning from Thermoworks about their products on Amazon, eBay and other sites 

The lowest Internet prices for ThermoWorks thermometers, accessories and parts  are available at thermoworks.com and through special offers sent to subscribers to ThermoWorks emails. You really should sign up for their emails, as they offer nifty deals periodically, including promotions on my beloved Thermapen and Chef Alarm. 

Amazon, eBay, walmart.com, sears.com and their sellers are NOT Authorized Dealers. There are unscrupulous sellers at those sites who have purchased ThermoWorks products at retail prices and are then re-selling them at significantly elevated prices, sometimes 2 to 4 times the Authorized List Price. After receiving numerous complaints from customers who were victimized by those listings, we felt it was important to do what we could to warn unsuspecting consumers.

Furthermore, ThermoWorks has  received a growing number of complaints that such sellers are offering counterfeit, copycat, stolen, and “Open-Box” units as authentic NEW ThermoWorks products. So, since January 1st of 2016, technical support and warranty coverage are available only on ThermoWorks thermometers  that are purchased directly from ThermoWorks or from ThermoWorks’ Authorized Dealers. In this way, they  know the consumer is fully and fairly protected.  

Shop directly from the manufacturer

Food And Film For Thought: The Price of Sugar

Film: The Price Of Sugar

poster for The Price of Sugar documentary not to be confused with the other film of the same nameWhile we cannot all  make war on every ingredient or provenance of every culinary utensil in our kitchens, I still think it’s good to be aware of food policies — both in the US and internationally. So, every month, I’ll include some food-related film, article, or books  that educated or entertained me.  This documentary and article pushed me to pledge to purchase only Fair Trade Sugar

First up is the documentary The Price of  Sugar, which exposes the inhumane treatment of Haitian sugar cane workers in the Dominican Republic – and the journey of the Spanish priest who has dedicated his life to helping them. It is available for viewing on YouTube

The History of The Price of Sugar in the USA

I’m including this  link to a succinct but thorough article  from the  Harvard Kennedy School Review that will also shake up your thoughts about our sweet obsession.  American consumers are paying an extortionate (think of it as an additional tax) price for sugar  because its production is artificially constrained. And protective pricing enriches sugar-producing cartels, which are immune to regulations. This is all good food for thought…