The Evacu-cation

The first sign that anything might be wrong came on a Thursday afternoon, driving my son Flynn to his baseball practice in Agoura Hills.

As we wound through Malibu Canyon, we spotted a large plume of smoke rising over approximately exactly where the baseball field was. “Uh, Dad…” said Flynn, pointing. We arrived to discover the fire was a ridge away, so practice proceeded as planned.

The next day we could see the smoke from our home, rising like a mushroom cloud over our drought-dry mountains. I was at an afternoon birthday party for a 7-year-old drinking wine when my wife pulled up unexpectedly. “Mandatory evacuation,” she said. She was on her way to our friends Bob and Shoba’s house in the San Fernando Valley. I went back home, gathered a few more photo albums and the important artworks, and descended on the valley to join her. More

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A Feast of Friends

Christmas is a lot of different things to different people — a celebration of the birth of Jesus for Christians and Catholics around the world, an orgy of consumerism for most Americans, a reason to eat Chinese food and go to the movies for Jews.

Der Weihnachten eve

Der Weihnachten eve

For me, like most holidays, it’s about food, family and friends. We had my wife’s family for dinner and presents Christmas eve, a tradition of theirs, celebrated this year at our house. I had enough to prepare for between Christmas dinner and our annual New Year’s Eve dinner, and might’ve done a stew or chili. But opted instead for a German dinner — homebaked rye bread, potato pancakes, house-fermented sauerkraut, spaetzle with roasted matsutake mushrooms and duck cracklings, duck confit, pan-grilled bratwurst and crispy duck breasts, paired nicely with a Swiss cheese fondue my sister-in-law, Laina, had made. More

Dan Does Louie

A couple years back, my pal Dan (most recently of rattlesnake culinary ambitions infamy) invited us over for dinner. He was making Crab Louie.

Crab Louie, I thought, now there’s a classic dish that doesn’t get much ink in the foodie lexicon. So I decided I would feature Dan’s dinner on my blog. On the appointed night, we arrived wine in hand.

Dan's Crab Louie

Dan’s Crab Louie

“Tell me what you’re doing there, Dan,” I said, iPhone video camera in hand. And Dan, who is a natural on camera, walked me through the process of making this delicious salad while I asked insightful questions and captured it all on the phone. Unfortunately, it was Dan’s phone I was using. More

Happy Birthday to Me

What to get the guy who has everything for his birthday? Something that will not take up space, and that preferably disappears quickly. Why, food and drink, of course!

Pork belly confit with fava beans

“It’s your birthday. We should be throwing a party and cooking for you,” said my friend Nat when I invited him to my very small birthday celebration. One should do exactly as one chooses on their birthday, I reassured him. And for me, that meant not going to a club or out to a fancy restaurant, but surrounding myself with my kids, a few close friends, and some really good food and wine. More