Capturing the Heart of Texas for Imogen

My breathtakingly beautiful, heartbreakingly headstrong daughter, Imogen, was turning 4. Her birthday week was upon us (“I can’t believe I’m four today!” she began saying daily a week before the actual date.) We invited a dozen or so of her pals, their siblings and families for the party — which meant somewhere between 40 and 50 guests, large and small.

Imogen and Pepito

Imogen and Pepito

Many people, when they do parties, plan them from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — or, if they don’t want to serve lunch, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Many of these parties take place at parks, indoor trampoline venues, laser tag facilities and the like. More

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Panzanella

Summer! A magical land of flip flops, sunshine, rock & roll, olive oil, zinfandel, barbecues, sunflowers, golden sunsets, the laughter of children, hummingbirds, wild salmon from Alaska, zucchini blossoms, sand stuck to your feet, pink wine, watermelon, baseball, baby deer in the park, cold beer, and, most of all, tomatoes.

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Summer makes me think of Tuscany. Once, while strolling through Florence with my sister Andrea on a blazing hot summer day, I was wishing I had some sunglasses. The very moment I had the thought, I glanced at a trashcan we happened to be passing, and there sitting on top of a pile of refuse was a pair of almost-new, round John Lennon-y sunglasses. And, they were rose-colored glasses! Tuscany is sort of magical that way. More

The American Series, Pt. VII — Cherry Cobbler

With summer comes all things American — baseball, barbecues, fireworks, hot dogs and burgers, corn on the cob, the beach. It seems as if summer is the quintessential American season — a time of sunny optimism, that most American trait.

Willa picking cherries

Willa picking cherries

Each region of the country celebrates the season a little differently. We have our own unique summer traditions in Southern California — margaritas and mariachi, carne asada, Spanish rosé, tri tip on the grill, Dodger dogs and Hollywood Bowl picnics. One summer favorite I’ve always eyed with suspicion was cherry cobbler. Until recently, that is… More

The Siren Song of Summer

There’s a lot going on this week — summer nearing, the last few days of school. The calendar is full, my cooking commitments many.

Savoring my last bite of lunch before the floodgates open

Savoring my last bite of lunch before the floodgates open

As I sit here this warm afternoon eating one of my favorite summer lunches — crusty multi-grain bruschetta with ripe heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil, mozzarella and parmesan reggiano — I think of the next several days. It began this morning, as pal Ernie and I tried to go to the amazing, miraculous Santa Monica Seafood to redeem Groupons we’d purchased to make a seafood dinner this evening. More

Italian Summer in a Glass

“The days were long and the nights were long and the life was good.”
—Gertrude Stein, Fiesole, Italy, Summer 1908

A few weeks ago, drinking and dining with my friends/neighbors/mortal enemies (envy is a terrible thing) Chris and Glennis before they left for a week in Venice, Italy, we got talking about Campari.

Chris was pontificating that Europe had an appreciation for bitter foods and spirits that you don’t see as much in America. That set me to forming theories and pontificating in turn about how bitter as an entire taste realm was absent altogether from American cuisine — we like our sweet (OH, how we like our sweet!) and our salty, we’ll dabble in sour. But bitter is completely unrepresented — replaced, perhaps, by fried. And more salt. More

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