Sunday, November 8

Savoring Sicily

lucky me, i got to travel to Sicily to work on a cookbook that will be published next year by Rizzoli.  what an amazing way to experience the wonderfully warm, generous people and incredibly diverse regions.  the wines and food and landscapes are out of this world. and i learned of the deep, rich, layered history.  if Sicily is not on your bucket list yet, it should be! 



spectacular scenery
in between

 caffeine with farm fresh milk

first breakfast:
country eggs
and home baked bread

nespole (loquat) fresh off the tree

precious wild strawberries

fava beans everywhere

unique shape of Sicilian lemons

nearly everyone makes their own olive oil  
heavenly on fresh grilled zucchini

produce trucks roam every town

ricotta baskets

ricotta drained, rolled and pressed 

chile and pepper ricotta

warm, fresh tuma 

yes, a cheese pig

dough 'pillow'

incredible breads

handmade pasta

the hands

wild boar ravioli 

linguine with bottarga

phenomenal seascapes

spectacular sea urchins

certain pastry are particular to a town

these are found in only one town

warm, tender dough filled with rich chocolate and fried

a gelato cake from the gelateria in a small town

lemon sorbetto

200+ year old winery

with rainbows over the vineyards

olive trees everywhere

caper plants are the stars of Salina 
(one of the Aeolean islands)

negronis at sunset 
with a view of active volcanos in the distance

Wednesday, November 26

Vietnam, Food Monsoon

i just got back from vietnam where it's monsoon season.
lucky for me, the weather was spectacular.
my brother and sister-in-law live there.
through them and their wonderfully eclectic circle of friends, 
i experienced central and northern vietnam
in a unique and adventuresome way.
the food...was...incredible!
here are some highlights 

(had to sneak in a pic of the beach and warm ocean water)

northern style pho bo (beef noodle soup)  

best bahn mi (pork sandwich) in hoi an

no trip is complete without visiting the market 

rambutan fruit

fresh hibiscus 

mesmerizing knife proficiency  

crowd controlled crabs 

traditional fishing boats
-essentially, enormous woven baskets-
my sister-in-law makes the best 
bun cha (marinated bbq pork with noodles and greens) 
on the face of the planet
-sadly, i failed to capture the beauty of the final dish-

nem lui (bbq pork roll)  

make it yourself, your way

 thin slices of green banana add crunch
and unique flavor  

if you like,
take a bite of red chili and/or garlic with each bite of nem
for a little extra spice 

bahn xeo (crispy rice pancake) -- filled with 
shrimp, pork and bean sprouts 

can be eaten by themselves, or also made into a roll
lunch for two -- with beverages -- was a whopping
$4 US
and we couldn't finish it all

a surprising little factoid -- to me, at least:  
vietnam is the world's largest producer of
black pepper 

i love that hanoi is a city filled with 24 hour food shops.
we caught the mien ngan (duck noodles) shift late one night

 kumquats are a typical accompaniment and nice addition to this dish
along with the ubiquitous hot sauces and super hot sliced chilies --
which our table mate (rightly) suggested adding for the photo 
at the end of the trip,
my sister-in-law took me to her village 
where we walked through acres of spectacular gardens

not only was everything meticulously planted and maintained,
the aroma of the herbs was phenomenal

here:  ginger chicken, perfectly cooked garden vegetables, 
sauteed cabbage, spring rolls, pork stew

 i ate so much amazing food on this trip!
the most special food experience 
was the meal shared with 
my sister in law and her family 
in the house her parents built, where she was raised,
on the edge of those gardens and rice fields