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Finding Fall in Southern California

Apple Picking 1 The first time I ever went apple picking was my senior year of college. Ken had his car on campus that year — a little blue Ford Festiva, that had been spray painted, and had no air conditioning or radio. We were celebrating one year of dating, still shiny and happy and young and new, and decided to head off into the wilds of Connecticut to pick apples. I wore my appropriate apple picking attire — a red and green gingham shirt, and we discovered the joys of fresh air in an orchard, of plucking apples off the tree, of cold pressed cider and hot apple cider donuts. After that first year, we went every year we lived in the Northeast. When we lived in New York, we borrowed my father in law’s car, or rented one (we could barely fit ourselves in our tiny Manhattan studio — where were we going to park a car?), and hit New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut to get out of the city and load up on apples. Apple picking was never about the apples — they’re readily available at the Greenmarket after all — but about simple entertainment, fresh air, getting out of the city. And donuts. Don’t forget the donuts. Apple Picking 15 When we moved to Los Angeles six years ago, I thought my apple picking days were through. Our climate is too warm to have apple orchards — we can pick oranges in our own back yard, but the autumnal fest was lost to me. Until this year. We piled into the little blue car (now, so many years later, a Prius, with air conditioning and an iphone connection), with the Nuni in tow and headed into the mountains, into the “mile high” town of Oak Glen. Nestled in the San Bernardino mountains just east of Redlands, Oak Glen boast six or seven apple orchards, and the crowds that go with them. [...]

Trip Recap, Part 2 — Rainy London and Dinner at the Harwood Arms

I realize this is the world’s slowest trip recap, but I took all of my photos in RAW, which means I have to convert them to upload them, and OHMYGOD SHOOT ME if I ever do that again. Still, I wanted to share with you a few special moments in London, including an AMAZING meal.

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Welcome to Paradise — Hawaii and Shrimp with Ginger Chili sauce



It has been hot as blazes in Los Angeles, and the thing about Los Angeles is it does hot extremely well. 3 digit temperatures, brush fires — a heat wave turns the City of Angels from a reasonably convincing rendition of paradise (OK, in some places) to a reasonably convincing rendition of hell.
So I think it’s time for another piece in the travel series, because when L.A. gets like this, I would certainly love to be anywhere but here. And I find myself (as I often do) dreaming of sea breezes and warm water and golden sand — in short — Hawaii. [...]

We’ll Always Have Paris — Duck with Blackberry Sauce



It’s the fourteenth of July, known in France as Le Quatorze Juillet and in America as Bastille Day. It’s a national holiday in France, celebrating the Revolution and its principles of Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite. So what day would be better to return to the summer travel series and talk about Paris?
Is there any city more recognizable than Paris? From the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, the city is firmly embedded in many people’s imaginations — full of romance and possibility and beauty. And the thing about Paris is that it actually lives up to its reputation. It is beautiful, and romantic and glamorous. It’s also noisy and crowded and exciting and infuriating.

Gertrude Stein said, “America is my country, but Paris is my home town,” and I identify strongly with that sentiment. Although I grew up in Los Angeles, my parents are huge francophiles, and we spent a good portion of my childhood summers in Paris. We’d stay in an apartment, rather than a hotel, and live there for a month at a time. As a result, it’s a city that feels like home. I have a mental map of where I am in relation to the river, of the posh neighborhoods and the seedy ones. And Paris holds many special memories for me. I got drunk for the first time in Paris. I felt homesick for the first time in Paris. I learned to walk in Paris. And twenty nine years later, my daughter did as well. This recipe for duck in blackberry sauce is reminiscent of what you would find in a Parisian brasserie, and takes me right there. [...]

In Bruges — Waterzooi de Poulet

A typical street in Bruges
It’s officially summer time, and if you’re lucky that means vacations! I thought I’d start a little summertime series (of an indeterminate number of episodes) based on places I’ve traveled. A little travelog in food, if you will. And today’s destination is … Bruges, Belgium!
A Belgian Canal
Why would you go to Belgium? It doesn’t have an Eiffel Tower or a Parthenon or a Prado (Brussels does have the capital of the EU, but I’m not sure that should rank up there as “tourist destination). What if I told you that Belgium in general and Bruges in particular may just be the ultimate foodie destination? We’re talking about a national cuisine that prominently features chocolate, waffles, french fries and beer! Bruges has both a chocolate museum and a french fry museum? What can be better than that?
If you can’t make it to Brugge this summer, you can bring a little bit of Brugge home. One of my favorite traditional Flemish dishes is Waterzooi, which translates to “watery mess” but is so much better than that. It’s the easiest thing in the world to put together — chicken, layered with vegetables, poached in wine and broth, then thickened with egg yolks and cream (hey – there’s no butter! That means it’s healthy, right?) but the sum is so much more than its parts. The flavor is intense and delicate at the same time, with the savory leeks and carrots enhancing the meatiness of the chicken. The stew is comforting, but not nearly as heavy as you’d expect, given the egg yolks. My toddler loves it. How much more do I have to say to sell you on it? [...]