Below are some helpful resources and some of my favorite places to visit online:
Luna Garcia My dishes and serving platters are made by Luna Garcia located at 201 San Juan Avenue in Venice, California. The pottery is all hand-glazed in beautiful colors – and some pieces have patterns. I have been collecting Luna Garcia for over 23 years and I never tire of it – no one does. You’ve got to see it to understand the obsession. A feast for the eyes. Visit Lunagarcia.com
The Oakland Chocolate Company is owned by one of my oldest friends, Nancy Nadel who has entered the chocolate making field with a big splash as she wraps up her career on the Oakland City Council. The website is theoaklandchocolateco.com. This is small-batch, hand-made artisan chocolate. The cocoa beans are from the parish of St. Mary in Jamaica where Nancy is working with the Jamaican farmers to form a cooperative, worker owned model whose members are building an organic fermentary with a green energy drying facility. The cooperative’s chocolate is marketed and sold and the workers have a strong link to the candy maker in Oakland. Please go to the Oakland Chocolate Co website (theoaklandchocolateco.com), and read about Nancy’s work and her chocolate, and order as much as you can! It is an excellent product – preservative-free – all handmade and addictively delicious.
Rancho Gordo. Ranchogordo.com. Beans. Heirloom beans. I owe my love of beans to Kathy Patton. She introduced me to Rancho Gordo. When she first told me about the joys of cooking beans I just wasn’t so sure. But she was super enthusiastic. I thought it a bit odd. I smiled when she gave me a package to take home. I promised I’d make the beans just like she told me to. I really didn’t have an intention to actually cook the beans but then I had promised after all and I love Kathy – I couldn’t lie to her. I knew she’d ask….. So, as directed, I made a mire poix. I followed the recipe in the Rancho Gordo book that Kathy had photocopied for me but instead of water I used homemade vegetable stock (Bittman’s roasted vegetable recipe). Brought it to a boil for 5 minutes and baked for 2 hours at 350 degrees – just like the book said and bingo, beans. And I was hooked. A little olive oil, a sprinkle of parmesan, maybe a squeeze of lime and sublime. Once again, Kathy was right. Rancho Gordo rocks. They have an amazing assortment of heirloom beans and a bean project that is pretty interesting too. Try them. Ranchogordo.com. And also, my Aunt gave me a beautiful ceramic bean pot when we were in Oaxaca. So now I’m all set for beans. Here is a photo of my pot:
The Gourmandise cooking school thegourmandiseschool.com While on jury duty – but not called for actual service – I took 2 cooking classes. One was on cake decorating and the other on cupcake making. So much fun! I highly recommend. The owner/teacher is Clemence and she’s really great. Take her classes. You’ll learn a lot.
HERE ARE SOME COOK BOOKS THAT I LIKE:
Two Books: Plenty and Jerusalem by Yotam Ottlenghi are my current most-favorite cook books ever. I can’t even describe the physical beauty of the book – its feel and photos (you won’t understand until you look at it). First and foremost, the recipes are incredible. Clearly written, not too complicated and delicious. The photography is just beautiful.
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. The Bible. Bittman’s recipes are spot on and the book is comprehensive. I might love this book more than the Joy of Cooking but not sure yet. But I love this book and I love Bittman. Everyone in the world should have this book.
The Savory Way by Deborah Madison. Madison is the genius behind Greens Restaurant in San Francisco – down on the water. One of my all time favorite restaurants. The recipes in this book are stellar. Subtle, not complicated but complex. Delicious.
Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson. I bought this book after I took a cupcake class at Gourmandise cooking school at Santa Place thegourmandiseschool.com. I bought it not just because it’s just beautiful – which it is; not just because it has good recipes – which it does; but also because Joy writes about the science of cooking which is interesting to me to understand how the ingredients affect what I cook. Sugar makes cookies spread. Egg whites are dry and make cookies puff. Egg yolks make cakes moist. When to use baking soda and when to use baking powder; and how to make buttermilk. All good stuff.
The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes. This book was a gift from Adrian Newell and provided cherry tomato inspiration among other inspirations.
Mesa Mexicana by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger
Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz.
HERE ARE SOME BLOGS THAT I LIKE:
Food52.com is a food lovers community. It’s all here and they also have put together a cookbook by the same name. Invitingly interesting recipes. My son told me about Food52 after he found out that I wanted to do a blog. He insisted that I read it and got me all set up to receive their posts. I was really impressed with that (I mean with him telling me about it). Check it out.
Frenchletters.wordpress.com is the blog of Kathy Patton’s friend Abra Bennett who loves France and splits her time between there and her home on the West Coast. Her recipes have won her a couple spots in the Food 52 cookbook. Her photography is enjoyable and her recipes real good.
Pixiedoespastries.wordpress.com is Pixie’s blog. Pixie is my friend Suzanne’s daughter. Pixie is an inspiration and I love the window into her world that her Blog provides. She’s cool and she makes really sweet looking cupcakes.