Thursday, March 25, 2010

Top Green Twitterers

Just finished a quick post for American Express OPEN Forum on Inhabitat's Top Ten Green Twitterers. These are outstanding peeps tweeting about interesting issues. From a dude who's swimming 1,500 miles in the cold Atlantic to help teach (and fund) his students, to gumshoe journalist and a sustainable dad blogger, the list is culled from other amazing top green lists and a few of my own finds.

Feel free to comment on the site or retweet and definitely add these folks to your lists!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Food + Design Meet Again with the AIA/LA Restaurant Design Awards

It's that time of year again. The call for submissions is open so if you know of any great establishments that should be on the list for consideration to win either a jury award or the People's Choice this year, let them know that they have till April 30th to submit. Rules, regs, deets and deadline listed here.

The jury includes Ben Ford (celebuchef from Ford's Filling Station), Lonnie Moore (nightlife and restaurant empresario from the Dolce Group), Michela O'Connor Abrams (Publisher of Dwell Magazine), Joey Shimoda (of Shimoda Design Group), and all-around design expert Clive Piercy (of Air Conditioned).

Should be a good competition!

Photo: Bottega Louie, one of the winners of the RDAs last year

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blood Orange Tart-venture

After seeing Lottie and Doof's amazing rendition of an blood orange tart, I had to take a stab at it. I think Tim's turned out much better than mine, clearly. But beyond aesthetics and the fact that I'm the world's shittiest food photographer, there's just something about the citrus and the caramel that I wasn't quite crazy about.

It's a gorgeous looking tart with golden crust and vibrant, almost graphic red oranges. But something wasn't quite there for my lowly palette. That said, the buttery crust is ridiculously good and easy to make so today I'm going to make this tart with pears instead and see what happens. It might also be great with oranges with a nice healthy coating of marmalade to sweeten things up, and perhaps served sans caramel.

If Only I'd Had a Kitchen...

One of my usual stops in Paris is any one of a dozen markets. There's something intoxicating about being yelled at by vendors, sampling all varieties of olives, fruits, and other sundry goodies, the crazy smells of fresh fish, ripe cheese, and raw meat. When I lived in Paris, I'd do my weekly shopping at the big market at Barbes-Rochechuart. Unfortunately, that's a weekend market so on this particular trip I went to the Marche d'Aligre in the Marais.

This particular market is pretty cool because it's mid-week and gets way fewer tourists. There is a historic covered market area at the center of the market and a big square where the flea market is usually set up. On either side of the square stretches the long street with all the food stalls. Most of the butchers are housed under the permanent structure. And all around in the surrounding area are great bistros and boulangeries.

Strolling through the market made me wish I had a kitchen to which to retire with a basket full of purchases. Shopping here in LA - while the farmers markets and Fresh & Easys and Trader Joe's are much appreciated - is just not the same.

La Patisserie de Reves

While it might appear that all I did while in Paris was go from sweet shop to sweet shop, that's not entirely true. (I interspersed patisseries with bistros, bakeries, and baby shops!) But on a jaunt down Rue du Bac, I came across quite possibly the most beautiful patisserie I've ever seen. Philip Conticini, the undisputed king of patisserie at the moment in Paris, is the proprietor of La Patisserie des Reves, translated "Patisserie of Dreams." (Damn straight.)

While Phil may be the mad genius behind the goodies, whoever designed the space itself should get props as well. Conticini's confections are deftly displayed as works of art, placed under glass vaults suspended from the ceiling. Others are arranged in a tantalizing array in the window. From brioches to mille feuilles to seasonal gateaux, this place rocks the senses.

If you're lucky enough to buy something delicious to take home, the distinctive pink pyramid packaging is enough to tell you that you're about to ingest something that belongs in the gastronomical Louvre. La Patisserie des Reves is the very definition of eye candy for the soul and for the palette. I do believe I left a few drool marks on the glass outside.

East Meets West to Make Sweet, Sweet Love

I happened to book a hotel right next to Sadaharu Aoki's Vaugirard boutique. His shop is less a bakery and truly more of a boutique....(or sweet heaven on earth). White, clean and clinical, all the attention is directed naturally towards to the colorful rows of masterful and delicious desserts.

Classical french forms made with distinctly japanese ingredients. Eclairs, financiers, cookies, tablets of chocolates, rainbow colored macaroons, jams, truffles, cakes. My favorite was green tea eclair. Simple, straightforward, unpretentious and too yummy to describe. I kind of want to cry just thinking about it. Luckily, for those of us who don't live in France, Sadaharu offers an online boutique. But nothing compares to the real thing. Next time you're in Paris, go indulge.

Montmartre Moment

It was a sign that I managed to fly into Paris without hitting any of the airline strikes. Luck was on my side. The clouds even cleared while I was strolling around Montmartre. Even though it's been years since I lived in Paris, it still feels kinda homey. And even though Montmartres is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the city, it's still my favorite hood. I always like being
slightly above the city (looking down on the plebes...). Even on a cold winter day, the place was packed with tourists. But yet, the charm is still there.

You can still always find a windy little side street with no one on it. A traveling musician camped out on the steep steps, belting out American tunes in a heavy but non-descript accent. Painters braving the cold on Place du Tertre, hawking their Montmartre caricatures. Ah, I just love the hood.

Weekend in the Western Highlands

I'm no stranger to mountains or pretty landscape. Having grown up in Switzerland, the Alps kind of dwarfed any mountains that I've since discovered. Living in California, the foothills are a permanent backdrop to everyday life. But there's just something different about the landscape in Bonnie Scotland. I guess time has softened the lines of the Western Highlands, so while the snow capped Bens are impressive, they seem softer, less foreboding, less jagged. Frankly, the Bens just seem older and wiser. Fresh water lochs meet salt water lochs, which in turn meet the cold expanse of the sea. There's just something wildly romantic about the landscape. If I ever get around to writing a line of bodice-ripping novels, I know where I'll be sequestering myself!

Geese landing on Loch Lomond

Sunset on Loch Lomond