Friday, August 31, 2012

Zagat's a Plus One and James Beard a None in Surreal Santa Fe

If New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment than Santa Fe is the summit of surreal where nothing turns out as expected, especially when it comes to food. I know now why Zagat does not review the culinary cuisine there where the Cute Gardener and I ventured recently for an end of the summer wedding of a friend and were looking forward to experiencing a land of indigenous Southwestern cuisine. Instead we found a bizarre landscape of restaurants stuck strangely somewhere between the 1980s nouveau fusion scene and a quasi-limbo of the perpetual "close but no cigar" James Beard nominee.

We were hopeful on night one when we walked into La Boca to check out the local tapas scene by a three time Beard nominee after being seduced by a picture of tuna carpaccio on the website. Of course, this buzz was heightened when we sat down and saw exactly that dish being touted as the evening’s special. I quickly perused the menu which looked pretty creative and listed a stream of about seven things that I was anxious to try. We even stayed upbeat when the bocquerones arrived on a plate; tiny white anchovies smothered in olive oil and way too much citrus zest, hoping that the flavor saturation was indeed meant for that dish.

But everything went downhill when the tuna arrived as dense and bland slabs of okay grade fish but ruined by the thick and room temperature (supposed) blood orange (but that tasted more like strawberry mayonnaise – I know gross ha?) aioli. I couldn’t eat more than one bite and sat back and watched as the CG wiped all the fish clean and doused it in olive oil because he was really hungry. Our waiter didn’t seem to flinch when we asked for our check about thirty minutes after sitting down but that was probably because the place was absolutely packed with other tourists who must be the same ones who keep the restaurant open searching for nothing more.

I won’t even go into the eggplant mess that came next but it had me on the phone, in the restaurant, calling other restaurants to find out who was still open to sate our ever-craving appetites. Finally, Restaurant Martin said they would wait for us until nine so we hit the streets, literally, and started to run/walk through the strange early-to-sleep town to the cadence of my iPhone’s blinking GPS towards what we hoped would still be dinner.

At Restaurant Martin we were greeted by a very nice waitress into a pretty empty dining room that reminded me of Michael’s in Santa Monica, and like Michael’s boasted contemporary art straight out of the 1980’s when abstract digital photography in lurid colors were appearing on giclee canvases from the DIY portfolios of every major interior designer in small and chic desert towns. The food also seemed to stem from a twenty year-old-menu but we were so hungry at this point that everything was bound to taste good like the East Meets West; a strange concoction pile of crab and lobster and fried onion things. Of course by now we were downing wine like it was going out of style anxious to get our calories from somewhere while simultaneously numbing our taste buds. And that only continued post-dinner as we made our way downstairs at the Matador bar only to be served a stand-in whiskey instead of what we ordered.

(Strike up Twilight Zone music here)

We only had one more opportunity for a meal before the onslaught of wedding activities that ensued so we decided to be brave and give one more restaurant a try. The Compound, through our research, actually had a James Beard winning chef and it was a supposedly an expensive and dress up kind of joint and we were hankering for something savory by this point.

We were the most dressed up people in the place and the CG mentioned that by this point, anything was going to taste great because we were so desperate to like something. And that phenomenon actually did take hold as the corn soup was delivered in neither puree nor chunky style but somewhere in between. But it tasted like fresh corn and at that was good so we went on to enjoy our lunch relieved that at least we didn’t have to stand up and leave.

Being newly banned in eating foie gras in California we jumped on the dish here with sweetbreads and mushrooms but it all swam together into an unremarkable brown stew.

I liked the shrimp risotto even though it was more like a pilaf and went heavy handed on the dill. Again, at this point I was just happy to eat something I recognized as tasting decent.

A redeeming moment was delivered with dessert in the form of a stone fruit cobbler that was simply fruit warmed under a crumble crust and left to sweeten in its own natural juices.

Strangely enough, after all the disappointment we ended up enjoying the food at the wedding rehearsal dinner (a Mexican chafing dish buffet) and wedding (regional elk and trout) ten times better than any of the so-called better gourmet restaurants. Go figure.

The entire time we were in Santa Fe we kept thinking that it would be a waste to not try out all the aforementioned places in lieu of just cheating and eating Mexican food because we can get such great Mexican food back home in Los Angeles for dirt cheap. This is why we chose to stay away from the oddly French named but Mexican breakfast serving Café Pasqual’s. Apparently, according to just about everyone I know whose ever lived in or visited Santa Fe in the past decade, that was a huge mistake to overlook a meal there. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Butter Whore-dom and Earl Grey Heaven at Hatfield's

My Cute Gardener is as fair as they come so when he told me with a smirk that Quinn Hatfield irritated the heck out of him, I knew this Hatfield man had to be a true culinary wizard. You see my boyfriend is one of the most discerning foodies I know, and although he will try anything and likes a bit of everything, there is a barometer of traits that occur when something has truly blown his mind. For instance, he giggles (something akin to lightning striking for someone as poker faced as he normally is), he curses under his breath, he starts to hold his sides to coddle the swish of his palate’s preferred overdoses of butter and fat and he is usually eating something French, Japanese or Italian inspired when all the aforementioned occurs. So when he told me he was taking me to Hatfield’s on Melrose on the eve of a recent plane trip together, I dusted off the three-inch heels for the occasion and wore my brightest red lipstick knowing that the meal would be legendary.

Without hesitation we ordered the seven course tasting meal, the obvious choice in a place where the kitchen was located next to our table like a crystalline aquarium floating with a mass assortment of chefs residing over stainless steel double boilers and complex preparation set ups surrounded by pristine white glossy bricks.

“We are going to make you work tonight,” we told the waiter as we confessed that there was nothing we wouldn’t eat.

I had previewed the menu online before we arrived so I knew that there were certain dishes that I craved with all my being and I said a little prayer that they would all be included in our tasting. And of course they were, leading to the magical ambience of the night that had me rolling over in bed later during the witching hours, clutching my sides all night where visions of sugar plums were replaced by foreign longings of new things that had passed amongst my tongue just moments earlier, highlights of which included but are not limited to:

An amuse bouche in a neat, square miniature bowl of house cured salmon, green beets, and green (yes, refreshing and surprising green!) hummus.

Raw marinated curlicues of sea bream with bits of cool corn and melon, compressed cucumber and purslane like a sweet kiss upon the lips.

A miniature Croque Madame with hamachi, prosciutto, quail egg and buerre blanc provided me with my year’s worth of saturated fat and butter, but even so, I wished I had an entire plate’s worth of the stuff after only getting two tasting sized bites to share. I would fight someone for this dish. I would spend my entire allowance on this dish. I want to go back and sit at the bar and order nothing but the popcorn I have been told about and this dish with some nice Montmartre cocktails.

Months ago, the CG laughed at me when I extolled the virtues of a sweet bread preparation at one of my favorite Palm Springs restaurants Le Vallauris. Now I know why. The one breaded in fragrant panko, curry, sugary goodness that floated, speared, atop a coconut cream soup wafting atop a fluffy bed of butternut squash flan and Japanese mushrooms was possibly the most exquisite morsel of heavenly creaminess that’s ever alit pre-melt upon my tongue to date. It makes me want to start spouting Shakespeare.

A pan seared diver scallop floated atop a slightly sweet celery root puree accentuated by candied bacon and cippolini onion.

I wish I would have snapped a photo of the chicken breast, steamed in buttermilk, and set tenderly atop a surprisingly tangy and interesting puree of celery and raisin but it disappeared down our throats too fast.  

Lamb is my favorite meat so it’s not hard to make me swoon but this preparation was so original in that the breading was date and mint encrusted, leaning it towards a candied application that made me want to lick the slices rather than chew them. I didn’t want to chew because I wanted them to sit on my tongue and melt. The CG made fun of me for knife cutting each piece into the smallest portions ever so it would last longer.

An ultra refreshing watermelon granita for dessert was topped with strawberry coulis and the bite of black pepper in the toille.

I wanted the Earl Grey milkshake more than any other dish as it is my favorite essence infused into tea and sweets and this one didn’t disappoint alongside a rich, cocoa beignet and some warm Venezuelan chocolate sauce.

It was almost sacrilegious that these grapefruit gummies were my last taste impression of the place but it only makes me want to go back again and again for more. It’s a good thing I am not more of a butter whore or I would be in serious trouble but I know that now I want to give Sycamore Kitchen a try, which is the newest Hatfield’s concoction in Los Angeles that boasts fresh pastries and lunch for a bit less of the price.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Green Chiles Reign in the Land of Enchantment

Before even landing in New Mexico a week back for the grand occasion of a good friend’s wedding in which I was appointed to smudge prior to the ceremony with the ancient scent of smoky sage, I knew that I would be dousing my palate in green chiles. Otherwise known as the simple Anaheim chile, the long and vivid green conduit of mellow and verdant spice is after all the state vegetable and I am a girl for whom spice tolls.

It’s funny that when I travel I will seek out and eat what’s indigenous to the land even if it’s something I have access to but don’t often eat when back home. There are certainly plenty of Anaheims in Southern California but in staying true to the spirit of travel, I decided to attempt eating them whenever I could and in all of their forms, of which there were numerous.

First stop was Bobcat Bite, a burger joint that touts having the best green chile burger around. We literally drove here straight from the plane and placed our name on top of the wet erase board to wait twenty minutes for a seat. What arrived before us was a huge, meaty burger covered in a white cheese sauce dotted with diced green chiles. We didn’t know yet about the distinct smokiness that comes when some skin is still left on the roasted chiles so were wondering a little bit about the burger’s reputation when what we tasted didn’t seem to stand up to the pre-press expectations of ours. Yes, the chiles packed plenty of heat, and yes, the sizzling hot burger was jam packed with yummy, runny rare meat, but the chiles could have come directly out of a can. Maybe they even did!

A nice seared jalapeno was on the menu though and appeased my appetite for bite.

Later at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market we encountered some serious chile taste when purchasing a freshly baked slab of bread filled with melted cheese and doused with green chile heat. The temperatures were finally rising and we were starting to discover that the roasted-ness of the chiles is what elevates them from mere veggie green to excellent flavor addition to a dish.

Everywhere we went in New Mexico it seemed we were prone to encounter a parking lot boasting a grand green chile roasting machine. Looking very similar to a lotto ball machine but with fire, this spinning contraption spun chiles all over the state in front of our eyes emitting the wafting scent of pure charred goodness.

We found a really great produce store called the Fruit Basket where we were able to buy freshly roasted parking lot chiles in a Ziploc bag still warm for four bucks. This became our staple snack between hikes to old Pueblo cave dwellings and mesa-top villages – chiles rubbed of their skin and seeds and placed between freshly made tortillas with a drizzle of locally made honey. Enough carbs for our hours long walking treks and heat to clean out the system in between.

Just like the old soda fountain days, we came across a curious little Mexican restaurant stashed inside a pharmacy where we found a heaping bowl of pinto beans and green chiles to eat mid-afternoon. We sat old fashioned style on the red vinyl swivel stools to down our meal alongside some blue corn cheese enchiladas.

I am glad that we decided to give the green chile on burgers another try because our trip to ABQ Brew Pub (yes, even though it's housed in a typical sports bar type atmosphere) proved fruitful with an award winning Southwestern Chile Burger studded with tempura fried-roasted chile ribbons and a sesame-seed-bunned cheeseburger ripe with fresh roasted chile strips. 

Of course, I had to buy some dried and diced green chiles in a bag to take home with me as well. I am thinking I might grill some chicken breasts in it and then douse them with some Mexican drinking chocolate mole that I bought on the trip as well in honor of the sun god that kept everything about our Southwest journey caliente enough to keep us always on our toes. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Drinking Chocolate and Drawing Landscapes

When I was twelve I recall wandering into a bingo hall at St. Theresa Catholic School where I was currently doing time as a seventh grader and accidentally receiving an adult gamer-sized portion of Mexican hot chocolate one day after school while waiting for my mother to get off work down the street and come pick my latchkey self up. It was thick, murky, dark and had a milky skin on top and I was enamored with its dense presence and non-sugary swish in my mouth that coated the roof and my tongue with what could only be described as an inky Mayan black taint. I think my bittersweet cacao and coffee addictions were both born that day.

Fast forward over fifteen years later and I walk into the Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe, New Mexico where all they serve is various 6-ounce mugs of purely blended Mexican drinking chocolate concoctions from the mellow and average American dark to the exuberant and exotic, floral Mayan full spice. Without even tasting it, I spring for a $12.95 pouch of the Mayan full spice, trusting with my intuition that it will be right up my taste bud’s alley. The purveyor seems to sense my brotherhood of the chocolate-coated-tongue and gives me a taste, saying, “I want to make sure you like it before you buy because it is an intense taste.”

As I swish the first tablespoon into my mouth, my whole tongue is coated with the burst of herbs, flowers, chocolate and spices that is reminiscent of ancient Indian rituals done under the sun in the dusky earth and I nod a vehement YES to my purchase. Knowing I am the real deal for appreciating this particular tincture, the owner gives me a full free glass to go, of which I sip soulfully and remain high off of for hours.

The minute I get home from the plane back to California I head straight to the kitchen to try my own concoction, hoping it tastes like it did at the store. Three ounces of water are brought right up to the boiling point but not allowed to bubble and then three tablespoons of the magical granules are poured in and whisked to a frothy oblivion.

It was the perfect thing to sip while sketching the remains of landscape from my memories of the last week spent driving through hot and mesa-filled New Mexico horizons.

I will have to think of ways to now incorporate the gems into a mole! Ole!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sandwitchy Sardines and Lucky Lentils Sprinkled with Good Fortune

It was an ordinary weekday night and the Cute Gardener agreed to hand over his kitchen so I could recreate my favorite sardine sandwich for dinner that I’ve been craving from the Venice Beach-based co-op and deli Local 1205.

I had a list of ingredients and a dim idea of how they all went together, stacked from bottom to top in the following order:

Jewish Rye, lightly toasted
Saffron Aioli
Smoked sardines packed in olive oil
Hardboiled egg slices
Slightly sour pickle slices
Thinly sliced red onion rings
Fresh watercress greens

Of course, when you are trying to copy something precisely it never quite adds up the same.

For example, we weren’t going to spend a ton of money on saffron strings for the aioli so we decided to flavor it with lemon instead. We are both jarred mayonnaise haters, issues carried over from mutual childhoods filled with way too much of the gloppy, processed white stuff. So we decided to make some fresh lemon aioli for the night. I never realized how easy it is to make the stuff and how much it adds to a sandwich. The recipe is simple. You throw two egg yolks and one minced garlic clove into the bowl of a blender with a whipping option and process until the eggs grow light and frothy. Then while the machine is still running, you slowly drip, then pour ½ cup extra virgin olive oil in with a very thin stream until all the oil is soaked up. At the end you add in the lemon juice, salt and pepper and you’re done. It made enough aioli to save over for another night to add to homemade potato salad as well.

We also used our own pickles that we had been marinating in the fridge for a month made from cucumbers out of the garden.

We couldn’t find arugula or watercress so we settled with buying a bag of salad greens and picking out the ones we wanted. We realized that it is also important in this sandwich to use peppery greens.

I knew the sandwich of my dreams came with the bread lightly toasted and soaked through with oil, something I tried to mimic by pouring extra sardine oil onto the bread. But what I realized while we were eating it was that the bread was most likely toasted or grilled in a pan with some fat to get that texture before becoming a sandwich bed.

Because we had two egg whites leftover from making the aioli we made two egg white cocktails to accompany our dinner. A Pink Lady and a Pimm’s Cup Fizz, which we shared.

We also made a lentil side salad with the meal that became the hit of the evening.

Lentil Salad with Tomato and Dill

Adapted and made my own from an Epicurious Recipe


1 cup precooked lentils (I like the kind in the boil-able pack sold at Trader Joe’s)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Boil the lentil bag for five minutes then dump contents into a large salad bowl. Toss hot lentils with tomatoes, shallots, dill, basil, vinegar, oil, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste.

Back in Venice Beach, a few doors down from the shop where my sardine sandwich is sold sits another store I frequent often called Mystic Journey Bookstore. I had received a random email out of the blue recently from an intuit/healer named Kimberly Berg who oftentimes leads workshops there, wanting to send me a present. I gave it to her along with my name and the Cute Gardener’s name. So for dessert, we had the pleasure of opening two custom-made fortune cookies that Kimberly had baked and sent us in the mail that had arrived earlier that day. What was so bizarre was that I had never met this woman before and her predictions were dead on.

I have been transitioning in my life over the past year, wanting to leave my old life and PR business for my burgeoning art and writing career and my passion for growing, writing about and working with and around food as fuel to support my creative endeavors that have been gaining momentum over the past decade. What a perfect gift it was on the road to the fruition of my dreams to be sitting in the house of my new love, celebrating the art of home cooking meals together and cracking open a home-baked cookie to reveal my fortune, that of which I am on the right track of all my creative plans even if they may take a year or so to unfold. For today, my life is all about the magical fermentation of talent, intellect, art, literature, passion, good food, conscious cultivation and bliss.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Passionate for Papilles

"Art is to refuse mediocrity,” the famous line by French painter Balthus, headlines the website for Los Angeles-based restaurant Papilles where one goes to find the menu that consists of two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts refreshed on a rotating, seasonal basis. And that is exactly what Patina-trained chef Tim Carey refuses as he reigns over a kitchen churning out excellent individual dishes that delight not only in presentation but also in creativity of ingredients and concept.

The casual bistro with a name that means “taste buds” is located un-pompously in a strip mall and has been on our “to eat at” list for months now. Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times ironically included the place as one of the summer’s three best prix fixe joints of the summer right as we had finally made reservations to go in and sample the fare for dinner prior to Neil Diamond’s Hot August Nights Anniversary Concert at the Greek Theater.

Because we had a concert to get to our reservations were made early and we had the restaurant to ourselves for a good hour. This was great considering the kitchen and the dining room are literally in one small room together so that you feel as if you are one with the chefs and staff in someone’s French country home. Unpretentious wood slat and stacked brick shelves holding multiple wine bottles available for sale with your meal sit next to oversized bags of baker’s chocolate and other restaurant supplies. I was able to watch Chef Carey supervise two assistant chefs with kid gloves, watching every single plate created and making sure it was delivered to us with the utmost perfection. At one point, he explained that he wasn't going to be around for a little while and wanted to make sure that his boss felt comfortable that the place would continue to run smoothly.  I am sure the Los Angeles Times article coming out exclamation pointed this consideration even further.

The Cute Gardener and I typically get everything on the menu to share when it comes as a two options per course prix fixe, which is exactly what we did here.  Four wines by the glass are also offered with the meal: a sparkling, a rose, a white and a red. I loved the “red” sparkling that started my experience.

To begin came a twist on a classic Italian first, only with chorizo replacing prosciutto in a melon and frisee salad. It was artfully presented with the chorizo not too spicy and making a perfect pairing with the triangles of soft, tender melon.

A bowl of rustic, dark roasted tomato and basil veloute came floating with a smiley face of olive oil ribbons and three yellow cherry tomato globes.

For our main, a duo of Niman pork was delivered sitting in a sweet and sour plum compote that married well with the pork belly’s fried chitlin skin layer, big purple lima-esque beans and wax string beans. The two pieces of loin were soft and pink scented on the tongue.

A large chunk of Virginia wild striped bass was nice but the star of the plate was the baby zucchini laid upon a hearty and rich sunburst squash puree and basil coulis. I just recently had the yellow and green sauce pairing at another dinner but it didn’t pack as much punch as the two here did.

Dessert’s first course was two perfectly soft mimolette slices with pistachio and jam to accompany the fruity, French cheddar.

And finally a buttery shortbread encrusted raspberry tart.

The place filled up as we were finishing our meal and the presence of others made the place bustle with noise and the kitchen ramp up its motion. We felt like we had been privy to a special moment prior when it was just we, the cooks, the exuberant host and attentive waiter, and an unusual soundtrack fit right for my palate made up of 1970’s rock and roll mixed with vintage French female siren songs. 

P.S. Santos Uy, Papilles owner, also owns Mignon Wine and Cheese Bar which is another favorite of mine. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Roller Coaster Ride at Bouchon (And I Don't Mean Thomas Keller's)

It took us a long time to figure out where we would eat out for dinner on a recent trip to Santa Barbara as the city isn’t exactly known for its cuisine. After many referrals and Yelp reviews later, we decided against the multitude of tepidly written up Italian and Mexican restaurants and settled on the self-admitted "wine country cuisine" downtown spot Bouchon.

What followed was a very strange roller coaster ride of highs and lows that left has left me a little confused as to whether I really like the place or not.


We arrived to a house with plenty of open tables and Open Table is exactly the service the Cute Gardener used to book our reservation so imagine our chagrin when we were seated in the most unseemly place in the middle of the packed dining room in the back where all the wait staff were constantly walking behind and hitting our chairs with their hips, thighs and legs. And it was warm enough in the room to make us sweat.


Part of the reason it was warm was our proximity to the kitchen, which I could see the top halves of the five chefs within as they bustled around cooking. I love to watch the dance of sizzling foods and always admire restaurants that let us glimpse the magic with transparency. Back home in Venice Beach, I walk by Ado on afternoons right as the cooks are busy prepping for the evenings and I always peek in and they know me by now so I get waves and smiles. This makes me giddy.


The tart that I had seen online on their menu was non-existent on this one.


A scallop trio was on the menu and it had to be shared because the scallops were so plump and huge. There were three versions: an appetizer kin that resembled caprese with a stack of tomato, cold smoked scallop, and bacon. The scallop was dynamite with a texture like a cold beautiful cube of butter and sweet on the tongue but it was a bit strange with its counterpart ingredients. The middle version was an entrée kin on top of a dense and perfectly crispy potato pancake that punched with flavor. The corn and basil sauces that accompanied were dreamy and I sopped the remainder of it up with a chunk from the ample breadbasket. The last was a dessert kin on top of vanilla risotto that was delicious but a little watery. I could have eaten one of these alone as my meal and am still thinking about that cold, smoked scallop slice in variety one.


As we realized that we needed the salt and pepper that was put on the tables to season the third scallop version (a no no to have to season anything from the kitchen), they delivered someone else’s soup spoon to us by mistake.


The CG asked for rare venison and it was purple as if its heart were still beating. It was my first time trying venison, which tasted to me like the forest trees and all I could do was think of Bambi while watching the slabs of thick meat ooze with blood. (Yes, I realize this is an extremely hypocritical inner conflict as I am as happy a carnivore as anyone else who believes that animal flesh is part of the master food chain.) Still not sure how I feel about that but the CG was happy as a kid in a pond made out of cherry Icee.


My duck was really soft and tender but the fat wasn’t rendered at all. Luckily, for some weird reason, it wasn’t gross congealed fat, just strangely outlining the meat fat, and the meat ended up tasting like turkey rather than duck.


They had a variety of fun wines so we opted for wines to pair with our dishes rather than a bottle. Every time our waiter brought us our wine, he would pour us a taste, even though we were only ordering a glass. At one point, we were even offered a sample of another wine we didn’t order by the gracious waiter who was jibing on our picks.

So all in all there were some pleasantly unexpected crests that I didn’t expect and then some serious nose-diving troughs that were just as surprising and together they cancel each other out so that I am still stuck in a state of neutrality towards the whole experience. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Attack of the Cherry Tomatoes

I knew I had gone overboard on the great cherry tomato explosion of this summer when I had a dream of giant red and yellow versions stalking me through the streets of Gotham, spitting laser-precise streams of hot juice studded with sharp seeds at me the other night. You see, for the past ten days I have been staying with my sister in Santa Barbara and enjoying daily morning jaunts out to their garden alongside the house where a massive and wild cherry tomato world seemed to expound by ten square roots of itself daily. Breakfast consisted of morning, sun-kissed globes being popped directly in the mouth. And for four days straight I enjoyed creating special recipes with the beautiful and plump little fruits accompanied by various gifts of squash blossom, corn, cucumber, long beans and zucchini from the Cute Gardener’s garden alongside ingredients scoured from my sister’s cupboards. I love nothing more in life than eating what is local, in season and plentiful from the earth!


1. Pasta Dinner

We roasted a green pepper directly on the flame of the range, cut it up and tossed it over medium heat in a cast iron skillet with a dozen or so halved cherry tomatoes in multiple colors and then added the whole mess to some al dente cooked angel hair pasta tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, leftover chicken breast diced into cubes and a sprinkling of freshly grated, parmesan cheese. This was simple and perfect for summer.

2. Clafoutis Brunch

Clafoutis is typically a dessert food from France made with berries or fruits prone to ooze and pop like cherries. I found an adapted recipe for a brunch version at StaceySnacks and tried it out. 

It was good but there were some things I would suggest to others who are trying out this recipe, which will make it better. One, definitely use goat cheese instead of the parmigiano, as the dish needs the fluid wetness more than the sharpness. The cherry tomato acidity will provide enough tang in itself. It is kind of a corn bread-y yet spongy thing so does well with more moist ingredients to counteract the flour dough aspect. Secondly, completely cover the bottom of the pan with cherry tomatoes and not just the random scattering of them called for in the recipe. It’s a beautiful thing to have them pop and run all over the place.

It tasted even better the next day as a leftover, heated up and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

3. Quick Bowl for Lunch

Thrown all together in a bowl with fresh cherry tomatoes and parmigiano-reggiano made it an overall and super low calorie delight.

A few lunches consisted of this easy, ten-minute preparation of veggies cooked directly over a hot griddle brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with pepper and salt. 

I stuffed this beauty with some cottage cheese before frying up as well.

4. Anytime Panini

I also discovered a panini maker at my sister’s house but didn’t get one single photo of any of the dozen varieties of paninis I made there.  This was due to the fact that the minute a grilled and gooey sandwich would get done, there would be a pair of hands to grab it and eat it too quickly. I enjoyed a few different versions of grilled cheeses using cherry tomato halves interspersed between the bread. This made for a delicious sandwich no matter what kind of cheese I used (gruyere, provolone, mixed shredded cheddars, brie or bleu) and as the tomatoes popped, they delivered pockets of surprises in between the already melt in your mouth specialty.