WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. WILD FENNEL POLLEN. PART ONE.

 

 

HARVESTING WILD FENNEL POLLEN

Northern California smells good. Yes, I know I am making a broad sweeping statement–but it's true. Everytime I am out here, no matter the time of year, the thing that resonates is the smell. Sometimes, briny, smoky and woodsy, heavy with eucalyptus, pine and sage brush other times sweet with wild fennel and  dark summer fruits. Wild fennel grows everywhere in Northern  California; A beautiful weed feeding off fog and salt in the dry dusty soil and craggy rock along the  highways and oceans edge. Fennel pollen is used in many Mediterranean recipes.

 

Right now, it is in full bloom. Bright yellow clusters heavy with pollen. This year, the drought has given way to a particularly abundant crop. I fight the bees just a little for the flowers which I cut off in clusters. I cut only the ones fluffy with pollen, in the late afternoon after the sun has dried the residual morning dew. 

The pollen has buttery delicate fennel taste and slightly caramelized aroma.

 

 

 

PROCESS

 

- Cut the flower clusters in the late afternoon.

- Make sure they are dry, if not leave in the sun for an hour or so.

 - Process the pollen by rolling the flowers gently between my fingers over a large plate or sheet tray. Don't worry if some of the flowers fall  into the bowl. You will later sift out any big peices.

- Once you have processed all the flowers smooth the pollen out in a thin layer and leave somewhere out of the wind to completely dry.This can be an hour in the sun or overnight in indirect light. The fennel  flowers can become a bit sticky or a little wet during the rolling processes they release amy moisture or sap. 

- When dry sift through a  fine sieve into a bowl. Only the pollen will remain. During the drying process it will go from a bright turmeric yellow  to a more burnt turmeric.

 

I sifted mine twice through two different size sieves, I used a medium sieve for the first round and a fine sieve for the second round. Your sieve should sift out all the debris and from the pollen. If this is not the case, use a larger mesh sieve.

Store in a ball jar or a well sealed spice tin. This will last up to one year if completely dry.

 

If you are not fortunate enough to live on the West Coast where this grows abundantly wild, you may be able to find it at your local farmers market. It looks a lot like dill flower so ask the farmers. I spotted some at the Union Square green market yesterday. Or perhaps you have planted some in your garden and have let it go to flower?

Fennel pollen is also available at most spice markets and many food specialty shops.

 

Recipes to follow in part two.

My mind is dancing with ideas.

 

Thanks for the initial inspiration Samin!

xx

modern nomads. dara artisans.

We recently worked on a super fun collaboration with Dara Artisans. They flew us out to Joshua Tree where we spent a couple days shooting Modern Nomad.

It was a dusty hot wild windblown time in the desert.

Thank you to our crew. You all worked tirelessly.

A bonus to this shoot was being introduced to Dara Artisan artist Andrea Crescioni. I am now completely obsessed with her line of leather necklaces and belts. The only problem being which one to choose. I love them all!!

Much of this story was shot at the beautiful cabin of JT Homesteader. Thank you Jay and Stephanie!  You saved us and you really came through with that horse!! We heart you.

Catch some desert vibes and stay at one of their remote and beautiful cabins.

http://jthomesteader.com

See the full story and shop for all these beautiful pieces and more at Dara Artisans.

 

sountrack. the eagles.

modern-nomads-1.jpg

out west part two.

We are back in New York after our week out West and spring is definitely in the air. The light has shifted and changed and it is a little brighter and crisper. The shadows seem suddenly stronger. I am hopeful that my winter coat will soon be put away for good and the days will lend themselves to dresses and flip-flops.

Our mother daughter trip was really nice. It has been ages since I could get Lula all to myself. She really loved California. Everywhere we went she imagined herself living. She felt a strong connection to the desert.

I wanted to share a few places to stay and eat and thrift while it was fresh in my mind. We started our trip at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. It has its charm but is not with out a very hipster scene. We spotted the depressed brother from Little Miss Sunshine checking out as we arrived. It happened to be a super busy spring break/Easter week and the hotel and pool was filled with families and kids. The Ace was originally a Howard Johnson's  built in the 1960's. It has a funky vibe. The staff is super friendly and the rooms are no nonsense. Make sure to check out the vending machines in the lobby stocked with cool items from Opening Ceremonyand don't miss the photo booth! The restaurant attached to the Ace is called The Kings Highway, a former Denny's, it totally serves its purpose,  dishing up gigantic pancakes, burgers and fries. Local and organic ingredients  are used whenever possible. The atmosphere is great but the service in the restuarnt is a little spotty. If the pool gets to be too much of a scene head to the totally hidden Commune pool at the back of the hotel or rent a scooter and head into town which is only minutes away.

The town of Palm Springs has some decent restaurants but we were pretty holed up in the Ace with the exception of our visit toNatures Health Food Cafe recommended to us by our friends at The Wild Unknown. It is a great health food store and cafe with an awesome juice bar. There is little thrift store next to it called Palm Springs High School Thrift, we didn't find very much but one man's junk is another's treasure, so. you never know! Palm Springs can be  full of hidden treasures and Mid Century Modern finds if that is your jam.

We stopped by a kind of wacky crystal store called Crystal Fantasy where you can get palm readings or tarot card readings.

After the Ace, we stayed at Hope Springs Resort in Desert Hot Spring's. Hope Springs is a little ten-room boutique hotel on the top of a mountain with a view of Palm Springs. Hope Springs has three natural mineral pools to soak in day or night. The hottest one being 105 degrees, perfect for cooler desert nights and star gazing. This place is seriously mellow, we kind of felt like we had it all to ourselves. they don't have a restaurant, but you are close enough to drive into Palm Springs or Joshua Tree for dinner. We ate a little family run Mexican restaurant right in the town of Desert Hot Springs and it was perfect. Hope springs has a communal kitchen and serves a light breakfast. When we were there  they were serving fresh fruit and a frittata. They have a full list of Spa treatments. 

Desert Hot Springs has a plethora of thrift stores as does the town of Joshua Tree which is quite close. From Desert Hot springs you can drive to Joshua Tree and enter the Western most entrance of the park. The distance from Joshua Tree to 29 palms is only about 30 miles but it can take you all day if you stop occasionally and hike in. There is no where to get food or water so bring your own and be prepared! The drive through the park to the Town of 29 Palms is really quite beautiful, it is very different in the morning and evening. Yucca trees line the landscape and you will pass the giant boulders if you take this route. Be sure to make time to stop at Keys view for Sunset. You can see the entire Coachella Valley all the way to The Salton Sea from there. It is really stunning. Bring something warm to wear because it gets quite chilly and windy towards evening.

 A highlight of our trip was our crystal sound bath at the Integratron. A Dome structure in the desert in lander's California, not far from the town of Joshua Tree. The Integratron was built in 1954. You can read more about it here. Call to make an appointment in advance, they can be full months ahead of time!

From the Integratron website..

" The Sound Bath is a 60-minute sonic healing session that you can experience while resting comfortably in the deeply resonant, multi-wave sound chamber. A sequence of quartz crystal singing bowls are played for you, each one keyed to the energy centers or chakras of the body, where sound is nutrition for the nervous system.  Imagine lying on comfy mats in the center of this relaxing and resonant high-energy field, while having your body bathed in exquisite sound for 25 minutes. You have the balance of the hour to relax. The results are waves of peace, heightened awareness, and relaxation of the mind and body. "

I have to say it was pretty cool and like no sound we had ever heard before. The pitch of the sound waves rising and falling completely transports you to another place.

We headed to Pioneer town after our visit at The Integratron, blissed out and mellow. Pioneer Town on first glance was a little hokey but it gives you an idea of what Wild West town would have looked like a hundred years ago.. It's fun for photos at any rate. The real draw in the town is Pappy and Harriets Pioneer Palace. They have decent barbeque and are known for their open mike night and the bands that they pull in from LA. This whole Northern High Desert area is kind of funky and trippy; there is definitely a more hippie vibe than in Palm Springs. The desertvibe is kind of electric out here.

On our way back to Desert Hot Springs we stopped at The Natural Sisters Café in Joshua Tree. We ate a sandwich LOADED with sprouts (very California) and had a Rock Climbers Revenge smoothie. (Weird name for sure but a really delicious combo of bananas, cashews and dates.) This cafe is right at the Western Entrance to Joshua Tree so it is actually a great place to stop and get supplies before heading into the park.

On our last afternoon we hit Gypsy Land Thrift and Angel Thrift in Desert Hot springs, before heading to the elegant Le Parker Meriden for a late lunch and stroll through the 13 acre grounds. At The Parker  you can play baci ball, croquet, swim in the pool or play a giant chess game amidst beautiful roses and bouganvilla, it kind of feels very Alice In Wonderland here.

We didn't get to all the things we wanted to do in and around the area, we really needed a couple more days. We are saving the Salton Sea and Bombay Beach and Salvation Mountain for next time. 

 Here is little list of Things to do in Palm Springs and surrounding area:

Swim/ Stay at The Ace Hotel

Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Visit the Town of 29 Palms

Stay at 29 Palms Inn or just stop by for a drink and a dip in the pool.

(They have a fairly decent restaurant and super cute Adobe cabins with fireplaces)

Stay at Hope Springs Resort. Super relaxing. Chill vibe. Great Spa Services. Overlooks the mountains.

Visit Indian Canyons just five minutes from Palm Springs and take a hike through the oasis where the Agua Callente Indians lived.

Visit the Waterfall at Tahquitz Canyon located about twenty minutes from Palm Springs. Hike in. Take a dip.

Visit The Integratron in Landers California and then make your way over to Pioneer Town to Pappy and Harriet's.

Listen to some great music at Pappy and Harriet's. Try the barbeque.

Thrift in the towns of Desert Hot Springs and Joshua Tree.

You can pick up a guide to thrifts in the area from the Ace Hotel.

Take ride in the Tramway.  The gondola going from palm springs desert up into the mountains!

Visit this very funky Botanical Garden.

I have heard great things about Two Bunch Palms Spa but have not stayed there, maybe next time!

Stay at the very modern and secluded The Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot springs.

Visit Salvation Mountain.

Visit the Salton Sea and Bombay Beach.

Movie to watch before going:

Bombay Beach

Pick juniper and Sage Brush from the roadside to make your own smudgesticks.

Get lost in all the desert wierdness.

xx

Some good reference material for the area:

This article in Travel and Leisure

This article in the Huffington Post 

winter citrus coffee cake.

Winter Citrus Coffee Cake

 I have been out West on vacation this week and finally have a moment to post this cake I made during the last (and hopefully final) snowstorm of the winter in New York.

I am calling it a winter cake but you could easily substitute any other fruit for the citrus and it would be just as tasty. I am thinking strawberries in the summer. I love winter citrus. It is always a bright spot long about February when the days seem as though they might never get longer. I was inspired to make this cake while working in San Francisco this past January. In the mornings before heading to the studio we always made a stop at Tartine. One morning we decided to cheat on Tartine and try a new place calledCraftsmen & Wolves just down the block from Tartine. It has a sleeker vibe than Tartineand at first I wasn't sure about all the pastries carefully and purposefully lined up behind the glass. We ordered a scotch egg and a small coffee cake with candied citrus and espresso topping.

Needless to say they were both stellar. So this is my attempt at recreating that cake. My heart is still with Tartine, their ham and cheese croissant is out of this world. I am a savory person in the morning more so than sweet. I think that is why this cake appealed to me in the first place with it’s salty espresso top and the bitter citrus inside. If you find yourself in San Francisco, you must try both places, neither will disappoint.

Candied Citrus

I used a recipe from Martha Stewart for the candied citrus peels, as I had never made them before.

This recipe seemed straightforward and simple.

You can use any citrus you want. 

I used a variety of pink grapefruit, blood orange, bergamot lemon etc.

Scrub the citrus well to remove any residue.

2 grapefruit

2 oranges

2 lemons

1-cup sugar

With a sharp paring knife, slice off ends of grapefruits, oranges, or lemons. Following curve of fruit cut away outermost peel, leaving most of the white pith on fruit. Slice peel lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips.

In a medium pot of boiling water,  (enough to generously cover the peels) cook the peels until tender, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer peel to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet; spread in a single layer to dry slightly, about 15 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, bring 1-cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil over high, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel and boil until it turns translucent and syrup thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer peel to wire rack, separating the pieces as needed. (As always with boiling sugar, BE CAREFUL!)

While the candied citrus is cooling make the batter.

WINTER CITRUS COFFEE CAKE WITH ESPRESSO TOPPING

2 cups all purpose white flour

1/2-teaspoon kosher salt

1-teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl and set aside

In another bowl mix the wet ingredients.

1/2 stick of softened butter 

1/2-cup crème fraise

2 eggs

1-cup sugar

The juice of half a grapefruit ( if your batter seems at all dry add the juice of the other half)

Mix on low speed until combined

Add

The 2 cups of candied citrus peel and gently mix in by hand.

 Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined.

Use a 9 inch round cake pan or 9 inch a cast iron skillet

Grease the pan or skillet

Place 1/2 batter the batter in the pan or skillet

Spoon some of the topping over the batter

Add rest of batter

Spoon remaining topping over the batter

Topping

1/2 stick butter

1-cup flour

1/2-cup dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons of espresso fine grind

1/4-teaspoon fleur de sel

Combine all ingredients for the topping in a bowl and mix by hand with your fingers until the topping has the texture of cornmeal. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes; or until done.

The beautiful ceramics used in this story are from West Coast artist Jessica Niello. I picked them up in San Francisco at The Perish Trust.

out west. part one.

Greetings from Sunny California. Lula and I are having a girls week out West. We started our trip at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs and day tripped to the desert and Joshua Tree from there. Today we head to the Integratron for a crystal sound bath (trippy)  then on to 29 Palms and later to Hope Springs. It is a mini break from what seems like a long winter in the North. 

Here are a few photos from along the way. More deatails of places to eat and visit in part two.

Have a lovely day.

xx

 Yucca Valley Joshua Tree National Park

 Yucca Valley Joshua Tree National Park

Lula photographing at Keys View Joshua Tree National Park. View of entire Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, San Andreas Fault all the way to The Salton Sea.

Lula photographing at Keys View Joshua Tree National Park. View of entire Coachella Valley, Palm Springs, San Andreas Fault all the way to The Salton Sea.

 Lula Joshua Tree National Park.

 Lula Joshua Tree National Park.

Desert Veg.

Desert Veg.

best coast picnic

Last week I was out on the West Coast and visited with some friends in Albion, in Northern California near Mendocino. The drive up Highway 1 from San Francisco is absolutely stunning no matter what time of the day you choose to do it. Before heading up North we stopped at Bi-Rite Market to pick up some provisions. Bi-Rite is at the center of the food frenzy happening around 18th Street and Guerrero. (Tartine Bakery, Delfina, Delfina Pizzeria and Bi-Rite Creamery all share the block and now very near is a Freeman's Barber Shop) Bi-Rite is the sweetest little market busting at the seams with gorgeous produce, citrus, meats and cheeses. We picked up some Anna's Daughter's Rye Crackers (there seems to be a major cracker scene happening out West) and some Cowgirl Creamery Inverness cheese, both, which are not available on the East Coast. The Inverness cheese is pure Jersey cream heaven and was perfectly paired with the thin rye crackers. We also picked up some Satsuma oranges and some smoked salmon. Then we hit the road, crossed the red bridge and started our adventure North. The Cow Girl Inverness cheese barely made it past Bolinas before we had devoured it entirely. It was tempting to open the second one we had picked up for our friends but we stayed strong. While in Albion, we decided to go for a picnic near the Mendocino Headlands. It was gorgeously foggy day. We stopped to pick wild watercress, which we spotted in the fresh water trickling towards the cliffs. Even though it was a foggy day, the picnic was brilliant! We did of course have some Mast Brother's chocolate to share with our friends so we could give Brooklyn a little love. We traveled with chocolate and Bellocq Tea to share with West Coast friends.

On the way back through San Francisco, we made sure to leave time to run to Bi-Rite to pick up those provisions once again to share with family in New York. We grabbed our last Tartine croissant, ran into our friends Gemma and Andy in line at Tartine and had a quite a laugh as we ran into them in Stockholm last summer! We see them more around the world than in Brooklyn. (They were just honored in PDN's 30) We then headed to the airport and said goodbye to San Francisco and headed home, cheese in hand. Last Sunday we had a best coast picnic right here on Broome Street, the only thing missing was the fog.