where the wild things are. pickled rose petals

Below; Greecologies thick tangy yogurt, Dan Finn's maple syrup, wild fennel pollen foraged from the Sonoma Coast, pickled rose petals and a squeeze of lime.

I have been using a lot of rose in my kitchen lately. The smell of wild roses takes me straight back to the summers of my childhood where we spent a few precious days each year in Watch Hill Rhode Island where the shores were thick with rugosa and the air smelled of salt and rose. One of the very old houses I lived in on the Massachusetts Vermont border was surrounded by a thicket of rose. Many different varieties grew together in a tangled mass. I am sure some of them were planted purposefully over the years but by the time we moved in, both the house and the grounds had gone a bit wild. I like to imagine, that over the centuries, some of the women who had lived there were as obsessed with rose as I am and perhaps they used them for tea or cooking or for scents. The house had a long and rich history as the first post office in the town and it was said that the house harbored a spy during The French and Indian wars. Some of its former inhabitants still walked the halls when I lived there, shimmering lightly as they moved furniture and knocked things akimbo in the night. It is no coincidence that when we bought property upstate one of the first things we planted was roses, not perfect long stem roses, but the kind that grow without much care into wild blustering bushes, thick with single petal flowers and thorns. We also rescued roses from a nearby farm that was being leveled and torn down, we call these Edgar’s Roses. Over the years our rose bushes have been good to us and this year is no exception. We never spray them. When using rose for food you always want to make sure they have never been sprayed and are pesticide free.

My most recent rose obsession is a sweetened rose vinegar and pickled rose petals.The recipe is simple and while it seems a bit twee, I promise the pickled petals are the perfect accompaniment to a rich bowl of late summer yogurt or to an early fall pork roast. Make this now while the roses are abundant and summer still hangs at our door. Your fall larder will thank you later. xx

PICKLED ROSE PETALS

2 cups loosely packed rose petals ( use only organic pesticide free roses)

throw in some whole buds, they are very beautiful when pickled.

3 cups white rice wine vinegar (the white rice wine vinegar is sweeter and  less acidic than white wine vinegar, but if you only have white wine vinegar, don't worry just use it)

12 tablespoons of maple syrup ( if you use organic sugar instead of maple your liquid will stay a vibrant pink. Maple has great flavor but turns the liquid a little rose/brown)

6 teaspoons of kosher salt

 

METHOD

Submerge the petals in a bowl of water then drain lightly and lay out to dry  on dish towel. you want to bruise the petals as little as possible.

In a non reactive sauce pan, heat the vinegar, the salt and maple to just a simmer. Turn off and stir until the salt and maple are dissolved. Let cool about 10-15 minutes.

Place the rose petals in a large glass bowl and pour the cooled liquid over the roses. Store in a ball jar in your refrigerator. infuse for a a few days or so before using.The pickle will last for several months.The color will slowly fade and transform over time from a vibrant pink to a dusty brown pink. The pickling liquid will either be a vibrant pink or a brown pink depending on if you use maple or sugar. You can use this sweetened rose vinegar as you would any vinegar and use the pickled petals to accompany roasts or morning yogurt. 

 

SEE MY ROSE PETAL FRENCH TOAST HERE AND MY ROSE PETAL ICE CREAM HERE.

 

 

 

 

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

MEXICO CITY WANDERINGS.A BRIEF RESPITE IN MEXICO CITY. THINGS NOT TO MISS.

 

My thoughts on Mexico City were terribly outdated.  I thought of it only as a gritty, polluted and dangerous city. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Though it was virtually impossible to ignore the buzz these past few years, especially living and working in New York,  I had remained a skeptic.

What changed? I spent a lot of time in Mexico last year working on various projects and it seemed all roads led to Mexico City.  Everywhere I went, people were talking about the food, the culture, the art galleries, the hotels and the architecture. This city of 19 million actually has more in common with New York and Paris and Istanbul than any place it may have been formerly compared to and there is no doubt that it is having a moment. 

 

Last month I headed down there with my friend chef Camille Becerra to see what it was all about.

 

We left New York on the red eye out of JFK at 1am on one of the hottest nights of this New York summer on Aeromexico. We arrived in the D.F just four short hours later ready to take the city by storm.  We were pretty much up for anything and wanted to taste and see everything. Armed with a massive list culled from friends we set to task. Our first stop was the super cute Stella Bed and Breakfast where we were met by Sylvia who graciously fed us a beautiful breakfast of fried eggs and tortillas while the light slowly came up in the Roma neighborhood where we were staying. Needless to say, in the days that followed, we ate our way all around town, meeting up with some local food writers, stylists and bloggers.

The way I normally travel is to first do a bit of preliminary research myself, then I speak with friends and friends of friends and begin to cull a list.

 

I use Foursquare when I travel to keep track of the places I have been, to make and edit lists and to share them with others easily. I find it is a great starting point to my general list. I follow a few of my well traveled friends and we are always sharing and updating through Foursquare. If you are not onto it yet for travel, I highly recommend it.

 

Below is list of a few of our favorite spots. This makes for one long beautiful eating day! Do not miss these! 

 

Breakfast at La Fonda Marguerita

 

 

For Breakfast, La Fonda Marguerita. It is important to remember that breakfast and lunch are traditionally the main meals of the day in Mexico. So f you are thinking of saving some amazing little taco spot you read about for late afternoon or an evening meal, check first that it is open! We missed a few places before we got hip to this idea.

La Fonda Margarita was recommended by a friend who lives in Mexico City. It is a tiny local spot where they cook most of the night. They open the doors really early, maybe even as early as 5am. though I would call to check on that because time is a bit slow in Mexico. They cook  solely over charcoal, giant giant pots of bubbling goodness, many hands taking turns to stir. We went at 8am and just missed the line and the rush that followed. What did we eat?   We ate Copious bowls full of stewed pork,  simmered for hours over the fire.  We were drawn right away to the pork in  salsa verde and   to another dish of chicharron stewed with tomatoes and chilies, after which came the  most perfectly fried eggs, atop delicious homemade tortillas. Coffee is served hot and sweet and black.

If I could have, I would have eaten every breakfast here. It is great place to go before heading out to the morning markets.

 

 Adolfo Prieto 1364, Benito Juárez, Tlacoquemecatl del Valle, 03100 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

+52 55 5559 6358

 

 

Mid morning coffee at Rosetta Panaderia

Delicious coffee and absolute best Guava pastry. I am kind of a Guava freak. I had them at many places including Ideal but Rosetta Panaderia was the best.

Same owners as the Rosetta restaurant nearby.

 

Calle Havre #73, Cuauhtemoc, Juárez, 06600 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico
+52 55 5207 7065

 

Lunch at Contramar

A long luxurious lunch at Contramar that turns into late afternoon day drinking, is often recommended by highly trustworthy people. .You will find this place on 99 percent of the must do's of Mexico City. We had a short lunch only because we weren't feeling it. We didn't love it, it felt really "New York" and that isn't what I look for when I travel. It is like going to Paris and only searching for "Tres Brooklyn" Many people are looking for familiarity and comfort when they travel, so if that is you, then why not? It is a fabulous spot for people watching and the tuna tostadas are highly recommended and they are said the copied around Mexico City. Personally, I felt they lacked any depth. Judge for yourself and report back.

 

Delegación Cuauhtémoc C.P. 06700. México D.F.. RESERVACIONES 55 5514 9217 · 55 5514 3169

 

Sunset drink on the rooftop of Hotel Condesa D.F

Take a late afternoon stroll around the Condesa Neighborhood, one of the D F.'s hippest area's. Stop into the Hotel Condesa and head straight to the rooftop for a sunset cocktail. I highly recommend the Hibiscus Margarita with Hibiscus salt. Found around on the plush cushions and watch the lights come on over this low flat city.

 

Dinner at  Quntoni

 

Quintonil is all about beautifully presented, thoughtful, modern Mexican food.  The flavor combinations are new and exciting. They are well known for their cactus ceviche. It was perfect and swimming in the most delicious herby green broth. The portions are not big. We mostly ordered seafood and it was super fresh.  Order a few things to share. The service was excellent. Oh, and the house cocktail... Mescal and worm salt. YES! THANK YOU.

reservations are a must.

 

 Newton 55, Polanco, 11560 Federal District, Mexico

+52 55 5280 1660

 

 

Late night post mescal bar tacos at Los Parados.

This is an absolute.

First a few words about the Mescal bars. You must experienceat least one. Mescal is an essential part of the experience.

 

Bosforo Mezcaleria

 

Bosforo, located in the historic city center is a tiny hole in the wall place. Try many different wild sourced mescals.

Tiny bites available. The night we were at Bosforo there was a small gathering of Mescal makers there to talk about their work. I learned a lot even though the lecture was in Spanish! Thank god I am visual person, have studied Italian, between this and photos, I got the gist. I honestly had no idea that some  Mescals are aged with rotten fruit and even raw chicken and sometimes turkey, rabbit or deer meat.This type of Mescal is called Pechuga. Some Wild  hunted agaves take as much as 25 years to grow. Who knew? I have much to learn here and I need to investigate this subject further. I tried Pechuga and it did have a distinctly different taste from the other Mescals, more funky for sure.

 

 Luis Moya, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

 

La Clandestina in Roma Nord.

 

Small, great location over fifty different Mescals. All locally sourced from Oaxaca.

Av. Alvaro Obregón 298 (Sonora), 06100 Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico

 

 

Once you have sufficiently imbibed head to the late night taco stand called Los Parados.

Los Parados actually translates to "standing", there are no seats here at this swift shop where they move hundreds of tacos an hour. We were three people and we probably had at least 15! Tacos from Mexico City are not like their overstuffed American cousin. They are small and discreet but pack major flavor.

There are many kinds to choose from. There is a taco master at each station and they move swiftly. My suggestion is to go for one of each.

 

Los Parados

Monterrey 333 Col. Roma

06760 México, D.F.

+52 55 5264 7138

leave there sated and happy and grab a taxi or an uber, both easy to find and roll into bed.

 

Tomorrow will be another day and there is Casa Azul to see and the Frida and Diego Studios, there is a cocktail to be had at the Sant'Angel Inn and the Markets... so many Markets! Museums, Galleries and The Barrigan House. You will barely scratch the surface of this amazing city in a week.

 

Historic city center

 

 

 

Flower Market

Fruit along the exterior of the Flower Market

Rosetta Panaderia

Churros from The Roma Nord  specialty food Market

Flea Market finds

Shrine at Casa Azul

Luis Barragan House

Breakfast at Fonda Marguerita

Breakfast at Fonda Marguerita

Herbs and flowers at Mercado Sonora

Street Food stall at Mercado Sonora

Fruit at Mercado Coyoacan

Casa Luis Barragan

Overgrown garden at Casa Barragan

Ideal Panaderia

where the wild things are. dandelion butter. frittata of the things winter left behind.

By the time we got upstate this year summer was nearly around the corner. Though I have mentioned before that spring comes late to our side of the mountain, this winter was especially brutal. By memorial day, most but not all of the ramps were beginning to wither back. The dry spring had mostly eradicated the wild watercress along our various springs which are running feebly at best this year. I picked what I could that winter had been kind enough to leave behind, big piles of dandelion blossom, dandelion leaves, wild mustard greens, wild mustard flower, chives, spring garlic,  wild mint, sorrel and ramp leaves. I set the dandelion blossom aside for butter and washed the rest of the greens. I chopped the bulbs of spring garlic and mixed them into the greens. I put  a generous dose of olive oil on the bottom of a heavy large cast iron frying pan and then I  piled the greens on top. I whisked up a dozen eggs, their yolks a bright yellow, added about a half a cup of grated pecorino, a dash of celtic sea salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.

 

I poured the egg mixture over the greens and set on Julian’s mid heat Aga burner covered for ten minutes or so. I watched it carefully so the bottom would not burn. I am not super used to cooking with an Aga so it took a little extra watching and patience. When the eggs started to puff up around the greens it was time to remove the lid and transfer the frittata  to the oven. I hit the top with a dash of olive oil and some more freshly grated pecorino before placing it in the oven. I cooked it in the mid range temp oven until it was just golden abot ten more minutes. We served it room temperature. The key to a good frittata is a dozen eggs and copious amounts of olive oil. The frittata’s from Puglia, where my grandmother was from are made this way. What's not to love about olive oil?

 

 

Frittata Of The Things Winter Left Behind

 

12 organic eggs

Copious pile of wild greens such as dandelion, mint, mustard, sorrel,and spring garlic.

1/2 cup plus a bit more of a nice olive oil

1/2 cup plus more for grating of pecorino romano

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Large cast iron fry pan

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dandelion Butter

 

Start by collecting a bunch of dandelion blossoms.

Gently pull the petals away from the tiny bulb at the base of the neck.


 

1 cup of dandelion petals

1 qt. of organic heavy cream

1 cup of bright yellow dandelion petals.

teaspoon kosher salt

 

Combine the heavy cream and the dandelion petals to a small blender.( I find it hard to scrape the butter from a deep blender)

Pulse on high speed for two minutes or so until the solids start to slap the sides of the blender and clearly separate from the liquids.

Holding the butter in place tip the blender to drain off the excess liquids.

Pulse a few more times.

Remove the solids into a wooden bowl and the run ice cold water over the butter until it firms up a bit more.

With the back side of a wooden spoon work the butter back and forth against the side of the wooden bowl to remove any leftover liquids.

When done transfer to a container and serve.

The butter will keep it an airtight container in your fridge for a week or so.

I topped my butter with a sprinkle of pine tip salt.

Serve with homemade crackers or on a fresh pasta or your favorite bread.

I had it on she wolf bakery bread. heaven. sigh.

 

 

 

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last days of summer. melon obsession.

It is hard for me to believe that these last days of August are here already. I think for me, this was the fastest summer yet. I wanted to share a few  out takes from a shoot we did with Bon Appétit. We had a great time smashing and cracking these melons. We made quite a mess. You can find some of the recipes on line at bon appetit.com Get to know your melons here.

This is the perfect weekend to savor all the flavors of summer. Mix it up, with melons and herbs stone fruit and tomatoes.Pretty much any combination is right at summers peak.Do it now, pretty soon that cold wind will be blowing.

 

Thank you Alex Grossman. Susan Spungen and Kendra Smoot.

 

Happy weekend.

xx

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dara artisans. aboubakar fofana. the indigo master.

We recently collaborated on great project with Dara Artisans featuring the master indigo artist Aboubakar Fofana. It was hectic crazy day on a rooftop in Brooklyn. We had returned from Mexico only hours before the shoot and I think we carried over to the project a bit that magic one finds in Tulum. We collaborated with stylist Kalen Kaminski and designer Pamela Berry. As we raced to make a tent in crazy winds somewhere Aboubakar floated in... He is a striking presence. His fingertips were stained blue and he was dressed in head to toe indigo. I hope to one-day sit down with him at a more calm time, perhaps in Mali. Just putting that out in the universe.

 

You know how we are all obsessed with finding artisans and tiny markets and having things made and bringing back those special things from trips? Dara Artisans is just that. It is everything I have thought about while traveling. They have brought it all together creating this unique marketplace for artisans and I think it will only grow exponentially as there are so many great artists to feature in all the farthest corners of this huge world.

 

About Dara Artisans, from their site;

Media veterans Dan and Dara Brewster founded DARA Artisansto share the work of incredible craftspeople worldwide. They believe that handmade designshave the power to enrich our lives with beauty and meaning.Connecting artisans with the global marketplace their work deserves, enables themto make larger contributions to their own communities.

Dan and Dara have traveled extensively-from central Cambodia to Cusco Peru, from Kerala, India to the Place Vendome in Paris. They visited Syria at the height of the Arab Spring, on the eve of the hostilitiesthat would soon tear that country apart. They brought home a memory of walking across therooftops of the ancient souks in Aleppo with Adam, a Syrian artisan the warwould soon displace. It heightened their sense of the vulnerability and the importanceof preserving the ancestral traditions of master artisans.

While DARA Artisans reaches far and wide, from aLos Angeles woodworker to weavers in Laos who create the silk scarves and shawls thatsustain their villages, our headquarters are in New York. We are a small teamof design, digital, media and marketing professionals, who learned their trades at places likeAmerican Express, Time Inc., Martha Stewart Living, Travel + Leisure, West Elm and Ralph Lauren.We present artisans' work at its best and share their stories.

 

About Aboubakar Fofana from the Dara Artisans website:

"Indigo surrounds us perhaps more than any other textile dye—it’s the blue of thousand-year-old religious rites and our modern jeans, once used as literal currency and in revolutionary symbols. (The blue in the first American flags was made from indigo.) Few modern craftsmen have unlocked its potential better than Aboubakar Fofana, who has studied traditional indigo production techniques for over three decades and on three continents: at home in Mali, inside ethnology museums in Paris, and alongside Masakazu Akiyama, a Japanese master dyer. Still, though, indigo remains a mystery that is only slowly unveiling its secrets: “Every time I work with indigo, it’s like the first time,” he says. “I never get bored.”

To read the full story go here

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