avacado-orange-salad-croppe

For forty of the past seventy days I’ve been on the road, with another two weeks to go before I can settle into the holidays, and perhaps the biggest thing I learned was how hard it is to find good, nourishing food when traveling, especially when you live in a Marriott Courtyard. I spent ten days, for instance, at one such Marriott in the infernal (temperature-wise) San Fernando Valley while filming a new cooking competition show. (Kitchen Inferno airs this Wednesday on Food Network—let me know what you think!) True, there was a Whole Foods within a fifteen-minute walk, where I could buy grapes and almonds for the room, and I could have hit the salad bar, but I don’t like to eat out of plastic clamshell containers. By myself. In a shitty hotel room. Sorry Read On »

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BH5

The above photograph (by Donna Turner Ruhlman) is of family meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The below essay was originally published by Finesse, Thomas Keller’s magazine, in an issue that explores the notion of community. In light of the brouhaha begun last week over a study arguing that the family meal is a romantic ideal rather than a simply a good idea, an elite foodie construct that merely makes overstressed middle class moms feel guilty, I’m posting it here. On re-reading, it may seem a bit over the top. But then …?   Is “Community” Important? Community. How nice. Hippies bagging granola in co-ops. Neighbors spending an afternoon weeding a communal garden filled with tomatoes and basil, bell peppers and a couple of bean plants. Isn’t that special? How Berkeley! Let’s make it Read On »

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In June I interviewed Dan Barber at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland about his superb new book The Third Plate. Barber is not only one of the country’s leading chefs, he’s one of the foremost thinkers and writers on the state of how we grow, distribute, cook, and eat food, which is quickly becoming one of the dominant conversations of our generation. He implored me to make the trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, comprising a high-end restaurant plus 80 acres of farmland and pasture and woods for growing and raising the plants and livestock he and his brigade serve at the restaurant. The following month, Donna and I drove up to Blue Hill to take him up on his offer (a full ten years since its opening), arriving early enough to talk with Read On »

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san fran

I’m writing this from Portland but headed to San Fran for the Egg events below. Hoping to sneak out to Sausalito to meet the extraordinary Deborah Jones, photog of all French Laundry books and an angel on earth—one of the great luxuries of a book tour, seeing cherished friends. I emailed Stephanie Stiavetti (@sstiavetti), hoping to see her as well. Stephanie writes The Culinary Life blog. Her first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, is also from Little, Brown, and it’s superb, the best one I’ve seen, in fact—accept no imitations! I asked her for SF food recs, and this is what she sent—well worth sharing (though Steph, I hear Hog Island closed for remodeling or something, damn!)—M.R. Dispatch from Stephanie Stiavetti If you’ve got time to head down to the Ferry Building, Hog Island Read On »

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Baby turnips, greens and all, sautéed in butter. 
All veggies from The Chef's Garden. All pix by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

I have never seen Donna so unhinged by vegetables, behind the camera or eating them. She moaned when she tasted. I’d done almost nothing to the baby turnips. I’d sautéed them in a little butter. That was it. Salt. Done. She said, “Oh my God, if you had a restaurant that served just this with a small medallion of meat, it would kill.” It once again showed the truth of what Thomas Keller once said to me: “If you have better product than I do, you can be a better chef than me.” This began last week when Donna and I had to shoot really beautiful radishes and peas. But it’s February. In Cleveland. Not likely to happen. Unless I cast a glance about 50 miles west to the rural town of Huron, OH, home Read On »

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