It’s been twenty-five years since I remember a Cleveland winter with such deep cold for so long as this. So, when Donna, going through some old files, sent me some photos from our summer travel in Gascony for this Conde Nast Traveler story, I longed for summer in a completely new way. Not for summer to arrive but for me to arrive in summer, a summer evening in Gascony. And I just wanted to share some pix here with enduring thanks to our guide and Gascon muse, Kate of Camont. Donna, always into rustic and textured surfaces (she made our 2014 calendar with pictures of doors from this same trip to Italy and France, serious door porn on our fridge for the remainder of the year), shot this board hanging on a wall outside Read On »

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Last summer, on assignment for Condé Nast Traveler, I visited a farm that raises ducks for foie gras, driven there along harrowing roads in southwestern France by Kate Hill. I’d never seen the practice, vilified in America, of force-feeding ducks and, being in the land of foie gras and confit de canard, I had to see for myself. The farm, Souleilles, run by Yves and Geneviève Boissière, is wide, wide open in the town of Frespech. The husband and wife were warm and welcoming and watched me take an iMovie and iPhone pix of the practice while Yves spoke at length about the process. The ducks are pasture raised most of their lives, then force fed for 14 days, beginning with a little less than half a pound twice a day, increasing to less than Read On »

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China is getting into the wine game, some French houses are expanding their operations there, via Independent UK.  

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Just returned to snowy Clevelandtown, a twenty-two hour haul from Lyon via Heathrow and O’Hare, thinking all the while on the Bocuse d’Or competition and feeling bad for Team USA, and wondering what to make of it all. “This was a tough one to swallow,” Chef Kaysen wrote in an email, hours after the competition.  “I think I need some months to really draw all the inspiration that was seen there.  I realized in the beginning of the day after seeing both Denmark and Sweden that we did not play the game—we went there and did our food, we did what we thought was right because we loved it so much, but clearly there is a defined game in the way that food that should be presented.  Once that is figured out, then we have Read On »

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What do culinary competitions mean in America? Reality shows on Bravo and the Food Network pitting chefs against one another have made compelling TV and earned huge audiences here, but actual not-made-for-TV competitions remain off the radar. American chefs who competed in them were relative unknowns, and the most well-known chefs, those with high profile restaurants, tended to dismiss them for their old fashioned, aspic-coated food platters and the hotel and country club chefs who created them. But in 2008, one of the most revered chefs in the world, Paul Bocuse, famed both for his food and his restaurant as well as his unusual media savvy, aimed to change that by attempting to elevate the competition he created in 1987 in the eyes of America. To do this, he asked two of America’s most famous Read On »

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