Author: Jane Larkworthy

Oh, Mandy

The first and only time we visited Chez Panisse was when Bertrand and I took Luke to check out UC Berkeley. He was only a freshman in high school, so we were a bit early, but we he agreed to venture across the Bay Bridge and tour the campus. More likely, it was the lure of Chez Panisse. (Featured image courtesy of WineFashionista.com) We were seated upstairs, in the more casual section. I must confess, I cant remember what we ate, but I remember the sunshine and the vibe that subtly implied that you were within greatness. Bucket list greatness. This was how the wise people dined. A decade later, I find myself back in Berkeley, in close proximity to the restaurant—just over the backyard fence, to be exact, inside perfumer Mandy Aftel’s Archive of Curious Scent. 24 hours earlier, I had been sitting at Gate 24 inside Delta’s JFK terminal, growing ever more frustrated by my flight’s multiple delays. The Sonoma fires had caused these delays, so, well, cry me a fucking river. But, …

The Queens of King

In my last post, I explained this exciting project I’m doing with Ralph Lauren Home and some very bold-faced women of New York’s vibrant food and drink scene. The second in this three-part series is about the lovely women behind King restaurant. We spent a rainy afternoon with them, and I honestly could not imagine a cozier place in which to spend it. Here’s my post: When New York Times food critic Pete Wells wrote his review of King restaurant last June, he began with how a friend, a regular, described the experience: “food on a plate in a room.” The review was a glowing one, but placing his friend’s succinct summation right up front was Wells’ way of reminding us what matters most about the dining experience. Personally, I’d hasten to add the words “most thoughtful” before “food,” and “understatedly chic” before “plate”. Oh, and after “room” I’d add, “that you wish your home looked like, but you know you’ll never get it right like they did.” “They” are the three women behind King: chefs Clare …

Angie Mar is Rare Find

Why is being freelance so much fun? Because you get to do cool things like projects with Ralph Lauren Home, where you are offered the opportunity not only interview the hottest chefs, but also be photographed with them. As intimidated as I was to meet Angie Mar, owner and executive chef of the much-lauded Beatrice Inn, she was a blast to hang with. Oh, and I got to taste her indescribable 160-day whiskey-aged beef. Here’s the story: Angie Mar is standing in the kitchen of New York’s Beatrice Inn, inspecting a side of beef rib. With its marbleized mosaic, buds of faded lavender nestled into its edges, it is quite a vision of beauty. She gives her ok, and sous chef Nicole Averkiou carries it to the grill. One of the first things I notice about Mar is her style. Despite not being the tallest person in the room, she is a dominant figure. With a mane of jet black hair, piercing eyes whose lids are colored in black shadow, she is wearing a vintage …

We asked Alice

I downloaded Alice Waters’ Coming to My Senses right after I booked the flight to San Francisco. My friend Kerry had elatedly shared the news that the founder of Chez Panisse and founder of the Berkeley food explosion had agreed to be the keynote speaker at Cherry Bombe’s Jubilee, their first San Francisco conference, so I had to cram. This would be Cherry Bombe’s fourth Jubilee. It’s funny, I always start out feeling like an outsider when I first get to the Jubilee. It’s not that  the crowd isn’t the most encouraging, supportive, lively group of women ever, but I’ve only recently dipped my toe into this food world and this reasonably insular blog is really all I’ve got…that, and a dear friend who founded a women’s food magazine. Oh, yeah; there is that. But my food resume is tiny and nascent, and when you’re among superstar chefs like Alice and Gabriela Camara and Traci Des Jardins and food writers like Eater’s Amanda Kludt  and Naomi Starkman, you’re really at the grownups table. Fortunately, the magic of conferences is that …

The House Votes: Maria Nation

Before going any further, how great is Maria’s name? I bet you wonder if Maria Nation is related to Remy Nation, one of the buckets on this blog that I never use… Anyway, we had heard about Maria long before we met her. That she is a successful screen writer was intimidating and intriguing enough, but her farm! Everyone raved about its magic, everyone swooned over Maria and her partner Roberto’s dinner parties. When we finally met her, she did not disappoint. So, I mustered up the nerve and asked if she’d share her magic with us. And, like the legend herself, her answers are as entertaining, witty and thoughtful as she is. Any interesting backstory about your house? I bought the house from Wanda Horowitz, Vladimir’s widow and Arturo Toscanini’s daughter.  I never met her but quickly learned she was a cat lady.  There were cat curtains and cat rugs and cat doors everywhere.  I still have one of her cat sculptures in honor of her.  The first spring, when the snow melted, I saw in …

Sage Words

I remember reading some snarky tweet months ago that went something like this: “Remember life before iphones, when we had to take pictures of our food with cameras? Then we had to bring the film to the Fotomat and wait a week for the pictures to be developed? And then we had copies made and sent those photos of our food to all our friends? WE DIDN’T. NO ONE CARES. STOP IT.” I probably got the wording wrong, but that was the sentiment. I get his point about over sharing, (and I’m right there about selfies. Especially swimsuit selfies), but sometimes a shot—or, in this particular case, an Instagram Story—inspire a walk into the kitchen.  Over the long July Fourth weekend, I was lazing around (as I did for most of it), scrolling thru Stories when I found Jessica Seinfeld waving a curious looking shiny leaf in front of her phone. I think Jerry was in shot, too (since it was on Stories, it’s in the ether now…). Her caption identified the leaf as fried …

Mangia, Italiano!

It’s been about 72 hours since I left Positano, and I have yet to stop thinking about the pasta dish that chef Alois Vanlangenaeker taught us how to make. Well, that’s a stretch. We didn’t really do anything but eat, but throughout the hour-long class, he imparted plenty of tips while we sat there with our huge tasting spoons held out, like baby birds ready for the next feeding. Chef walked us through the kitchen’s many garden-grown ingredients, instructed us on which olive oils to use for what (peppery for frying, less peppery but not the boldest flavor for salads, the most expensive to be enjoyed alone); he showed us how many eggs– and which type of flour–to use for the pasta (9, and triple zero, respectively). My favorite reveal was the secret ingredient in his burrata-yogurt-sour cream mixture (a drop of jasmine oil!) that was placed atop the Amberjack (fish) tartar that I, of course, declined to taste (so much for my “Try fish more!” New Years resolution). My one big regret is not …