What to pack, how to prep when you're a food-allergic traveler

The thrill of travel is my siren song. I used to dream of filling a passport before it expired. Never happened, but I did manage to get to many great places. Machu Picchu, Xi'an, Tulum. Life can throw you one curveball after another, some good, some not so good. Layoffs, pink slips, food allergies. My high-flying life came to a decidedly more earthbound home. For several years I had time to travel but not the money.

The bitter and the sweet

As we get older, we begin to appreciate that one is enhanced by the other. Fast-forward several years and I am slowly building an entrepreneur's life. This means we swing from one trapeze landing to another, sometimes the grip is so tenuous, the next check so long in coming. But we learn to live with the anxiety that would have done us in before and push on, move forward. Grab and let go. Let go, grab.

This week I'm preparing for my first trip to Europe since my flight through de Gaulle to go to Mali but the last visit when I stayed and explored was a media trip to Valencia, Spain. That was wonderful, too. Both trips like evanescent dreams. Wonderful memories.

New opportunities, new challenges

I'm getting on a plane again 48 hours from this moment. I'm off to Brussels to work with the fabulous Nathan Fong on behalf of sustainable, delicious British Columbia seafood. After our success at  Seafood Expo North America (#sena2014) - stir-frying with the Trade Minister! We're bringing the dynamic duo to the largest seafood expo in the world, Brussels! Now I'm dealing with multiple food allergies. Looking at the food there, dairy is definitely going to be a problem. I won't have time to shop all over and my Flemish is pretty weak. I think I've got this one down though: "Aangenamen Kennismaking" (Nice to meet you) it's just plain fun to say, isn't it?

It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have food allergies. But imagine you're somewhere unfamiliar, and you literally cannot risk eating food because you may end up in anaphylactic shock. And traveling in a professional capacity, you don't want to make every group meal a tiresome litany of your issue and allergies. "Who knows Flemish for 'allergy'?"

Moules Frites? Waffles? (butter, dairy) Carbonnade? Waterzooi? (butter, cream) Food, glorious food. It's what I live for, what I organize my life around, what I share with friends, family and clients. But the prospect of being unable to find anything to eat made me realize I now have an extra list of travel prep tasks: researching, prepping, baking, planning. Even the flight to Belgium is a problem. Special diet meals include vegetarian (with cheese, nuts) Asian Vegetarian (may include dairy); Vegetarian (dairy). So what can I eat during the flight? Grab and go in the airport? Can you trust the labels on pre-packed foods? The fast food training? Erm, no. Basically, there was not one option that I could choose that was both free of dairy and free of tree nuts. Swiss International Airlines announced an "allergy friendly" service but to me it sounds like only a baby step further than what other airlines do.

Chips? (made in a facility that also processes nuts) etc. It's impossible!

Luckily, I'm a good cook. And I have good friends. And a very caring husband. He has turned into the best food sleuth!

My goal was to find things easy to pack and dense with protein to keep me going in the worst case scenario.


1. Research, research, research. What are the typical foods in your destination? What capacity does your hotel have to accommodate your allergies? (Or even, to speak English?) Check with TSA and your airlines.

2. Pack pouches. Really good tuna, quinoa cereal, and terrific peanut butter all come in these easy-to-pack pouches. Thanks Doc!


3. Bake ahead. Energy Bites; Crackers, Apple-Quinoa Cake.

choco chunks, fruit

rye crackers

travel snack

4. Try to order Allergy warning cards in the destination language. I ordered cards from Allergic Traveler - hope they'll arrive in time!



The energy bites are great pre/post workout snacks. I love that they're not overly sweet and they're super easy to customize. This is based on Kim O'Donnel's original recipe from her Washington Post days. Her Lulu's Cookies became my Choco-fruit Energy Bites.

Choco-fruit Energy Bites


  • 1 1/2 C of a combo of: sunflower seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sesame seeds (I omitted sesame and used a combo of peanuts, bran, amaranth for the third 1/2 C.)
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds.
  • 3 C flour [I used 1 C Irish Wholemeal flour +1 C White Whole Wheat + 1 C AP flour]
  • 2 cups rolled oats [I used rolled instant] + 1/3 C brown rice crispies + 1/4 flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried fruit - cherries, prunes, apricots
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 3/4 C coconut + canola oil
  • 3/4 C honey + golden syrup
  • 1/2 - 3/4 C cup Enjoy Life chocolate chunks (free of 8 major allergens and made in an allergen free facility)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast seeds on a baking sheet about 8 minutes, or until the seeds turn a golden color. Be careful not to burn seeds.
  2.  Remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly.
  3.  In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt.
  4.  Soak dried fruit in hot water for about 15 minutes. Drain, but reserve soaking water.
  5.  Add dried fruit soaking water to dry mixture, plus oil and honey. With a rubber spatula, stir until combined. Add cooled seeds and stir to combine, then add fruit and chocolate chips. Don't over-mix.
  6.  Form teaspoon-sized patties onto a cookie sheet, preferably lined with parchment paper.
  7.  Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Don't over-bake; the cookies will turn into rocks.

Makes about 50 cookies.

I love that these are like two bite energy bars without all the overly sweet, highly processed ingredients. These are like bites of shortbread chunks of sweet dried fruits and chocolate.


What are your tips for traveling with food allergies or intolerances?

Next up, the apple quinoa cake!

World of Flavor and Portuguese Stew

When you think about what Portugal has contributed to the world of gastronomic pleasure, we really do - all of us, owe them a debt of gratitude.

I was thrilled to receive David Leite's The New Portuguese Table (ahem) a while ago. As I do, I have spent months reading it and imagining making each recipe that catches my eye, imagining traveling to the town where the author first enjoyed it, or resting for a spell on the island from which it hails.

Yes, I do this with menus as well, so you never want to go out to eat with me if you're very hungry. "Oh look at this, what an interesting combination of flavors." "So you're having that?" "No, I was thinking of this instead, but it's really interesting to imagine that flavor profile. I wonder where the chef got her inspiration?" Yes, this how I approach almost every menu. It is part of the case for my husband's ascension sainthood. He - prone to low blood sugar crashes - has to remind me too often, I fear, that he's HUNGRY, NOW and can we JUST PICK SOMETHING AND ORDER PLEASE? Sorry, sometimes a girl just gets lost.

Lust and Lusophilia

I have been a Lusophile (Lusitania was the region of ancient times that corresponds to Portugal and Western Spain) myself since college. I learned a bit through customers in the wine shop about their visits, their love for the Fado sung with such passion in the cafés. Their descriptions of the pousadas (old mansions and castles, now inns for tourists) was so romantic, I openly wished and planned for a visit one day.

More recently, I learned about Madeira and Port and the wonderful wines of Esporão (and fantastic olive oil) at this tasting with my buddy Rich. I was thrilled to meet Marco Montez of New Bedford's own Travessia Winery and I'll be heading to see you soon Marco (what a great video intro to your winery!)

If you know anything about Portuguese history - you know it is, in a sense, a world history. The early Portuguese were such travelers, you'd be hard-pressed to find a country or a cuisine that did not reflect some influence or contact with Portuguese. In my native Japan we have Tempura (from Portuguese) and we call bread "pan" which is a Japanese pronunciation of the Portuguese "Pão".

Back to Portugal and Fall River. And Lamb stew.

Foodies among my readers will know David as the publisher of Leite's Culinaria - a beautiful and well-loved site dishing up "Hot Food. Dry Wit" (every time I read that I wish I'd thought of it first!) I know David through IACP (we were *this close* to doing a panel together for this year's conference.) He is a wonderful, accessible and down-to-earth guy who is always willing to share time, advice and insights, whether it's in a webinar for other cookbook authors and wanna-be publishers, or during an interview in the middle of alternate side of the street parking negotiation.

So my confession is two-fold: first, this is my first actual recipe I've cooked from the book (I think) and second, I didn't do the recipe straight. Don't hate me - I can explain!

Recently, we feasted for a week on Indian food lovingly prepared by our friend's visiting Mother. With the Indian spice palette lingering in my memory (and on my palate - please take note word-manglers out there - these are two different words), I turned to my beautiful boneless leg of lamb and to David's New Portuguese Table.

Lo and behold, a gorgeous recipe using many of the same warm spices we had been enjoying all week. Cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cloves, ginger and garlic. White beans and carrots are the called for vegetables in Borrego Ensopado com Feijão Bronco, and they appeared in our stew, too. I also had some fingerling potatoes leftover from a bag half-used in another dish, so in they went.

We enjoyed it over rice and I had my leftovers served atop grits I simmered in homemade vegetable stock. I told myself that these little divergences would be forgiven and possibly not uncommon in a true Portuguese kitchen. I think or imagine at least, that many of these kitchens are like those of my ancestors where nothing gets wasted. So the dish may have ended up a little different from its original but then, isn't that the beauty of the multicultural world we live in today? And frugality? Hardly new, but new again, and much in evidence around here.

One of the things I love about this book is the way you are welcomed into a Portuguese kitchen. You can easily imagine sharing a coffee with a slice of Bolo de Laranja (Orange Cake, p 220) as he tells you stories, of his family in Fall River, Massachusetts or his time in Lisbon, or the traditions of this town or that. You just want to sit for hours and eat and drink and laugh.

This cake - coming soon to a kitchen near you ~ posting the recipe next.

That, my friends is what I encourage you to do - share a meal. Pick up this book, dream and travel the globe through it. Imagine the warm and lusty flavors of the Azores, the seafood, the salty cured olives or sausages. Then enjoy some hot food and dry wit with your friends or family. Or just on your own. Any way you do it, you really must just enjoy it. To help you ~ I'm offering a free copy to one of the lucky commenters here.

An Invitation ~ Convite

Share with us your connection to Portugal. Have you been? Where do you wish to go?

What flavors does your native cuisine share or borrow from Portugal? Been to an Azorean restaurant?

If you have a favorite fish curry from Goa ~ or have a hankering for Vindhaloo - you're longing for the flavors of Portuguese food. Love those little custard tarts in Chinese bakeries? "Po-tat" or "Dan-tat" (Pastéis de Nata, p 217) are said to have Portuguese origins coming to Hong Kong via Macau. Japanese tempura, bacalhao, enjoy a nice glass of Port or Madeira or Vinho Verde? Well, you get my drift.

So drop a comment and enter to win a copy of this gorgeous book. Just don't blame me if you also become a Lusophile. There's always room for one more at our table, no matter where in the world you hail from we've got you covered. And fed.

Mali -A little armchair travel for you while I'm away

By Thursday I'll be en route to Mali a small land-locked country in West Africa that many of us know very little about. While I'm gone, exploring ancient cliff dwellings, giant mosques made of mud bricks, and the Festival au Desert, I thought it might be interesting to share some information with you about my destination.


  • From BBC News World profiles: Mali.


Stay tuned for some links on the food and culture...

What are you Doing New Year's Eve? Events in Boston, Traditions Old and New

Maybe I'm crazy to supposeI'd ever be the one you chose Out of a thousand invitations You received

Ooh, but in case I stand one little chance Here comes the jackpot question in advance: What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?



I can't imagine Ella (whose voice I always hear with these lyrics) spent too many New Year's Eve nights alone, nor Diana Krall who also sings it beautifully. Me, I'll be hanging home, quietly with my boys. Maybe we'll pack a flask, bundle up and go check out ice sculptures. Check out Boston First Night for a full run down of the City's celebration.

In case you haven't made a plan here are some ideas out and about:


Most years we get some bubbles, I make some nibbles and we hang out at home with maybe a friend or two.

What will you do this New Year's Eve?

Do you have special treats you always make? Traditional dishes you must eat?  Special routines for luck and prosperity?

Roundup of Rituals & Foods for New Year's

Itʼs a natural time to reflect on the year thatʼs past and to think about the one just beginning. Every culture and every family has their own unique foods, rituals and traditions that welcome the start of each new year. These rituals help tie us to our culture, our people, and make us feel connected.

Here are a few New Year’s foods and traditions (including one of my very own) from around the world.

Foods Evoking Prosperity, Longevity and Luck

Black eyed peas – symbolize wealth. The peas (really beans) are said to represent coins, (sometimes served with greens for money, cornbread for gold)

Noodles – symbolize a smooth transition to the new year in Japan; longevity in China.

Eating 12 grapes – each one representing a wish. Spain, Mexico, and Columbia share this tradition, which may correspond to the ringing of the clock at 12 midnight, or the 12 months of the new year.

Red foods – mean luck; Lycheeʼs relative the Longan fruit has a red shell; lobster cooks up red…Lapcheong Fan, the Chinese cured sausages that are red and anise-scented and cooked in rice (fan), is another delectable red dish. Many cultures associate the color red with vitality or luck, and in some Latin cultures, red underwear is worn for luck or romance in the new year!



Whole fish – Chinese consider the whole fish to be a symbol of health and wealth, part of the circle of life.

Lentils symbolize money and are often served in Italian and Hungarian families. Like black eyed peas, they symbolize wealth and are thought to resemble little coins with their perfect round shape. Speaking of circular or round foods – in the Philippines clothing with circles on it is said to be auspicious at New Yearʼs, and the Dutch have a special fruit studded donut whose circular shape is also associated with New Yearʼs.

Pickled herring – In Scandinavian or Polish families at midnight a bite is taken to assure a bountiful catch in the New Year.


In some countries, old items are thrown out the windows of houses in a symbolic and literal “out with the old” ritual.

Fireworks – ward off evil in the New Year. Think of our noisemakers or of kids clanging pots – these noisy rituals can also be meant to scare away bad spirits.

Cleaning up, settling up – In both Chinese and Japanese families, debts should be settled and cleaning should be done before the new year begins. Chinese will also say no sweeping or cleaning on New Yearʼs Day because you might sweep out the good luck! Some even say not to wash your hair, lest you wash away that luck.

Red envelopes – Chinese children and single relatives are given red envelopes with small amounts of fresh bills.

Yellow underwear for love or positive energy – ask someone from Ecuador!

Puerto Rico and Spain – Suitcases – are put outside or walked around the block – to bring travel.

Creating New Traditions

Family-centered activities. Years ago, when I was single and protesting many couplesʼ parties or family activities, I created my own ritual.

It began when a friend brought me some special incense from an Indian reservation sheʼd visited. The note in the box said they believed that their hopes and dreams were carried to heaven on the smoke.

While many cultures smoke use smoke for this symbolic purpose, whatever oneʼs belief system is, this ritual is both freeing and centering. Itʼs a nice way to start the new year!

Each person gets two squares of good paper (I use handmade paper or rice paper) and a pen.

• Write on one piece – a grudge youʼre hanging on to, something negative youʼre ready to let go. • On the second piece of paper – write a hope you have for the new year. • Usually people get very solemn while thinking about what to write. It gets quiet. • Then, move to the fireplace or kitchen sink. One at a time, each person takes their folded papers and burns them. I like to begin with the “letting go” card.

It’s a great way to start the new year with a little less baggage and one more hope. Afterward, have a toast to the new year, make some noise, and let the fun begin! — Just donʼt sweep away any stray ashes, you wouldn’t want to brush away that luck.


Valencia in 36 Hours?


Seeing that the New York Times "36 Hours in..." featured Valencia brought a rush of warm memories back. Thought I'd share the links as we head into a deep freeze here in Boston - enjoy!



Here are a few photos in this first post after my return:

The hotel mentioned in the NYT piece, I stayed there.



This is very near the oldest Horchata place.


Altos las Hormigas Pours Sun and Soil into your Glass


What would you do with 320 days of sun?

In Mendoza the answer is: make wonderful wine. At Altos las Hormigas they want you to taste the unique characteristics of the Mendoza region in their wines. And you do.


Malbec wine has become more popular with consumers. As a consequence, more and more growers are planting it, producing it, and many think, turning it into a generic-tasting wine. You might say it's become treated as a commodity. Think of the difference between a commodity coffee, supermarket brand X. Yes you can tell it's coffee. You may even enjoy a cup. But what about a single-origin from Indonesia? There you have a unique cup to enjoy.

While some consumers may be satisfied with a standardized wine world, it depresses me. It’s like applying a McDonald’s mentality to wine. No matter where it’s from or who made it, I can order a glass of Malbec and it’ll taste exactly the same. Those folks should stick with soda, better yet, read on for a wine suggestion. Me? I want to taste the place, the climate, the soil, the winemaker’s skill, as well as the grape’s characteristics.

Thankfully, a number of winemakers now recognize that I’m among a growing body of wine drinkers who want to experience the place, the grape through the glass. These winemakers also recognize that in a competitive market, treating wine like a commodity is a losing game for many, especially smaller, operations. Taking a different tack and going the direction of the artisan, are wineries like Altos las Hormigas. Their goal is for you to "taste Mendoza in your glass."

With 320 days of sun you might expect overpowering heat and alcohol in the wine. Yet, these are not austere or overpowering wines. They possess a touch of spiciness, balanced by fresh juicy fruit, with a careful acid balance and some floral notes.



In the shadow of the Andes

In Mendoza, the elevation is about 3,000 feet above sea level. The near-absence of humidity means the vines are not vulnerable to many diseases that would necessitate more chemical interventions. There are challenges for the winemakers here. Like their namesake “hormigas” or ants, they needed a team of people working together, over time, to unlock the secrets to making great wines in this area. They survived the ants without chemical intervention and have used canopy trellising and pruning techniques, hands-on picking, sorting and pruning, to achieve success with the vines.  In addition, the use of gravity as opposed to pumping of the berries to move them releases less tannins as the skins are left intact. These are some pampered grapes.

Meeting the ALH Team


Recently, I met two of the ants, I mean the team, of Altos las Hormigas: Winemaker Alberto Antonini and Antonio Morescalchi. Alberto travels the world consulting to wineries all over. Antonio manages the winery and its marketing with experience gained at his father’s vineyard in Tuscany. They explained how micro-zoning gave them an

advantage with the unique terroir, further enabling the transmission of a sense of place through the wine. They brought in a noted Chilean soil expert Pedro Parra, to enhance their knowledge of the terroir characteristics in very fine detail. You’ve heard of microclimates, here we’re now able to define micro-terroir.

Within the Mendoza region, you have rich alluvial soils of the Vale de Uco; the best sub-region, producing the Reserva. Within the Vale de Uco there are further micro-zones, designations with a variety of other types of soil and mineral deposits at various layers. By carefully selecting both for terroir and altitude, they can produce Malbec with fresh acidity and balance. In a smaller parcel with even better terroir, we get the single vineyard Malbec “Vista Flores” with its floral notes gracing the well-structured wine.

And for those soda drinkers...

Look, wine can be intimidating. I get it. But there's no reason to be afraid of variety, to avoid unique wines that express something special. The very accessible Bonarda, which ALH has been making since 2003 was the surprise for me. It is a wine anyone could enjoy. It's very drinkable, food-friendly and retailing under or near $10 a bottle. This is a great wine to introduce the region to your palate and to spark your interest in wines with a sense of place. Today a Bonarda, tomorrow a Malbec. We ants have much work to do introducing the world to Mendoza in a glass. Better get back to it!

Detail of "las Hormigas" on the neck of the bottle


Altos las Hormigas Wines - look for these wines where ever wines from the Classic Wines importer are sold.



Bonarda - Colonia Las Liebres - The Rabbit Colony - look for the bunny on the label. This is the sister wine to the Hormigas Malbec line. I could drink this wine every day. Easy, food-friendly and it doesn't break the bank. Still, you get a sense of the place in the glass.


Altos las Hormigas - The entry level Malbec of this portfolio. 100% hand-picked grapes. Available at Sagarino's for those of us in the Leather District.



Vale de Uco Reserva - Micro-zoning techniques in the riverbeds of the Uco river valley yield long finish and an age-worthy wine.


Vista Flores Single Vineyard - Many years of micro-zoning investigation helped Antonini to single out this vineyard producing exceptional wine with special minerality.


  • For good reading about food and wine of Mendoza, read From Argentina with Love. The author Rebecca Treon Caro also shares Mendoza travel information on her blog. Buen Viaje!
  • For South American Culinary tours, including Mendoza, see  Liz Caskey's site.




Duckfest Farm to Table Weekend

There's a story my family told of the first time I ate duck. Dad had been invited to go hunting with the neighbor across the street. They bagged a couple and my father roasted ours, and the story goes my parents looked at each other and said "wonder if the kid would like duck?" Put it in front of me and shortly thereafter the place in front of me was a pile of dry bones. Tasmanian Devil- style, I tore through that duck and savored every bit.

My love for duck has never wavered. Unfortunately I am without code geek skills, and without a trust fund, scraping by as I do making it up as I go along. My travel "budget" and we use that term loosely, is going to be reserved for the Seafood Choices Alliance conference in January. Otherwise I WOULD BE HERE:


Neal and dinner, er um, duck.

Farmer, chef, and it's generally agreed, good guy, Neal Foley is hosting his annual weekend workshop for those committed to good food. You will learn how to grow it, kill it, cook it and eat it.

This is what you get:

  • 3 workshops with Neal Foley & Kate Hill
  1. Cassoulet- making the classic French the authentic way
  2. Ducks- slaughter to salting
  3. Duck charcuterie: confit, rillettes, pate, & duck prosciutto
  • 2 breakfast, 2 lunches, 2 dinners- all made with the good homegrown food of  Claddaugh Farms.
  • car pool from Belfast Harbor Inn
  • Pick up from Portland airport
  • whole transformed duck to take home (confit, pate, magret & rillettes; extra ducks available at low cost)
  • MadeinMaine gift bag
  • All of the above for $495. that's $100 per workshop including tuition, equipment, location and ducks. $20 per meal, and $25 for local transportation per day. A good value, really.

Neal is a agro-jewel. His commitment to establishing resources and teaching goes beyond a sustainable family farm. He deserves to be supported.

Kate Hill whom I had the great pleasure of meeting, laughing with and learning from in Portland is coming to share her Gascon knowledge with others.

So... my fellow farm-to-table foodies, locavores, homegrown friends, chefs, butchers, starving off the land folk...check this out.

And if you go, you could save me one little confit leg, perhaps?

Duckfest 2010 for more info see here.



Valencia - a Few Photos to Whet your Appetite

Once in a while the stars align and a wonderful opportunity falls in your lap. So it was back in June when a spot opened up in a Wines of Valencia media tour. Would I be available to join some food and travel writers to learn about the wines of Valencia? How fast could I say "Si"?


Welcome to Valencia (front door of Hotel Palau de la Mar, our hotel)

This is a plaza just blocks from my hotel.


Small quiet streets...I was able to walk the city prior to our official tour "duties" began.

No time for the museums, this trip.

Through the middle of the city runs a park - or a series of them - that was once a river that flooded the city. After the flood, Valencia re-routed the river, filled in the old river bed and did what the Spanish seem to have a unique ability to do. They built a modern city center complete with eye-popping modern architecture, science and nature parks, music halls and bridges that incorporate historical references.

Palau de les Arts - the opera house

The Hemisphere


A bridge that reminded me of the Zakim Bridge.


Imagine a place where people place beautiful tiles on the undersides of balconies. You know, just in case a pedestrian should look up she should have something beautiful to look at.

I am smitten and looking forward to when I can return.

Stay tuned as more posts and links are coming!



IACP Sessions Sold Out - Lucky Me

Wednesday at IACP Portland, the first session I tried to sign up for was a sold-out digital photography course taught by the ever-charming Matt Armendariz see

Standing in line for potential no-shows, I glanced at the name tag of the woman standing next to me. The unfailingly polite and generous Cindy Mushet signed a book plate for me and let on that she was hoping to get in, too.

The key to success with my new camera? RTM according to Matt.
R Read
T The
M Manual

Really? Now the question is do I want to learn badly enough to overcome my loathing of reading manuals. Is there a stronger word than loathing? I couldn’t protest too much as friend and editor, Lia Huber sat next to me (she who corrects, augments or supplements my photography as needed, for Nourish Network posts.) It’s great to be contributing and learning and to be among professionals who value both. At Lia’s and Matt’s urging, I did pick up a gray scale card to make white balance and color correction easier. (At least I think that’s what it does.)

I offered Cindy a few tips like URLs for sites like Diane & Todd’s White on Rice Couple and Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen too, both sites generously share knowledge. Jaden even offered more tips in class. Hope I saved those notes here somewhere.

At the photo store near the hotel, I picked up a card reader (having left my USB cable at home) and the gray card. I mentioned to the guy there that I was loving my Nikon D40 but still had SO much to learn. He sold me a DVD tutorial for less than $20 - if you’re guessing that I’m hoping it will relieve me from the dreaded RTM exercise, you’re correct.

Listen, the reason I put “photographer” on my business card and my website even though I’m barely one, is to keep myself honest and on track toward becoming one. It’s aspirational.

Lunch with one Kim, chocolate with another.

One of the great city hosts, Ken Rubin, was near by so asked for a good spot that Kim O’Donnel and I could escape to, not too far, not likely to be overrun. We needed a little catch up time. He recommended [ hotel ]

Then I met Kim Carlson, Editor of Culinate, for one perfect shot of hot chocolate at Cacao in the Heathman Hotel. So nice to finally meet in person, someone who’s face and words appear in the Inbox regularly. I love Culinate and one of the nice things about it is that their authors actually answer questions and respond to comments. They engage their readers. I wish more sites would do so, but then I’d never have time for anything else. I got to meet Hank Sawtelle of Culinate, too.

Best Bites from PDX - Pork & Pinot

Pork & Pinot

Before the actual IACP Conference started, some of us took optional field trips including the Pork & Pinot Tour. Others included the Alternative Diets and Natural Foods Tour, From Land to Sea Seafood Tour, the Discover Oregon Craft Brewing Tour and the Urban Bike and Bite Tour. The host committee and conference planners really paid attention to offering us chances to see the city as well as affordable options so important to so many of us. This year, in particular, we had many first time attendees and I'm sure there's a correlation. Austin planners, take note!


I began the Portland adventure with a pre-conference field trip to wineries led by Chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana and Grape Escapes Wine Tours. The day was capped by a lunch at Nick’s Italian Cafe. Four courses of pork - every part - accompanied by Eyrie Vineyards’ wines. (After lunch I almost missed the bus back chatting to Marissa Guggiana about butchers. More on that topic later.)

Starting at Brick House Winery - profiled in the New York Times just days after we were there, On This Oregon Trail, Pioneers Embrace Organic.

I saw the horn and asked - are you Biodynamic here? - turns out they are. And they are pioneers. As our group was split up by choice of pre-numbered corks in wine glasses.

Interesting to watch the others in the group trying to wrap their heads around the principles of biodynamics. Tasting was partly led by co-owner Doug Tunnell with a sonorous voice perfect for his former life in broadcasting covering Beirut and more for CBS.





Co-owner Doug on the left below "just wanted to drive a tractor."

Chardonnay for Breakfast.


Deep, rich compost.

Cow horns used in Biodynamic vineyard management.

The proverbial garden gate

Ladybug, mint

Both Brick House and Penner-Ash staff explained the variety of soils that lend a surprising variety of characteristics to the wines of Oregon. At Penner-Ash we were treated to pork belly Banh Mi made by Chef Tommy Habetz of Bunk Sandwiches. I wasn’t the only one who ate two thinking it was lunch. That’s my story, sticking to it.


Penner-Ash Winery

The Penner-Ash's explaining the terroir and the valley.


The soil in different parts of the property - in a single winery - is different. Sedimentary in one place, volcanic in another.


The Winery was built with longevity and green principles in mind, from elevated work tables requiring less bending, to the materials themselves.

LIVE Certification (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) is a sustainability certification, proudly displayed in the foyer of the winery.


I love the wall of pulleys designed to store hoses and the light coming in from high windows.

The tank room also can be a function room.



I don't know why I love this wall of hardware, but I do.


One of the Penner-Ash wines.

Bunk Sandwiches - Banh Mi

Who could resist?

Our guide, Chef Cathy Whims of Nostrana, and our Chef for the day, Tommy Habetz of Bunk Sandwiches.


We did a quick drive-by the Letts-Eyrie Winery

Lunch with David Lett @ Nick's Cafe


We arrived at Nick’s Cafe for the actual lunch. Jason Lett, son of David Lett AKA "Papa Pinot" shared some thoughts on his father’s legacy and the values of Eyrie Vineyards.


The Menu

Canella Prosecco Brut

House Made Mortadella, Prosciutto and Lonza

Wood Oven Baked Bread


The Eyrie Vineyards 2005 Pinot Noir 'Original Vines'

Prosciutto and Spinach Agnolotti in Pork and Morel Brodo with Parmesan Reggiano and Durant Family Oregon Olive Oil

The Eyrie Vineyards 2009 Rose of Pinot Gris 'Original Vines'

(This morel brodo was one of the singular best bites of the week. Haunting.)

Pork Trippa with Soft Cooked Egg and Salsa Verde

The Eyrie Vineyards 2008 Pinot Noir 'Daphne Vineyard'

Pork Confit, Braised Smoked Belly, and Grilled Tongue on Mixed Local Greens with House Red Wine Vinegar


These were Hawk View Cellars, Lange Estate Winery, Penner-Ash Winery presented examples of the new AVAs or American Viticultural Regions. The diversity of the terroir across these AVAs was startling and the introduction to the geological history that shaped them was really interesting.

On the Pork & Pinot tour our driver explained how the economy has affected peoples' drinking habits. "Whereas they used to drink a $60 bottle of wine at night, now they're only drinking a $30 bottle, and of course we're feeling that." Paraphrasing, slightly, but not exaggerating. I shook my head and discussed with my colleagues how few of us are actually "feeling the pinch" as evidenced by our $30 bottles. More than one person laughed when someone suggested "Two buck Chuck is probably more like it!"

I come back to my first revelation about Oregon wines. The reason that I previously had not enjoyed them, was solely because I was drinking far less expensive ones. Not the strongest reflections of what the region can, and does, produce.

My second revelation is the stunning diversity of the terroir and its impact on the wines. Finally, the passion for sustainability that runs through so many businesses is evident in the wineries. They even have a "salmon safe" designation to monitor and prevent harmful runoff from vineyards into spawing streams. It was really encouraging to see these principles integrated into the principles of so many vineyards there.

I came away from this conference with a healthy respect for the unique wines of the region and look forward to when I can go back to drinking those nightly bottles of $60 Oregon pinots. Ahem.




Best Bites from Portland - IACP's New Culinary Order Reigns On in Fond Memories

Yes, it's been a few weeks since I've returned from Portland (AKA PDX). The IACP annual conference (my second) was terrific and I think many of us are still suffering withdrawal.

Life happens. The eternal struggle between doing and writing about doing. Then there’s chasing delinquent clients, trouble-shooting the DSL gateway, and the myriad other things that keep a writer’s life...interesting.

As so many new things pile onto my desk and calendar, I’m dying to get down to work telling you all about Portland. I thought if I begin with food, I’d get the ball rolling.

Side-trip to Eugene

I was delighted to start my time in Portland with a little girlfriend time that included a magical dinner at Andina. Quick detour to Eugene to check out her gorgeous new kitchen, play time with the husband and daughter, picnicking in the rhododendrum park and, of course, Saturday market.

It was so green.

Legendary Street Food

I got to Portland early hoping I might get to meet up with one of the farmers or butchers I’d been emailing with prior to the conference. Since that didn’t happen, I had a day to wander, explore. I found a block of food carts parked just down the street from my hotel. After walking around downtown Portland, finding my favorite Powell’s Books, Whole Foods, I decided on a brunch of Bulgogi in the park. I picked up book plates at Powell's in case I ran into authors whose books I have or are planning to buy. I hoped they wouldn’t mind my asking for signatures.

One of the things I like to do when traveling is to mix up active searching, observation with more passive, restful, noticing. Exploring I found interesting architectural details, several old signs that Portland seems to love and preserve. Sitting quietly with my lunch, the next observations came to me. A group of girls with cameras came by. A nearby high school released the budding photographers to go shoot.

Best Bites in PDX

Andina - This Peruvian gem is that rare place that welcomes you like you're the long-lost friend, and also feeds you well without fussing too much, just enough. Through small plate orders we got to try many of the peppers without which "our food is not our food" according to the charming owner who stopped by our table. They were so intriguing that you kept going back for another forkful to see "how was it I'm tasting a little sweet, a little hot and something else..."

Clyde Common - Recently called out in a good way by Tasting Table, Clyde Common was the place I had one of my favorite meals. TT notes the cured cocktails trend and credits Portland, Oregon-based bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler as the originator of the trend. "He tasted a Manhattan that had been aged five years in a glass vessel by noted London bartender Tony Conigliaro. Back at home in his bar, Clyde Common, he began aging cocktails in barrels instead of bottles to cut down the wait time."

At Clyde Common for my last night before returning home I was greeted with a pork-themed coaster:

Then given some wonderful advice about the menu from the bartender. The broccoli rabe was inspired - pistachios offered a perfect foil to the bitter greens. A chicken pot pie with local seasonal wild mushrooms and leeks was comfort food at its elegant best. Dessert was a lemon meringue tart with huckleberry, buttermilk sorbet. I wanted something to offset the tart lemon. An off-the-menu thyme-scented digestif was perfect. Lemon and thyme are natural companions.

Meat Revival - Encore

During the International Culinary Association's annual conference in Portland, I was fortunate to attend a wonderful Saturday session entitled "Meat Revival" hosted by the Art Institute of Portland's Culinary School. With heritage breed pigs from Sweet Briar farm, a demo of butchering techniques comparing French and American styles, Michael Ruhlman moderating, and charcuterie to sample - you might say I was in hog heaven.

Looking around the packed room of culinary professionals, rapt and ravenous for the information, techniques, explanations made me confident that my book Pig Tales: a Love Story has a market. We're seeing more home cooks, chefs, food enthusiasts asking for recipes, for demonstrations and for real hands-on training.

In case you're wondering if how long ago this conference was, it was the end of April and yes, I have discovered the one downside of having a digital camera. You are apt to shoot too many photos. You have the opportunity to shoot nearly limitless shots without worry about the cost of film. If you're in a hurry and taking notes, you don't even have to stop to erase bad shots from your memory card. You can shoot away and worry about it later! When you have time.

For me, it was a dual dilemma of being in my dream class with a clean memory card. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many photos I shot in this class. This is my way of begging your indulgence with the delay in posting here. See, I've been going over lots of photos from that day. Lots and lots of photos. Here's five in a row of Kate talking which one is the best? This one, or that one? That one or this one? And on and on.

So I have to get more judicious. But this Saturday morning pig fest was no time to start. My gratitude to Camas Davis of PDX Meat, the brand-new Portland Meat Collective, to Dave and the AI staff for hosting, to Sweet Briar for providing the pigs (a Yorkshire cross I believe), Michael Ruhlman for being a great moderator and to our butchery teachers, Dominique Chapolard with his friend and translator Kate Hill, and Adam Sappington Chef/Owner of Country Cat restaurant in Portland. I don't know if the overalls are his daily attire but between them and the berêt you certainly wouldn't lose sight of who was who!

Olympic provisions joined our hosts in offering finely crafted charcuterie, and fine OR wine from Pudding River rounded out this true breakfast of champions. Move over Wheaties, there's a new game in town. The plate was amazing and I cannot get the jerky off my mind.

What I was most struck by is the skill, the quiet grace of the movements of both butchers, really. Their methods were quite different, even to an untrained eye (they even started at different ends of the pigs.) I kept thinking of ballet, the delicate movements, the grace and all the discipline and strength that is behind it all. It was the highlight of the conference and one of the best things for me was the opportunity to spend a little time with Dominique and Kate talking pig. What a treat! I can't wait to get to Gascony and learn more, eat more and enjoy more with these amazing folks.



At the end of the demo during Q&A I asked where the women butchers are. To my great delight there were TWO in the room! Camas trained with Dominique in France and Tray Satterfield (in the fedora in the photos) spoke eloquently about her epiphany and the nearly spiritual path that led her from her career in Finance to her life's work as a butcher. I got to visit Tray at Pastaworks and hope to interview her separately here shortly. She is the inspiration behind my next post on Good Eater. Stay tuned!

~ ~ ~

Ed note: Here's the Good Eater link:

In Heels and Backwards: Women Butchers Break Bones and Barriers.


The Real Water Crisis


Okay, full disclosure: I'm a world traveler and I've been many places where the water was probably less potable than what's coming out of our taps right now. I like to think of myself as fairly intrepid. And I'm freaking out, just a little, over our current water crisis here in Boston.

Boston's Fecal Spill

Yes, it pales in comparison to the oil spill in the Gulf. And it pales in comparison to what others go through daily around the world to get fresh potable water, but we are having a pretty icky water crisis in and around Boston.

For those of you who haven't heard, there was a huge water main break on Saturday that caused the water supply to 30+ towns East of Weston to be contaminated with things like e. coli, fecal material and probably stuff like giardia. Here's our official "Boil Water Order".

Today the Globe reports "People in Boston and 29 of its most populous suburbs, whose clean-water supply was cut off by a catastrophic and unprecedented pipe rupture, remained without clean tap water for a third day." They also indicate it may resolve more quickly than originally anticipated. They were saying "weeks" before. This happened to coincide with what must have been record-breaking heat so the elderly and infirm are even more at risk.

As we stock up on bottled water (and by "we" I mean Doc) and boil water (that would be me) and sanitize dishes (again, me) and so on, I keep thinking of people the world over who must go through this hassle every day just to eat, wash, cook, etc.

And, I have to laugh at myself freaking over things like - whether kissing his cheek - bathed in the contaminated water - will give me a case of giardia two weeks from now -- and trying to recall if I santized this mug or that glass. In the heat of Sunday we went to Pho Hoa in Chinatown. (By the way, their renovations are complete and they now have a Banh Mi counter and a bar.) We had bun - thin rice vermicelli - with lemongrass stuffed beef and tea. Every sip of tea I wondered - did they really boil the water? Were the noodles boiled in pre-boiled water? Were the cooking and slicing surfaces washed with clean water? It's enough to make you crazy. Brush teeth with boiled water. They say showering is okay but if we wash our hands we must sanitze them after. What is sitting on my skin and in my hair all day?


Well, they're now saying 24-48 hours we might be done with it. "Heavily chlorinated water will be pumped through" to clean out bacteria. Then there's the giardia that we ingested before we got the notice...what's the sound of 90,000 toilets flushing? Come to Boston in two weeks, I'm sure you'll find out.

So we'll be inconvenienced and I'll have a good laugh at my own expense but what's the real issue with drinking water worldwide?

  • 884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people.
  • The water and sanitation crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.
  • Poor people living in the slums often pay 5-10 times more per liter of water than wealthy people living in the same city.
  • Without food a person can live for weeks, but without water you can expect to live only a few days.

For more on the world's water situation see

At least for now, there's beer, and Gin and Tonic made with ice from last week. And wine. I guess we can't complain too much.

Just for fun, here's a "giant microbe" plush toy version of the bacteria in our water.

Oregon's Salmon-Safe Wines and Amazing Terroir

As part of the annual International Association of Culinary Professionals' conference, I had the opportunity to tour a couple of local vineyards. In addition, there was much sampling throughout the week, including the Willamette Valley AVAs seminar, the Pork & Pinot side trip, and the Meat Revival butchery demo which also included a beautiful Oregon Pinot Noir.

Coming back to more travel, a chocolate contest judging gig for NARAL, and a massive migraine, I've been struggling to put together a few words with anything resembling intelligence. I'm now at the end of the ice-pick-in-the-head feeling and moving into the more comfortable, quiet thudding stage. O joy. It does mean that my word-retrieval has improved slightly. Now seeing this post in the NYT, On This Oregon Trail, Pioneers Embrace Organic Wine, I immediately sat upright in my dimly lit work area. Scooped! Perhaps the author was on the same tour with us, I don't know but this Brick House tour was lovely.



James Beard Dinner at the Publican, Chicago

In planning the recent Chicago Teach a Chef to Fish workshop (see Radhika-ly Good Meal of Sustainable Barramundi), I was reminiscing with Mary Smith of Plitt Seafood about Alaska and our fond memories of the Reluctant Fisherman's deck and the town of Cordova. Imagine my delight when she extended an invitation to the James Foundation dinner taking place the night before our workshop.

As much as I love the James Beard Foundation and the work they do, as an independent writer the ticket for these dinners is still out of reach. Now I was being invited to share a meal with a new friend - Score! And what a meal it would turn out to be. The Publican (not "Republican" as my hotel staff insisted, "there's no Republican restaurants around here.") is one of the hot tables in Chicago. Blackbird, avec, and The Violet Hour are all part of the same restaurant family, all noted in their own right.

The Publican, Photo credit: Bob Briskey, Publican Website.

Amidst delightful company, we swooned and squealed over course after course, pairing after pairing. Classical guitar, travels in Greece, lamb, goat, pigs and fish, of course...conversation ranged far and wide. We sat in one of the booths with doors like old Puritan church pews. Note the pig artwork. Was I in the right place, or what?

Bob Briskey Photographer, courtesy Publican website

James Beard Foundation Dinner

Executive Chef Paul Kahan - formerly of Blackbird and avec, and now The Publican, Kahan has been honored by selection as a James Beard nominee for Outstanding Chef in 2007 and winner of James Beard Best Chef of the Midwest in 2004.

Each of the courses were outstanding. And each gave us a new talking point, an interesting pairing, a new ingredient, a favorite item.

Sweet Delicata Squash - Koren Grievson
heirloom apples, sicilian pistachios, fiore sardo*, baby chard
2008 Blackbird Vineyards “Arriviste” Napa Valley (deep rose)

*Fiore Sardo is a cheese from Sardinia that predates Pecorino Romano.

Turbot & crispy sweetbreads - Paul Kahan
golden turnips, orange & lucques olives
Sophie, Goose Island Brewery, Chicago, IL

*Goose Island Brewery was new to me, this Sophie had complex citrusy notes and a clean crisp taste that was perfect with the richness of the sweetbreads and the turbot.

Slow roasted goat and crispy goat prosciutto - Mike Sheerin
Crab apples, dates and hazlenut oil
2006 Blackbird Vineyards “Arise” Napa Valley

*Goat was rich and prosciutto was like chips.

Suckling pig - Brian Huston
canadice grapes, matsutake mushrooms, cavolo nero & verjus
2006 Blackbird Vineyards “Illustrator” Napa Valley

*Not surprising that this dish was a standout. The Publican has a reputation for good porcine treats.

"Coldbox" Photo Credit: Sam Rosen, The Publican website.

Sweet potato panna cotta - Becky Broeske
Smoke cider, milk chocolate & bourbon ice cream
Conquistador de la meurte, Three Floyds Brewery, Munster IN

*This dessert and dark beer pairing was really tremendous. A dark cookie shortbread underneath a light but richly flavored panna cotta little cocoa nibs and the cider and ice cream all complemented the chocolately, smokey notes of the brew. Really a surprising and delicious pairing. Our server asked another server how many Floyds were at the Three Floyds Brewery: answer: three.

The atmosphere is bustling and congenial, warm saffron walls and shared tables encourage the friendly atmosphere. Servers were knowledgeable and attentive. I would highly recommend this delicious and funky spot for your next trip to Chicago.

The Publican

837 West Fulton Market
Chicago IL


Azorean Adventure

A weekend excursion to the Azores from Boston? While possible (the Azores are one of the nearest European points to the Northeast US), a trip to an Azorean restaurant is infinitely more affordable. Let the cuisine of a country introduce you to its charms. A “staycation” lets you experience a break from the every day, without leaving home. Leave your passport at home, grab the keys and head to the Azorean restaurant in Gloucester or the nearest Azorean restaurant to you. Or make the fabulous Azorean Lobster below.

Start with cheeses from São Miguel, São Jorge, Faial. They range from creamy and mild to semi-hard and just slightly sharp and earthy. The São Jorge cheese comes from Flemish traditions dating back to the 15th Century when cows were brought to the island, along with cheese making techniques. The São Miguel cheese is quite mild.

Sauteed calamari was perfectly cooked with red and green pepper and tender softened onions.

Doc’s Seafood Caldeirada was a stew with scallops, shrimp and calamari, mussels and cod in it. Potatoes in a light tomato broth were perfectly cooked and left large chunks. The name may have come from the round shape of the hot stew for this volcanic archipelago supports many calderas still.

Grilled Sardines of tremendous size were perfectly charred and served with a garlic oil heightened by vinegar. The tang of the vinegar was the perfect foil to the rich sardines and the slightly bitter char of the skin. Enjoying the sardines was all the sweeter knowing they're a sustainable choice.

Influences of Dutch and Portuguese Explorers

From the Dutch (or Flemish) explorers came the cows and cheese making traditions. The islands each have distinct personalities and cuisines. The influence is primarily Portuguese and this is most apparent in the dishes, the language, the customs.

While the early Flemish influence is largely unknown it does explain the distinct blue and white tile decor in the Azorean restaurant. Depicting life on the archipelago, these charming tiles line the walls of the restaurant.

São Miguel also referred to as Isla Verdhe (the green island) is gorgeous. David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria offers a trip planner.

Antes morrer livres que em paz sujeitos or Die free before living subjugated - that's the national motto. You know it's a strong people that live by that credo.

The food is straightforward, simple and good. You may have seen Anthony Bourdain's Travel Channel show on the Azores. He had the same impression.

Get out and enjoy any local Azorean cuisine you can find, or make this at home. With lobster prices at near historic lows and no concerns for its sustainability, this is a great time to try this recipe.

Azorean Lobster

Joe’s Spicy Portuguese Sauce (Thanks to ChezUs for this recipe and their friendship)

  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons, fresh crushed red pepper, if you can find Portuguese use that, if not harissa works well
  • 2 garlic cloves garlic, minced
  • parsley, handful, minced
  • olive oil, a good Portuguese one
  • red wine vinegar
  • parsley, handful, minced

This is really made to taste. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, except vinegar and olive oil. Adjust crushed red pepper to taste. Drizzle olive oil over, just enough to combine everything together. Sprinkle a little red wine vinegar over the top and give a good stir. Serve. Eat.


The sardines after I went Tasmanian-Devil on their delicious charred bodies.


Seven years and four days and four hours

A lot happens when you travel. If you’re open to it, you can learn from the experience. Not only about where you go, and who you meet, but also about yourself. If you’re like me, you approach trips with gleeful anticipation. You get to know a new place, if only for a bit. Tasting something you’ve never tried, or smelling new things scenting the air. Hearing unfamiliar sounds. Feeling new or old or forgotten things.

I started a journey seven years ago that was so scary, I sort of had a false start. That is to say, I freaked. I called friends who knew me well and asked what they thought was going on? It was so unlike me to shrink from this adventure. I didn’t recognize myself in this reaction.

Where was I going that made me cower and second-guess my decision? I might just as well have been going to Mars. I was saying yes to a committed dating relationship with a solid guy. Ruh roh.  

How do I know it was seven years ago? Because my husband of 4.5 years took me to dinner at the place we shared our first date, seven years ago on Saturday. Table 23 at Les Zygomates. A little deuce in the front of the restaurant, a little too small for dinner, really. But in our first date, which lasted four hours, we didn’t notice. It was the only first date I’d ever had where I didn’t look at my watch.

When the last server stopped by our table to ask us to just pull the door shut behind us as we left, only then did we realize that we were the last ones left in the place! No more diners, no more employees. Tables cleared and bar re-stocked. Set for lunch the next day. What?? Four hours? Really?

Four Days


Okay, four and half. That’s how long it took us to cross the country from Irvine, California to Boston, MA (see Yermo Be There). All these years later, I was still a little nervous about making the cross-country trip. The last time I’d done the trip was with a boyfriend from college. During that trip, right around Chicago, I solidified my position on gun control. Having achieved a completely homicidal state, I had a moment of clarity: “Thank God there’s no gun in my hand.” Friends, this is only the slightest of exaggerations. I blame it partly on the mis-match between my then soon-to-be-really-this-time-it's-for-good-ex-boyfriend. I blame it partly on the stress of the trip. He wasn’t really a bad person, as he put it he had “massive potential for growth.” He wasn’t an angel either. And I wouldn’t say I was the easiest, most self-actualized person on the planet, at least not this planet anyway. So together...not so good.

But here’s the funny thing about travel. Because it puts us in unfamiliar states of being, it calls up our true nature. The essence of who we are is exposed and we’re prevented from fooling ourselves and everyone else. So what am I saying here, I’m essentially a homicidal maniac at base? Hm, let me re-state this... our abilities to cope with stress, or our lack of the same, that is what is called forth. And maybe a bit of our true potential. (Ask the 8th tech support person I spoke with today about my potential for violence...)

But I digress...where was I going? Oh yes, this destabilizing aspect of travel, this is why travel is the ultimate compatibility test. How does each of us handle it? More importantly, how do we handle it together?

So this trip, how’d I do? We did so well. We laughed every day, we oohed and ahed at a lot of the same things. We agreed on what little detours were worth it (the World’s Largest Truck Stop - see Getting to the Meat of the Matter) and which weren’t (the Kool-Aid Museum). We never even played one audio book. We popped one in somewhere around Eastern Colorado, I think. Then quickly decided we’d rather talk. It took me more time to figure out the CD player than we actually spent trying to listen to a CD!

(Sorry Chiuyee, it was very thoughtful of you and I’m sure they’re great!)

In seven years, we’ve traveled to Antarctica and back, to Vancouver, Toronto, New Orleans, Florida, Maryland, New York, the Berkshires, Las Vegas, and across the country. All in the blink of an eye. Our journey has included births and deaths, suffering and joy. I’m still learning about myself in ways that surprise me, I think he is, too. We're learning how to be better, together. I don’t have any fear looking forward. I know it will be filled with sweet moments and laughs just like the trip so far.

Thanks Doc, I love you! And, we have a date May 16, 2010 - Table 23.



Tomato Justice and a Peachy Definition of Sustainability

I had the distinct pleasure of spending time with Barry Estabrook in Denver during the IACP annual conference. I really consider it an honor to meet Barry again - he remembered me from Monterey! - and I learned that we really do share many values around food and friends. I enjoyed a good meal and lots of laughs with a journalist whose work I so respect, what great fun!

Mas Masumoto, Peach Farmer, author and speaker, and another whose work is so important. "Mas" convened one of our morning general sessions at IACP. His words in short turns can make you laugh and cry, he really is amazing. Mas spoke of "sustainable" food as being defined by four words: Good, Clean, Fair, and Right.

Barry, in his Politics of the Plate column, exposed the tomato grower injustice in Florida, see The Price of Tomatoes. One could say the production of tomatoes in Florida embodies exactly the opposite values that Estabrook, Masumoto and the IACP convened to discuss. The tomato growers are the antithesis of "Sustainabilty", their practices are: Bad, Dirty, Unfair, and Wrong. Since Barry's piece helped to bring national attention to the issue, the pressure has been mounting for more action. Take a moment to read Barry's exposé, it is well worth it.


BAMCo leads the way to social justice one tomato at a time

I've just learned (through this post on Thanks again guys!) about a wonderful example of people doing the right thing. BAMCo. Bon Appetit Management Company which runs dining facilities in ball parks, universities and corporate cafes has implemented a policy to stop the unfair tomato farming practices.

The Washington Post's Jane Black notes their "strict set of standards that farm worker advocates call a "rough draft" of the future of fairly produced food," will determine whether BAMCo wil continue to buy these "blood tomatoes" or not. The growers "can do the right thing, and our five million pounds of business can go to them," said Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appetit's chief executive. "Or they can let the tomatoes rot in the fields."

Further Reading:



Eating Across America - the Final Push

The "Yermo Be There" cross-country tour Wraps

(click here to read the first installment, Yermo Be There, Eating our Way Across America and The Meat of the Matter about the second and third legs) la to boston

Our Route:

LAX to Irvine; lunch with the family there. Irvine to Utah to Colorado to North Platte Nebraska. Great steak dinner at the Canteen Grille there. From North Platte to Davenport, IA. Italian restaurant steak dinner there. Davenport, Iowa to Richfield, Ohio. Another great steak dinner, Prime Rib at Austin's in Richfield, then off for home...but where to have our final meal commemorating the journey?

Although we ate from our well-provisioned vehicle, we still found that every once in a while, a nice hot meal in a seat that wasn't shaped like the car seats, was desireable. By the way...after 3169.20 miles in 102.5 hours over four and a half days, eating and eating, we still came home with:

  • Forty-four bottles of juice, tea, water (4) and coffee (1)
  • Five bags of dried fruit
  • 3 bananas
  • 3 pears
  • 11 mangoes,
  • 4 oranges
  • 7 tangerines
  • about 20 lbs of lemons
  • some papaya and mango peeled and sliced pieces
  • one small bag of baked Lays
  • two bags of Dewar's chews
  • one large bag of flax tortilla chips
  • half bag of sunflower seeds
  • one dozen Ferrero Rondnoir chocolates
  • about 2 dozen assorted granola/power/fig bars...

Did we need to stop somewhere to eat? Probably not. But, we have the luxury of saying we're tired of this or that. To get out of the car, stretch, have a glass of wine...well, we really wanted to stop at one last place.

Tools for Road Warrior Foodies

Athough I wouldn't necessarily recommend a four-day road rally, I do highly recommend a road trip. There really is no substitute for a road trip for clearing out your head and re-thinking some things about the US of A and her citizens. Even a cynic like me gets moved by strangers with whom you share stories and a laugh. I've been very fortunate to make lots of friends across the country (and in Canada!) - if you're lucky to live long enough, I suppose you just do.

I seem to have found really good people, who love to eat.  So I have never been without an offer of help, an offer of dinner, or a recommendation of a "must-try" local favorite. This trip, our timetable just didn't allow us the luxury of stopping to visit friends, or even to share a meal. Here are some tools I would recommend for anyone contemplating a road trip.


 Here is the link I found on Roadfood. 

Obviously, this site is geared to finding grub on the go. That's a plus, the down side is that it can be hard to compare reader reviews and maps while on the fly. There are maps, and more. It was something I thought of a little late for this trip, so I'm sure I could have found it even more useful with some advance review of it. I really like the focus on local joints where atmosphere is not theme park-esque and the food is good though not "gourmet", whatever that means these days. When you're traveling, the more local flavor the better. Why go to a chain with uniformed, corporate trained servers and food service food when you can go to a local dive, with a sassy server with attitude and some really good house made food?

It was through that I found Dinosaur Bar-b-Que.


I was able to keep in touch with my "tweeps", (my Twitter buddies) in real time. "Oops, missed exit for Anchor Bar, any other suggestions in Rochester or Syracuse?"

I used the search function to find new twitter users in different areas we were passing through. Some never responded, others did with suggestions right away. (Special thanks to Kim, Carrie, Ryan, Blumie, Mary and more...sorry if I'm forgetting someone!)


You may have seen the blue and gold UrbanSpoon logo on some of my review-type posts. They have a cool app for the iPhone which allows you to lock in a locale, type of food and price point. Like Chow, it relies on the users so it's not as comprehensive as one might like. It skews toward "hot" places. I could confirm that 88% of those on UrbanSpoon liked Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Reading the user reviews is helpful when you discover someone liked the cornbread but doesn't eat meat. Hello? It's a BARBEQUE JOINT! Made me want to go there even more.

And of course there's Chow has a wealth of info and I love their "Obssessives" series, but if you're looking for a recommendation in a specific location you are out of luck if you don't happen to be in a place that people have posted about.

The Last Supper of the Yermo Tour

real dealcolorful murals

Dinosaur Bar-b-que was THE rockin' choice for our road trip wrap up. Why? First, it was in Syracuse which put us just close enough to home to make it a good lunch/dinner option. Second, it was founded by three bikers who spent years doing 'cue up and down the East Coast before settling down and opening Dinosaur. Road warriors who love good 'cue and were burnt out from the road. What could be more perfect?

The Road Food reviews looked good. Two or three people on Twitter recommended it. I also like that Dinosaur Bar-B-Que's website looks well-done but not too slick. They are proud of their biker roots and their music, as well as their 'cue. My only hesitation was that it would turn out to be theme-park style representation rather than authentic.  But that's what your Tweeps are for. They would not, and did not, steer me wrong.

dino bar The bar was full of characters, some of them were even customers!~

Jumbo Bar-B-Que Chicken Wings - Spice rubbed, pit-smoked then finished on grill with Hot Wango Tango Sauce - Mary Anne recommended the sauce and it was so good, we brought a bottle home. We ordered 6 for $6.95. (Even though I do pretty mean smoked, pulled pork, City Girl Pulled Pork) we cannot replicate a true smoker in this city loft.)

Doc & I shared two plates to taste a range of the meats offered. You know the "Big Ass Pork Plate" ($12.95) HAD to be one of them. Pork shoulder, smoked low and slow and hand pulled. The Sampler Extreme three meat combo was our other dish: 1/2 chicken, 1/2 Rack of Ribs, Texas Beef Brisket Sliced ($21.95) Each plate came with two sides which we selected from a list of 17 (- seventeen!) We chose slaw and beans; rice & gravy and chili with cheese.

sampler extreme

A mug of Ape Hanger Ale (and a growler for our cat-sitting friends) completed the meal. Leftovers traveled in the cooler home and made a great dinner tonight.

pig out neon


And finally...