Sunday, January 18, 2015

Announcement! New Hotel, New Life, New Blog!

You have to make it happen. 
- Denis Diderot 

So, friends, it looks like my husband and I just bought a hotel.

A new hotel, a new life, a dream that we have been working hard to realize for many years, deserves a new blog, a brand spanking new Life’s a Feast! I have outgrown this blog space and have finally moved to a platform that will give me the room I need to write stories about the hotel, about our discoveries in this new place, new city, this new life, day to day, and our life in France, along with the recipes and my personal musings as I have always done. *

You will find the new Life’s a Feast at where you will also discover the enchanting hotel I now own with my husband (who will finally be revealed as well), an auberge de charme in the medieval town of Chinon.

I welcome you to follow this adventure along with me so make sure that you follow the new Life’s a Feast. Don’t forget to “like” the Life’s a Feast Facebook page for all new updates and information, and follow @lifesafeast on Twitter and Instagram for links, updates and photos!

Thank you for inspiring me all of these years since I began writing Life’s a Feast; it is your encouragement and friendship that has kept the blog alive! Now let the adventure continue!

As we open the doors to our new hotel, Ilva Beretta and I have already organized our first Plated Stories Food Photography & Food Writing Workshop/Retreat at the hotel in April! Find all the details and how to register at Plated Stories.

* (I have made the decision not to transfer the almost 7 years of blog posts to the new blog and am keeping this one alive for anyone – including me – who is searching for or wants to consult my recipes. So don’t forget to follow the new!)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Vanilla Rum Crème Brulée


Once fire was discovered, 
the instinct for improvement made men bring food to it. 
- Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin 

My husband offered me a kitchen torch for Hanukkah. Of course, the first things that popped into my head were crème brulée and Baked Alaska, an omelette à la norvégienne or Norwegian omelet, as the French call it. The Baked Alaska was, for the moment, out of the question as there was no ice cream in the house and husband and I just cannot agree on where to buy good quality ice cream. But I had a bounty of eggs in the refrigerator and I had long wanted to try my hand at crème brulée, no matter how nervous cooked creams make me. But, then, fire makes me nervous, too. But husband and I decided to face the fire together.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Orange Chocolate Olive Oil Marble Cake


Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away. 
- Ben Hecht 

How many times in the past ten or fifteen years have I packed up our belongings into cartons and suitcases? I know that I am not the only one, far from it. But surrounded by cartons, rolls of tape, suitcases open and overflowing with clothing, stacks and stacks of books and mountains of pots and pans, I feel like I am. And I feel like I just did this yesterday. Packing and unpacking, only to pack everything up again. And wondering how in the world it will all fit in the boxes and suitcases that I have.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Chocolate Chestnut Rum Bûche


The sincere friends of this world are as ship lights in the stormiest of nights. 
- Giotto di Bondone 

Forty-two years ago, a young man on the brink of adulthood, a young man just seventeen years old and soon having the heavy responsibility of choosing his future career, of selecting his university, stood in the hallway just outside the kitchen of his parents’ apartment in a working class suburb of Paris, unobserved by his mother and his French professor who were discussing him, speaking in undertones. A school theater group, with this professor as chaperon and theater director, had just returned to Paris after a summer trip to Corsica where they performed their play to the public and discovered the island, and the young man’s parents had invited the group in for lunch.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nutella or Jam Brioche Flower Bread


“Why do you keep eating bread and jam,” asked Father, 
“when you have a lovely egg?” 
“I like bread and jam,” said France, 
“because it does not slide off 
your spoon in a funny way.” 
- Russell Hoban, Bread and Jam for Frances 

Sometimes I feel a bit like Frances, eating bread and jam as much and as often as I do. Breakfast is always two oblong pains au lait, brioche buns, smeared with cherry jam. Every single day. While there is often cake on the kitchen counter and cookies galore in the pantry, when snack time rolls around (mid-morning, mid-afternoon, just before a workout), I find the jam and grab either the loaf of bread or baguette, the box of biscottes, or a slice of matzoh, heat up a café au lait and go to town. When out of town staying in a hotel, the basket of croissants and chunks of baguette are placed between us, and don’t we all feel that a croissant is the most luxurious breakfast treat? Well, I offer my croissant to husband, split the hunk of baguette in two, spread it with jelly or jam (cherry, orange) and start my day with bread and jam.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cake Roll - Bûche de Noël


Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll; 
charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul. 
- Alexander Pope 

With Christmas approaching rather quickly, I have been thinking about bûches de noël, the traditional Yule log cake served on all French tables at the holidays. While bakeries and pastry shops are already filling their glass cakes with bûches of all sorts, genoise filled with buttercream, layers of dacquoise, crispy feuilletine, mousse and bavaroise, or even ice cream bûches glistening under a cloak of gelée, I am considering making my own. Creating a büche is quite simple and rather fun for the flavor variations, the range of possibilities is endless, making for a very personal and personalized treat. And very festive!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cocoa Molasses Chew Cookies


In seedtime learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy. 
- William Blake 

As things cool down outside, things are heating up within. I stepped out to walk the dog just yesterday and it was if Old Man Winter had arrived sometime during the night, sneaking into town on a whip of Arctic wind, the scarlet and silver shimmer of the holiday lights illuminating his way through the streets of Nantes. He seems to have drawn his cloak of burnished pewter over the entire city, casting a mysterious glow that bodes snow. Yet even as rumor finds its way to me, whispering of snow just a few hours away in Paris, we must settle for a kind of odd brume, the same one that arrives every winter content to mock my wishes for white yet bringing only mist.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Vanilla-Rum & Chocolate-Chestnut Saint Honoré


No party is any fun unless seasoned with folly. 
- Desiderius Erasmus 

Celebration season is swiftly approaching… Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's Eve, my birthday and the purchase of a hotel. I've long been contemplating upping my pastry game and holiday season just seemed to be the time to do it.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Vanilla or Chocolate Sponge Cake with Cherries


Don't threaten me with love, baby. 
Let's just go walking in the rain. 
- Billie Holiday 

Autumn has arrived in full force; great swathes of leaves tinged gold and russet lie matted and forlorn in the gutters and gathered round the trees. Like mud. Autumn is ushered in with rain and smoky skies the color of dull pearls and I am saddened to think that we will never get snow, not in this part of the world. I turned my back and the city was dressed for Christmas, absent for two short days and the city was awash with cherry pickers and men in neon yellow vests and hard hats hooking holiday lights on every lamppost, swags of lights strung between buildings like clothes drying in the wind. But the gray rain-sodden days and my moody soul are not even brightened by the glittery lights, as they will not likely be turned on for at least another month. So we huddle inside and wait for news about the hotel and this weather, the changing season, makes me want to bake.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Olive and Parmesan Bread Stick Twists with Speck


Fallen leaves lying on the grass in the November sun 
bring more happiness than the daffodils. 
- Cyril Connolly 

Rain beats against the windows and batters the streets below, the wind howls (yes howls) in a terrifying rhythm against a backdrop of deep pewter gray, bruised and swollen. It is if the lovely first days of autumn carried in on November have been tarnished, have been sullied and stained by the single day of violence my city suffered.


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