A Recipe

Rose-Scented Rhubarb with Caramelized White Chocolate Yogurt

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I’m falling asleep as I type this. I’m looking at words appear on the screen and feeling fingers tapping but not quite understanding the force that moves them. At the end of the day, my fingers are bloated so they fall with more weight than normal on the keys. I’m blasting wordless electronic music; it’s raucous enough to keep me from taking a nosedive into the keyboard but it doesn’t distract me. Continue reading

Fries at the Garden

Chickpea Fries with Lemony Browned Butter Mayonnaise and Fried Sage

fried sage

We were welcomed by the coolest of cats. Smooth as a sax player, he had long, neat dreads that fell halfway down his back, and he wore a relaxed vibrant purple silk shirt, unbuttoned lower than another guy could get away with. We said that we had a 6 o’clock reservation, and we followed him slowly—he had a bum leg—to a two-seater. When we sat down, a woodsy scent drew our noses to the small potted thyme plant at the center of the table. Fun.

This was my and my mother’s first impression of a local restaurant, Garden at the Cellar when we met there maybe about 5 years ago. The restaurant is above and connected to another bar and it lives in an unnamed area on Massachusetts Avenue between Central and Harvard Squares in Cambridge, MA. We had planned to eat there because we knew that we could get a good but simple bite after a late lunch and before a trip to my apparently oft-mentioned favorite ice cream shop, Toscanini’s. And we did just that. The restaurant, a bit like a gastropub, was pretty well known for nibblies of the fried variety—tater tots, rosemary truffle fries, doughnuts…with fois gras. So we started with chicken and thyme croquettes, which were OK. My mom got hanger steak-frites (the fries were good), and I got a crock of tomato soup that came with a grilled cheese. The meal wasn’t particularly interesting, but it was certainly comforting and well executed. And that’s what we wanted. In lieu of dessert, a miniature square of Taza chocolate was served. We had a wonderful time catching up, and I left thinking that I wouldn’t make an effort to come back but that I could see myself frequenting it if I lived in intra-square Cambridge—it was a perfect neighborhood spot.

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Picking Raspberries

raspberry–pink peppercorn custard cups


I am so honored and excited to have a guest post featuring this creamy-dreamy recipe for raspberry–pink peppercorn custard cups (with whipped cream! and candied pistachios!) on The Vanilla Bean Blog while Sarah lives what she is calling the “Summer of Fun” for herself and for her gorgeous family. Sarah’s space is one of my favorite’s—if not my very favorite—on the web, and I am so grateful to have found her blog in 2011. If I could be half the blogger she is, I’d be doing something right. Her voice and words grip me, her photos move me, and her recipes are beautiful. Stop on by to read my post but, more importantly, to discover, if you haven’t already, Sarah’s site.

Breaking My Silence

When will it end?* I came home on Boston’s Marathon Monday, a day that has brought me so much joy for so many years, and looked down at my sneakers. Their soles haven’t seen enough streets. I’m awfully fast, but I lack stamina. I enjoy energetic, short-distance dashes more than long-distance races. Of course, I do it. It just isn’t my first-choice activity. I’m not one to pace myself. And the truth is, after losing all of the feeling in my right foot and ankle from complications of a medical procedure, longer-distance running is not what it used to be. It’s awkward and uncomfortable and unnatural and even a bit dangerous, as my foot can tire out and rear off in the wrong direction. What an excuse. What a terrible excuse. At least I can run. My heart is telling me that I need to change. And I need to change now.

These sneakers, which fit like a glove, have touched many tennis and basketball courts, fields of grass, structures made of rocks, and stretches of dirt. But they rarely see the road’s rough surface.

I’d be least likely to lace up those sneakers at the late hour I return home from work. But looking down at those sneakers on Monday, after a long, testing day and a rough commute, all I wanted to do, before I attempted to lay my head to rest (though I got no sleep that night) was run. Run and run until my feet gave out, until my toes violently punctured out the top of the shoes and my heels scraped the asphalt.

I see there are events planned; compassionate folks will walk or run the distance that so many could not finish. But my call to run that night was selfish. I needed to run to survive. Because the day’s events tore at my belly, knotting it so tightly I was crippled at the waist. This is what I needed to uncoil it. I am usually so strong. Not this time.

Feeling wind. Experiencing the nature that we have the privilege everyday to roam about. Clutching community, sharing the streets with our innocent animal and human neighbors. Tracing with watercolor behind closed eyes the lines between ground and horizon and sky. It was healing. It was the ultimate declaration of freedom and all of its applicable definitions.

I haven’t sent out a single tweet or facebook status addressing the tragedy. Like I’ve said before, the girl who talks too much always has little to say in these painful, uncomfortable moments. Excuse the lack of eloquence in this post. But this is my city. This is my family. This hit hard.

But without breaking my silence, I don’t think I could go on. My only option was to vomit–spew words that don’t link together. Untie the leftover belly knots.

I want to live. I want to live if only to honor those who can no longer be. I want to run for those who can no longer run. I want to feel awkward and uncomfortable and unnatural and dangerous—it’s the only way to become whole and real again.

I want to be for Boston.

*And today, our Senate failed us. So, really. When will it end?

Thank You

color, flavor, light

Cover Muttabaq2
2010. It was the year I knew I needed a change of course. Research into the complexities of our government was my everyday and it would be for the rest of my life. Publishing works on presidential leadership while dreaming of going home and playing with my food. That was my fate. I wanted the opposite: I wanted my work to become my hobby again and my hobby to become my life. For several years, my free time was consumed by books on food. I’d read and learn and file the information away in a mental folder labeled “culinary” (and in another one labeled “pastry,” of course) that rested on the shelf, sandwiched between the one labeled “Calvinism” and the other labeled ”democracy.” And 2010 was the year I learned about Yotam Ottolenghi and his business partner Sami Tamimi — their backgrounds and their popularity in London.

I thought I had found my culinary cousin — a wiser, more creative, more experienced cousin. This is how I like to eat. Ottolenghi gets me, I thought. Persian father, American mother, I grew up with no real food story. I eat and love everything, but it is the freshness of the Mediterranean and the boldness of the Middle East, no region’s unique cuisine excluded, that will always be my favorites.

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I’ve thought about making this move for about a year. I’ve only occupied the space for 17 months. True, but I entered it hastily, unprepared to know what it is I really wanted; I just wanted an outlet.

flour bowl

Very early on, however, I realized that this blog is much less about eating than it is about making and reflecting, doing and being. It’s about the creation, not so much the consumption. It’s about building and sharing and experimenting and playing and succeeding and failing. It’s my life completely in food. And that means cookbook-reading and flour-throwing and, yes, eating out too I guess.

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