I’ve not been to a lot of places when you consider the globe, but I am fairly well traveled, though I’ve not yet seen California. Florida is easily one of my favorite places in all the world. Paris and Sarasota are tied for the most marvelous places in my mind. If I could spend the summers in Sarasota and the rest of the year in Paris, I think my life would be perfect. For me, happiness is not always people or things, it’s oftentimes just a nice weather pattern and a good croissant. I just got back from Florida and I miss it desperately. This sadness is compounded because I think of myself as a native Floridian and so not only do I miss a nice place, I feel utterly homesick. Life is just better in Florida. There a pools that never freeze and palm trees and sensitive plants that grow like weeds. Little lizards are all over the place and there is always a drunk old person with a frighteningly dark tan. You can get swept away in a hurricane and are never too terribly far from a beach. If you’re in the mood for some picturesque world culture, there’s always EPCOT. Oh, and the alligators! I adore them. I wish I were there now. I wouldn’t care if I had a studio apartment, as long as it had a balcony and a palm tree out the window, I’d be happy–though of course, the apartment must be tastefully decorated with a bit more than a standard kitchen. I’m easy to please. Send me back, please, I am begging you.
I’ve long known of caprese salads, everybody has seen one, but until last week, I’d never had one. One look at the presentation and I was obsessed, one taste of it and I was hooked. I had it at Portobello, a restaurant in Downtown Disney that was exceedingly good. I made it last night for dinner, too. It’s so easy to do, you just layer slices of tomato, mozzarella, and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper and gorge! I can’t wait for the summer so that I can have good tomatoes and fresh Napolitano basil. That’s my favorite variety–so basil-y! I’m going to grow lots of basil. I think this will be a dish that I keep tweaking a bit. I want to add pesto for sure, make a balsamic reduction for the top, maybe a bit of garlic, and something for crunch, pine nuts, probably. It’ll be amazing. I’m hungry. I’ll have to buy some more mozzarella because I’ve got to have it again!
Justin Timberlake’s “20/20”:
When I first heard that Justin was coming back, I got super excited, but then I heard his first single, “Suit & Tie,” and I was over it. Why, of all the songs he has created would he choose that long, boring, rather dreadful piece to reintroduce himself to music? Thankfully, the rest of the album turned out to be phenomenal. It takes a couple listens, but it grows on you, and I can’t stop singing “That Girl” or “Let The Groove Get In.” Great music. Justin needs to learn to edit, a lot of the songs go on and on and on, like the excellent “Pusher Love Girl.” The first four minutes are a delight, but then it takes a turn and keeps going in a similar direction but with a new beat. I don’t mind too terribly, though. Good album. Listen:
[I used his divine mousse recipe for these little Mogadors. People, I’m told, are obsessed with them. I understand. I mean, look at them!]
Pierre is not only a genius, he is my pastry inspiration. If I could meet anybody in the culinary world, aside from my beloved Martha, of course, it would be him. He’s passionate about high quality and interested in new techniques and flavors. Several of his recipes have revolutionized the way I bake. I’m very thankful that he believes in sharing his recipes. I hate people who are secretive about their food. It’s just food, get over yourself. In Paris, I make sure to always frequent his shop and I’ve now been to all of them! Hold on, my dreams have been crushed and simultaneously expanded. HE HAS SHOPS IN JAPAN AND IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. BOOKING A TRIP NOW! GUYS! THERE IS A GALERIES LAFAYETTE IN DUBAI! My favorite (so far) is the original one near Saint-Sulpice. It’s tiny and crowded, but the selection is incredible and the staff is very courteous. Plus, they frequently give out macaron samples. His macarons are really what put him on the culinary map so to say. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many others, his are the best in the entire city of Paris. I am never disappointed with them. Things I would never try, I do because I trust his judgement. A few years ago, I had one that was flavored with jasmine, hazelnut, and asparagus. Divine! If I could have one of his mandarin and olive oil macarons every day, I would be a very happy man. They’re the absolute best! His lemon cream is a revelation and I almost always have some in my refrigerator waiting to be turned into tarts or macarons. I made his mousse recipe the other night and it was unbelievably good. Mousse is not a terribly difficult thing to make, but it takes timing and proper technique. The first time I made it at Le Cordon Bleu, I had no end of difficulties. My chocolate wasn’t hot enough and I beat the cream too much. It tasted alright, but it stressed me out, and so I’ve avoided mousse. I’ve been eating mousse a lot lately, so I had to try my hand at it. Pierre’s recipe, that I added a bit of fleur de sel to, is perfect. It’s probably impossible to mess up. Not strictly true, of course, but it would take an oaf to do it. You melt chocolate. You boil milk. You crack eggs. You beat egg whites. You fold together and chill. Couldn’t be easier or more delicious! The recipe follows, enjoy:
Melt 170 grams of DARK CHOCOLATE, boil 80 milliliters of WHOLE MILK. Whisk together. Whisk in an EGG YOLK. In a separate bowl, beat 4 EGG WHITES to stiff peaks while sprinkling in 2 tablespoons of SUGAR. Whisk 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate. Fold in the remaining whites until white streaks disappear. Pour into cups or whatever and chill, preferably overnight. Sprinkle with FLEUR DE SEL and gorge.
I used to be grumpy about bruschetta–it’s just toasted bread with a bit on the top after all, but for some reason, I ordered it one day and I have become a man obsessed. It’s easy and it’s wonderful and it’s delicious and it’s no wonder Ina Garten makes it all the time. I’ve made it a couple times this week with a leftover can of chopped San Marzano tomatoes I had from last week’s tomato bisque. I don’t think I can eat anything but San Marzano tomatoes anymore. They’re just so much better. They taste so much like a tomato. Tomatoes here don’t taste like anything at all. It’s too bad that I live so far from Italy, so I can’t enjoy fresh ones. As I’ve said before, buying fresh tomatoes from the grocery store freaks me out a bit. Read Tomatoland, live forever in guilt. Maybe I’ll order a plant online or a seed packet and grow my own San Marzano’s? I used to get a seed catalog from Italy for some reason. I wonder why? I don’t remember ordering it. Anyway, I mixed together some tomatoes, some fresh mozzarella, chopped some fresh basil, added a bit of parmigiano reggiano and feta, put it on toasted good quality bread, drizzled some good olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top and gorged. It was divine. I said good food a lot. I’m turning into Ina. I don’t mind. She’s got it all.
That Dumb Groundhog:
I read an article yesterday about a professor who was suing Punxsutawney Phil for his terrible predictions. This one is worse than ever. We were promised an early spring, but it snowed yesterday and the roads were slick this morning. I was looking back at my notes from last year and I was talking about how the arugula and spinach and chard were coming up in the garden and how eager I was to pick them. The tulip leaves were half a foot high. It was the most marvelous time ever. It’s cold every single day. The clouds are always out. Nothing grows. It’s horrible. Even my sunlamp fails me. It’s supposed to finally break into the fifties at the end of the week and I’m very eager for it. I’m sick to death of being inside. My impromptu trip to Florida was one of the best ideas I’ve had in a long time. It might not have been reasonable, but it was so good for my mental health. I just need my outside time. I need it now!
Boredom of Iowa:
Much like Lindsay Lohan in everybody’s favorite scene from her magnificent portrayal of Elizabeth Taylor in Lifetime’s Liz & Dick, I feel like sitting on a chaise lounge with a cocktail and shouting, “I’M BORED! I’M SO BORED!” to the servants (that I don’t yet have.) I have grown completely disenchanted with Iowa and my repetitive life. Every day is the exact same thing and only expensive trips break the tedium of my existence. There’s nowhere to go that I haven’t been. Little to see that I haven’t seen. I’ve eaten at all the best restaurants. I’ve been in every store. I’ve done all that there is to do and I feel, in a way, that I’ve outgrown my home state. I need something stimulating. I just don’t know what that is yet. I want to live someplace where I can walk outside and find something new each day. A big city filled with endless variety and curious people and a slightly dangerous feeling. You never run the risk of being shot for your bling in the middle of Iowa.
[Start at 5:50.]
I don’t wear bling and even when I walk around the more dangerous sections of big cities, I’ve never been assaulted, but I’d like the opportunity, you know? I just don’t know what to do with myself anymore. If I have to spend yet another afternoon on the treadmill and then staring at the same tastefully decorated walls I will lose my mind soon. I don’t know where or when or how, but I need a change of scenery, maybe temporary or perhaps permanent.
No L’Occitane En Provence Near Me:
I’m days away from being out of my Chanel cologne and I’m freaking out a bit. I loved it so much, but it’s not the right fragrance for me. It doesn’t last more than a few hours, which is sad because it smells so wondrously. I’ve been on the hunt for something new and I’ve even ordered samples from a London company I remember seeing called Czech & Speake on Pimlico Road. People seem to like them. I also read that L’Occitane has some excellent fragrances, so I wrote them for cologne samples. Sadly, and unfortunately for the consumer, the don’t have fragrance samples. To make it up to me, they are sending me other samplers that they have. Much appreciated. I love L’Occitane! My favorite one is located in the Carrousel du Louvre and I love to wander around smelling things and of course the other varied shops in that lovely little marbled shopping center beneath Paris. I just love shopping. The closest L’Occitane to me is in Minneapolis, and though I can justify taking a four hour drive to smell some cologne samples and take lunch at Tucci Benucch, I’m not sure I can convince my drivers to take me there. Maybe I could. I should try, I’ll buy them lunch. I will look into this.
Socks Without Shoes:
In my opinion, the fewer clothes you wear while in the comfort of your home, the better. Maybe that’s just me. One thing that drives me insane is wearing socks without shoes. I don’t know why, but it makes me crazy and I have to tear them off my feet. I don’t mind wearing socks when I’m out and about wearing one of my lovely pairs of shoes. I have a great collection of socks, too. My favorite pair shows the Paris Métro. I’ll never be lost after taking too many snifters of brandy in a smoking lounge. I have socks by Missoni. I have socks that look like crocodiles. I have socks with palm trees woven into them. I love my socks. But, the second my shoes come off, so do they. This was a short one.
Weird Sleeping Desire:
I have always had a weird relationship with sleep. I don’t like sleeping and I don’t like waking up. I’m deeply concerned that when I eventually die, I will have slept about a third of my life away. I realize that the body needs rest and time to process shit and stuff, but I hate that I’ve lost so much time! Think of all that I could have gotten done! It’s not like I make the best use of my time anyway when I’m awake, but if I had more time I wouldn’t feel quite so lazy. I guess I’m more productive than other people, but still. I normally stay up until at least one and then wake up around seven, but lately I’ve had the desire to go to bed early and wake up early. I’ve decided that it would be ideal if I would sleep at nine and wake at three in the morning. I’m not really a morning person, but I like the idea of having time for myself before and after work. I can’t bring myself to do it, but it seems like a good idea. I’ll try and try and fail of course, but at least I try. I also want to try that one sleeping pattern that famous scientists in the the past have done when they sleep twenty minutes every few hours and never really go to sleep. They only sleep for like two hours a day and are allegedly just as well off as those of us who sleep normally. I think I’d like it. It’s supposedly very difficult to adjust to, so maybe I’ll try it out this summer. Who knows, I may become a genius with less sleep?