Finding Comfort...Poached Pears With Sumac And Creme Fraiche
Monday, March 10, 2014
He has been part of every move, every major decision, every event that marked my adult life. He was there for the joys and the sorrow. He was a tough one. Beside one major gum operation when he was 10, we were blessed with an incredibly resilient dog. Last November, the vet marveled at his blood test. And then, a silently killing tumor brought him down. I could not bare to let him endure pain. He deserved more than that. He deserved we stayed by his side as he was taking his last breath.
Every moment once we came back from the vet was the first without him. A torture. Bill and I spent the weekend reminiscing about Tippy. The fun frisbee catching dog, the "belly rub thief" as we called him, the older days when he was still jumping and running, trying to keep up with our other pup, in spite of his arthritis. He was not one to be defeated. But this thing, attacking about every organ in his body was just too much.
We got angry, we got sad. We hugged on each other and on Bailey, our young lab-pitbull. We texted with friends who had met Tippy and it was so comforting to hear how touched they were by the news. We had 16 incredibly lucky and fulfilling years with him. He made us better as a couple and as individuals. For those without pets, I know it's a bit hard to comprehend, I get that. I just know that there will be other dogs after him, just as there were others before him, because that's what I know to do.
Along with comforting words and emails, I cooked a lot of comforting meals. Chicken with harissa and chickpeas, makeshift Pho, green fish curry and I made again the Poached Pears with Creme Fraiche and Sumac I had just made the weekend before.
Very few things say comfort, calming and peace than the smell of pears poaching on the stove with a bit of honey and vanilla bean. I wanted to add a citrusy tart note without adding more lemon so the idea came to my mind to sprinkle a little sumac of the creme fraiche accompanying the pears. I was right, it was just the exact touch to elevate this dessert. Sumac has a flavor note that I can only compare to what pomegranate seeds, dried and powdered would add to a dish. A little tart, a little floral and yet, it is a spice of its own.
We sat in silence at first, the soft pears giving away under our spoons, the hint of sumac and tart creme fraiche following. In between bites, we slowly took turns remembering our years with Tippy, all of our married life so far, all the runs, trips, all the things he chewed up, his love of sleeping in the middle of our shoes. We mended our broken hearts for a brief moment with a few chuckles and lots of laughs.
This dessert was definitely good for the soul.
Announcing a Four Day Gourmet Cooking - Food Styling and Photography May 13th-May 17th In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina!
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, May 13th-17th 2014, combining cooking classes and photo/styling....!
We were able to open registration to one more student thanks to the property we chose which is always good since our workshop always sell fast and with a wait list. Hopefully you will be lucky number 13! Yes, it's a good number (my birthday is May13th...)
I have known John for many years and have photographed him and his crew many times. His food, cooking, restaurant are like home to us. He's incredibly talented, down to earth and a great teacher. We had such a great time teaching our last workshop together that we decided to do another one.
We wanted to bring a workshop that was not only full of information but relaxing at the same time and we are always thinking the beach is about as relaxing as one can get!
We looked around and found an idyllic spot in Myrtle Beach. The house we selected offers a private bedroom for everyone (as well as bathroom) and a private access to the beach. Not to mention a swimming pool...you know, when relaxing after an afternoon of cooking and photography calls for a little play in the water...
In this workshop, I will share with the attendees my photo and styling processes. Anything from camera basics, creating an edible narrative with your photos, styling naturally, working with different light situations, current propping trends, etc...
Students will get to spend time with John work his craft in the kitchen through various small group cooking classes covering lots and lots of different ingredients and dishes (gnocchi, lamb, cast iron cooking...) Through both our personal guidance, attendees will develop their own creative process for styling, shooting and editing their photographic stories.
Throughout the workshop, I will take the group through studio/home as well as on location shoot, be it a bakery or a restaurant, a food focus event, etc... I am an open book, so any question you have about photography for blogging, editorial or cookbook will be answered. There will also be an open session for you to ask me anything you want about the business, or how to get started in the field.
I will share with you my experiences and tips on who to connect with, how to approach potential clients, or just how to best submit your blog for recipe development and photographing for brands. John and I will share with you the tips and hindsight we both gleaned from being the one in front or behind the camera and how to best approach light, time and space constraints.
Nothing is off limits with questions, from how to pick ingredients and how to cook them, how to manage your cooking/photo time efficiently, knowing about photography for blogging, cooking for photography, photo as a hobby or how to get started in the business. Both John and myself will be 100% available to all your questions. While we are in the gorgeous setting of the South Carolina coast.
Everyone, all levels of photography or cooking are welcome!
When: May 13th - May 17th 2014
Where: Beautiful house in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. More details about the house here and a video here.
How much: Fee is $1,850 and includes:
4 nights accommodation (each student will have his/her own private room and bath)
3 days of technical and practical instruction with cooking, food styling, composition, prop styling and photo sessions .
All meals, snacks and refreshments
Reception cocktails and appetizers on the evening of the 13th. Snack, refreshments, happy hour, etc..
There will be no refunds for this workshop – please know you attend before registering.
Full payment due at time of registration.
The workshop is open to 13 people.
Does not include travel fares to and from the workshop.
Registration is NOW open! To register please visit here.
Blood Orange Margarita Granita
Monday, February 17, 2014
This winter in Alabama has been quite different than all other winters I have spent in the South so far. Colder and lingering on. After the ice and snow that paralysed the Southern states just a couple of weeks ago, we had another snow episode just last week. This one was quite different though. It snowed on warmer grounds for a few hours and by 10pm, our streets were covered with the most beautiful blanket of fluffy snow. By 10am the next morning, it was all gone.
The evening it was snowing, one big snowflake at a time, I took the old pup and the camera and ventured outside. I was sure I'd be the only one out there. But, in that perfect quietness that happens after a snow fall, where all sounds become muted, where you feel that almost undefinable peace in your soul, I started hearing soft voices emerging all around me. Within minutes, our street became alive with neighbors, kids and dogs. Our neighborhood is full of creatives and I was not surprised to see many polaroids, brownie and diana cameras as well as high tech ones and cell phones. You could tell we don't see snow very often! I was among them snapping away, instagramming and sending shots to family and friends.
As I could hear my feet onto the freshly fallen powder my mind wandered... Yep. While others were pondering snow angels at almost midnight, I was thinking about another kind of frozen fun. The edible kind. I started thinking about silky smooth whipped cream dessert, ice creams, snow cones, slushies, frozen drinks and granitas.
There's something about blood oranges that make me eat them non stop when they are in season while I don't really bother with regular ones any other time. They are so much more fragrant, beautiful to look at and marry themselves equally well with lots of savory dishes. Yes, I am a sucker for cold desserts on cold days. Makes me rush to the fireplace. There's no logic to my logic except that it was delicious and well worth the bit of prep involved.
Ok, I confess, I still enjoyed it all weekend long even with the temperature coming back up in higher ranges. Blood oranges just make me swoon.
Spicy Pork and Kale Soup With Harissa and A Root Vegetable Soup
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Things are slowly going back to normal today and we'll have to catch up on our photo schedule the best we can. I secretly wished the roads were still undrivable just so that I could watch the pup frolic in the snow. Bailey is like a kid with a new toy everytime he steps outside (5 year old lab-pit mix), while Tippy (17 year-old collie-sheltie) enjoys the freezing temperatures on his old bones.
A simple and good eating day...
Announcing 3 Workshops in New Zealand - March 2014!
Thursday, January 23, 2014
The folks of the gorgeous magazine Nourish for which I have worked in the past is taking care of all the logistics while I focus on the finer details...such as sharing with attendees techniques, exercises and tips to work on their camera and styling skills. We will cover camera basics, how to optimize your use of natural light, basic and more advanced food and prop styling techniques and tips.
I will be teaching two half day workshops in Auckland on Monday March 24th. Details for each session HERE. You can decide to do one or the other or join me for the whole day as both sessions will be different and the afternoon one builds on the morning one. Please head over HERE to register.
The third workshop I will be teaching takes us to the beautiful region of Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua March 26th-28th for a complete two day intensive course (details HERE). We will be able to explore food photography and styling trends of the last few years, work on mini photo assignments throughout the day with my complete guidance along the way. Through hands on demos, I will give you the techniques and tips to improve your skills whether you are photographing for blogging, future editorial work or just for fun. A mini immersion of sort in a magical setting. Please head over HERE to register for the 2 day workshop.
Looking forward to meeting everyone!