come get some dirt under your nails in the Luberon : April 26 - May 2, 2014

Do you love Provence?
Do you love wandering in nature, admiring flowers and wild herbs?
Would you like to learn a bit of wildcrafting? 
Learn to forage for wild edibles and how to turn all their earthy goodness into amazing meals?

Then "come get some dirt under your nails" in the Luberon 
— from Saturday, April 26 - Friday, May 2, 2014 —
Five days of learning, cooking, eating, sipping, and much more with
 Giuseppina of Venice in Provence Cooking School in Goult
and Terresa of la Cucina di TerrESa in Paris.

For more information and bookings please contact Giuseppina or Terresa.

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What we'll be cooking :

Cooking classes will be centered around wildcrafting,
featuring dishes that "celebrate the vegetable kingdom” both wild and cultivated, but not strictly vegetarian.

Upon request a simple meat or fish dish can be included
in mealtime menus, but will not be part of the cooking classes.

All dishes taught will be inspired by Provençal and regional Italian cuisine, as well as our own creative additions.


  Program : April 26 - May 2, 2014

Saturday, April 26
Arrival day. We’ll welcome you with a scrumptious dinner and an assortment natural wines from the region to compliment our meal.

Sunday, April 27
We’ll head off in the morning to the Coustellet farmer’s market, one of the best in the region, where you’ll meet local producers and learn how to choose the choicest fruits and vegetables from their seasonal offerings. We’ll return to the school and cook up a light lunch. You’ll have time for a short rest before heading out for our first wildcratfing trip.
Giuseppina will introduce you to her “secret gardens.” We’ll fill our baskets with wild vegetables and herbs. Then back for a late afternoon cooking class where you’ll learn how to transform the wild plants we’ve gleaned into a savory dinner.

Monday, April 28
The day will be dedicated to discovering and learning about natural wines. TerrESa will initiate you into the world of natural wine and share with you her knowledge of this fascinating, poetic world.
We’ll have lunch at La Tour Cassée, a typical bistro de pays, with great artisan fare. Then on to visit a couple natural winemakers to taste and procure our wines for the week. We’ll also visit an artisan cheesemaker and bring home an array of cheeses for dinner.
The evening cooking class will focus on how to improvise a savory dinner with “what’s at hand.” We’ll sip on some of the wines from our morning excursion and TerrESa will talk about paring natural wines with vegetable dishes.

Tuesday, April 29
We’ll start the day with a tour of the farmer’s market in the nearby town of Apt, visit a small farm or artisan goat’s milk cheese producer. Then a late morning cooking class and afternoon picnic (weather permitting).
The evening you’ll be free to get some rest, take a stroll around the village, and have dinner in one of the local restaurants.

Wednesday, April 30
We’ll start the day with a cooking class, preparing pasta, bread, pizza dough for Thursday’s gala dinner. After lunch we’ll spend the afternoon foraging then return to the kitchen for the 2nd portion of our cooking class and dinner.

Thursday, May 1
It’s market day in Goult! We’ll meet at 9 am at Café de la Poste, in the heart of the village, for a typical café-croissant breakfast then on to the marketplace to buy victuals for the day. We’ll take a tour of the village before heading back to the school to cook lunch.
You’ll have time for an afternoon rest before the evening cooking class where we’ll prepare an amazing “Italian Fiesta” for our last night together: antipasti of all sorts, delicious home-made pizzas, Italian sweets and more.

Friday, May 2
Five days have quickly come and gone. We’ve met people, made friends, learned many a culinary secret to add to our treasure of kitchen knowledge. It’s now time to bid each other farewell…
But beforehand we’ll have a last café-croissant at Café de la Poste then say arrivederci !

The school :

Located in the village of Goult, the school sits perched on the top of the hill, offering a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains and villages. It comes complete with an authentic Provençal garden and meandering olive grove. Goult is a charming village situated between Gordes, Menerbes and Bonnieux, in the centre of what is known as the “Golden Triangle.”

A bit off the beaten path, it has managed to preserve its authentic village life. The Café de la Poste, just off the town square, is where locals and visitors alike meet. English newsprint is on sale inside. The main street, Rue de la Republique, is lined with small boutiques: a brocante, wine shop, corner food store, butcher, baker…

The teachers :

Giuseppina Mabilia :  I was born near Venice: my roots, my culture, everything I am comes from there. I stumbled on Provence some years ago, fell in love with the land and I decided to stay. That brought on a real change to my life.
My greatest passion has always been cooking. One day someone asked if I could cook for them during their holidays. That’s how my story began. Today I'm a well-known personal chef in the Luberon and I’d love to share with you everything I’ve learned and experimented through these years: cooking delicious, elegant and tasteful recipes that highlight the gorgeous ingredients of the region with a touch of Italian lifestyle. I’m also very engaged in using local ingredients. My primary sources for food are local farmers, les marchés paysans, and what I call “my supernatural market:” wildcrafting in nature.

Terresa Murphy : I'm on a mission to undress vegetables, which I've been doing since 2008 during my la cucina di terrESa cooking classes in my cozy kitchen in Paris, where wanderlust brought me many a year ago.
It's all about coaxing the sublime flavors from the local produce I procure from marketplaces across the city and mingling them with other artisan ingredients—as close to their pristine selves as possible—to create delightful dishes of layered textures, savors and colors that will sing on the plate and palate. Nothing too fancy, as “down-to-earth” is my touchstone, reflected in the inspiration I draw from the inventive flare of Italy's rustic regional cuisine and its many medieval recipes that I've gleaned over the years.

Price and payment :

— Tuition is 1850 euros per person. A 40% non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation. Classes are limited to 8 students.
— Paypal is our preferred method of payment, as it is both safe, easy to use, and allows for payment in your local currency. A request for payment will be sent to you through Paypal at the time of your registration.
— If we must cancel the program for any reason, we will refund all fees and deposits in full. Related travel costs will not be reimbursed.

What's included :

— 1 to 2 cooking classes each day.
— Outings each day (wildcrafting, farmers’ markets, artisan cheese producers, natural wine vineyards). We will have a mini-bus at our disposal for these excursions so that we can all travel together.
— All lunches and dinners except for Tuesday evening, which will be a free night for participants to do as they wish.
— Café-croissant breakfasts on Thursday and Friday
— Beverages (mineral water, coffee, tea, herbal tea) during the classes. Natural wine from the Luberon and Ardéche regions with all meals, specifically chosen for each menu.
— Recipes from the classes in PDF form, list of the wines and related links, as well as any information gleaned throughout the week to be sent in a follow-up email to the class.
— Pick up and drop off at the Avignon TGV train station if coming by train from Paris. There will be one pick up and drop off scheduled (train information sent upon reservation).
— For those arriving on an earlier or later train, there is bus service from the TGV station to Goult. Tickets are 2 euros (bus information and schedule sent upon request), with pick up at the bus stop in Goult.
— For those preferring to rent a car, there are rental agencies at the TGV train station, as well (driving directions to the cooking school sent upon request).

What’s not included :

— Train tickets to the Avignon TGV train station.
— Lodging for the week. Upon reservation, a list of accommodations in the village (BBs, hotels, small apartments) will be sent to you, as well as any further information needed to help make booking as simple as possible.

Legal liability :

— Students must sign a legal waiver (standard to the industry) upon arrival freeing Giuseppina, Terresa and their staff from any legal liability. We assume no liability for injury, delay, inconvenience, irregularity, loss or damage to person or property or additional cost resulting directly or indirectly from the following causes: fire, acts of government, thefts, delays, cancellations or for any other events over which we have no control.
— No refunds will be given for any excursions or meals a participant misses or decides not to take.

Travel Insurance :

We recommend that you purchase separate travel insurance in the event you must cancel your trip, as well as accident and health insurance, baggage and personal effects loss or damage.


"all things vegetable" cooking class series : Bay Area, CA—Feb 22 and 23, March 13

So this is the time for my yearly "family-friend" visit to the States—Northern California, in particular—and as always, I've organized a few cooking classes in a few generously welcoming kitchens, to celebrate yet again the humble and noble earthiness of vegetables...as the seasons turn.

I'm holding a class in San Francisco, February 22, one in Berkeley, February 23, and in one in Sebastopol, March 13.
 Would love to have you join us !!

Information about the classes are in the flyers down below. And to stir your taste buds, further below are photos of the dishes we'll be preparing.

Don't hesitate to write me for further information and to reserve a spot at the stove ! Hope to see you there  ,—)  Terresa

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celery, black olive salad
spring farinata
spicy and smoky carrot soup
Swiss chard rolls
savory cabbage rolls
blancmange à la sicilienne

baci di dama


reflections on a wintery day

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of food information traveling across the web, so much so that it can immobilize me. The plethora of recipes, food tips, links, blog posts, tweets, pages, photos, star chefs, food trends, trendy addresses... I cannot fathom where one is to store or even make use of it all. My petite brain experiences it much as a feverish wave of commotion, spinning me round, dizzying me, submerging me—which is surely one of the reasons for the long stretches of silence on my part.

A joyous cacophony it is, to be sure. A gleeful celebration of cuisine, of sharing and community. A blessed rediscovery of the fruits of the Earth, all things artisan, local, organic, sustainable, whole. A joyful path back to our kitchens, reuniting with our stoves, bowls, spatulas, aprons, those sweet scents seeping from glowing ovens, adorned tables, not to mention the age-old rituals born of that most basic of human endeavors: nourishing and sustaining our bodies and spirits. Hopefully it is even more so an expression of the high esteem and profound respect due the Earth, the fields and hills of fertile soil, the hands that toil them and offer up to us their seasonal harvests, the sentient animals who generously give of themselves on our behalf.

Living in the micro, the small-scale—that cherished hollow in the forest—has been my inherent way. As we are pulled—not kicking and fighting, it seems... though I'm not so sure—further into a life lived on and across the Internet, of hangouts and chats, likes, groups, circles, tags, links, events, tweets, hashtags, clouds—what have I forgotten—such rivers of flowing information now spanning the world, the macro, the large-scale of it all becomes more than daunting at times and I feel the need to retreat and find my center again—in that cherished hollow.

I'll just have to trust that living, creating and working in, as well as sharing from that cherished place will continue to nourish me and those wishing to glean from my posts and cooking classes a tip or two, a recipe or three about seasonal vegetables, how to lovingly undress them and stir them up into simple scrumptious dishes. And perhaps more important... sustain in both our spirits and under our nails a bit of fertile dirt.

Reflections on a wintry afternoon in Paris... and now back to the kitchen and what blesses me : cooking the roots shoots flowers and fruits, beans grains seeds pods 'n nuts from the quatrain of seasons into delightful food for body, heart and soul.... And so here goes to adding yet another pinch of earthy info to that already copiously whirling out there.

Now it is deeply autumn in Paris... wintry days cloaked in grey. Ah, but at the marketplaces there is no lack of vivid colors shouting forth from the stands that line the aisles. I've always thought autumn and winter offered the most plentiful variety and choice of fruits and vegetables Perhaps more modest in their allure, but oh so bursting with savory shades of the earth. Take radicchio rossa di Chioggia with the deep plum red and chiseled white veins of its leaves, the outer ones often tinted with mossy green.

T'is is the season of chicories from endive to escarole, sugarloaf to sucrine et pain de sucre, cicorie selvatiche (wild chicory) to puntarella (chicory sprouts), Castelfranco to Chioggia, rossa di Treviso precoce e tardivo and onwards to dandelion... That's quite a hymn to sweet bitterness! And suffice it to say they are chocked full of the vitamins and minerals that winter might just demand of our bodies. There is a beautiful intrinsic harmony in eating seasonally, after all.

Down in Salento, at the very heel of Puglia, there's a dish so humble as to be among the most savory things I've ever eaten: fave e cicorie selvatiche. Dried fava beans are cooked into a creamy purée and served with blanched cicorie selvatiche (akin to huge dandelion-looking leaves). Hard to find elsewhere (although I did stumble upon something similar the other day at a producer's stand at the marché Bastille, just not quite as "wild" tasting). So I often substitute radicchio di Chioggia for its pungent tang, the contrast to the comfy robustness of the fava beans is much to my liking. I know, I know, this is a transgression of the ricetta tradizionale, but I'll take responsibility.

First a few links :
— Via Campesina : peasant seeds and food sovereignty
— non-GMO shopping guide
— top 10 "Union of Concerned Scientists" food facts
— healthy farmland diet
Leonardo's Flight : a great video  on sending Leonardo da Vinci's codex to Mars

fave secche e cicorie selvatiche from a marketplace in Salento (photo by FP)

my variation on FAVE con CICORIE SELVATICHE (with radicchio di Chioggia) - serves 4

for the fava bean purée :
400 gr  [14 oz] dried fava beans, preferably already split
1 not-too-large potato (Charlotte, Bintje… a nice yellow fleshed one), peeled (or not) and cut into cubes
2 fresh bay leaves
4 tBsp extra virgin olive oil
Unrefined sea salt

for the sautéed chicory :
800 gr [28 oz] radicchio di Chioggia, the leaves separated and washed
Pinch of dried peperoncino (red pepper flakes)
2 – 3 large garlic cloves, peeled, cut in half, the sprout removed, and very thinly sliced crosswise
Extra virgin olive oil
Unrefined sea sat and freshly ground WHITE pepper

for the croutons (not pictured) : nice dense rustic bread

||| Soak the dried fava beans in cold water over night. Drain and rinse. If they are still wearing their skins patiently remove them, making a slit along one side with a sharp paring knife then peeling the skin back and off. Transfer to a large saucepan along with the potato and bay leaves. Add fresh water to cover by 3 cm (a good 1 inch). Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until the fava beans and potato fall apart, anywhere from 45 - 90 minutes depending on whether the beans are split or not, as well as their age—try to get the most recent year’s harvest. Skim off any foam that forms on the surface while cooking. Also check from time to time and add more water if beginning to dry out—there should be a bit of liquid left when fully cooked. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves then purée, along with the 4 tBsp of olive oil, with an immersion blender or in a food processor. (You can also use a food mill and add the olive oil at the end.) Season with sea salt to taste. The purée should be wonderfully creamy and have a slightly soupy consistency. Keep warm on the stove, adding a splash or two more water if needed just before serving.

||| Cut 20 1-inch cubes of dense rustic bread. (You can remove the crust or leave it be)… Drizzle lightly with olive oil and toss. Spread out on a baking sheet and place in the oven heated to 150 ˚C (300 ˚F) for 30 - 60 minutes, until veering golden, dry throughout with a nice crunch. Remove, transfer to a plate and set aside.

||| Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large high-sided skillet. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds over medium heat. Add the radicchio and a splash of water and cook over medium-high heat, turning from time to time, until beginning to brown, 10 or so minutes. Transfer to a plate. (You might do this in two turns so the leaves don not get soggy.) Season with sea salt to taste.

|||  Wipe out the skillet then heat a generous drizzle of olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and cook over medium heat until beginning to crisp and brown around the edges, 1 - 2 minutes, shaking the pan a few times. Turn off the heat and add another drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Transfer to a bowl.

to serve : Fill each soup plate with a generous portion of the fava bean purée. Top with a nice mound of cooked radicchio. Garnish with a generous tablespoon of garlic olive oil and a couple three twists of the WHITE pepper grinder. Plop  4 - 5 croutons down around the exterior of the dish.

wine note: serve with a lovely Occhipinti SP68 : Albanello and Moscato di Alessandria — Arianna Occhipinti, Sicilia

:: drink natural "living" wines
:: buy locally, from sustainable farmers
:: eat with friends
:: show thought and honor to ALL creatures
:: be gentle with the earth and kind to yourself


farro spezzato | cracked emmer... and San Nicola

As autumn rolls in, time to start stirring up those hardier dishes...

It has been a busy last couple of seasons. Many trips to the vineyards of my dear natural winemaker friends in the Touraine in the Loire Valley to cook up a seasonal "dinêr des vignerons" (winemaker's supper) or two or three and quaff the many precious bottles of sweet, nakedly raw wine they all brought to the table. Then there was the 3-minute TV spot on the France 2 program C'est au programme of me cooking up a meal of Italy's la cucina povera (peasant food). I also created a new excursion offer : "a day with a natural winemaker in the Loire Valley" and am off on one with a couple of enthusiastic wine lovers next week. We'll be going to Christophe Foucher's—la Lunotte—just as he is launching into his grape harvest. It should be an exciting, eventful day! And finally I'll be doing a handful of cooking classes at  Paris Vegan Day on October 11, right around the corner. If any of you are in Paris do stop by...

Recently I gave a friend a long list of goodies to bring me from Rome : dried fava beans, matagliati pasta, fiery olive oil, cedro candito, perperoncino, farro (emmer)... I was like a kid, pulling all these goodies out of the bag they were stuffed in. Expecting to see a bag of whole-berry farro appear out of the sack, I was intrigued when I saw the package... farro spezzato (cracked emmer)—akin to bulgar in the size of the groats.

Now the name farro can be a bit confusing, as it's often associated with three wheat species: einkorn (Triticum monococum), emmer (Triticum dicocum) and spelt (Triticum spelta)— also called farro piccolo, farro medio et farro grande respectively. But in Italy emmer—the dicocum in the bunch—seems to be considered the "true" farro and in certain mountainous regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Abruzzo Umbria (Garfagnana and Monteleone di Spoleta, Rieti) where it is grown, it is labeled PDO (protected designation of origin)—meaning that it "be the real deal" ! And it is a mighty good tasting wheat... subtle and nutty, light and yet so earth bound.

Mind you, this is a plant that seems all to happy to grow in poor soil, making high mountainous elevations the perfect fit; it is quite undemanding when it comes to water—seems to have renowned resistance to drought—so need to to irrigate; it considers itself something of a wild herb and thus has no need of pesticides or weed killers... heaven forbid! Because of its husks, it can be stored without—yet again—the use of chemicals, as long as it is kept dry. It's a wonderfully hard wheat that produces an excellent flour. Kinda have to wonder why it all but disappeared. Perhaps the fact that it is a hulled wheat... demanding a bit more effort in getting to the grain...

Turning the package over, I was delighted to find a couple of recipes and thought I'd try one out : "ricetta di San Nicola" di magro : a "lean" or meatless dish served in Monteleone on the eve of the Feast of their Patron Saint Nicholas, December 5.

I am forever amazed at the simple yet sumptuous dishes that Italians are so skilled at creating... out of, well, almost nothing. And this recipe is a perfect case in point—perhaps the only difficult part of the recipe is getting a hold of farro spezzato at your local Italian market, if it doesn't happen to be in Italy. But I did a bit of searching and found the ChefShop online store in Seattle, WA. Seems they even have a retail store, and the MarketHall (selling the whole grain) in Oakland, CA. Here are a few at Amazon (also the whole grain)—make sure it stipulates "dicocum." If all else fails, I'm sure that bulgur would come in a close second...

Before heading on to the recipe, I wanted to add a few links you might find interesting :
International Seed Treaty on Via Campesina
— Sarah Kahn and her Tasting Cultures website
— TEDxManhatten 2013 video of Lindsey Lusher Shute of Hardy Roots Community Farm on building a future with farmers, the National Young Farmers Coalition that she founded.  And the many other TEDxManhatten 2013 speakers on changing the way we eat
— and one more : Wendell Berry on the Bill Moyers Show

And now on to the recipe... Oh, I should mention that I'll be paring my recipes with a natural wine from France or sometimes Italy or even the West Coast. And will be posting a list of importers of natural wines (if not the ones in question, others that are similar), for the moment mostly in the States, but that I'll be adding to... Don't hesitate to ask my advice in the comments area.

I opened a bottle of pineau d'Aunis from Pascal Simonutti "domaine le Pré noir" in Mesland. A red varietal grown primarily in the Loire Valley (Anjou, Touraine), and a lovely grape it is. I consider him the king of pineau d'Aunis; he has such a knack for coaxing out of the grape such a vibrant juice, hearty but not too much so, bright and full of peppery zest. No additives of any kind in this juice. No S02 and no filtering. If you can get your hands on a bottle, it's well worth the effort.

CRACKED EMMER : ricetta SAN NICOLA - serves 4

250 gr | 8,75 oz cracked emmer
1.5 liters water or light vegetable broth
120 gr | 4.25 oz red onion, finely chopped
120 gr | 4.25 oz carrot, finely chopped
120 gr | 4.25 oz celery, finely chopped
250 gr potato | 8,75 oz (Yukon Gold, Bintje), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
150 gr | 5.25 oz fresh tomatoes, blanched, the seeds removed and coarsely diced (suppose you could use canned in a pinch)
1 peperoncino, crushed (or a nice pinch of red pepper flakes)
Pecorino or Parmesan, grated or shaved for garnish
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large pan, sauté the onion in a bit of heated olive oil over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the celery, carrot, potato, tomato, and peperoncino and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil. Add the cracked emmer and cook for 20 minutes at a simmer, stirring occasionally (for a drier dish, cover the pan). At this point, salt to taste. Serve pipping hot with a drizzle of olive oil, a garnish of Pecorino or Parmesan, and a couple twists of the pepper grinder.


a day visit to a natural winemaker's home and vineyards in the Loire Valley

I know it's been a while since I last scribbled out a post, completely backsliding on my promise to communicate more often. And have amassed a bit to say, so as not to make this too long post, I'm going to divide it into three :
— a day with a natural winemaker
cooking up and down on the West Coast
torta caprese

Most recently I've been working on a new excursion on my website : a day in the Loire Valley at a natural winemaker's table and in his vineyards. (My dear friend Emily, of Paris Paysanne blog fame, wrote a generous article, recently posted.) I'm excited about this opportunity to take people for the day to one of many passionate natural winemaker friends along the rivers of the Loire Valley, where the day will start with cooking up a great earthen meal in the winemaker's kitchen with seasonal produce and artisan cheeses from the region. Then sitting around the table with the winemaker—a selection of his wines in hand—to enjoy our meal together.

What particularly stirs about this day-trip is the occasion it offers me to talk about, and demonstrate, pairing wines with vegetables (something I'll be doing from now on when posting a recipe)... as all too often the "science" of wine pairing seems only to speak in terms of meat, fish,  perhaps asparagus ('cuz it's so fussy about what one drinks with it) and wild mushrooms (because they're wild mushrooms)... When there's a whole world of savory discovery in paying attention to what one sips with roots, leaves, flowers and shoots.

At the table the winemaker will surely carry on passionately about natural (or raw, or living, or naked) wine, it's history, definition(s)—and controversy. Methods of farming, or tending the vine; harvesting the grape, with hands and bucket; vinification, or accompanying the "jus" as it turns into wine. The meaning of terroir, the importance of a healthy soil, the teeming microbial life within, a healthy grape and thus abundant, healthy natural yeast. Acidity, minerality, the mother rock, le perlant, the "nothing added, nothing taken away" philosophy—striving for an equilibrium, a stability in the juice itself that should allow the winemaker to bottle his wines without the addition of sulfites. So that in your glass you have but the expression of those grapes grown that year in that spot, with that year's wind, sun, shade, rain, slope, river, woods, and the critters inhabiting them all adding their color and flair...

There'll be ample time to ask any and all questions concerning natural wine—all those queries you've pondered. There'll surely even be an "ah" moment or two in the exchange.

Then a walk with the winemaker through vineyards to cup a bit of soil in one's hands, then onto the chai, or cellar, to talk maceration, fermentation, the risks and joys of vinifying "nakedly." A tasting, will be in order, of a wine or two still in the process of "becoming," lying yet low in the barrel. And as the afternoon slowly descends, you'll settle into a train heading back to Paris.

Would love you all to come and join me for a day in the Loire, in the vines, at the table and in the presence of the passionate men and women who make these beautiful wines. And do please pass the word around to all your friends, near and far. Would be such pleasure to have throngs of enthusiastic folks to share in this unique experience!

Below is a imaged resume of the day...
You can visit my web page for more information and... to book a day—with great pleasure!

cookin' up and down the West Coast

Continuing on from my previous post (of three in this series) :
a day with a natural winemaker
— cooking up and down on the West Coast
torta caprese

One of the other reasons I've been so invisible is that I was off to the West Coast for a stretch, where I gave a string of cooking classes up and down the Pacific, from Santa Cruz to Portland.

Former clients of my cooking classes in Paris, as well as a couple of friends, opened up their homes and kitchens to me, where along with a small group of their friends and other keen souls, we stirred up lots of delicious dishes full of seasonal vegetables and artisan products from the areas, chatted, laughed, drank natural (or raw or living or nothing added, nothing taken away) wine and filled our bellies and senses with our earthen creations. You can read a few comments on the testimonial page of my website.

Let's see we made many homemade pastas : quique, carrot-top ravioli, orrechiette w/ rapini...
We made beet and romanesco purées, roasted radishes, green lentils w/ celery-leaf pesto, bruschetta w/ herb pestos,  roasted kabocha salad, sweet-pea blancmange...
And on the sweet end lemon tart, pears poached in red wine (down at the bottom of the post), the oh so luscious torta caprese... which I'll post in the third of these three forays into the last few months of my life.

A few local artisan products I joyously included in my classes :
Firebrand artisan breads, in Oakland, CA : no store front, but available at both Rainbow and Bi-Rite Grocery
The Baker and the Cake Maker, artisan breads, in Auburn, CA
True Grass Farms absolutely the freshest, brightest yellow eggs from real scratching, pecking hens
vegetables of all sorts from Tomatero Farms
And I made my Sunday morn trip to the Montclair farmer's market, right near where I stay when I'm in town.

Also to a drive up a long and winding road in Glenn Ellen to the home, garden and vineyards of Sonoma Mtn Winery to visit Charlene, a marvelous cook, private chef, gardener, and woman, whom I met in a veritable "hole-in-the-wall" natural wine store in Paris— Crus et découverts (where I hold my natural wine dégustations)—and her partner, Nic (of Coturri Winery family fame) who makes what I consider truly accomplished natural wines. Along with the most delicate arugula ravioli and other delicacies, she served some of the best bread I've ever bitten into, from [the bejkr] in Sonoma that rounded out an incredible plate of artisan cheeses, I think from Vermont... unfortunately, I didn't get the name written down.

She also mentioned a natural wine bar in Oakland that one of my cooking class participants had also spoken of : the PunchDown. Of course, I had to make a pilgrimage to its welcoming space in downtown Oakland. Not to be missed if you've got the hankering for a sweet glass of the French, or Italian, or even American natural (naked) stuff.

I thought I'd share a slew of photos of these tasty gatherings... And many thanks to Megan, Vicki, Tomi, Karen for sharing their images with me, as when I get to stirring and roasting, I don't seem to have the time or head for much clicking of my own camera. Perhaps you'll join in the 2014 edition of my West Coast cooking classes. Would love to stir up some savory earthen dishes with you!

earthen still lifes

surrounded by colors