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I Love FoodBuzz! Part 1

“I Love FoodBuzz” was the event logo. It was on everything. And, by the end of the weekend, it was the mantra of the hundreds of attendees. ‘FoodBuzz Goddess’ Ryan Stern (Director of Community & Managing Editor), her colleagues Dorian and Alexa, and the rest of the staff made a herculean effort to create a great weekend for us. From the hefty welcome goodie bag to the planned events, food, drinks and venues…everything was stellar. It was like a foodies’ Christmas – gifts and goodies – and we all behaved with the excitement of children on Christmas morning. Kudos and thanks to FoodBuzz! Continue Reading

Leftovers anyone?

Me? I can’t bear to throw them out so when faced with the predicament of all those recorded meals that I cooked, ate and photographed and never posted, I decided a year-end round-up was in order. BTW, it’s a month short of a 1/2-year since I started blogging. My first official post was July 31 and, after 5 months, it’s interesting to re-read. I think I stayed fairly true to my mission statement. Click here if interested.

Anyway, rather than throw the leftovers in the ‘trash’ like table scraps, here’s the lonely little entries that languished in my draft folder waiting to be chosen. Their leafy green or spicy piquant voices crying  ‘pick me, pick me’. So sad. Too bad. I know I could post them in 2009 but I’ve always been all about ‘out with the old, in with the new’. (And those that know me well are shaking their heads up and down and laughing now.)
Baked Sausage: pork sausage, fennel/carrots/potatoes/pimentos, crusty ciabatta…vino!

Stuffed Chicken Breast with broccoli rabe and white bean puree.

Tuna Melt: Like Frank, I did it “my way”. Tuna mixed with capers, olives & cheese.

Fresh Italian Plum & Toasted Walnuts Tart
My one foray into pastry wound up getting nicknamed “A tart Tart”.

Lobster Monster Roll at Lemongrass Bistro (one of my 2 favorite decadent foods; the other is Salade Royale of fois gras, prawns and other over-the-top delicacies
 at a waterfront restaurant in Cannes).

Chicken Burger on a Ciabatta Roll: Meant to be a product recommendation (I bought in Costco but I haven’t seen it lately). Boo-hoo.

 Spinach & Apple Salad: Spanish-inspired with sherry-saffron-mustard vinaigrette & toasted almonds.

Spinach & Apple Salad with feta, walnuts and rice wine vinegar vinaigrette.

Fresh Roasted Tomatoes, Leftover Broccoli and Pesto Oil Pasta…with a scoop of ricotta.

Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad: chicken, various veggies, toasted ramen noodles & almonds, rice wine & sesame oil vinaigrette

Cabbage & Lima Bean Parmigiana: savoy cabbage, sauteed onions, lima beans, breadcrumbs & cheese

Tapas: chistorra, morcilla & garbanzos with pan de tomate.

Asian Seafood Pouch: seafood, veggies, udon noodles, nuts, various oriental spices.

Somewhere along the way I had a brilliant(?) idea to create a collection of B&W with 1-color added (a nifty feature, I thought, that my camera offered). Interesting? Crazy? Perhaps, this should have been relegated to the trash. Looks like science lab gone wrong, very wrong.

Stuffed Roasted Vegetables: Eggplant Rolotini; couscous/lentils/cheese & herb stuffed red pepper; olive & bread stuffed mushroom

Spinach Spaghetti with Scallops and fresh tomatoes.

Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps: ground pork, Asian spices, chow mein noodles. 
Spicy, but in a good way.

Joan aka ‘culinista @’

P.S. If anyone wants a full recipe for any of these featured items, email me at and I’ll be happy to send it to you.

The Wind is Blowing, the Snow is Snowing but I Can Weather the Storm

Please don’t hate me because I live in Sunny Florida. If you’re starting to suffer from the winter blues, join me for a moment as I show you my weekend stops: Mizner Park, the green markets (3), Vizcaya Museum & Garden, and Little Havana. It will remind you that better days are ahead. And, of course, I’m going to show you where I stopped to eat. No jaunt is taken that isn’t built around food!

Mizner Park, Boca Raton

Green Markets (3): Community Market, “The Girls”, “The Boys” (all Delray Beach)
I bought fabulous Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, yellow zucchini (did you ever see one?), pumelo (a very sweet cross between grapefruit and orange…about the size of honeydew melon!) and some artisan bread at the first stop. From there, we went to The Boys (an Italian market and produce center), and their sister store, The Girls, where you walk into a very cute country store and out the backdoor into a working farm/fantasyland with exotic birds, baby mules, ducks, etc. and the ability to pick your own strawberries, romaine, escarole, etc.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami: The former 180-acre home of industrialist James Deering built in the early 1900s to replicate the art and aristocracy of Europeans who lived centuries before him, particularly Italians, by either importing or recreating on-site. (Now owned by the City of Miami and operated as a historical meeting venue or destination for tourists.)
The back of the mansion which sits on Biscayne Bay.

And since this is a food and travel blog, here’s a glimpse of the gold china and the kitchen.

Little Havana, Miami: What’s a trip to Miami without a cha-cha-cha through Little Havana? 
Mojitos and chistorra (baby chorizo) at Casa Juancho (the grande dame of Calle Ocho). 
The Versailles, home to the Cuban community who meet regularly to discuss politics at the outside coffee window. It’s also a must-stop for tourists and visiting dignitaries and a gold mine to the owners. It is kitsch to the nth degree…huge, open 24-hours, sort of cafeteria-like in decor but with crystal chandeliers and etched mirrors.

Here’s an order of mariquitas for the table (fried plantains with mojo (garlic oil & lime juice) and my ‘pargo entero’ (fried snapper). 
And you cannot go to a Cuban restaurant without a ‘cafe cubano’ to end the meal…dark and oh-so sweet.

Hope you enjoyed this travelogue/photologue/foodalogue!

Thanksgiving. In photos. Few Words.

Thanksgiving is celebrated at my sister’s house…she’s a good cook too and a great hostess. Yesterday we were, I think, 18 people. I was too busy photographing and eating the food so, sadly, I only managed to capture 4 people. 

The welcoming pig chef who announces the occasion.

Tablescape: Note the kiddie table covered with brown paper and crayons.

Some of the appetizers: pumpkin-pesto pizza pinwheel; guava paste, boursin cheese & almonds, and the star of the show a baked pumpkin cheese fondue.

Some of the sides: mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts & chestnuts, 
carrots, and fennel, arugula and pomegranate salad.

mmmm…stuffing and gravy

Deep dish apple pie by Jim; store bought pumpkin pie; 

pumpkin cookies by Teri; fruit salad by Carolyn.

And a few of the people we are thankful for:

Nina and Michael

Nico and Adriana

Hope you all had a wonderful day…don’t forget Blogger’s Aid which is fighting world famine.

The Feast of Little Italy

…South Florida style.

Impromptu street corner do-wop (play audio)

A Sample of T-Shirts 

A Sample of The Food Scene

Sausage & Peppers Washed down by Italian Beer

Stuffed Rice Ball

Everything tastes better with sauce!

Cooking Demos

Sweet Endings
Looking down the bag of powder-sugared zeppoles

Honey Balls


My focus on food has been intense the past couple of months and while it’s been a very fulfilling experience (literally and figuratively), I’ve been feeling that something was missing. This morning I realized what. Travel. I’m a travel-a-holic and since July I’ve been posting here with not a word about travel. So I decided to revisit my very first internet post from April 2006, which melded my passion for food and travel in a Meandering Meal narrative. It took a while to track down because I had lost it somewhere in the blogosphere.
In the 3 years since I wrote the piece that follows I’ve had the good fortune to travel to Thailand, Italy, Spain, Greece, Toronto, New Orleans, Albuquerque, and Puerto Rico and NY (several times each)…so you don’t have to throw a ‘pity party’ for me. But, boo-hoo, like many others, I’m running scared about finances and the only traveling I’m projecting for the near term is between my computer and the kitchen! Did I say boo-hoo?

[Reprint: April 2006]
My fingers quake as I lay them on the keyboard to begin this new journey, perhaps the strangest trip I’ve ever taken…entering Blogville. For almost 25 years, I’ve been fortunate to have 3 passions crisscross my life, both personally and professionally: food, travel, and publishing. Another pursuit I’ve enjoyed is photography (let’s call this passion #4). My photography is not the kind with F stops, tripods and special wide-angle lens but, rather, an amateur ‘point & shoot’ method which has yielded some surprisingly good results; a few even hang on my walls. While food and travel still occupy the lion’s share of my recreational thought process, the publishing aspect had begun to slip away. Enter BLOGVILLE, a cyberspace destination I’d yet to explore. Why not create an online food and travel journal? It seemed like the ideal pursuit to meld my 4 passions into a new vehicle for my enjoyment … and maybe yours. Perhaps you’ll continue on this journey with me?

A Gastronomic Stroll Down Memory Lane
Many memorable meals were tasted along the way but, unfortunately, not  recorded.

• I’m thinking about Risotto Nero in a little restaurant in Venice with my sister and mom where the chef was literally dragged out of the kitchen when Mary told the waiter in a very offhanded manner ‘my compliments to the chef’. (Apparently, that’s something you get to do personally.)

• With a heavy heart, I remember the dichotomy of food supply I experienced in Cuba from the predominantly rationed portions in government restaurants (the only place tourists were supposed to eat and where you were lucky to get a spoonful of frijoles to accompany the rice) to the high cuisine and Nuevo Latino dishes of a paladar (private residence) where we secretly dined one night.
• I don’t need a photo to remember downing tequila the real way (lime and salt off my thumb and pointer finger) with grilled meats wrapped in tortilla at a plaza in Mexico City while Mariachis played in the foreground.
• The fabulous barbecue meats of Brazil and Argentina and my first experience at a rodizio (all-U-can-eat BBQ with a football field of ‘salad bar’ offerings) are definite standouts in my memory food bank … as is the looming and impressive Christ figure on the top of the mountain as you fly into Rio by night.
Lubino al Sal (a whole fish heavily encrusted in salt and baked) was a wonderful, juicy, non-salty surprise when first tasted at an outdoor restaurant in Malaga, Spain many years go.

• I’ve spent a lot of time in
Puerto Rico and certainly found many meals ‘muy bueno’, high among them the rich asopaos made with shrimp or chicken that I remember from my early visits to the Island. A squeeze of lime and sliced fresh avocado takes it right over the top. Anyone who knows the real PR has visited at least one of the roadside foodstands in Piñones where you are greeted by wafts of alcapurria (mashed, stuffed and fried plantains) and bacalitos (cod fish fritters). You wash these down with an iced cold beer or coconut water sipped right from the shell. More recently, I was treated to the sights, smells and sounds of La Ruta de Los Lechones, a colorful stretch of mountain road in Guavate. Here one can spend a wonderful afternoon feasting on roast pig right off the spit with all its typical accompaniments and dance away the calories to the undeniably happy sounds of live salsa bands.
• In Tuscany, a farmhouse in the rolling hills of San Gmignano was the setting for a wine-tasting and a wonderful home-cooked meal; at the main hall of a castle in Chianti, we tasted wine and ate crusts of just baked Italian bread served with salamis, olives and artisanal cheeses.
• A visit to the food market in Florence and a cooking lesson in a professional chef’s apartment was a great experience. I’ll never forget the spaghetti cooked in chianti at Divina Cucina.
• We seemed to have mouled (ate mussels) our way through France. They were so good and so hard to resist. At La Pied Cochon I had the best onion soup, escargots and cod over a potato puree in a very Parisian atmosphere…and then took a night boat ride on the River Seine. Ooh la la.
• A must stop in downtown Santiago, Chile is lunch at Donde Agosto in the bustling and colorful Mercado Central. On the road to the wineries, I loved our stop at the wisteria-laden “Los Hornitos” where we were greeted with a welcome drink and empanadas made from meats cooked in the outdoor ovens.

• And, of course, who has ever gone to the beautiful and fragrant valleys of Napa and Sonoma and not enjoyed themselves? Tasting, tasting, and more tasting!
• Lastly, I’ve been presented with a few strange dishes in my travels…an appetizer of lamb testicles in the House of Morande in the Casablanca Valley outside of Santiago (but with a glass of wine and that beautiful setting overlooking the vineyards, who cared?); a Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac of bull’s balls served at Cafe San Martin in NYC. (I know it’s suspiciously starting to look like a theme here, but that’s the end of that category, promise).

• Grasshoppers are a delicacy in Oaxaca, MX and I’ve conveniently blocked my memory as to whether or not I tried them when they were presented at a folkloric buffet I attended. I’m thinking I did…and I’m thinking salty.

Postscript: I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane and while there are only a few photos and most were taken way back before digital cameras, they’re authentic. This post has left me wanting…wanting to make a project of finding old photos and travel journals, wanting to update it with memories from the great trips I took over the past 3 years…and, more importantly, wanting to go out and create new ones!
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