Facing an uncertain future with the promise of seeds

Facing an uncertain future with the promise of seeds

At the cusp of March and April in this pandemic year of 2020, it's time to face the future. We are still four to five weeks away from the last frost here in Zone 6 (Cambridge, Massachusetts). And although we are being told that the incidence of illness will only continue to climb for the next few weeks, it's time to plant. The rhythms of the seasons are oblivious to human care. The new moon arrived last week, so I began to chart the summer garden. On the previous new moon I planted basil. Nurtured in a cold stairwell under a glass skylight, the sprouts turned into seedlings and have grown tough and sturdy under the adversity of cool temperatures. In my urban apartment building,...Read More
Summer travel picnic: pesto, chicken & corn

Summer travel picnic: pesto, chicken & corn

For the next couple of posts, we'll been doing the reverse of “bringing the taste of travel back home.” When we're faced with long road trips in the summer, we often resort to dishes that bring the taste of home out on the road. One of our stand-bys for rest-stop picnics or campground suppers is a pasta dish we call “pesto salad.” That's shorthand. The dish evolved pretty much by accident. We grow a lot of basil in our garden. When it flowers madly in hot weather, we keep the growing tips clipped to prolong the season. That means we have a gallon or so of basil sprigs every few days. Since it doesn't refrigerate well, we turn it into pesto, adding a lot of...Read More

Christo’s Floating Piers rise like Franciacorta bubbles

For 16 days in late June and early July, the artist Christo let art-lovers walk on water. His “Floating Piers” project was his first outdoor installation since 2005 when he and his late wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, installed 7,500 panels to make gates in New York's Central Park. Like the gates, the piers gleamed with celebratory saffron-colored fabric. Some 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes supported the 53-foot wide walkway. Nearly two years in the making, the environmental artwork connected two small islands in Lake Iseo with each other and the mainland. And now it's all gone — but not before an estimated 1 million visitors experienced it. The poignancy of Christo's works lies in the tension between the heroic scale of their vision and their ephemeral...Read More

Black truffle pizza tricks

I got some of my best ideas about how to adapt truffles for home preparations from Doug Psaltis of RPM Steak (, RPM Italian (, and Paris Club ( in Chicago, who is the biggest user of Aussie truffles in the U.S. Psaltis credits his comfort level with truffles to the seven and a half years he spent working for Alain Ducasse (he opened Mix in New York). “I learned the best thing about truffles—that they are really delicate and not overpowering,” he told me. “There are a lot of aromas to truffle dishes but what I really savor is the actual flavor of truffle. Handled right, it's light and delicate. You can add lots of butter and lots of cheese to make a Parmesan...Read More

Top food with a view at Sophie’s, Dublin’s newest

When it comes to good eating in Dublin, the best choices at the moment seem to be either the self-styled gastropubs or terrific restaurants in some of the hotels. The latest arrival is Sophie's (33 Harcourt Street, +353 1 607 8100, at the Dean (, a chic new designer boutique hotel. Both restaurant and hotel opened at the beginning of December, so by the time we arrived on New Year's Eve, chef Darren Mathews (below) had Sophie's running on all cylinders. The top-floor restaurant and bar is surrounded on three sides by windows with views of the Dublin rooftops. It's a spectacular space, with banquettes and some booths lining the perimeter of the room and — in true Irish fashion — a big bar...Read More

Tomatoes meet their match in bacon & basil

Faced yet again with an abundance of tomatoes, we didn't have to travel far for inspiration. The inventive cooks of the Catered Affair prepare the food for the Courtyard Restaurant at the Boston Public Library, including a lovely afternoon tea. Last year when we visited during harvest season, the chefs served a dainty version of a BLT. They placed a mixture of chopped bacon and chopped tomato between two small slices of bread with the crusts cut off. It was a lovely variation on a classic. This year we decided to use some of those prolific garden tomatoes to scale up the sandwich for a hearty lunch. We used English muffins and spread them with homemade basil mayonnaise, since basil is growing far more profusely...Read More