This is a supremely salty tasting salt, so use it sparingly or excessively depending on your appetite for saltiness. It’s heavy on the Winter Savory, a naturally “salty tasting” herb, so it just tastes a bit saltier than some of my other salts.
Chicories—which include three kinds of radicchios (Chioggia, Castelfranco and Treviso), escarole, curly endive and frisée—are members of the lettuce family. They are heartier and more assertive than lettuce, which is probably why I enjoy them. They are kind of like the New Yorkers of the lettuce world, in that they are loud and can be rambunctious. But unbeknownst to many chicories are tameable, and easily transformed into hearty salads, robust soups and braises and satisfying grain dishes that are perfect for the colder months. Rosemary, believe it or not is one of the most compatible herbs for winter chicories.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of cooking a six-course Thanksgiving pairing menu to go along with the French fortified wine, Pineau des Charentes. This was a press dinner hosted by PlaceInvaders for Sopexa, who represents the wine. A total of twelve guests spent the evening warmly tucked inside a Placeinvaders purple Victorian “mansion” in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. I conjured up the menu to evoke an autumnal European-American Thanksgiving vibe and, because I was the chef, I was bursting with fresh, fall-centric herbs.
Sage is without question the herb of the season. It’s hard to see, smell or taste, without thinking about the warming and comforting foods of fall, that start to bring us inside, literally and figuratively. As we begin to settle into the rapidly colder and darker winter, sage creeps into our foods; in soups, beans, stews and most importantly buried throughout most of the dishes on our holiday tables. Just as pumpkin pie spice is synonymous with fall, sage is tantamount to Thanksgiving. There is nothing more quintessentially Thanksgiving than sage, except I suppose the turkey.
Yesterday I was reminded of how amazing bringing joy to others feels, it doesn’t matter if it’s a human being or a pet. When you participate and focus on joy for others, good things happen. I’ve been noticing this a lot lately and a few years back began to notice that I do it a lot with food and recipes. My caring nature towards loved ones often leads me through adventures perfecting the foods and recipes they love. It doesn’t matter if I personally like the food or recipe choice, I still have the yearning to learn more and make the best version. Even when the food is something I totally dislike. I do it, usually only to (re)discover (over and over) what I have been telling kids forever while tasting things- “figure out what you like and don’t like about it and learn your taste and texture preferences”.
This time of year, with the onset of colder wetter days, my garden seems to burst with tender shoots of mint. This vibrant bumper crop, as they call it, always feels unexpected and yet deeply appreciated. With it, I start to see the full potential of mints warming and comforting qualities within my own cooking, especially as fall pulls and seemingly forces me into eating warmer, heavier and more comforting foods. Mint’s hidden talent of encouraging the fresh and healthy in any dish draws me in further.
If you were to pick two items that signal the climax of summer, they would be basil and heirloom tomatoes. Both of these heat loving crops peak and are at their most flavorful many long, hot days. In a way these items actually mark the beginning of the end of summer and they should serve as a reminder to all of us to indulge in the last sweet offerings of summer.
If you are lucky enough to have a garden you need to grow Anise Hyssop. It’s easy to grow and one of the most beautiful in the garden during all growing stages, not to mention that its incredibly versatile in both sweet and savory recipes. It’s often available at farmers markets during the summer and if you can get your hands on it one way or another - do grab some.
Join me for special evening in Bolinas on September 7th, 2019. The 27th Annual Benefit Art Auction & Party is one of West Marin’s most coveted events. The event, which benefits the Bolinas Museum, is the largest and most important fundraiser of the year for the museum and attracts some of the most generous and caring members of our community. I will be donating a special cocktail experience to the event.