Eating my way around the world

Category: Food Photography

Healthy Flight Salad aka “Clean Out My Fridge Before I Leave So That I Don’t Have A Rotting Mess When I Return” Salad

 For those of you that know me personally, you know that I fly fairly often. Whether it’s a short domestic trip, or a long-haul around the world, I almost always fly with my own food. I do this mostly out of necessity because of my soy allergy (it’s in Everything processed), but also as part of my flying ritual. If you fly frequently, you probably have a ritual as well, and I would love to hear about them in the comments. 
I like to make non-perishable items to fly with, like this salad that was inspired by the NYTimes, and I like to bring a lot of it. After claiming my bags, possibly going through border control, maybe with a toddler in tow, and getting to my destination from the airport which can sometimes take up to 2hrs depending on where I’ve landed, by the time I reach my accommodations I’m exhausted, hungry, & possibly severely jet lagged. Searching for food after all of that just makes me want to cry. Which is why I will bring more than enough food on my flight(s) so that I can unpack, tend to the toddler if he’s with me, and collapse, ready for the next day with wide eyes & a bushy tail.

Along with this type of salad, I like to fly with non-high-maintenance fruit such as apples, oranges, grapes, or stone fruit when in season. I’ll usually throw in some Lara bars, and a good bar of chocolate too. If the toddler is with me, I bring copious amounts of cheddar bunnies & animal cracker packets. The above mentioned fruit is on the toddler’s “approved-foods” list (which is mostly diminishing in length *sigh*). I also like to make farçou for the toddler to snack on in the most likely case he hates everything there is to offer at the airport/on the plane. I will also pack my suitcase with peanut butter and almond butter packets, and squeeze packs of fruit purees for the toddler when we reach our destination.

Back to the adults: the great thing about this salad is that it doesn’t have any meat or dairy in it, which means you could fly from NY to Tokyo with it, and it will still be decent to eat by the time you get to your hotel 20hrs later. And if you don’t have the exact same ingredients as I did for this salad, don’t sweat it. Neither did I when I loosely followed The NYTimes’ version of this salad as well. Any sort of veggie roasted would be great in this, and toasted almonds, and/or walnuts would be great too. If you have a lemon, not a clementine, use that. And if you only have apple cider vinegar instead of sherry vinegar, that will taste great too. Don’t worry, it’s just a salad:

 -1c green or black lentils (these hold their shape when cooked)

-1 or 2 bay leaves

-pinch of salt 

Place lentils, bay leaves, & salt in a pot with 3c of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 20min, or until fork tender. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve/collander. Set aside to cool (or run under cold water until cool to quickly reduce the temperature as I did), and discard the bay leaves.

Pre-heat the oven to 425F, and chop into bite-sized pieces:

-1 large sweet potato

-1/2 large red onion, cut into wedges

-3 medium-sized parsnips

-2 medium-sized carrots

-1/2 of a very large golden beet

-big handful of rosemary, minced

-2 large garlic cloves, minced

Throw all of this onto a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, toss/mix to combine, and roast for about 20-30min. Just until it looks soft & the edges of the chopped veggies are starting to char. Turn the oven off and leave in the oven for about 20min. I’ve discovered that when you do this, the vegetables start to dehydrate a bit, maintaining their shape when you toss them in salads. I don’t know about you, but I hate mushy roasted veggies that don’t hold their shape.

Make the dressing:

-Olive oil

-Sherry vinegar

-Dijon mustard (about a tsp or so)

-Salt & pepper

-The juice of 1 large clementine/mandarine

The amount of oil & vinegar is to your taste, which is why I’m not giving you amounts. This is good practice when making any vinaigrette. I normally do more oil than vinegar if that helps, and I’ll start off with a tsp of mustard & take it from there taste-wise. Whisk everything together.

In a dry pan, toast some chopped pistachios until fragrant. Be mindful you don’t burn them (I’m constantly burning any toasted nut I do…)
When the lentils have cooled, place them in a large bowl & splash them with the dressing. You want just enough dressing to give them flavour, but not so much that the pool of liquid will get you in trouble when going through airport security. Add the veggies, toss to combine, & add more dressing if needed. Add in the pistachios, toss to combine. Some chopped flat-leaf parsley would be nice to toss in this too.
I like to keep the plastic to-go containers from the Whole Foods deli section for flights as I can just recycle them when I’m finished eating & not have to worry about carrying tupperware with me for my whole trip. And I can find disposable cutlery in any airport to eat with. 

This will fill about 3 medium-sized containers, perfect for the airport & dinner later.



Last Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

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Hey there! Thanksgiving is coming up in a few days, have you decided what you’re going to make? Me either! You & I must be one in the same person- procrastinate until the last minute then chain smoke cigarettes (or down red wine like nobody’s business, whatever your vice is, I’m not judging)  while you stress out over what to make.

Are you in charge of the entire dinner? My first bit of advice is to thaw out your bird two days before in the fridge. I made that rookie mistake years ago when I lived in San Francisco & cooked the beast for the first time. I think we ate at 11pm. Don’t do that to your guests.

If you can prep the day before, even better. I’ll normally chop up all the ingredients for the salad the night before, and prep the dressing separately. I’ll buy pre-grated parm if needed, and bagged & washed greens to make my life easier. Don’t be a hero- take shortcuts whenever possible because if you are in charge of everything for the big day, you’re going to be exhausted doing everything else that can’t be prepped beforehand. Same goes for a roasted veg, a pie if you’re in charge of that as well (I would recommend starting your dough today to give it time to rest), a soup could be made the day before if you’re having that as an app, dips can be prepped the day before for your apps, and you can also start on your stuffing the day before too.

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I loathe making gravy, my husband does the gravy because by the time I’ve set out apps, cooked the turkey, mashed the potatoes, rewarmed the stuffing and whatever veg I’m serving, set the table, prep the condiments such as cornichons, and pour myself a glass of wine, I’m so exhausted I could give a f**k about the gravy- I’m about to pass out face first into the latticed apple pie. That’s where the husband magically appears and saves the day. If you have someone you can count on to help with the tedious task of gravy, I urge you to do so. ***A hint for thickening the gravy that absolutely Nobody tells you is warm up your water and flour mixture. Because the temp of your thickener will be almost the same temp as the drippings in your pan, the gravy will thicken up quickly. Same goes for the stock you’re going to whisk in.

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Here are a few recipes I love making for the holidays:
-Bon Appetit’s Kale & Brussel Sprout Salad is a regular request. The fried almonds really make this salad for me, and can easily double/triple to feed a humongous crowd.
-101Cookbooks Roasted Pumpkin Salad will be a winner-winner-turkey-dinner for your vegetarian and gluten-free guests. I am Obsessed with the cilantro dressing. I add in a clove of garlic and a tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar to my version of this dressing, and throw in roasted broccoli & parsnips to bulk the salad out. I love love love this. It can easily be doubled and tripled.
-I also love Heidi’s Heirloom Apple Salad. The crème fraîche dressing is divine.
-And while you’re still on Ms. Swanson’s wonderful blog, check out her Caramelized Onion Dip. So. Damn. Good.
-I love Food & Wine’s Warm Winter Vegetable Salad. I have doubled and tripled this as well, and you can totally prep it the day before and just rewarm it the next day. Add in the dressing, toasted nuts, and cheese at the last minute.
-Do you know of garlic confit? Elevate your mashed spuds and impress your guests with French cooking techniques.
-Instead of rolls (how predictable…) why don’t you make a loaf or two of brioche instead? If you have a stand mixer and 2 days to spare, meaning start tonight, it’s actually not that hard to make, you just need time. All of that butter will be worth it, trust me.
-Do you just want to say “bucket” to turkey this year and make something else? I love Bon Appetit’s Beef Short Rib Pot Pie. This can feed a small crowd for sure. To make this dish less labour intensive, start your crust today, simmer the meat tomorrow and let it sit overnight in the fridge for the flavours to intensify even more, throw everything into a baking dish and lay your crust on Thanksgiving morning/afternoon, and bake.
-Instead of pecan pie, why not make my favourite little Canadian treats instead? Butter Tarts are the unsung heroes of the dessert world.
-Are all of these suggestions just a bit too ambitious for your needs and/or lack of time? Nigella Lawson has the easiest side dish of Butternut Squash with Pecans & Blue Cheese you can prep the night before. Make as much or as little as you need.

Good luck & happy cooking! And remember, when in doubt, just pour yourself a glass of wine and start delegating.

Food Styling 101 + A Recipe for Fromage Forte

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A week ago, I assisted my friend Laurel Ziemienski on a few video shoots she was food styling for Kenmore appliances. It was a lot of fun to be an assistant again: no pressure to perform, and my curiosity reignited by learning a few new tricks. Food styling is not the same as cooking for the most part: all the shoot really cares is that it looks pretty. So that French cut standing rib roast pictured above? Totally raw on the inside, blow-torched to perfection on the outside. And the bowls of pasta she food styled? Pam’d to perfection. Yes, Pam, the spray oil you cook with.

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Tweezers, and paint brushes are as integral to Laurel’s kit as a good set of cookware. As an assistant, my kit consisted only of a few things: my Shun 8″ chef’s knife, my Wusthof Santoku knife (so great for veggies), an apron, and oven mitts.
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We cooked on bunsen burners behind the scenes like mad scientists, whipping up flavourless aioli and ganache to get to set ASAP (remember, it just has to look good, and damn my aioli and ganache were on point aesthetics-wise). I made so much pasta dough because we needed a shot of dough from every angle and for a few takes, I felt like I should have applied to an Italian kitchen to work in after the shoot was over. And I did a lot of shopping for her while she had to remain on set.
All in all, I would probably assist again. It was fun to get out of my regular work routine and get busy with my hands; I love the meditativeness of preparing food.

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One week later, I had my friend’s daughter’s 1yr birthday party to attend, and I had asked the host if I should bring anything to share. A few days before the get together, I started to think about all of the cheese butts in my fridge. And you know exactly how this happens: you overbuy cheese like I do. I had at least 2lbs of cheese sitting idly in my fridge, just waiting to grow mold. At first I thought mac ‘n’ cheese, but the husband said I should bring something that’s dip-able and more party-app-like, so we naturally thought of Fromage Fort.

Fromage Fort is a fancy sounding way of coining ‘leftover cheese dip.’ And it’s brilliantly easy to make. You basically just take whatever cheese you have on hand, put it into your food processor with a little wine and garlic, and Voilà! You’ve got yourself an amazing cheese spread. If you do a little research on the internet, there are many versions of it- some say add butter, some add herbs, but it’s generally the same formula. The taste will change each time you make it when you use different cheeses: the more blue cheese you use, the more of a blue cheese spread it will become since blue can be ‘quite tasty’. That being said, try and use blue sparingly if you don’t want that particular flavour to overpower the whole thing.

Fromage Fort

-1lb mixed cheese. For this particular version, I used brie, camembert, an asiago/fontina mix, drunken goat, & gruyere. It’s best to grate the hard cheese so that it blends better. (Or you can be like me and slap your forehead after realizing you should have done so and spend a few extra minutes getting it to the right, spreadable consistency) ***If you only have hard cheeses, this is where a few pats of butter can come in handy to help the spread come to a better consistency***
-2 small cloves of garlic, smashed. If that’s too strong for you, just use 1
-1/2c white wine. I had Pinto Grigio on hand, but any dry thing will do
-a large pinch of parsley, roughly chopped

-Throw the cheese and garlic into the food processor (and butter if you need to). While it’s going, pour in the wine and blend until it’s the perfect consistency you like. I like it smooth, others like it a little crumbly.
-Add the parsley when it’s blended to your perfect consistency. You can either be lazy like me and throw it into the blender and pulse a few times, or you can make it more “food style-y” and mix finely minced parsley by hand into your spread until it looks perfect.
-I like to serve it with cut up baguette and crackers. It’s also really delicious spread of slices of baguette and broiled for a minute or two- it’s really up to you.

So here’s where the food styling influence came to the rescue for me: After I had made the spread, I started scooping it out into a dish, not really caring about aesthetics- it looked awful. So, I took a pastry bag and filled it with the cheese and piped the cheese into a serving dish instead. Obviously you don’t have to do this, but it did make the dip look much more appetizing. And aesthetics is as much a part of the appeal of eating food as is the taste.

Some Moments of Inspiration

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The perfect toddler’s Ploughman’s lunch: (Left-Right) Raw, Grass-Fed Cheddar, Grass-Fed Butter on Sourdough, Black Forest Ham, Felino Salami, Nectarine Slices, and Chocolate Milk.

So I’ve been MIA for a bit. Some of it due to work, and chasing a toddler around, but mostly because I’ve been doing a lot of introspective work on myself as of late. And I just realized that with all of this inner reflection going on, I’ve naturally reclused from social media rabbit holes. But far from removing myself from all realities, I have been quite busy, and I have been eating and drinking merrily without mentioning it to the world play-by-play.

I found Chef’s Table, on Netflix, have you heard of it/seen it? Each episode is a mini-documentary of influential chefs around the world, touching on his/her cooking (and life for that matter) philosophy. What’s great about this series is that it expands your culinary world away from the usual suspects that are constantly mentioned on social media, reducing the food world to “a level of sameness”. After reclusing from social media, I realized I had pigeon holed myself to the same references that everybody else uses on social media- restaurants, recipes, chefs, photography styles. How boring. This series will set anybody straight who’s in an uninspired streak. Motivating you to do something more with what you have; getting out of your comfort zone, seeking out the brink of failure and coming back stronger than ever before.

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I was in Kohler for the PGA tournament working, and I was able to eat at The Duke of Devon, an authentic English pub, complete with Aero bars for sale (photo above is of one of their specials: Wagyu beef). Sheboygan, WI, is in the middle of nowhere. I take that back: Sheboygan, WI is in the middle of farmland, a place you wouldn’t expect to find such innovative, and authentic food, but there it is, a diamond in the rough. The only thing that keeps these jewels from being written about quite often is that they are located so far far away from the epicenters of foodie-ism- NY, San Francisco, LA.
The restaurant is owned by the same group that operates Il Ritrovo (pizza straight out of Venice, I swear to God), and Field to Fork (chia seeds, raw kombucha, avocado toast, pressed kale juice, and the best brunch using local ingredients). Everything on the menu is amazing. We shared duck fat poutine, I had vegetarian curry, husband ordered the golden Wagyu, while kiddo had the best fish and chips this side of the pond (although he really only ate bread and Aero bars…) As a Canadian, I’m always suspect of a non-Canadian’s take on poutine, but this was the real deal. It’s all about the gravy; and they nailed it.

I worked for US Foods a few weeks ago. We shot in their test kitchen, it was Amazeballs. Here’s a shot of one of their stoves, you can apparently roast an entire pig on this thing, it was that big. And their sous-vide machine….. OMGah…

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We celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary a few weeks ago. We split a bottle of Chateau Marquis D’Alesme, Margaux, 2005, Bordeaux. If you can find this, buy it, it was amazing.

If you live/work in San Francisco, Palo Alto, or Chicago, you need to check out the app called Sprig. It’s a spin on take-out, delivered right to your desk/door. Instead of calling up your favourite restaurant, Sprig is the restaurant. You choose from a small selection of organic, sustainable meals delivered within 15min, starting at $9/meal. It’s the new kid on the block without the brick and mortar, and I’m surprised this isn’t up & running in NY yet.

If you’ve ever wondered how to plate your food (my husband is Much better than I), check out: How To Plate Like A Michelin Chef

And because we all love toast, here are 10 ideas to rotate in with your avocados

Brunch Done Right


I can’t get enough of Story Hill BKC for brunch. This time I had smoked crème fraîche tomato bread with two perfect poached eggs. It was like a grown-up version of the tomato bread you find all over Barcelona. 

Not shown, but just as amazeballs: my brandied chocolate chunk cookie; Holy Sh*t.

Shakshuka: The Israeli Breakfast of Champions


What’s not to love about eggs baked in cumin-scented tomato sauce? This version had smoked lentils & goat cheese. Brunch all day at Story Hill B.K.C 

Quick Bites in the West Village


I could see myself eating breakfast, lunch, & dinner at The Elk on Charles at Greenwich St, not to mention hanging out all day in their light-drenched space. Options such as yoghurt bowls with coconut crumble & lemon rind, market bowls filled with steamed brown rice & roasted veg drizzled with a sesame-tahini sauce, or peanutty granola bar cookies are the stuff Pinterest pictures are made of. New York is known for its fabulous dinner options: Momofuko, Per Se, The Spotted Pig, etc etc etc. But what if you wanted to grab something quick but still palatable? Not break the bank, but a bit more “special” than the $1.50 slice of pizza around the corner- where should you go? (And don’t get me wrong, I love $1.50 pizza just as much as the next person, but sometimes I want more….) 


If you find yourself hungry late at night but don’t feel like cooking (who does after a long day at work? Or a long day spent at La Guardia airport waiting for your delayed flight to finally cancel because of the weather….) I stumbled upon Ready to Eat on Hudson at Charles. It was like home cooked food your mom would make: large platters of salads, freshly made hummus, roasted branzino, chicken marsala, or roasted chicken. The list goes on.  


Le Pain Quotidian on the corner of Hudson & Charles is a chain. Yet it’s dependable for its selection & consistency. For breakfast I had cumin flecked avocado toast, with a side of soft-boiled egg, and an almond milk latte. It was the perfect, filling breakfast, even if my egg was more hard-boiled than runny. 

It’s places like these that really make NY for me; the little shops & local chains that serve great, affordable food, and keep its citizens & tourists fed round-the-clock. 

NY, NY, I love you; a few restaurants for review

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Like I’ve said before, NYC has been good to my belly and thighs. I have been in NY for work and found myself at the BlueFly.com studios. Our producer ordered the most amazing sandwiches & sides from Untamed Sandwiches on West 39th (between 5th and 6th Aves).
I have forgotten how satisfying a really good sandwich can be. I fell out-of-love with sandwiches when I stopped eating processed-anything because of my soy intolerance. And although I can eat bread, most shops don’t use freshly baked, processed-ingredient-free bread. Enter Untamed Sandwiches: their crusty ciabatta rolls hold the most creative fillings I’ve seen in awhile such as the Sheemakers Bounty: charred broccoli with fried almond butter & pickled raisin jam (pictured above). Or how about the Nettle Neck: braised lamb neck, gruyere, walnut-nettle pesto, and pickled and charred onions. Holy S**t, right? The sides are pretty fabulous themselves, such as the chermoula roasted carrots, the rye berry salad that’s actually not that spicey, and the broccoli rabe that is pleasantly spicey.
Did I mention they cater? Exactly, click that link above for tomorrow’s lunch.

A few more mentionables that I’ve eaten at, but the photos were too shitty dark to post:
Mary’s Fish Camp in the West Village gets 10 stars. Kiddo had fried oysters, we split a crab gratin, and dined on shrimp burgers accompanied by charred shishito peppers, and pozole with red snapper, avocados, and hominy. Delish.
Shake Shack is everything the hype says it is. The hubby & I found it at Grand Central Terminal’s food court. He ordered the burger, I had the chocolate milkshake, next time I want both with fries.
Gnocco Cucina & Tradizione on E 10th between A & B was a recommendation from a friend of a friend. That friend of a friend is from Naples, and he said this place is exactly like home to him. So we went, and it was like discovering a little gem in the city. First of all, the village on this part of the island is like a little, unpretentious oasis in the concrete jungle. You walk in and immediately pass the kitchen with it’s brick oven- awesome- and make your way to the back to either the bar or the dining room. We all shared burrata, then moved on to our own dishes. I had the special: moist salmon crusted in pistachio served alongside black rice. The service was friendly, but not Applebee’s-annoyingly-friendly, and the room was dark enough so that the candlelight made everybody look good.
Union Market. I know, it’s not a restaurant, but you can get cupcakes from Baked there. Oh, you don’t know of Baked? It’s a bakery in Red Hook, and I love love love following them on Instagram and Facebook. They also have gorgeous cookbooks. Get thee to Union Market if you can’t make it to Brooklyn (or Tribeca) for those cupcakes, and for other things too….
-I think the best time to go to Magnolia Bakery (the famed bakery after being shot in a Sex In The City episode) in the West Village is on a frigid, Tuesday night- no long lines. I had the truffle cupcake filled with chocolate ganache: it fired off all of my chocolate-addicted neurons, and I was left with a deep sense of fulfillment. Pretty powerful s**t, totally worth the calories.
-If you find yourself out in Stamford, CT, Lorca on the main drag has drip brew coffee and buttery pain au chocolat.

Victory Dinner & The James Beard Awards


This past Monday were the James Beard awards in Chicago. No, I was not accepting a prestigious James Beard award for my slacker food blog. Instead, remember I have a day job as a freelance makeup artist? I did Laura Keller’s makeup (Eeek!), Thomas Keller’s wife, and met Thomas! (Double Eeek!) I have no gossip to tell, they were a very cool couple and I was honoured to help Laura get ready for the big event. And that big bowl of hamdmade tagliatelle with braised short ribs from Eataly was my victory dinner to myself for a job well done. 


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I found out about this East Village neighbourhood joint through reading chef Gabrielle’s memoir “Blood, Bones, & Butter“. When my husband came into town for the week to visit me I thought it would be fitting we should go there for our “date-night”. After a few intoxicating cocktails at The Ludlow Hotel‘s bar, we stumbled into the tiny restaurant to a prime window seat. We quickly ordered more wine and the app special: seared duck liver, braised hearts, and fois gras drenched crackers, which were amazeballs.

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For the main, my husband wasn’t that impressed: he ordered the pigeon, which is apparently a classic dish of the restaurant. I thought it was cooked well, but then again I was pretty tipsy by that point, anything was going to taste great. We split a Pinterest-perfect looking watercress salad, and I ordered the black rice cooked risotto-style with duck meat and turnips. Although not as photogenic as my husband’s dish, it was damn good. He thought so too. I think black rice should be the next “big” ingredient. Forget kale or pork belly- give me black rice.

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I have a saying: if it’s not chocolate, it’s not dessert. And there wasn’t any chocolate on the menu, so we ordered the mascarpone ice cream with salted caramel brioche (and a glass of port to wash it down with- long live alcohol!). The brioche cracked as soon as my spoon hit it, like breaking the crust of crème brûlée. Delish. Trying to recreate mascarpone ice cream at home will be on my to-do list, albeit with chocolate.
So, this is a mixed review: I loved my experience, my husband felt “meh”. Maybe go there as wasted as I was and you’ll have a great time.