This year, it’s all about un-boring your kitchen pantry and keeping your dining experiences interesting. Below are my new food rules for 2014, followed by random food (and other) pics from the past year. Enjoy!
|One of my favorite dishes of 2013: Braised Beef Cheeks at Viajante Restaurant, London|
My Food Rules 2014
• Ethnic enclaves are your new food source. Head to a Chinatown or a Little Russia near you and teach your grocery list a new language. Cook a Borscht this winter. Or challenge yourself with a simple, Chinese-inspired duck recipe.
• Discover novel ingredients at ethnic food stores. Talk to the staff for inspiration, and spice up old favorite recipes.
• Tinker with your repertoire of classic dishes: add sumac to your fried eggs (see my previous post). Transform bland rice by cooking it with cardamom and other spices.
• Expand your palate’s comfort zone: find an ethnic eatery in your town and discover amazing, well-balanced flavors in cuisines like Eritrean, Burmese, Indonesian, West African.
• Dive into country-regional cuisines: Southern India, Baja California Mexican, Ligurian. Experiment with a few recipes then host a themed dinner around these regions.
• Mix and match: make it interesting and international: At a recent dinner party, I served French Smoked Salmon Rillettes for starters, followed by American Chicken Pot Pie, Italian Arugula Salad with Bartlett pears, dressed with a beautifully simple cider vinaigrette, and I finished off the meal with Almond Macarons with hazelnut spread and homemade jams.
• Spread the love: Create a potluck dinner around a theme with a few of your favorite home-cook friends.
• Get to know your favorite wine vendor. Try buying different wines. A silky-smooth, white Tokai from Slovenia, or an almost effervescent Lebanese Chateau Ksara Rosé? Both are inexpensive but fabulously satisfying wines, available for purchase online.
• Rock out to an international music playlist for your dinner party.
• Decorate with flowers and candles everywhere, but don’t overdo it with scents. The aromas should be coming from the food you’re serving. Flowers and candles are there for a complementary visual effect.
|A fabulous time with a colleague at Galerie Joy at the Fouquet's Barriere, Paris|
|Europe's youngest 3-Michelin star Chef, Andreas Caminada, of the magical Schloss Schauenstein, Switzerland|
|Chef Narisawa, Asia's No.1 Chef for 2013|
|My dish of roasted Lebanese meatballs, always a hit!|
|Lebanese Lentil Soup, perfect for Winter!|
|Chef Nadia Santini (Italy), World's Best Female Chef 2013|
|Chef Peter Gilmore, Restaurant Quay, Australia|
|The incredible Eric Ripert, from Le Bernardin, New York|
|One of my new recipes from 2013: Lentil Chicken|
|Chef Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck in Bray, UK|
|Shopping for olive oil at Borough Market, London|
|Breakfast in Lebanon: hummus, savory minty yogurt, pickles, eggs in mutton lard and more!|
|Perfume with dinner at Malabar, Lima, Peru|
|A (casual) dinner at Mom's in Beirut!|
|I love Tuesdays! "Bone Lick BBQ" in Atlanta|
|The great Chef Justin Wangler from Partake in Healdsburg with Tucker Taylor, Culinary Gardener at Kendall-Jackson|
|Pot Pie, undressed|
|Pot Pie, after hair & make-up|
|Cooking on a heated salt slab at the Winter Fancy Food Show 2014|
|With the inspirational Jim Stott, co-founder of Stonewall Kitchen at the Winter Fancy Food Show 2014|
|With Rodolphe Le Meunier, Meilleur Ouvrier de France 2007 at the Winter Fancy Food Show 2014|
“A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.” ~ James Beard