OOOPS: Two, sharp-eyed readers of my newsletter caught the mistake: I announced my presentation for April 21, 105 when in reality, it is taking place on MAY 21, at the Cardiff Library (see below). I did send out a correction right after the original message. I apologize.
May 15, 2015
Two recent trips had me wondering why I yearn to hop on a plane towards distant continents.
The first was a drive with my mother along Highway 1’s legendary Big Sur, to Carmel, Monterey, and Salinas.
What pleasure to rediscover narrow roads free of traffic, emerald pastures dotted with HAPPY CALIFORNIA COWS, (the TV ad is right) and hundreds of dozing elephant seals who lay claim to the stretch of sand at Piedras Blancas.
Santa Barbara and its jacaranda-lined streets surely rival the Côte d’Azur in topography, natural beauty and architecture. In the hills, behind the awe-inspiring Mission Santa Barbara (http://www.santabarbaramission.org), we strolled through a meadow carpeted with California wild flowers, exotic displays of succulents, and even a small grove of redwoods (not to mention a lovely gift store) at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens (www.sbbg.org/visit)
Bouchon and Opal’s, two well-known downtown Santa Barbara restaurants, left delectable impressions. As did the weekly farmer’s market, where I learned that coffee grows in the Santa Barbara hills.
A short stretch of 101 freeway separates the gardens from Montecito and Casa del Herrero (www.casadelherrero.com), an authentic Andalucian-style estate built in the 1920s. The décor includes tiles (many inscribed in Arabic) hand-made by Tunisian artisans.
While in Montecito, I headed for Tecolote Books, a charming independent bookstore, to drop off copies of Mint Tea and Minarets.
To our surprise, tiles inscribed in Arabic also decorated a wall of the Hearst Castle. Upon arrival, my mother needed stair-free access to this hilltop landmark. A driver in a golf cart took us on a circuitous ride to the back door and the castle’s Gargantuan KITCHEN where we perused the yards of stainless steel counters and sinks. (Did you know you can purchase farm-raised beef from the ranch at the site’s cavernous welcome center?)
A few miles up the coast, the hundreds of dozing elephant seals at Piedras Blancas appeared not to have moved an inch since I had last seen them when I was tracking down commercial mussel and abalone farms to include in The California Farm Cookbook.
The unending curves of Highway 1 were easy to navigate on a beautiful day, giving us time to appreciate the natural beauty of sea, sky, and hills. The terrace of Nepenthe, one of Big Sur’s iconic restaurants, offered one of the best views of the coast along enormous sandwiches.
Carmel’s gorgeous mission basilica is one of the first landmarks to welcome visitors into this celebrity filled town. Lucky for us, the parking lot was free of the usual tour buses. The gift store (where you will find A Biblical Feast) holds a variety of treasures, not all religious in nature.
What I longed to visit again was the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. I last visited in 1993 on assignment to explore Steinbeck Country. I visited Cannery Row with Bruce Ariss, an acquaintance of Steinbeck’s. Ariss has passed away, but his memory lives on Cannery Row (see photo above.) At the Center, you can spend hours viewing the lifelike displays, films, posters, artwork, and films related to Steinbeck and his oeuvre. The California Farm Cookbook contains a recipe from the Steinbeck House (steinbeckhouse.com), where volunteers man the restaurant a few days a week.
A few days after my return home, I was on the road with my husband towards a totally different world, the Anza Borrego Desert and Agua Caliente County Park located along the famed Butterfield Stage mail route. Driving from the “flatlands” of the coast into the pine-covered hills of Julian, then gently “sliding” into the desert brought to mind Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains. Similar praire like fields and boulder-strewn hills line the road from the Alpine town of Ifrane to Errachidia on the edge of the pre-Sahara. The only thing missing were Barbary apes and caravans of dromedaries. (Ooops: Did I mention Oasis Camel dairy in Ramona, CA?! www.cameldairy.com)
Agua Caliente County Park has 7 cabins for rent. Bring your on bedding and food. Park closes May 21 because of the heat. In season, you can explore the trails and soak in warm spring-fed pools and a large indoor spa. www.sandiegocounty.gov/parks/Camping/agua_caliente.html
Breathe in the crisp mountain air at this pretty mountain resort and artist retreat east of Los Angeles. Local resident Julie Pendray’s informative blog lists local happenings. (specialsnotonthemenu.com)
Appearances and book signings:
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Come sip a glass of iced mint tea and sample
Fresh Flavors of the Kasbah:
Moroccan adventures in food and travel
Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch (behind Seaside Market, a foodie paradise)
San Diego County Library
2081 Newcastle Ave.
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
760 633 3631
Repeat performance #2!
Macy’s School of Cooking
Saturday, May 23, 2015
1555 Camino de la Reina
Mission Valley – San Diego
Moroccan Cooking Cass
Join in the fun as I cook with renowned Chef Bernard Guillas of La Jolla’s Marine Room at Macy’s School of Cooking. Watch us prepare a sampling of Moroccan dishes. Come early. First come first seated (120 seats.) Line starts forming 45 mns ahead of time! A book signing will conclude the class.
Tomato, fava bean, and preserved lemon crostini
from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories
Tagine of Eggs with Olives and Cumin
from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories
Orange Slices in Orange Blossom Water with Candied Almonds
How to preserve lemons, Moroccan style
Iced mint tea, Morocco’s national drink
Note: I am still booking programs for summer and beyond.
Do you follow Nan Sterman’s terrific new show, A Growing Passion, on KPBS? Nan was kind enough to invite me on the April 16, 2015 segment:
Preserving the Harvest segment
A French review of Mint Tea and Minarets:
Toile d’Epices: a French site dedicated to spices