Strolling in Paris, With Menus in Mind

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 11.27.44 AMParis is, of course, a walker’s city. But which direction to take? And to what destinations? With previously unknown (to me, at least) restaurants as my end points, I started at Notre Dame (essentially the center of town; all time allotments below are from there) and headed in different directions for different lengths of time.

After a few attempts, I found myself drawn toward the Marais and the 11th Arrondissement, where I was eating best. When I walked west, I was disappointed. With one exception, I had to walk north (and usually east) in order to find food that thrilled me.

Here, then, are the four winners.

Read the rest of this article here

Posted in Slow Food, Travel

I Heart Artichokes

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 11.25.04 AMTrue story, from the wedding of two friends, circa 1977: The bride’s father, a louche sophisticate, and perhaps needless to say an alcoholic, asked of the groom’s grandmother, a Russian immigrant of peasant stock, “Isn’t eating an artichoke just like sex?” There was, as you can imagine, no reply.

The artichoke has always inspired such lyrical flights. Is it not the most versatile of vegetables as well as the most miraculous? Is it not incredible that this thistle keeps its treasure so well hidden and protected that people can spend their lives blissfully eating only the outer leaves, never getting past the choke to the heart?

Rhetorical questions, I recognize. But once you know how to handle an artichoke, it will pretty much do your bidding, providing you with salads, sautés and remarkable centerpieces that are unique in just about every respect.

Read the rest of this article here and see the video here.

Posted in Produce, Recipes

Pollan Cooks!

The seven most famous words in the movement for good food are: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” They were written, of course, by Michael Pollan, in “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” the follow-up to “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

Now Pollan might add three more words to the slogan: “And cook them.” Because the man who so cogently analyzed production and nutrition in his best-known books has tackled what he calls “the middle link in the food chain: cooking.”

But Pollan isn’t about to become a cookbook writer, at least not yet. In “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,” out Tuesday, he offers four detailed recipes, used as examples to explore how food is transformed: for Bolognese, pork shoulder, sauerkraut and bread, each an illustration, he says, of the fundamental principles of cooking.

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Recipes

Humble Paella

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 11.29.49 AMI was once accused by Catalans near Valencia — which is the home of paella — of knowing nothing whatsoever about paella, and of making at best what they called “arroz con cosas”: rice with things.

Fine. My culinary heritage is so limited that almost everything I make is an adaptation. But my rice with things is better than just about any other I’ve had in the United States. And to make real paella, you probably should start with a wood fire; anything else is a compromise.

Anyway, paella really is just rice with things — as is risotto, as is pilaf. There’s a technique to it, and it’s pretty straightforward, and by applying that technique to a variety of ingredients in a variety of ways, you can make something that really approaches great paella, even if a Catalan might scoff at it.

Read the rest of this article here, and get the master recipe here.

Posted in Recipes, Spanish

Mark Bittman: Two-thirds Vegan and a Handful of Other

by  for The Huffington Post

Okay, I’m shallow. Nothing excites me more than when someone tosses a new idea for chicken at me that sounds easy, healthy and quick. New ideas for vegetables make we weep — in a good way. Cooking is about much more than throwing stuff in the oven and waiting for dinner to emerge. It’s about lifestyle. Culture. Fun. Creativity. Time.

Mark Bittman makes everything seem not only acccessbile, but easy. He uses ingredients that we actually have, or that are at least available within a few miles of most urban or suburban cooks. Nothing obscure, nothing fussy that you need to order online because it’s simply unavailable in a major metropolis. Bittman understands that many home cooks are distracted, can barely tell the difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon (if they have the measuring spoons at all), and crave simplicity. At the same time, he knows that we want something new, a twist on what is familiar, but with a flash of Different.

Read the rest of the article here.

Posted in Mark Bittman Books, Slow Food

Lost in the Supermarket

Last year, it seemed, every book about food that crossed my desk — other than those about cooking, of course — seemed to have one of two titles: “How I Moved to Brooklyn and Became a Roof-Gardening Butcher” or “The Gluten-Free Diet Saved My Life, and It Can Save Yours.”

This year is different; the books are variations on the title “How Big Food Is Trying to Kill You.” We have “Salt Sugar Fat,” my Times colleague Michael Moss’s epic description of the manipulation of processed food to make it even more palatable and addictive tomorrow than it was yesterday, and how the industry is well aware of how destructive of public health this manipulation truly is. We have the excellent “Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America” by Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food and Water Watch, which details the takeover of our food system by that same crew of corporate cynics.

And we have the cleverly titled “Pandora’s Lunchbox,” by Melanie Warner, a freelance (and former Times) reporter, which is so much fun that you might forget how depressing it all is. This is in part thanks to Warner’s measured, almost dry but deceptively alluring reportorial style, but it’s also because the extent to which food is  manipulated – and therefore, consumers as well — is downright absurd . There are more Holy Cow! moments here than even someone who thinks he or she knows what’s going on in food production could predict.

Read the rest of this column here.

Posted in Farming, Food Politics

Win a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

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My new book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good, goes on sale April 30th. To celebrate its release, I’m giving away 10 cast-iron skillets graciously donated by Lodge.

Preorder your copy of VB6 (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Bound), then email veganbefore6@gmail.com and tell me why you’re interested in trying it out. I’ll read through them and pick my 10 favorites.

Only emails received by Monday, April 29th, will be eligible to win.

Posted in Events

Cooking Up Some ‘Chokes

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Posted in Produce, Recipes

VB6, On Sale April 30th

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I’ve spent the better part of my adult life thinking about food, but it wasn’t until six years ago when my doctor suggested I become a vegan — or face dire health consequences — that I began to seriously confront my diet.

Yes, I liked vegetables and grains, but as a food writer it was unrealistic to give up meat and dairy for good. VB6 was my compromise. I’d become a part-time vegan. From the time I woke up until 6 p.m. I’d eat a strict vegan diet: no animal products, no processed foods —not even white bread. For dinner I’d eat whatever I wanted.

A month later I’d lost 15 lbs. My cholesterol and blood sugar levels were down. My sleep apnea was gone. I felt good. So I kept it up. Then I wrote a book about it.

VB6 outlines the philosophy and principles of this diet, and digs deep into the science behind why it works. Eating this way will not only improve your own health, but the health of the planet as well, and VB6 includes more than 60 recipes to get you started on the right track. I hope you’ll give it a try. And if it works for you like it did for me, let me know. Tell your friends about it. Feel great and help others do the same.

You can pre-order VB6 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indie Bound.

Posted in Mark Bittman Books