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CHARMOULA marinade served at White House Dinner!

You’ll find a recipe for this classic Moroccan marinade in each of my books!

Obama Welcomes African Leaders for Unusual Dinner

WASHINGTON — Aug 5, 2014, 10:49 PM ET

White House dinner

“The menu featured a largely American-style dinner with hints of Africa sprinkled throughout each of the four courses.

Guests dined on chilled spiced tomato soup and socca crisps, which are made of chick peas; chopped farm-stand vegetable salad using produce from the first lady’s garden; and grilled dry-aged Wagyu beef served with chermoula, a marinade used in North African cooking, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.

Dessert was cappuccino fudge cake dressed with papaya scented with vanilla from Madagascar. American wines were also on the menu.”

Summer 2016 Morocco news

News of Morocco and beyond:

In Casablanca in May 2016?

The Fondation ONA, Morocco’s leading cultural foundation, is sponsoring a retrospective of the works of my friend Abderrahman Rahoule, one of Morocco’s leading modern artists and director of the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Casablanca, from May 12 to June 30, 2016, at Villa des Arts (built in 1934, an outstanding example of the city’s Art Deco architecture), 30 Boulevard Brahim Roudani, Casablanca. http://www.fondationona.ma

Note that these veils reflect the taste (and dress codes) of Middle Eastern women, NOT necessarily those of Muslim women from North Africa.

What’s That You’re Wearing? A Guide to Muslim Veils

By RUSSELL GOLDMAN Or, copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://nyti.ms/26O7w3v

MUST WATCH: A genius speaks.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2joni8_audition-de-idriss-aberkane-chercheur-ambassadeur-de-l-unitwin-unesco-cese_news?start=10

Audition de Idriss ABERKANE (chercheur, Ambassadeur de l’Unitwin/unesco) – cese

http://gu.com/p/4gdqb/sbl

Media and reviews 2016

Kitty in the media:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

http://www.jsonline.com/features/food/explore-flowers-as-food-b99713063z1-377972191.html

Alpha Phi magazine:

https://issuu.com/alphaphiintl/docs/2016spring/1

Missed the show on Edible Flowers on San Diego’s CW Channel 6? See it here!

http://www.cw6sandiego.com/edible-flowers-for-this-spring/

 

The Kasbah Chronicles April /May2016

 

More Chilean adventures

Osorno and K

I did it! Behind me, Volcan Osorno

I wasn’t quite done with a report of my trip to Chile in March. I hit the ground running soon after my return, yet “Northern Patagonia” and “Atacama Desert” still sound so exotic that I can hardly believe I actually visited. Could this reflect my French background, since I encountered dozens of other French-speaking travellers? Want to practice your French? Head to Chile!

From pink flamingos at rest on one leg in the lagoons of the Atacama Desert to the pine forests of Northern Patagonia, Chile is a land of contrasts. Not knowing much about Patagonia, I flew south to Puerto Montt, the rather uninteresting regional capital, and a popular stop for cruise ships crossing Lago Llanquihue. Thankfully, my Chilean agent had booked a hotel in neighboring Puerta Varas, “city of roses”, the delightful capital of the Region de los Lagos and a departure point for the seven lake cruise leading to Bariloche in Argentina.

Majestic Volcan Osorno, a clone of Mount Fuji (though Chileans are quick to remind you “it’s the other way round!”) towers over the lake, to create a mystical background. I could see it from my room at the quirky Hotel Casa Kalfu (http://www.casakalfu.cl) painted in a blue reminiscent of the walls of the famed Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech), a pseudo-Victorian edifice favored by Chilean and French tourists. Uneven stairs, slanted ceilings, and a fireplace or two all contributed to its charm. Excursions to volcanoes and waterfalls, a two-hour cruise to Peulla at the far end of Todos Santos Lake, mouth-watering Tablao Patagónico loaded with seafood, sausages and cheeses meals at La Gringa restaurant in Puerto Varas, and salmon ceviche purchased from a food truck kept me hopping until came time to take the ferry to the Island of Chiloe.

A spacious car-ferry links Chiloe to the mainland. Castro, the island’s capital, lies at the northern end of a two-hour drive (about 160 km) along the Carretera Austral (point “0” on the same HIGHWAY 5 that links the Mexican border to Canada.) Another riotously painted hotel, this time in bubblegum pink, welcomed me. The Unicornio Azul (http://hotelunicornioazul.com) brought to mind a San Francisco “painted lady,” with a cozy room, wi-fi, and 4 staff members who lined up to kiss my (right) cheek, a la Chilena, when I left. Nowhere else but Chile! The hotel reminded me of the renowned, still unfinished Winchester House in San Jose, California.

I was on a mission to taste “curanto”, an island specialty consisting of a stew packed with fruits de mer, “fruits of the sea,” as we say in French. Curanto is usually cooked underground, over hot coals, but Restaurant Octavio across from my hotel, features it on the menu. Among the fruits of the sea: cod, mussels (forgive the repetition, but they were really the size of a medium banana), squid, the sweetest clams I have ever tasted, sausage augmented with the area’s famed pink “potatoes” (tubers) and tangerine-size bulbs of elephant garlic. The next night, I returned for crêpe de jaiba, crab crêpe, and more seafood in Tabla Bordemar. The waiter watched me, incredulous at the glutenous amounts of food I was attempting to pack into my small frame (all in the line of duty, of course.) My new friend called out the chef to observe the ravenous foreigner. This led to an hour of talking about global culinary trends while Frank Sinatra hummed in the background. What’s not to love here?

Seafood Castro Chiloe

Sampling curanto led me to the waterfront fish market the next morning. Here, varieties of dried fish, mussels, and seaweed reign supreme. It has to be among the most scenic markets in Chile. That and Chiloe’s unique waterfront palafitas, stilt houses, were enough to entertain a return visit.

Jaiba, centolla crab Chiloe

I would be remiss, however, in ignoring the smaller island of Lemuy, a 10mn ferry ride from Chiloe across pristine turquoise waters crowded with fish farms. Chiloe and Lemuy are famous for their wooden churches, structures dating back to the late 1800s and recognized as a Unesco World Heritage. Interesting though the churches were, it is LUNCH that sticks in my mind (and to my ribs.) Imagine a 30 minute ride along narrow country roads lined with blooming fuchsia (an variety called fuchsia magellanica and its sweet, moist buds called “chilco”), and taking a sharp turn onto an unpaved stretch leading to . . . the jungle. This was Parque Yayanes (www.parqueyayanes.cl) a hideaway with cabins to rent, and an acclaimed restaurant overlooking a forest of greenery. Our hosts: the owner, Jaime Perez, a tall, distinguished, elderly gentleman with flowing white hair and beard who originally hailed from Macedonia (!!) and his Romanian cook Perla Kohan (!!) They had garnered a mention in the New York Times several years before. “We built our cabins and no one came,” explained Jaime. “So one day, we looked out our window, and we realized this was our real treasure: Our view. And the restaurant took shape.”

To be continued (and then, enough already). . .

 

Classes and presentations Spring and Summer 2016

Classes and book signings:

May 14, 2016:

Benefit cooking class for the San Diego French-American School. Private event.

May 21, 2016.

San Diego Herb Society. Members only.

Looking ahead:

To fun events in June, July, September, and October 2016.

Looking back:

Culinary Historians of San Diego:

Nan Sterman, host of KPBS’s A Growing Passion, and I gave a presentation for the Culinary Historians of San Diego. Whether your interest lies in food history, cooking, San Diego restaurants, ethnic markets, or local farms, this organization spices up body and soul! http://www.culinaryhistoriansofsandiego.com

 

Fullerton 2

Fullerton Arboretum:

Mark your calendar for next year’s “Green Scene” held each April at the Fullerton Arboretum on the campus of Loma Linda University in Fullerton, CA. This is such a huge event with over 100 vendors, speakers, and experts in all fields relating to gardening and even Edible Flowers! Check their website for next year’s date. Bring a wheeled wagon, comfortable shoes and a hat! There are serious gardeners out there! fullertonarboretum.org

If you haven’t visited Myrtle Creek Nursery in Fallbrook, you are in for a treat. The nursery was awash in blooms in late April, and the quaint gift store was filled with items not seen anywhere else. The small Café Bloom provides space for a respite. And they rescue GOATS! discovermyrtlecreek.comMyrtle Creek goats

 

The Kasbah Chronicles-March 2016. My travels to Chile

A CHILEAN ADVENTURE!

Llamas 1

LLamas in the Lago Andino District town of Peulla, CHILE, on the way to Bariloche, Argentina.

I would like to set Morocco aside, to tell you about my latest travels. In March, I headed south instead to CHILE, a country that has fascinated me since childhood. I have always wanted to see fist-hand my hometown’s namesake Valle de Casablanca, home to dozens of Chileans wineries. Geography classes at Casablanca’s Lycée de Jeunes Filles nourished my dreams with exotic names like Antofagasta, Valparaiso, and the Atacama Desert (even though the Sahara dunes were a mere day’s drive away from where I sat.) I must not have been alone in my imaginary wanderings, for practically every tourist I encountered during two and a half weeks in CHILE was a native FRENCH-speaker! Hardly a gringo in sight.

Casa CHILe 3

My husband doesn’t think that spending the day (or night) on a plane is a way to have fun, and thus chose to remain home. But I had itchy feet! I cashed in my miles, organized my itinerary with a delightful travel agent in Santiago (over the Internet), and finally, decided to give the Air B and B experience a try (over the Internet.) Success on all counts.

My charming Air B and B hosts, Loreto and Federico, a couple of young journalists, live in the center of Santiago in a residential area called Providencia. My room, adjoining bath, and kitchen privileges cost about USD35 a night. A concierge kept watch over the multi-storied apartment building day and night. Gladys of www.passtours.com devised my custom itinerary: 6 days in Santiago, 4 days in the Altiplano desert (how exotic is that?!) and San Pedro de Atacama, and 5 days in the Lake District. I d

ecided to forego glaciers, since I had seen glaciers in Alaska last year. I headed instead to the Region de los Lagos Andinos, the Lake District, of Northern Patagonia. I even spent a day cruising one lake, Lago de Todos Santos, the first in a series of seven that eventually end up at Bariloche, Argentina.

Salt flats CHI

Suffice it to say that I met lovely people everywhere (in how many countries does your taxi driver drop you off, but not before giving you a friendly kiss????) travelled through scenery reminiscent of Lake Tahoe and Yosemite (in the south), hiked the slope of volcanoes as striking as Mt Fuji, explored the Atacama desert, the

driest place on earth and home to the Valley of the Moon, gushing geysers, lagoons filled with pink flamingoes, and a vast plateau dotted with herds of wild vicuñas.

Already familiar with Pablo Neruda’s food poems, I wanted to visit La Chasco

na, his house in Santiago. And, thanks to my Chilean friends Humberto and Yoli, I got to have lunch at El Meson Nerudiano, Neruda’s favorite restaurant. Friends took me to the gorgeous Casas del Bosque winery in the Valle de Casablanca, where I sampled the famed “Carménère” wine, one with origins in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, and thought to have gone extinct, and “rediscovered” in Chile in 1994.

But the place that remains foremost in my mind is the Island of Chiloé.  This  mystical island, where fairies and spirits abound, produces out-of-this world seafood including mussels the size of a medium banana, and lies just a short ferry ride from Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt, two of the main departure points for the Lagos Andinos.

To be continued . . .

Pebre, Chile’s counterpart to Pico de Gallo

Pebre 1

Kitty in the media:

Thursday, March 24, 2016

San Diego’s CW, Channel 6

San Diego Living

Having fun with edible flowers!

http://www.cw6sandiego.com/edible-flowers-for-this-spring/

Laura Groch, former food editor of the North County Times, has a (what else??) food-focused blog. Subscribe at http://beyondbites.com/2016/03/23/its-spring-so-lets-eat-some-flowers/