The Umstead Hotel in North Carolina

sugar trail

This is a lovely place to stay and relax in Cary, NC, especially if it’s your birthday and you’re on book tour at the nearby Quail Ridge Books and Music Thanks to Pastry Chef Daniel Benjamin for a gorgeous birthday surprise.

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My Miami Vices

media noche

Media Noche sandwiches and Café Con Leche at Puerto Sagua… What’s in a media noche? Pernil (slow roasted pork shoulder), sliced ham, yellow mustard, Swiss cheese, thinly sliced pickles, and butter pressed between two slices of sweet egg bread. No mayonesa! and media noche sandwiches

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Maira Kalman…One thing is certain

maira kalman

I love her new book a children’s book for adults pages to wander through in the early morning on a winter afternoon when the snow is falling so softly, when your heart is a bit lopsided, when you’ve said it all but no one seems to understand when the words are hard to find this is the book The Principles of Uncertainty

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Tacos y BBQ in North Carolina

la vaquita spread

I’m in Chapel Hill for the Orange County Literacy Benefit, a dedicated group of people who oragnized a first annual Writers for Readers Series. Along with Patricia Marx, Roy Blount, Jr. and Sally Bedell-Smith with Daniel Wallace hosting, I was happy to be invited. They’re all much funnier than I am, but it was an ...

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King of Cakes

king cake baby

I’ll always choose salty over sweet and probably hot over sour, but my friend Catie makes the best lemony sugar-topped king cake. Two days before Mardi Gras, she made one and I smuggled half of it into New Orleans to share with other king cake lovers. I loved les galettes des rois when I lived ...

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Agretti and fishmongers


I’ve been meaning to write about this green mineraly herb/vegetable I tasted in Siena last spring. It was sauteed and drizzled with a spicy olive oil made by Gianni Brunelli (who also makes wonderful Brunello di Montalcino). When I asked Frances Mayes about my new vegetable love, she wrote: Ah, you discovered agretti!! Some people say ...

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at the acme, dawlin’

karl and herman acme

I’ve just landed in New Orleans and am making a quick stop at the Acme Oyster House on the way in from the airport for Oysters on the half shell and a few (dozen) chargrilled….Even though I devoured dozens of Totten Virginicas at Grand Central Oyster Bar during several recent trips to NYC, there’s nothing ...

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In Search of Tiara in Texas

kathy and me

Just landed and am in the town of Jefferson as a guest of Kathy Patrick and the Pulpwood Queens for Girlfriend Weekend. It seems big hair and tiaras are mandatory here… This morning’s notes: It’s fascinating to listen to other writers as they try to describe the solitary and difficult writing process. I was mesmerized by Deborah ...

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The Tattered Cover

patti tattered cover

I arrived in the mile high city feeling pretty low–the olive leaf and vitamin c (see photo below) did not want to cooperate with my book tour. But from the minute I arrived in Denver, met by Beth, my absolutely charming media escort (who assured me almost every author on tour gets sick) to the ...

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Porca Miseria

porca miseria

These are the Italian words Frances Mayes wrote to me yesterday when I emailed that I was sick, sick, sick, and that this was just the beginning of my book tour. Pig Misery or Dirty Pig, either translation is good for the way I’m feeling. For those who think book touring is all glamour, have ...

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Book Launch for Trail of Crumbs


It started yesterday with flowers… at Southern Progress Corporation where I work as food editor for Cottage Living magazine. I could not have asked for a better launch party to start my tour, headed up by Jeanetta Keller and Jake Reiss of Alabama Booksmith and Grand Central Publishing. Thanks to everyone at SPC who came out ...

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Paris late fall early winter

paris hat

I am about to go on book tour with the release of Trail of Crumbs, which was yesterday. Before heading out, I wanted to post some belated words and images from a recent trip to Paris…              

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platanos verdes y tamarindo

Ahhh, tostones. It’s a great midnight snack. Use green plantains, cut on the bias and fry once for about 3-ish minutes. Remove from the oil and smash with a can of tuna, with just the right twist of the wrist. Fry them again in oil that’s not too hot…Everything’s better fried, so twice fried is ...

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I’ve sent many emails to friends about where and what to eat in Paris, so I’ve decided to post it here. (I lived in Paris and Provence for ten years before moving back to the States.) Please note dates and if you have visited one of these places more recently, I’d love to hear an ...

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Speed Dating for Book Lovers


I was in Atlanta this weekend for SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) where Logan Ward and I (along with about 30 other authors) took part in the Moveable Feast of Authors. This is where each author has about 10 minutes with a table of booksellers to talk about his or her book, before moving on ...

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A 4-Taco Day in Paso and L.A.


Squash Blossoms and Siamese Figs at the Hollywood Farmers Market early Sunday. My friend, Sara Foster, and I were shopping for our Cottage Living photo shoot in Paso Robles last week. We were so full (we had had dinner at The Hungry Cat the night before where we feasted on raw oysters and clams, ...

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Trail of Crumbs photo shoot

Rick and Heather

Here are some behind-the-scenes shots I took from a photo shoot for the January/February issue of Cottage Living magazine. The photographer is Rick Lew, and the styling is by stylist extraordinaire, Heather Chadduck. Rick and Heather Gorgeous cheese plate–it was prop food but quickly became real food (just like the Champagne) as the shoot continued.

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Going to the Dogs

Dogs Dining in Paris

Paris, March 2007

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Blushing Beauties


I bought these stunning radishes from the local farmers market at Pepper Place. How I dream of them: -With cold butter and dipped in crunchy salt -Braised in chicken broth and fresh tarragon -Raw, sliced lengthwise and topped with crispy lardons -Sliced and layered on a thick crispy baguette with melted smoky mozzarella and fresh dill, a pinch of fleur ...

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A Reading List


What I’m reading, rereading or hoping to read soon: Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater (so gorgeous, I want to climb into his kitchen and never leave) CONVERSATIONS WITH WENDELL BERRY trying to read in Swedish books by poet/novelist Charlotte Brady MANGEZ-Moi by Agnes Desarthe Deux Fois Par Semaine de Christine Orban MARCUS ...

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