Summer Bouillabaise

As bombs and missiles explode, Wednesday Florence farmer’s market fills the heart with much-needed comfort. So lucky that freshest ingredients still exist in these parts. Mark Bittman points out in today’s NYTimes column “French Food Goes Down”, that even the quality of the most coveted cuisine in the world has declined. Frozen chicken, days-old fish. It’s sad. “Fait maison”  signs used to signify regional reliable staples of home cooking. That has gone by the wayside in restaurants of both France and America. Another reason to rely on local produce, fishmongers, butchers.  “Fait maison” from your own kitchen.

For bouillabaisse, find the freshest vegetables, firm fish, clams and simmer in its own essence. Blend in some melon for sweetness. Get a fresh baguette from Bread Euphoria. Better than anything along the byways of Provence these days. RecipeDetours. Bon weekend.

Hampshire Life

RomneyCare working in the BayState. Not nationally. Obama made the case for small government last week. Bloated bureaucracy of federal agencies cannot handle complex programs. Should have gone to private sector tech at the outset. Oops. Merry Christmas, Republicans.

Had dinner in newly renovated Lord Jeffrey Inn on the Amherst Green. Outdoor areas with fireplaces. Chic interior. Fun evening with great friends. Martin Sandler’s new book is an epistolary compilation which tells JFK’s story better than any bio. Sandler taught history at both Smith College and UMass.

Lady Gaga has talent. Too bad she squanders it with copycat twerky SNL stint. Homeland looks to be taking a more interesting turn tonight. Finally. Bon week.

Quests de Cuisine

As holidays approach, a renewed interest in gift collectibles. Amazon is offering several ways to buy Table’s Edge. All hardcover with photos and illustrations. A nostalgic nod to Pioneer Valley’s culinary history. Tales of creative chefs who came to Paradise City from all over the world. CookBook, too. Their timeless recipes. For more information, check it out here at

Meanwhile, in Manhattan the dining scene continues to evolve. One of our faves, Ciano is now CucinaCiano, moved from Flatiron to Upper East Side. Over on York & 73rd, a hole-in-the-wall has become the hottest spot for fish flown in daily from Japan. Tanoshi has 10 seats, so plan ahead. Snow in NYC today. None here!

SideTrek Summer

It’s Summer SideTrek time. Happy 4th! Fun things to read, cook and do:

From snack bars to haute cuisine. Best tables 2013.
New England day trips on the back roads and more.
Trek Books. Porch reads galore.
Summer Recipes. Grilled corn, flank steak.
TripAdvisor reviews. From lobster rolls to chocolate cake.

Spring Board

King Abdullah of Jordan gives a controversially candid interview to Jeffrey Goldberg in April’s the Atlantic. As he trashes his neighbors’ response to the Arab Spring, Abdullah pines for his days at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. He has even built a school in Jordan modeled on his happy boarding phase.

Spring edition of MSKCC’s Bridges newsletter compares cancer survivors’ resiliency and the long journey of recovery to the plight of Sandy victims.

New York Magazine’s cover RetroWife captures the current phenomenon. Women choosing to be the modern version of a 50’s wife. I get it. They were brought up by absent moms, the feminists who tried to have it all. It’s a nostalgic nod to June Cleaver and Donna Reed. The ideal misses the reality of women who stay home all day. Mother’s “little helpers” are also back in vogue.

I’ll say it again. Richard Engel’s spellbinding account of his kidnapping in Syria is a must read. VanityFair, April 2013.

Il Papa Francesco will celebrate Holy Thursday at a juvenile prison in Rome. He may be the real deal. Zeffirelli’s Brother Sun, Sister Moon comes to mind.

Weekend Liaisons

Downton out. Killing off cast faster than General Hospital. Heartwarming liaisons formed. Baby boy born. Happy. And then, poof. No more Matthew. Speaking of silly, GH bringing geezer couples (Luke&Laura) back. Fast-forward.

Woodward smacks down Rove on Fox! Bob looked at Karl and told him he’s writing a book called, Some People Never Go Away. PricelessMcCain and Graham non-stop steaming as Obama and Woods tee off together. Hope Tiger doesn’t take Prez “out” while Michelle and girls are skiing in Aspen. Dangerous.

Sweet to meet the lovely and captivating Lilly Leigh at La Fiorentina.
Another visit to my favorite Bryant barn in winter. Thanks Dr.Photog.

Local Color

Amity Shlaes on Morning Joe recalling many hours spent in Northampton’s Forbes Library researching her new book about former local resident, President Calvin Coolidge. Actress Jane Lynch gleefully gushing to Kelly & Michael about Smith College, where her wife graduated and she received an honorary doctorate, “It’s a training ground for lesbians!” Smith’s P.R. Dept. thrilled.

SOTU watchers remarked Obama’s make-up strangely sallow. He looked whiter than Boehner. Pale showing by Latino GOP. Rubio’s nervous response speech. Ted Cruz bullying senate committee, questioning Hagel’s patriotism.