From the Office and Backyard to the Road, Boat, or Plane–Backstories and
Side Stories While on Assignment. Updates on Personal Projects, Too.

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

02.05

2012

Sweet Carolina

Our 13-stop North Carolina dessert tour gets 40(!), photo-rich pages in this month’s Our State, a legend of southern publications —  in print for nearly 80 years. What a plum assignment. Peter Frank Edwards and I drove hundreds of miles, hung around all manner of bakeries and cafes, and tasted dozens of pies, cookies and cakes.

Oh, what sweet adventure. This sugary story could have started in any number of towns. With just a trifle of effort, it’s possible to discover independent, local bakeries in North Carolina offering hot doughnuts at dawn or slices of cheesecake at near midnight…

From the opening pages:

One of the terrific bakers we met along the way, Samantha Smith at Sugar on Front Street in Wilmington (maker of the cherry pie in the opener):

– Sandy Lang, February 2012

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Food, In print/published, Travel

After a snowy night in Portland we’re up early, and soon we’re onto ME-26 and driving north on a route that passes Gray, Bryant Pond, and Paris. “Everywhere, the landscape is buried, and branches of the spruce and pines droop downward with the white weight of snow… Not far from the white steeples of Bethel, we come upon a curved orange vision at the roadside. It’s the vintage camper on Route 2 that’s been converted into a barbecue stand. Smoke is rising through the snowflakes from a hulking back smoker… in the car, the little containers of extra BBQ sauce get lined up on the dashboard and before we’re out of the parking lot, we’re tasting the pulled pork, baked beans, cornbread and slaw.”

That’s an excerpt from our feature “The S-Factor” in the new issue of Maine magazine with PFE‘s dreamy, drifted image on the cover. We had some terrific days of ski time, fireplace-warming, and an outdoor swim in a heated pool as the flurries flew.

Here‘s more of the account of our road trip to Sunday River, Saddleback and Sugarloaf, with “slope-side stories of epic snows, fireside proposals, and smoky barbecue for the ski and snowboard set.”

– Sandy Lang, January 2012

Loved getting back to New Orleans for “Crescent City Christmas,” an eight-page feature in the December 2011 issue of Southern Living. From the opener:

CRESCENT CITY CHRISTMAS: In New Orleans, traditions are as thick as roux. To get your fill in December, just follow the firelight.

You’ll see a Dixieland Santa Claus/ leading the band to a good old Creole beat/ Golly, what a spirit, you can only hear it/ down on Basin Street.

When Louis Armstrong put his rolling, gravelly vocals to smooth brass on the swinging 1955 recording of “Christmas in New Orleans,” the distinctive holiday appeal of his hometown was set. Armstrong’s voice is like New Orleans itself—a blend of rough edges and refinement, unlike anything else. And in December, the well-worn and mightily loved Crescent City is decked out in lights, bows, and sparkle, ready for the season’s pageantry. Fetes start early, with a month of Réveillon dinners—often all-evening affairs where the Cajun-spiced and Creole-sauced courses keep coming. Celebrations culminate with towering bonfires ablaze on the levees, lighting up the bayou on brisk, year-end nights…’Cause it’s Christmastime in New Orleans

Along the way, photographer Peter Frank Edwards and I met with old friends and made some new ones in the French Quarter and Uptown. In the printed magazine, the story begins on page 46, or you can find the full text online here. Meanwhile, many thanks to many NOLA friends, including Townsend, Peggy, Michael, Lisa and Lynn. Hope to see you again soon for jazz or a cocktail!

– Sandy Lang, January 2012

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Food, In print/published, Travel

I had a great time interviewing 11 Charleston-area chefs for the cover story of the premiere issue of THE LOCAL PALATE, now out in print. The premise was to ask each chef five basic questions about Charleston’s food and food culture. They talked of everything from the simple joys of “cooking the line” and rolling out the night’s pastas (Chef Ken Vedrinkski, Trattoria Lucca) to a summer score of white peaches from the Upstate (Chef Frank Lee at Slightly North of Broad).

Ben Williams did the photography, including this terrific cover shot of Graham Dailey of the Peninsula Grill. That’s Frank Lee and Sean Brock, below, in the article opener.

The full roster of chefs in the piece:

Sean Brock, McCrady’s & Husk, 2010 James Beard Award, Best Chef-Southeast

Graham Daily, Peninsula Grill

Craig Deihl, Cypress & Artisan Meat Share

Jacques Larson, Wild Olive

Mike Lata, FIG, 2009 James Beard Award, Best Chef-Southeast

Frank Lee, Slightly North of Broad & Maverick Southern Kitchens

Sarah O’Kelley, Glass Onion

Robert Stehling, Hominy Grill, 2008 James Beard Award, Best Chef-Southeast

Nate Thurston, The Ocean Room at The Sanctuary

Ken Vedrinski, Trattoria Lucca & Enoteca

Michelle Weaver, Charleston Grill

Just typing in that list of restaurants makes me hungry. I look forward to eating with all of them again soon.

– Sandy Lang, October 2011

In Rome this month after joining PFE Photo for an assignment, I took the chance to go out on a solo adventure. At the Termini Stazione in the late afternoon, I pulled my smallest suitcase onto a train that followed tracks out of the city and into the hills. Before sunset, I’d made it to Spoleto.

I’ll be writing more. But for now, some snapshots of several days there. I talked little and walked a lot. There were stops for bianco Orvieto, for gelato (panna cotta, baba au rhum), to meet craftsmen and look into galleries, shoe shops. The leather!  Whenever I could, I drank from fountains.

Spoleto, Italy - Sandy Lang, June 2011Craftsman, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Trails, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Truffles, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Lunch, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Laundry, Spoleto, Itay. By Sandy Lang, June 2011Sunday morning, Spoleto, Italy. By Sandy Lang, June 2011.Menu fisso lunch, Spoleto, Italy. By Sandy Lang, June 2011.

– Sandy Lang, June 2011

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Food, Travel

I’m so excited to see this in print. Below is the opener for our first piece for Maine magazine, “Oyster Drive,” a 9-page feature in the March issue. (Yes, that’s an oysterman collecting oysters in the snow – Adam Campbell of North Haven.) Photography is by Peter Frank Edwards, and the staff did a beautiful layout.

Take a flight into Portland, and power directly north on some combination of Route 1 and I-95 to the cabin near Bucksport. That’s what we typically do—but not this time. It was a mid-December morning, snow was coming, and it was just days before many of the oystermen would be hauling in their boats and gear for the season. (Some harvest year-round. Others are typically back out on the water in March or April.) That’s how our “Oyster Drive” was born.

Weather and season made it suddenly more than a fleeting idea. Finding oysters was elevated to a personal mission—something necessary, even urgent. As winter crept up from the floorboards of the rented Toyota, every oyster we could find would be that much more precious. We mapped out a plan to skip I-95 and stick to the coast, seeking roadside views of the tidal beds and washes where the oysters grow, and making stops along the way at towns, coves, rivers, islands. We wanted to taste again the salt and quiver of the Maine oyster, and get our fill as close as possible to the chilled tides. The gas tank was full, we had the Maine Atlas and Gazetteer by our side, and we had a starter list of oyster destinations in hand. Check. Check. Check. Off we went…


– Sandy Lang, March 2011

The November issue of Travel + Leisure is just out, with my guide to what’s new in Barbados, including the mango-painted Nishi restaurant, and the renovated Atlantis hotel, near the “Soup Bowl” surf action on the eastern shore. Had such a delicious trip to the island this year.

BarbadosT+L2

BarbadosT+L1

– Sandy Lang, October 2010

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Food, In print/published, Travel

I’ve got a few more snapshots from a week in Hawaii, working with Peter Frank Edwards Photographs.

At a food truck in Hanalei, this was the $9 mixed plate on Saturday – chicken lau lau, kalua pork, lots of purple poi, lomi-lomi salmon (best with gobs of poi), mac salad, and a dessert square made with coconut milk, taro and sticky rice. Actually much of the plate was sticky. And delicious… the taro leaves wrapped around the chicken have a smoky, artichoke taste. For another buck, the root beer was a good wash with it all. 

laulau

From Princeville, the view of Hanalei Bay, for the moment… the sky and light changes fast here.

HanaleiBay

His name is “Moo” and lives with his owner near Moloa’a Beach, on the north shore of Kaua’i.

MooHideaways

Here’s a doorless helicopter view of some of the ancient mountains of the once-volcanic Na Pali coast.

NaPali

Not long before sunset at Hideaways Beach… the reward for the steep and slippery hike down the narrow path from Princeville. (Watch out for the broken railing in places, the thin ropes.) That’s PFE on the left. Tom, a local surfer and musician, brought us to this special patch of beach that’s shouldered by a rock ledge. As the sun fell, we all stood in the coarse-grained sand and sunglow and talked a while – of small houses, big surf and a Steinway piano (that’s another story).

PFTom

– Sandy Lang, September 2010.

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Food, Travel

hen_SL

This morning, Pip, Red and Puny pecked and scratched at the corn kernels and cobs leftover from our last night’s dinner. At some point today, each of the three hens will likely hop into a galvanized tub in the potting shed and lay a brown egg in the pine straw. “The girls” make delicious eggs.

For about a year now, they’ve produced two or three brown-shelled eggs a day. It was an experiment last spring (2009) to buy the wobbly little chicks – for about $2 each from a feed & seed down the road. But now, with this week’s news of overcrowded egg factories, battery cages and worries of contamination, I’m more thankful for the hens each day.

fasthen

The girls are true foragers. In our fenced-in yard of about 1/4 acre, I’ve seen them scratch and eat grass, clover, pecans that have dropped (if the shell is broken… we sometimes help with that), sunflower seeds, worms, bugs, radish greens, blueberries, millet, collard greens, watermelon, cucumbers, seeds of any kind. To add to what they find, each day we give them a cup or two of feed crumbles and of dried, cracked corn. They drink from a garden spigot left on to drip. (Pretty interesting to watch.)

I think it’s a content little flock. They need so little and they give so much.

Thank you, Pip. Thank you, Red. Thank you, Puny.

eggs3

– Sandy Lang, August 2010  (Egg image by PFE.)

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Food, Home & garden

lemonamalfi

Just back from the ferry boats, footpaths and winding roads of Capri, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello…

The mountains on the Amalfi Coast rise right up out of the sea, and the towns are built into them, terraced and layered in the stone. Stairsteps and lanes wind between stone walls and everywhere there is a patch of ground, someone is carefully growing something – fruit and olive trees, bougainvillea, tomato and aubergine plants, basil and wild fennel. So many lemons. This Mediterranean variety was long and lumpy and big as grapefruit. We met a local limoncello maker who was cutting off the peels to soak in vodka. “Dulche” he said about the sweet peels. I bit into the juice and zing of the lemon sections themselves. All was yellow and sunshine, pure lemon-ness.

positanobeach

Everything we saw growing we’d also see on the plate. On most menus there’d be a some kind of rustic, handmade pasta. Sometimes it was a fat spaghetti, other times it was twisted into tight curls. In Pogerola, a small town high above Amalfi, we walked by the open kitchen window of an osteria named Rispoli and could see the steam rising. Across the narrow lane was a patio of 6 or 8 tables, and there – at a square table with a pink plaid tablecloth and views of the hillsides above Amalfi, Atranti and the sea – we ate plates of fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, a whole panfish with lemon, and pasta vongole with those tiny Mediterranean clams that are so full of flavor in their ridged purple-white shells. For dessert – we’d started to talk with guests beside us from Switzerland, so wanted to stay on longer – we shared a cold and creamy rum baba with wild strawberries. On other tables I saw plates of sardines and olive oil, and of fried squid and prawns, of pitchers of a beer-golden wine. One wiry sister, Marina, waited on guests and called out orders through the kitchen window to another sister at the stove. The pasta was yellow with yolk and roughly cut into wide, flat pieces, as if it had been hand-rolled and cut it with a knife. Bravissimo. And Rispoli had no wine list but a choice of bianco or russo served in glass pitchers for four Euros per litre.  Oddly frizzante and almost foamy at first, their bianco tasted better and better as we drank into the night, and eventually walked happily back down the hill to our hotel.

fiatamalfi

– Sandy Lang, June 2010 (photo’s: roadside lemon stand, the beach at Positano, my favorite car in Amalfi)

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Food, Travel, Wine

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