James and the Giant Peach

There is hope yet for all we incurable romantics waiting with baited breath. By this I will underscore the brazen me. Dated news here but Jennifer Aniston and Jason whats-his-name finally wed. After a creative proposal, gargantuan ring and perhaps unfair media attention, they are officially husband and wife. Mazel tov and I'll raise a glass to that. Screw the glass let's rather saber a bottle of bubbly. For a tutorial in drama and panache, click here. Merci beauoup Bon Appetit. There is nothing better than good old fashioned romance. Butterflies, plans, first dates, first kisses, the anticipation of time together and all that jazz. Romance comedies warm my insides. Quite simply, such films (and stories) make me smile and feel halcyon about the world. Every Christmas I watch Love Actually to rouse those feel good sentiments. Above all else, I am a serious champion for happy endings. Even if they don't ring true for everyone, it's nice to see the ball fall into other's courts accordingly. They offer hope. To borrow something that caught the world by storm as of late, #lovewins. 

In the world of farmers markets and vegetables, I am reading loads about eggplant, bell peppers and cucumber. Did you know that the three before mentioned vegetables are actually fruits? Okra, olives and squash also belong to this sneaky consortium. It might shock some but I prepared eggplant for the very first time week before last. Honestly, the gorgeous aubergine has always disheartened me. Kind of like the artichokes that I tackled last year and they have become a Reynolds Ranch food fixture. I incorporated a small chopped eggplant to serve as the meat in my vegan red Thai curry. I am a bit behind the ace ball in posting recipes in harmony with Instagram photographs but this meal was the business. Did you know that one need salt eggplants before cooking and later rinse with water. The exercise in chemistry helps extract the bitter flavors so when you do cook them, you are left with velvety goodness. They pair gorgeously with roasted tomatoes, chick peas and yoghurt. Of course they are also divine fried and covered in browned meat with clouds of cheese. We can thank the Italians for this. I took note of an article this morning stating that red bell peppers are best enjoyed and digested once roasted with a bit of olive oil until they caramelize. One then has full liberty to employ however wets his or her whistle. Smear on toast, puree with goat cheese and a pinch of za'atar to yield a gorgeous dip or simply add them to eggs. Lastly, cucumbers are fab thinly sliced and salted. Leave them for a bit and they almost pickle. I like to chop a small Persian and throw it in a jar of water for a bit of healthy infusion.

Last Wednesday was #NationalOysterDay, hoorah. My folks were on the Gulf Shore of Alabama and called to remind me. In Mobile, they were being offered for 0.30 cents a pop. We headed over to a neighborhood haunt that serves delicious Rappahannock oysters and for a buck a piece, you can't beat that with a stick. The spot is named Rock Salt and I encourage you to check this place out for a bounty of reasons (cool head chef that engages with diners, brilliant back deck) but what more than their daily oyster special offerings. With prices so great, I feel like I'm at Elliott's in Seattle. I ordered a cocktail comprised of Hendricks gin and a rosemary lemonade. Lots of crushed ice. It paired nicely with the briny oysters and the salty crackers. Matthew kept it local and ordered one of Triple C's finest. All in all, like our picnics, a suitable mid-week reprieve. On Thursday evening, I paid the 7 $ to valet park at Fahrenheit. I personally am not a fan of paying valet when I am giving my business to an establishment but what can you do. A friend and I enjoyed three rounds of delicious cocktails. While we did not eat, I look forward to doing so next time whereby I will park at my apartment and walk. In other news, we cannot get enough of the Sandy Creek Farm Foods eggs that I bought at Provision Local Market in Waxhaw. We both eat eggs every morning and not infrequently, I like to prepare a six or seven minute number to throw in a salad or soup. They are delicious. Source local, buy local. Always. You are crazy not to. 

We had an eventful weekend, as always. Friday was spent house bound for the majority thanks to a workman doing his thing. In the latter part of the afternoon, I went to the butcher to pick up seven pounds of pork shoulder for my now famous carnitas. I like to cut and salt them the day before. Salting meat in advance of roasting or braising is always a good idea. I promise that this will improve the texture, flavor and juiciness of your meat. Never salt meat directly before cooking, it can have the opposite effect. I also made a trip to our local Latin grocer, Supermercado El Rey down on South Boulevard. In addition to beautiful produce paired with the cheapest limes (10 for a dollar), tomatillos and avocados in town, they have an authentic cafe in the back. The food is fresh, made-to-order and the best Mexican food in the city. I can assert this with conviction because I am a Texan and I know my Mexican grub. Don't expect chips and queso here. Instead you can order a myriad of dishes from carne asada, beef tongue tacos and tripe soup to chicken quesadillas, grilled shrimp, steak fajitas and roasted chicken. They also have a condiment bar with freshly diced onions, radishes, tomatoes, cilantro, four types of salsa, guacamole and two varieties of pickled vegetables. After a serious fiesta and grocery shopping (don't miss their corn tortillas), we headed home to clean the kitchen, tackle yard work and the likes. In the evening, we went to a South End favorite, Gin Mill, for cold ones on the roof deck overlooking the train tracks. This spot is great for a myriad of reasons but I give them high fives for the salted popcorn that pops in a little machine next to the front door. Their music selection is also excellent. After a week of cooking, the kitchen was officially closed and so we ordered pizza from Libretto's. Delicious New York style pizza and quick delivery but salty. My stars, I must have awoken six times in the night to chug water. I actually dreamed of drinking water. It's a miracle I didn't wet the bed. 

I was up early on Saturday morning and after the gastronomic assault, in need of a serious sweat. I ran a 5K and surprised even myself. I didn't set out to run that far. Afterwards, Matthew and I visited our local Dilworth haunt for coffee and discovered that my favorite, Foxcroft Wine Co, is opening a second location in Kenilworth Commons. I knew they were opening a sister outfit but little did I realize it was to be a stone's throw from us. A usual Friday night date spot for Matthew and I, we are big fans of this place. Superb wine selection across all price points, big fridges filled with beers from around the world, superb service, cool ambiance and delectable food. They serve my favorite Spanish Albarino, Paco y Lola. On Friday sand Saturdays they prepare specials shaped around fish. They also offer the best truffle frites in the city and if you really want to blow the diet, you must order their donut holes that come with homemade chocolate and caramel sauces for dipping. Saturday I had the baby shower of one of my best friends. I am besotted with her entire, wonderful family (she is one of four sisters) so it was lovely to visit with everyone. I returned home to get my ducks in a row for that night. In the evening, we had a homecoming party of sorts for another special person, who lives with her family in Croatia. Hillary and Matthew were raised together and over the years, became best friends. I actually met her at a party at Matthew's house back when we were neighbors in high school. We ended up joining the same sorority at UNC and as fortune will have it, fast became bosom pals. We lived together all four years in school, studied abroad together, made late night road trips for burritos together, traveled to Italy together after we graduated college, she visited me when I lived in Germany, I was in her wedding. The list ensues. So we had a gathering for everyone in her honor. The crowd was a sublime mix of high school friends, a former teacher as well as college ones. I adore reunions; they are wonderful reminders of how lucky we are to be have such genuine friends in our lives.

I prepared the below salsa to accompany our pork carnitas for tacos. You can access the carnitas recipe here. This is a wonderful main course for entertaining because it is economical and everyone can do their own thing. It is very hands off for the Madame of the house. You prepare it and set it out for all to enjoy. Do be sure to stock your taco bar accordingly. I like to set out bowls of pickled jalapeños, red onions pickled in cloves, shredded red cabbage, sliced radishes, cotija cheese, chick peas or pinto beans stewed with bacon, sour cream, authentic corn tortillas, my holy guacamole recipe, whichever hot sauces we have on hand and a salsa. Peaches and pork are like two peas in a pod and this salsa is no exception. I used an entire jalapeño, which lent subtle heat. If serving children, I do caution to leave it out. The salsa was used as dip, on tacos and I actually saw someone eating it like a salad with a spoon. We savored leftovers with yesterday's breakfast (crispy pork spooned over poached eggs with my pickled red onions), for lunch (we made tacos again) and I plan to serve it with tonight's roasted chicken. So head to your local farmers market or grocer and pick up a bag of ripe peaches. Do buy extras for dessert. I just sent someone a recipe for my apple crisp and told them to use 6 ripe peaches, chopped into chunks in lieu of the apples. I will be preparing the crisp at the weekend. Taking the next five days to cool my jets in the food department so that come Friday, we can engage once again. Bon appetit and do report back!

Peach and Corn Salsa


6 ripe peaches - pitted and cut into chunks
1 bag of frozen corn
1 jalapeño - I kept the seeds in to pack a punch
1 head of cilantro - stems removed
1/4 red onion
5 cloves of garlic
2 TBS olive oil
Juice of 3 limes
1 tsp cumin
Generous pinch or two of kosher salt


1. Chop up your peaches and throw in a bowl. In your food processor, blitz the jalapeño, garlic, red onion and cilantro until chopped. Add to the bowl containing the peaches. Salt generously.

2. In a pan over medium heat, add 1 TBS olive oil, 1 tsp of cumin and roast your corn. You know it's finished when you hear popping and kernels find their way into other parts of the kitchen. Remove pan from heat, let cool and add to the bowl from step one.

3. Squeeze your limes and drizzle with 1 TBS olive oil. Give a big stir, season to taste and let sit.

Note, I like to prepare this the a couple of hours before I serve as it allows the flavors to develop together.


  1. Everything looks delicious! Awesome pictures!

    1. Thank you very much, your words are greatly appreciated! I do hope you will try some of these recipes at home and report back! The carnitas are especially a favorite. The best bit is leftovers - you can throw them in soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, on top of salads, the works!