Oh, the brave souls who've opted to sail with Costa. You may recall that it was a Costa ship that sank in 2012 when the captain (allegedly waving to a friend onshore) fatally mismaneuvered the Concordia, hit the rocky Tuscan coastline, and then (again allegedly) jumped ship into a nearby lifeboat to safety as the boat went down. That cruise, alas, was not so favolosa.
June 29, 2016
My fascination with open markets is a deep one, dating back to midnight trips to this farmers' market in Newark. I used to visit with my friend Nick. And often we'd run into our friends Bill and Pat. (All three can just barely be seen at the right of this low-light photo.) It was here on this night that I learned of the existence of the Crenshaw melon, a bit of information that has been invaluable in the 43 years since.
June 28, 2016
Ah, memories of meals here at Da Pietro, just steps from the Eternal Città's Piazza Navona. I remember seeing a table of four who'd ordered a whole white truffle that they then proceeded to shave over their pasta. At our more modest table, spinach gnocchi so light that a fellow diner dubbed them "little poems." And a wild strawberry risotto that should be in season right about now.
June 27, 2016
June 26, 2016
I am sober 34 years today. And the world is a better place because of it. Here's a photo taken 34 years ago. (Also seen in this photo that I've posted before, is the wrist of frequent SLS commenter Ernest. In the past, Ernest has selfishly witnessed this historic photo and commented only about his watch. Imagine.)
June 25, 2016
My friend James has a great garden in a plot within the Codman Estate in nearby Lincoln, MA. And recently he offered me two small plants to put into my own home garden. They're called "Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate." No, really. Here's the show-off bouquet of the same plants that he showed up with at our annual Labor Day Weekend party not long ago. He does know how to make an entrance.
June 24, 2016
June 23, 2016
June 22, 2016
June 21, 2016
June 19, 2016
Another great Massachusetts parking job. This reminds me of a story my friend Cara told me about her sister-in-law (Mexican and an ex-nun) who lives in Central Square, Cambridge, near a popular church. So popular, in fact, that parking is at a premium on Sunday mornings, with some worshippers parking in a way that blocks Cara's brother and sister-in-law's driveway. So they put notes on the offenders' windshields asking, "Where would Jesus park?" In this case, I think "How would Jesus park?" might be more appropriate.
June 18, 2016
Boston ice cream purveyors need to stop. I was reading an article recently that reported on new flavors being offered here in the Bay State by some, um, inventive ice cream producers. Jerusalem artichoke? Miso 'n' corn? Wild dandelion? Porcini? If we're to be assaulted by mushroom ice cream, perhaps this extravagant and mucho toxic looking 'shroom we found in our backyard could become their newest ingredient, finally putting a stop to this frozen misguidedness.
June 17, 2016
Last week, my friend Nick posted a recipe for an Italian cavolo nero pie with the caption, "I was into kale before it was cool." Click here for the recipe. Or buy his excellent new book, Pastry, and find the recipe there along with dozens of others.
June 16, 2016
Mmmm. Look at this beautiful plate of linguine with shellfish, enjoyed on the night before our cruise to Sicily and Malta last autumn. You'd never imagine that something this delicious would set off an attack of gout that plagued Dr. Blake for the entire length of the cruise.
June 15, 2016
I find it interesting that we associate certain typefaces with different political ideologies or social epochs. I look at this plaque on a government building in Trapani and I think "Fascism." The balcony doesn't do anything to dissuade me.
June 14, 2016
Meet our friend Mary. A character, and one we love. Our paths crossed when she began taking care of Jay's gardens years ago. Since then our friendship has deepened. Mary lived in Rome for awhile, studied classics at Brown, has definite opinions on gardening, pesticides, organic methods. She looks a little bit mischievous in this photo, which is misleading. Because actually she is very mischievous.
June 13, 2016
June 12, 2016
June 11, 2016
June 9, 2016
One of the many Day of the Dead altars that pop up each year throughout the city. This one at the Mercado San Agustin not far from the home of my friends Simon and David. In fact, close enough to easily walk for a quick lunch of fish tacos, or to purchase spinach tortillas to bring home. Alas, this year I'll be working at my local Massachusetts polling place and unable to make my annual trip for Tucson's All Souls Procession. Maybe.
June 8, 2016
June 7, 2016
June 6, 2016
June 5, 2016
June 4, 2016
The Palace Hotel, fabled in legend and in song. When I got to SFO a day earlier than my business required, I signed on for a tour of this municipal landmark. And I was not disappointed. We ambled through this Garden Court, through hallways, sample rooms, the kitchen, you-name-it. I learned that the current 1909 structure is built upon the ruins of the earlier 1875 Palace Hotel, destroyed in the great earthquake. (The tour guide was a saucy thing, not one of those starchy New England types who seem imposed upon as they allow you access to homes not their own.) The hotel's Pied Piper bar is home to a beautiful Maxfield Parrish mural of the children's tale. In 2013, the Palace's owners tried to remove the mural to sell it through Christie's auction house for an estimated $5 million. San Franciscans were outraged and protested so powerfully that the greedy owners relented, restored the mural and returned it to its proper place. Phew!
June 3, 2016
Pictured, my introduction to the glories of a Turkish breakfast. June 3, 2007, with my friend Nick at a cafe in Tunel Square in Istanbul. And every June 3 since, no matter where I am, I try to assemble a Turkish-style morning meal that honors that first one. Let's see what this morning brings.
June 2, 2016
June 1, 2016
Well, my May diet seems to have imploded, so I'm aiming for more sensible eating in June. What that means is: I'll think of bread, pasta, crackers, tortilla chips, you-name-it, 24/7. Not really. But I'm off to a good start with this photo of Le Fromentier, our favorite bakery in Montreal. One of each, please.