• Posted by Califia Suntree on October 31st, 2011, 6:00 AM

    Strippers jumping out of cakes is so passé. But zombies? Now that’s a party! In honor of Halloween (and Zombie-Americans’ $5 billion share of our economy), here’s an incredible photo of my friend Carrie’s creepy-fabulous birthday cake. Yes, that is an undead corpse’s hand trying to escape its red velvet tomb and grab you with its delicious marzipan fingers. This fully edible work of pastry art was created by Cakes by Mona New York, based on Carrie’s design. The birthday girl gives the cake a rotting, gore-covered thumbs up: “Best bloody cake that a fondant loving zombie could hope for.”

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on October 31st, 2011, 12:26 AM

    I’ve always loved halvah in principle but not in practice. On the one hand, what’s not to love about dense, flaky sweetened tahini studded with pistachios? On the other–lord almighty is that sweet! My teeth ache just thinking about it. So what to do with the glorious pound of halvah (pictured here) that my dear friend Avigail brought me from Israel (along with a jar of green Ethiopian tahini that I hoard and covet)? I was so grateful, but panicked as she handed it to me. How am I going to go through an entire pound of halvah without collapsing in a diabetic coma? “By the way,” says the dear friend, reading my mind, “my family tells me they eat this with yogurt over there.” Fortunately halvah has a half-life of maybe a century, because it took me weeks to get the nerve to crack the package and take a teeth-achy nibble. Then I remembered–yogurt! I took a hefty scoop and crumbled it all over a bowl of Greek yogurt…It was a revelation. The yogurt tang covered the intense sweetness, and the halvah mellowed the yogurt. The nutty flavor came forward, and the textures of flaky, crunchy and creamy came together like a bowl of Holy Land Chubby Hubby. That tub of halvah was gone in a couple weeks, and now I can’t eat yogurt any other way.

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  • Posted by Califia Suntree on October 29th, 2011, 2:18 AM

    As part of Live Talks Los Angeles, and as a fundraiser for the new Los Angeles Review of Books, Adam Gopnik joins producer/directer Ed Zwick (he of Shakespeare in Love and Thirtysomething fame) to discuss Gopnik’s brand new book, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food. I’m particularly hoping they talk about the entries “Anchovies, Bacon, Lamb” and “Chicken, Pudding, Dogs.”

    When: Thursday, November 3, 2011
    8pm (reception at 6:30pm)

    Where: Track 16 at Bergamot Station
    Santa Monica, CA

    Tickets are $20-$95, with proceeds going to the L.A. Review of Books.

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on October 14th, 2011, 5:43 PM

    Where I live, early fall is the season of lumpy, oddly shaped, strangely colored last-hurrah tomatoes. They aren’t as vibrantly flavored as the height-of-summer fruits, but they do ease the transition into cooler weather and darkening days. Our fall tomatoes were all yellow (or yellowish), and not quite suitable for slicing into a salad. But they did make an excellent fresh tomato sauce, with a bit of oregano, perfect for serving with seasonally appropriate mushroom ravioli. Here’s how I made it:

    Crush or finely mince garlic and saute it in some olive oil in a wide, non-reactive pan. Just when it starts getting aromatic, toss in some crushed dried or minced fresh oregano. Using a food mill, grind your fresh yellow tomatoes into the pan and simmer until the flavors meld. Season with salt and, if your tomatoes lack acidity (ours did), squeeze a bit of lemon juice overall. (A friend recommends lemon zest, which I haven’t tried.) Toss with pasta and enjoy the lingering taste of summer!

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