Boulder book signing in the bag!

Sage Russell at the Chef's Way book signing

A massive thank you to all who came out for The Chef’s Way Book Signing at Boxcar Coffee / Cured Boulder last Saturday.  It was a massive success, despite starting the morning behind a barricade of books, I left with only three in hand.

It is a magical thing to be able to sit in one place and have a crowd of lovers of food culture and cuisine parade by – chatting, sharing stories, asking questions – all about my favorite topic: Food. I must say, Cured attracts a great clientele and I could have spent days chatting with all of the lovely people that came to get a signed copy of The Chef’s Way.

 

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So on to the next book signing and next adventure.

Those of you who know the story, know that my sojourn in Boulder is only temporary, and I am pleased to say that I am headed back to Europe next week for a summer of Food Pilgrimage adventures (more on that later (hint, it involves Tuscany).

For now, the sun is out in Boulder. I am happy to have had these few months here to reconnect with this lovely town, and see what has changed, and pleased to see that food culture is a big part of the fabric.

… And a heartfelt thank you to everyone who I’ve connected with these past few months in the US: in New Orleans, in San Francisco, in Boulder and Denver. Thank you to everyone who shared a recipe, who suggested an ingredient or took me to a farm, to everyone and who joined me for a meal or dragged me out for a craft beer and heritage bourbon drink.

I hope to keep up with you all and see you again soon.

~Sage

Boulder, Colorado ~ When Restaurants Cook for Themselves (and for you)

Epic ingredients in Boulder, Colorado Food PIlgrimage

I’ve spent a lot of time travelling; a lot of time in search of food culture, in search of a unique meal, a unique ingredient, a unique ritual. I do this all because for me sharing good food with good people is the best bit of life; the best way to see the world, to meet the best people. I am three years into this mission of trying to convince you of the same thing, and today, I am back in Boulder, Colorado – the tiny town of my childhood, where my first stop is still the kitchen island at mom’s house, where I watched her cook, helped her cook and learned to look after people by cooking for them.

In Boulder I am reminded that the best food can happen anywhere, the formula is far simpler than we think. The great food requires no celebrity chef or celebrity endorsements. It doesn’t require a marquee address, exotic ingredients flown in. It doesn’t need specialty equipment or foie gras or shaved white truffles (though white truffles do make great food very easy).

My second stop in Boulder is always some food destination or another at the hands and insistence of my fervent and trusty Boulder gourmands. Sometimes it’s a farmer’s market stall, sometimes a brewery or wine shop, and sometimes it’s a cheese tasting at someone’s kitchen table.

My second stop on this Boulder visit is to

Some Helpful Conversions

Some Helpful Kitchen Conversions

Taken from from my book:  The Chef’s Way

Download a free sample here, or grab a copy here

(US Measures)
1 Tablespoon = 3 teaspoons = 1/2 fluid oz. = 15 ml
1 cup = 16 Tablespoons = 8 fluid oz. = 240 ml
1 pint = 2 cups = 480 ml
1 gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 16 cups = 128 fluid oz. = 3.8L
100 ml = 6.7 Tablespoons (almost 1 Cup)
Dry
1 oz. = 28.4 grams
1 lb. = 16 oz. = 453 grams
100 grams = 3.5 oz.
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds = 35 oz.
Dry Volume (approximations)
1 Tablespoon = 15 grams
1 cup = 240 grams
100 grams = about 6 US Tablespoons
Temperature
100 Celsius = 212 Fahrenheit
150 Celsius = 300 Fahrenheit
175 Celsius = 350 Fahrenheit
200 Celsius = 400 Fahrenheit
US to Imperial (UK)
1 US (t, T, Cup, quart, pint) = 0.83 Imperial

Puglia, Italy ~ One week, a Fiat 500, a Tent, and the Adriatic coast of Puglia, Italy {Part II: In Search of an Urchin Picnic}

Breakfast every day in Puglia

It was the fourth day in a row of waking up to the dull rumble of the steady Adriatic waves breaking on cliff rocks below.

In August, when the brightly-clothed, overly-tanned Italians were jostling for umbrella space on manicured sand beaches with cocktail service, solace could be found on Puglia’s jagged right coast; sharp gray rocks, churning blue water, and inevitably, a hike to reach any cove suitable for a swim.

But swim we did, in a shallow basin at the end of a precarious scramble, where the tilting waves pushed the morning tide in and out as the yellow sun rose into a pale-blue sky. We dried off, stowed the tent and the remnants of last night’s picnic into the Fiat. Breakfast was cappuccino and crème cornetto at a posh glass and white, seaside terrace that somehow managed to authentically recreate the bustle of a Roman espresso bar (likely because it was full of holiday-making Romans). The view was sublime, the cornetti were sweet, and the push and shove of espresso-desperate Roman bankers in speedos and bright madras beach shirts was perfectly Felinni-esqu (if he had shot in Technicolor).

We buzzed  South, down the coast road, hoping for views, but finding mostly clogged traffic circles and pedestrian crossing parades of towels, Ray-bans and more speedos. Then, just past Otranto, it all opened up, the road shrank, the beach resorts fell into the rearview, and the lush orchards and vineyards gave way to a scorched plain and low, straw colored bluffs that pinched away into the sea. We turned onto a lonely dusty road that promised a fresh Ricotta vendor.  The vendor was there, behind a small folding table and a pyramid of small tubs, selling the stuff – fresh, white and creamy – in plastic baskets wrapped in paper. The money went into a rumpled hat.

Then back onto the single good road, which flowed around a bend, and down a slope, through a town with one single sandy beach (mobbed with speedos and orange umbrellas) and back up a hill out of the town. Then, past a big white sign with red letters that said the one thing – Ricci… Urchin – and we stopped to see if it were true. The place under the sign – an open-air collection of wooden tables under a large tarp – had a simple menu of cold seafood, a smoking stone oven ever-baking thick, springy focaccia and a wine menu with two wines: White by the half-litre and white by the litre. It also had a steel counter-top and tub of ice dedicated to the cracking and shucking of the spiny Ricci. The guy shucking looked every part not a fisherman. He wore the collared polo shirt of a bookie, had thick reading glasses for rigging numbers rackets, and permanently clenched a cigarrete between stained teeth. It occurred to me then that maybe the Ricci racket was handled by a syndicate, too profitable and too delicate to be left to the humble laborers of the sea. Then I stopped caring, because the negotiating had begun, and I was determined to get the plumpest, creamiest urchin in the tub. It took some nodding and pointing and refusing the runts and  then the box was full and our wine bottle was full and we had a warm loaf of oily focaccia and we walked back to the car to the great disbelief of the staff who, it seems, had never seen anyone not eat ricci right there, on the spot. But we were determined to eat our ricci on the rocks, on a cliff, overlooking our blue Adriatic.

That took some doing too, and salvation came only when we stumbled upon steep stone steps that led down to a public boat launch. From the top of the steps, the horizon stretched and mixed sea-blue with sky blue. We plopped down on the wooden boat dock, warmed from the sun and rocking from the wind and waves and we plucked Ricci from the box of ice and smeared the salty coral colored urchin over the dimpled surface of the focaccia. We drank down the cool wine, and napped with our backs against the warm wooden dock. Then we dove off the dock into the bottomless blue water, bobbing in the swells, diving down to the cold water beneath the surface and breaking back to the surface where the only sounds was rumble , hiss and splash.

Perhaps a road trip through Italy in August with no reservations was a bit mad, and yes it did include a fair amount of driving in circles and scouting out fruitless side roads, but as we refined our simplistic approach and culled our list of desires – open water, cool wine, fresh seafood, warm bread – we learned that our itinerary worked simply because it was so far departed from the norm and so closely aligned with what nature had on offer. The gaggles of Italians would pack the few sandy beaches, and they would love it – and they would eat hot meals and they would have cold cocktails brought to their beach chair and they would be happy. We would keep to the sharp rocks and the empty bluffs. We would eat picnics of yesterday’s bread and whatever seafood and oil-cured vegatables we could find at the road-side kiosks and we would be quietly, simply blissfully happy, satiated, and rosy from wine.

~Sage

Puglia, Italy 2013

 

6 Images ~ A Food Pilgrimage through Puglia, Italy

Fiats, Fisherman, Focaccia and the ubiquitous cafe and creme cornetto breakfast, Pulgia is an inherently vibrant and photogenic place – far more so than the Instagram filters on the iPhone can do justice to. But enjoy anyway my friends.

~Sage.  Puglia, Italy 2013

 

 

Puglia, Italy ~ Grilled Fish in a Lighting Storm

A Food Pilgrimage Fish Picnic in Puglia, Italy

It’s the dream we all have of the hot, sunny Adriatic coast:

You rock up in your buttercup yellow Fiat 500, screeching to a dusty halt at a ramshackle clapboard fish stand, where the hiss of waves on rocks from the ocean where the fish came from is only fifty meters over your shoulder. You don your most winning American smile as you blabber and point at the Fish guy to get what you want – a few of those stripey ones, one of those ugly ones, oh and some mussels (because they’re 2 Euros a Kilo).  He gives you lemons and your change and you rooster-tail the Fiat off the dusty shoulder and continue your rocket-paced drive down the chalky coast of San Cataldo with it’s gray rock coves and never ending horizon of bleach blue water. You’ve got an icy bottle (OK three slightly-cool bottles) of Pugliese Bombino Bianco white wine, one of those miniature charcoal grills the size of a baking tray and a novelty sea urchin shaped cork screw. You are well on your way to the most epic seaside picnic in the history of picnics (or the history of the seaside for that matter). You park up, you scout out, you get back in the car, you creep along the shrubby dunes, you park up again and scout again, and declare that you’ve discovered it: The place for this most perfect of seaside, grilled fish picnics. You are a little nervous because

Puglia, Italy ~ One week, a Fiat 500, a Tent, and the Adriatic coast of Puglia, Italy {Part I}

Road Trip Through Puglia

I had built up a hopelessly romantic image in my mind

Deserted rocky coves, blue, blue water and the bright, fresh food I have come to know from earlier visits: Creamy Burratta cheese, smokey grano-arso bread, and all manner of oil cured summer vegetables. Though the first day started ominous, under silver drizzle in a shabby seaside town in Abruzzo, happily, blissfully, it ended in picnic perfection camped at a desolate cove overlooking the dark sea, where a distant storm dropped yellow lightning bolts through a silver curtain of far off rain.

The wet, cool day started with gray light trickling in through closed pensione shutters in the shabby seaside town of Pescara. Two rich cappuccinos and three crème cornetto gave us the lift to brave the camping shop, where we bought a flimsy tent, two sleeping bags, and a badminton set (which went unused). Then, A quick stop to fill the boot with Abruzzan red wine (epic, rich and smooth by the way!) and a straight shot down the equally smooth but not spectacularly-fast A-14 Autostrada towards

Oven roasted Vegetables

Oven roasted Vegetables

This tip is from my book:  The Chef’s Way

Download a free sample here, or grab a copy here

Shopping seasonally means making the most of whatever the garden gives you. This technique takes zero prep and lends a caramelized sweetness to sturdy vegetables like turnips, beets, sweet potatoes and carrots. It also works wonders on squash, green beans, broccoli and asparagus.

Chef says

“Getting a good caramelized roast on vegetables transforms them into sweet, crisp goodness.”

Prepare

Preheat oven to 450ºF (230ºC)

Slice 1 lb. vegetables into 1/4” thick half-moons, or 1” cubes.

Toss with 4T olive oil and season liberally with salt.

Arrange on a sheet pan in a single layer.

Roast until browned (20 to 40 minutes depending on the vegetable) tossing occasionally.

Toss with additional olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Turn out onto serving platter.

Experiment

Add another flavor layer buy tossing uncooked vegetables with 1T of lemon zest, chopped garlic, chopped shallot, chopped marjoram or chopped rosemary.

or

Toss roasted vegetables with chopped chives, torn basil, or grated parmesan or pecorino cheese