Our friend Janella Fox, and TofC contributor, is in Paris this month exploring the city's magic during the shift into Winter. She arrived to our home with a special gift. Her homemade Elderberry Jam, featuring berries from her northern California hometown of Twain Harte. The jam is perfectly tart and sweet and has sparked the season of tucking into crafty project ideas while waiting for the first snow.

To honor the arrival of the magical fruit pot, we went to our favorite bakery, Du Pain et Des Idées. We picked up a loaf of their brioche called Mouna, and a piece of their Pain des Amis. Mouna a traditional brioche from north Africa, and it's buttery dough is delicately perfumed with fleur d'orange, orange blossom. I've never had a better brioche combo. My mouth tingles just thinking about it, it was that good. Pain des Amis, friendship bread, is from a centuries old recipe yielding massive round crusty loaves that are then sold in pieces. The thick crust is almost smokey and woody, and the inside is soft and nutty with a hint of sourdough.  It's very complex and delicious. It tastes like no other bread I've had and I feel as if I'm transported to the renaissance period while I'm eating it. The owners have passion and discipline, which is why they take the time to do things the longer way.

It is supposed to snow on Thanksgiving day here in Paris. Lucky for us, we've been invited to two Thanksgiving parties. The first one is here in Paris with our friend Mary Rozzi, and the other is in the countryside where the local butcher has ordered us a turkey. Our village friends there await our festive crew while preparing Tarte Tatin and other new traditions-to-be.


This is Pierre Paillot, a sommelier and restaurant director. He lives in a medieval village called Noyers-sur-Serein in the Burgundy region of France. He was raised here and left in his early twenties to work with restaurants abroad, including Mint in Dublin and Gordon Ramsay's Royal Hospital Road. After expanding his winery address book, he took off, bought a van, and visited every wine producer that interested him around Europe for a year and half.

He just bought a house in his village, is growing his own grapes on land purchased nearby, and will hopefully host many meals in the years to come. An accomplished young man who knows how to pour a perfect glass.


Post by guest author Leela Cyd / She was living in India during last year's Fall season and wrote this article from there...

The stew and our striped rug
This is my haul from the market today -- everything comes wrapped in newspaper and twine, like a present-- no plastic! The buns with the 'x' on them have coconut inside and are delicious for breakfast or tea time. The bananas are ripe, they just come green here... and those are cherimoyas there by the tomatoes -- they call them 'custard apples' here and they are so sweet!

Although we are far far away from jumping in leaves, pink noses and pumpkins, I absolutely have the season on my mind… It’s my favorite time of year – probably the best season ever invented! The climate here calls for fresh fruits and refreshing spice, not exactly hearty and warming meals, but I found myself whizzing about the market buying vegetables for a stew – sunny swimming weather be darned. We can eat it with the fan on, I figured.

My morning bus ride to the market has quickly become one of my favorite daily routines – I love knowing how much the ride costs (5 rupees), feeling the breeze on my face, listening to the abstract sounds/whistles/calls of the bus conductor, staring into the blue of the Mondovi River, sitting with the fish-basket-on-the-head-ladies – and then, poof – we’re at the market. The place is a complete ruckus, even on a Sunday, when the rest of the town is closed or at Mass.  At this point, I’ve got certain vendors for each item – Santosh, the jolliest of all, is my spice man – NO English toothless lady for bananas and sweet potatoes, another guy in the corner for vegetables, young and efficient lime boy, right around the corner from the custard apple brothers… Then, I buy a random thing I’m not sure of from a new person – this is how I found the greens for today’s stew. It’s so awesome to feel familiar with a place like this – our town, our market, our lunch.

Fall Veg Stew


1 heaping cup chickpeas, cooked
6 mini eggplants (or one large, as we get at home), chopped in ½ inch pieces
3 small red onions, chopped
6 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small nub of ginger (barely 1 inch in diameter), minced
4 tbsp vegetable oil
juice of one lime
salt to taste
1 tsp or small cube veg bullion powder
¼ c water
1 bunch bitter greens (such as kale or chard), chopped roughly
1 bunch chopped mint leaves
sesame seeds (for garnish)

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
4 cardamom pods, smashed open
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 or 4 pieces
1 tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp chili powder

Sautee eggplant pieces in a few tablespoons oil, until almost totally cooked and brown – set aside.

Put 2 tbsp oil in pan on medium heat. Put mustard seeds and cumin seeds into hot pan, fry for 30 seconds, until popping. Add rest of spices, stir continuously for 1 minute. Add onions to spices, along with remaining oil. Sautee onions and spices for about 5-7 minutes, until reduced slightly and beginning to go translucent.

Add eggplant and tomatoes to onion mixture. Stir for approximately 2 minutes. Next add water and veg bullion cube. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, add greens, cooked chickpeas, limejuice and ginger and garlic and salt to taste to the stew. Finish with a lot of mint leaves on each portion of stew. The mint really takes the dish to a Middle Eastern flavor area.

So tasty. Garnish with sesame seeds or whatever nuts you may have on hand. Serve with rice, potatoes or a nice piece of bread.

This is a dish that will improve with a day, to really get the flavors melding – sort of like tomato sauce or chili. Enjoy and keep warm with the stew!


By guest author Janella Fox

I grew up in Twain Harte, a small mountain town in Northern California situated between Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. It is named for famed authors/poets Mark Twain and the lesser known Brett Harte who both spent time in and around the area during their careers. I recently returned to visit my mom who relocated to the area after years of living in Lake Tahoe. She is now living up near this small magical gem of a lake called Pinecrest that is just up the road from where I lived during my childhood. There was a small patch of sand between the forest and water's edge that functioned as a beach for me and my friends during our teenage years...on hot summer nights we would stay into the evening and watch movies projected onto a screen in the woods. I hadn't been back to the area for over 15 years and was overwhelmed with memories and gratitude for having called this place home while growing up. 

My mom lives in a cozy little cabin in the woods just down the road from the lake. When I arrived and walked into her kitchen I discovered that she had been picking and harvesting elderberries! They are the tiniest little things, they resemble blueberries but are much smaller and are nearly impossible to see growing unless the large shrubs happen to be blossoming. My mom has always had a crazy hawk eye for spotting wild animals (owls, bears, bald eagles etc...) but I had no idea she was such a skilled elderberry hunter. She has all of her secret spots scoped out that she sends her husband to for him to go retrieve large batches from the branches which he manages to get down with a golf club and transports back to her in boxes and bags...her kitchen was overflowing with them, so she clearly had put him to work in the days before i arrived.

The elderflower is commonly used to make a syrup that has recently been popping up on cocktail menus (often mixed with champagne and other sippers). But I hadn't seen or had an actual elderberry since I was very young when we went out and gathered them to make a pie from. We only did this once but I'll never forget the unique and distinct flavor...a kind of perfect merge between a blackberry and blueberry with just enough tanginess to give it its own distinct flavor.

 That night my mom and I spent hours pulling the tiny berries from the stems, filling bowl after bowl from which we made batch of jam.  I managed to stash a bowl and transport it back to LA with me and made my first pie in years...I'm left wishing it was easier to find and pick berries here in LA. But I guess it's better considering I have one more reason to return to my little town in the woods.


Our dear friends in Bergen got married on a sunny August day and it was one of the most beautiful parties we've ever been to. Pure magic. The warm and sincere Eirik Glambek Bøe, one half of Norwegian folk-pop duo Kings of Convenience, married the lovely Ina Grung. They had a potluck style dessert table, an outdoor ceremony in the center of the historic district, and a small intimate gathering that radiated sweetness.

Eirik with the other half of Kings of Convenience, Erlend Øye


Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, Sophia Loren, Gerard Depardieu, Alain Delon and many more...all loving on the truffle
In preparation for our trip down to Alba, I put together a group of photographs from the 79th Truffle Auction that took place in the Grinzane Cavour Castle last year. The castle is also the headquarters for the Ordine dei Cavalieri del Tartufo e del Vini di Alba, The Order of the Knights of the Truffle and Wines of Alba. Here, master tasters screen all wines of the region and give them an official seal of approval.

The seal of the truffle and wine knights displayed on a bottle of Barbaresco
A chef negotiating outside the auction door & Adrian taking notes on how to be a truffle guard
Tartufo Bianco d'Alba
another slice of wild boar salami with truffles ... please
The Wild Bill Hickock of Tartufaios, truffle hunters
The Autumn vines of Cascina Delle Rose

Giovanna and her family , a bottle of their Dolcetto d'Alba

When visiting Piedmont, we always stay at the Cascina Delle Rose. They produce organic wines that are delicious and made with love. Giovanna takes good care of her guests and the small farmhouse inn has 3 rooms and 3 apartments for families or groups of 3 - 5. We have enjoyed tastings in her cellar, shared many stories in the living room and can't wait to return.When staying at the Cascina we feel as if we are sleeping at a friend's house.  Their logo reminds me of why I love their wine. Goodness.

If you ever see this label, buy the bottle


It's that time of year again when truffles are hunted and the fall festivals begin. While spending time in Burgundy last week, we bought 2 Burgundy black truffles from a restaurateur. Our friend made some fresh pasta and we simply shaved tons of these mild but delicious summer truffles all over the place. 

Ingrid on a roll

This weekend we are heading to Alba, in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. This is our third annual trip to Italy for the white truffle experience. I am powerless over the white truffle.

a white truffle half moon before getting weighed for the shaving session
Last year we went to the white truffle auction in the Grinzane Cavour castle, at the end of the 79th White Truffle Festival. A tall, dark haired, Italian woman in a form fitting black dress and very low neckline , presented each truffle on a silver tray. She invited the auction audience to sniff her truffles and it looked as if the entire room was in a trance. I'm sure the person who bought this 750 gram truffle was intoxicated by the Alba truffle spell when they shelled out 100,000 Euro for it. Good thing it's a auction for charity.

photo: Getty Images


Back in the tiny village of Noyers-sur-Serein for a 10 day autumn escape out of big city Paris. Despite its tiny population, this medieval village has everything one could possibly need within a 5 minutes walk in any direction. There is: a bakery with lots of fresh gougéres (a Burgundy specialty), a Wednesday farmer's market, Madame Mignot  who sells produce from her big beautiful garden as well as honey, eggs, and artisanal walnut oil, a butcher, two well respected restaurants, and an art museum. There is also the river Serein that wraps around the village, and plenty of trails into the surrounding nature, where you can breath in the seasonal air laced with wild mushrooms and truffles.

Our door in Noyers, Rod & Marco's renaissance period home
Autumn gradience
 In the middle of this field there is path that leads to a summertime watering hole for swimming in the Serein

Restaurant Les Millesimes is Noyers' central command, and the Paillot family are very welcoming and offer spectacular wines and delicious meals. We became fast friends with Pierre Paillot, (whose father runs the charcuterie and butcher portion of the maison)  who found us everything from a couple fresh Burgundy black truffles, house-made mayonnaise and a large block of Comté cheese when we needed it for a dinner party.

A Burgundy original, the cheese crusted Gougére
These wines are now on our favorites list

Paillot's cave
Two regional cheeses (both unpasterized): Soumaintrain and Chaource
 After our meal time at his restaurant, Pierre immediately grabbed my chef friend, Ingrid from California, and gave her his father's chef's coat to wear while helping with the production of a special order of Mousse de Foie de Porc au Ratafia. The restaurant has several wings, one is a butcher/charcuterie and another a caviste (wine cellar). 

Pierre and Ingrid
Denis Paillot,  Pork Conductor
Wednesday is market day in Noyers. Maison Paillot makes an incredible Boudin Noir and sells it near the small alley in-between their Boucherie/Epicerie and Restaurant. Along with the Boudin, there are several vegetable stalls, a butcher, and a fromager. Ingrid found some perfect organic quince and made a tarte tatin with them (more on that in a future post!). The market is small and sweet.

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