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.

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