Back in CA

We are slowly descending into a summer like winter season here in California. It felt confusing at first, but after yesterday's post Christmas sunset beach walk, we are right back to where we started. Home. Santa Barbara currently has intensely blue skies and blazing sunshine as we round the new year corner. Today, we're off to watch dolphins en route to LA where we will visit some old buds and get back to some So-Cal adventures.

Celery Root Buddies

Simone Rubi kills it again with this recipe that combines warmth and crispiness to perfection. I can imagine sitting in her back yard, under the lemon tree, eating this for lunch on a sunny Oakland Autumn day.

Celery Root, Parsnip, & Apple Soup with Carmelized Fennel & Herb Oil


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes peeled celery root (from one 1 1/4-pound celery root)
1 bulb of fennel (keep the green feathery parts on the top, chop and put in oil)
1 large apple cut up into pieces, peel on is ok
2 large parsnips or 4 small
2 carrots
1 stalk celery
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
4 cups (or more)  chicken or vegetable broth
fresh or dry thyme
1/2 cup very finely chopped chives
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 tblsp lemon juice (optional)
1 bay leaf
Pinch of sea salt
3 ounces thinly sliced bacon (optional to crumble on top)

Finely chop chives and fennel greens and add olive oil, a little sea salt and lemon juice (if you have). Let this sit while you make the soup. You will drizzle this on top of the soup with optional crumbled bacon.

Saute bacon or pancetta until browned and crispy. Transfer to paper towel to drain. Crumble. Set aside.


Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add celery root, parsnips, carrots, and onion. Cook until  some of the celery root is translucent (do not brown), stirring often, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups broth. Cover and bring to simmer. Add thyme and bay leaf. Reduce heat to medium-low; add chopped apple, simmer covered until celery root and parsnips are soft, stirring occasionally, about 25-35 minutes. While soup is simmering, chop up fennel bulb and sauté in butter and olive oil until carmelized, add salt and pepper. Remove soup from heat; cool slightly. Take out bay leaf before blending.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency. If you have a hand blender, just blend directly in the pot. This is what I do....easy. Return soup to pot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Do ahead: Can be made 1 day ahead. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated.

Rewarm soup over medium heat. Divide soup among bowls. Sprinkle pancetta crumbles over each serving. Drizzle each bowl with chive/fennel oil and a bit of the carmelized fennel bulb. ENJOY!

Celery Root & Apple Salad with Little Gems


1 medium celery root
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp cream or half and half
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp mayonnaise (pref. homemade)
sea salt and fresh pepper
1 shallot finely diced
sprigs of fennel green
chopped chives
1 medium apple thinly sliced
1 small head of little gems or butter lettuce

Grate celery root and put in a bowl with salt and lemon juice. Stir together the rest of the ingredients, except for the apple, in a glass. Pour the dressing on the grated celery root and let sit for 20 minutes in the fridge. Arrange celery root on lettuce and top with apple and freshly cracked pepper.

 photos and text: Simone Rubi

How To Be Populaire

The other day started out normal enough.  We set out in the late morning to pick up some items from a friend's apartment that was to be sold in a matter of minutes, along with everything in it.  We walked away with some decent kitchenware, lightbulbs, a nice hammer, a good water filter, and some sel de Camargue.  It was getting close to lunchtime, and we realized that the recently-opened Au Passage was right around the corner.  Not only did this "bar á manger" win "best love restaurant" in Le Fooding's 2012 restaurant guide, but it is owned and run by the same group behind our lunchtime and drink-time favorite, Les Pères Populaires.  Au Passage has a similar vibe to Le Pères Pop, but elevated: the vintage furniture matches and seems clean, the evening small plate menu is extensive and features more gourmand items, the lunch menu offers two main course options and a cheese course, and the along with the signature Vin Populaire, numerous natural wines are featured.  It is cool without being pretentious, homey without feeling raggedy, and the staff is relaxed, friendly, and knowledgeable.

The walls featured numerous hand-printed posters, available to buy, by the print artist who created the label for Vin Populaire. 

We were a bit early, so we took a seat on a leather two-seater couch and enjoyed an organic green tea while the kitchen finished prepping for the lunch rush.

Our starter was a little green dollop of brussels sprouts puree at the bottom of a glass bowl, topped with marinated raw pieces of mackerel and small clams, and a leaf of tarragon.  Mackerel can often be overly fishy, especially when raw, but this was fresh, briny and delicious alongside the sweet little clams and tarragon.

The main course was one of those simple and oddly paired dishes that reaches an unknown region of astounding flavors, similar in style to other new outposts of modern french bistronomy, most notably Le Chateaubriand.  The dish was a lightly seared piece of bonito tuna with some roasted pears, a couple radicchio leaves, roasted salsify, and pureed Jerusalem artichoke.  Sometimes you get a plate of food on which every item is the perfect strength, perfect ripeness, perfectly cooked, and perfectly similar and different from the next: sweetness from the pear, earthiness from the Jerusalem artichokes and salsify, velvety meat of the tuna, and the bitter crutch of the radicchio.   And at €13.50 for two courses, we will be returning.  Often.

As chance would have it, our good buddy, Michael Cera, who is on tour playing bass for Mr. Heavenly, called to invite us last-minute to a show he was playing at what venue? L' International, of course, another establishment run by the same owners of Les Pères Populaires and Au Passage.

Later on, with a couple hours to burn before the show, we headed over to another nearby place of interest, Aux Deux Amis, a spanish-leaning wine bar, with an interior that is straight-up 50's Paris. I asked if there was a nice Gamay or Pinot Noir, and was poured a glass of both in the form of a Burgundy made of equal parts Pinot Noir and Gamay.

After the first glass, we gave in to the cheese and ham sitting centimeters away from our noses. If a generous pile of paper-thin Bellota ham garnished with house-roasted almonds and a few slices of raw milk Manchego with quince paste aren't the best things to eat alongside a light a fruity red wine, I don't know what is. Actually, I do, and the list is getting out of control. 

When the time came, we made our way to L'International, and noticed that our waitress from lunch walked in after us.  We ordered the first of many rounds of Vin Populaire, caught up with Michael about South America, and enjoyed a raucous evening of doo-wop-drenched, garagey indie rock, courtesy of Mr. Heavenly.

If the 17th arrondissement wasn't so far from the venue, we might have ended up there after the show for a glass of wine at Les Caves Populaires, just to complete the tour.  Instead, we had a group stumble down the hill to Candelaria for big bowls of punch, Mexican beers, and 12 year old Pappy Van Winkle.

Au Passage
1bis passage de Saint-Sebastien, 75011 / 01 43 55 07 52
Open Monday - Saturday, No lunch service Saturday 

Aux Deux Amis
45 rue Oberkampf, 75011 / 01 58 30 38 13
Open Tuesday-Saturday

5/7 rue Moret, 75011

Pizza by the Fox

Our dear friend and T of C contributor, Janella Fox, made these two pizza varieties when visiting us here in Paris. They were some of the best we've ever had. Try making these 2 together as they are a super tasty combo.


The dough:

1 packet yeast
3/4 c warm water
1/4 c white wine
1 tbs honey
1 tbs olive oil
1tsp salt (to taste)
3 cups flour

The toppings:

Brussels Sprout & Pancetta White Pizza ( Inspired by Motorino, NYC)

2 cups Brussels Sprouts, leaves separated and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper
1/4 lb or one standard deli package of pancetta, thinly sliced
1-2 balls of Mozzarella di Bufala , medium sized slices
1 clove of garlic, chopped
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
olive oil for drizzling

Mushroom & Spiced Sausage Pizza

1 jar of your favorite fresh pizza sauce or homemade
1-2 balls of Mozzarella di Bufala , medium sized slices ( add more or less as you like it)
1 lb fresh crimini mushrooms ( or button), thickly sliced
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1/2 - 1 tsp chili flakes or crumpled whole red chilis. As hot as you can handle!
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dry or small handful of your favorite fresh herbs (oregano, basil, sage, or chervil, etc.)
freshly cracked pepper
freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat your oven to 550° (285° Celsius) or as hot as your oven will get. Ideally, you would use a pizza stone. If you don't have one (or broke it like me), wrap foil directly on your oven rack, or use a thin metal sheet with parchment paper.

Optional: You can par-bake the pizza dough by pricking all over with a fork and baking it for 2 minutes. Cool crust before adding your toppings. You can also bake two pizzas at one time by positioning one rack in the top third of the oven, and the other on the bottom third. Then switch racks half way through the cooking time. Total cooking time may increase to 20 minutes in this case.

 Mix the warm water, wine, and yeast together and stir gently until yeast has dissolved.

 Then add the honey, olive oil, and salt until dissolved.

 Add about 1 cup of the flour to liquid and mix into a paste...slowly incorporate the 
remaining flour until a ball forms.

 You can remove this and knead it for several minutes on a floured surface.

 Let this guy rise in a slightly oiled bowl in a warm place and cover with a towel 
for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the dough is double in size. 
Mimic letting the dough rise in a hot and sunny Italian garden. 
Feel free to enjoy some of the leftover white wine with your buds during the wait time.

 Once it has risen, cut into quarters and refrigerate for at least a 1/2 hour
(wrapped in plastic, slightly oiled).

 Sauté the sausage with cracked pepper, chili flakes, herbs of your choice
and fennel seeds until crumbly. 

Slice mushrooms and set aside in a bowl. Pull apart the leaves of the Brussels Sprouts and 
toss with olive oil, s & p, and place in a bowl. Pull out the dough from the fridge.

 Do like Janella and stretch out the dough on your rack, wood paddle, or stone.

Slice mozzarella, chop garlic and slice/tear the pancetta and set aside.
Let's start with the Brussels Sprouts variety. Drizzle the dough with a bit of olive oil, 
sprinkle the chopped garlic on top, and begin the layering of cheese and pancetta...

 ...and then finally, the seasoned and oiled up brussels sprouts.

Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until the crust is brown on the edges and crunchy.
The Brussels Sprouts will darken and crisp up a bit. Sprinkle with a dash of salt, 
a drizzle of olive oil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

 Now for the mushroom and spicy sausage pizza. Stretch out your dough and spread 
a thin layer of pizza sauce on top.

 Layer the cheese, mushrooms and then the sausage on there...

...and bake for 10-12 minutes or until crispy!  Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and parm. Yumtasitcal.

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