All the news that's fit to eat from Ann Mah (summer 2012)
Ann Mah's Newsletter / Summer 2012

Bonjour, mes amis!

Summer weather has been intermittent in Paris, but when it's here, it's scorching. That means ice cubes in rosé wine, shutters closed against the heat of the afternoon sun, and a solitary standing fan that travels with me from room to room. How else does one survive a heat wave in an un-air-conditioned city?

All sweating aside, it's been a busy few months. If you follow my blog, you know about my Big Move back to the United States, to Washington, D.C. Leaving our Paris apartment was gut-wrenching (even thinking about it now has me running for the hunk of Gruyère in the fridge). But the Paris pied-à-terre that we bought is finally starting to feel like home, especially after a bit of cooking, and several evenings spent drinking wine and gazing at the view (photo above), and approximately 1,820 trips to Ikea. I still can't quite believe that we are homeowners (!). Despite my newfound fear of leaky radiators, it is a pretty great feeling!

Articles, books, and other news

--In May, I was thrilled to follow Victor Hugo's footsteps in Guernsey for an article in the New York Times. Hugo spent 16 years on this remote, wild island in the English Channel, and considered the period the most productive of his life. (He was lucky they didn't have Twitter back then.) I was also delighted to discover the best baguette in Paris. And I loved visiting the blog Food Nouveau to gab about one of my favorite French regions -- Provence -- and its signature dish -- soupe au pistou.

--What are you reading this summer? I just finished The Handmaid's Tale (in a word: WOW), have moved on to Heartburn (RIP Nora Ephron), and am eager to start this quaint book, The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield, about a disaster-prone housewife in 1930s England.

--I'm also jumping-up-and-down-excited about a new novel called Saving Ruth, written by a dear friend, Zoe Fishman. Once upon a time, Zoe and I were impoverished assistants at a New York publishing house, surviving on egg-and-cheese sandwiches (by day) and vodka tonics (by night). Now, Zoe has written a novel about a girl who returns home to the South after her freshman year at college. Instead of a relaxing summer, she finds a suddenly distant brother, parents who are struggling with an empty nest, friends who suspect her unhealthy relationship with food, and a near tragedy that forces her to confront family truths. Publishers Weekly called Saving Ruth "a touching bildungsroman." I'm so proud!
--Speaking of books, I'm nervous to report that my manuscript for Mastering the Art of French Eating is being edited as I type (ahhhhh!). Viking plans to publish in Fall 2013, which is a fortuitous season for food books. Meanwhile, I'm embarking on some intensive testing of the book's recipes in the coming months, and I might need help from you guys... Stay tuned for updates!

Recipe: Fleurs de courgette

For the first time in seven years, we are not vacationing in Provence this summer. The house we stayed in is being sold, and what with the Big Move and various trips to see family, we just didn't have the wherewithal to rent another. But as July turns into August, I've got Provence on my mind... the light, the heat, the lavender, cicadas, and produce. I keep thinking about the farm stand at the foot of town, and its owner, a white-haired woman who sells lettuce, tomatoes, and bottles of peppery olive oil. She grows her own courgettes, and also snips and sells their blossoms, at €0.10 per flower. She gave me the recipe below. I miss her.

Pâte à beignets pour les fleurs de courgettes
(Batter for courgette flowers)

1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Several grinds of black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup iced water
1 egg white 

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, pepper, olive oil, egg and egg yolk. Add the ice water gradually. In a separate bowl, whip the egg white into stiff peaks. Fold it gently into the batter. Dip the whole courgette blossoms into the batter, coating them completely. Fry in a shallow pan of hot oil until golden. Serve immediately.

Makes enough batter for 10-12 courgette flowers (depending on their size).

A bientôt!

This summer, I've been lucky to visit family in Cape Cod, London, and the Côte d'Azur. I also spent a few dreamy days in Vermont with my husband. I'm delighted to share a few restaurant finds from my travels (below), and to leave you with a photo (above) of Lake Champlain at sunset. Thanks for reading and sharing my newsletter! I'll be back in October with another edition, en direct from Washington, D.C. (Wish us luck -- we still need to find a place to live!) In the meantime, I've got an upcoming trip to Hong Kong in August, and some intensive apartment-hunting planned for September... yipes! 

See you soon over at my blog, and on Twitter...
Ann xxx


Table d'Aki: Akihoro Horikoshi acts as chef, waiter, sommelier, dishwasher, you-name-it-he-does-it at this tiny 16-seat restaurant. His experience at l'Ambroisie means exquisite, elegant, market-fresh food, though the one-man show makes for some sloowwww dining. (49 rue Vaneau, 7e, Paris; tel: 01 45 44 43 48)


Pizzeria Verita: I found this new pizza joint by reading the local Burlington newspaper. Wine is served in little water glasses, salads are crunchy and tangy, and the pies, cooked in a wood-burning oven, feature house-made mozzarella and deliciously chewy crusts. (156 St Paul Street, Burlington, VT; tel: 802 489 5644) 


Oliviera: I first found this restaurant in 2011, but when I brought my parents back in July, I discovered it with new eyes: simple, fresh Niçois cuisine, which the owner matches with special local olive oils, like a sommelier pairs wine. My mom called it one of the best meals of her life! (8 bis rue de Collet, Nice; tel: 04 93 13 06 45)


Kateh: My parents' Iranian-British neighbors in London introduced us to this crisp, cool bistro serving modern Persian food. I loved the eggplant dips, lavish piles of fragrant, long-grained rice, and platters of grilled lamb and chicken, the meat so tender I could cut it with a fork. (5 Warwick Place, London, W9 2PX; tel: 0207 289 3393)
Copyright © 2012 Ann Mah, food and travel writer, All rights reserved.
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