Saffron in Burgundy


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A bowl of fresh saffron filaments I harvested atop a box of crocus petals at Safran des Aulnes

Saffron hardly prompts images of the sloping verdant expanses of Burgundy, and yet, cultivation of this valuable spice in France dates back to the 13th century when traders are thought to have imported it from the Middle-East. As the most valuable spice in the world, and indeed one of the most valuable materials by weight, harvesting saffron proved an intriguing first experience while WWOOFing through France this autumn.

Harvested from the pistons or stigma of the crocus sativus, the deep red filaments must be quickly yet delicately plucked by hand and dried before preserving as the coveted spice. The process involves hours of stooping low to collect baskets brimming with flowers whose simple beauty is secondary only to the precious threads enclosed by the pale violet petals.

I doubted that volunteering on organic farms in France would result in exposure to a spice I had only rarely encountered in fragrant rice dishes. Having grown quite accustomed to a student’s budget, I hadn’t exactly been consuming gourmet products while studying in Belgium.

This elegant autumnal crocus, however, blooming only several weeks each year, became a mealtime staple for a few short weeks. From infused confitures of pear or peach made from fruit trees grown on the property, to slowly roasted chicken, rubbed with a blend of saffron and olive oil, surrounded by squash from the garden, steeping in the juices, saffron became a familiarly versatile flavor. While saffron is not an icon of French culinary culture, our host, Joël, introduced us to not only this specialty spice, but also to the simple art of homey French cuisine. With yellow stained finger tips from hours of picking out the tender saffron filaments, we grew accustomed to the evening glass of wine, the nightly cheese course, and the pervasive regional branding of everything from coarse table salt to the AOP Burgundian Epoisses cheese (one of my favorites), with it’s pungent scent and distinct orange-colored rind.

The feeling of eating locally was nothing akin to the “buy local” urban (and often overpriced) farmer’s markets I’ve often visited in the US, but more of a matter-of-fact mentality, an unpretentious understanding of eating seasonally and taking pride in the bounty of the land. This impression was heightened by biking through the surrounding fields, lined with almost unbelievably picturesque rows of cabbages and lettuce, past ripening pumpkins, freshly turned soil, revealing smooth, newly unearthed potatoes, and greenhouses protecting the last of the late-season tomatoes. To bike through rural Burgundy in the early autumn instilled a peculiar sense of well-being, as though the fertility of the region were inexhaustible. Whether strolling the property (after a sometimes arduous day of harvesting) and gathering a bowlful of raspberries for dessert, or baking the season’s final apples into a tart with saffron-infused honey, the stay at Safran des Aulnes brought forth an inspiring example of living simply off of the land.


An apple tart I made with saffron-infused honey, ginger, and cinnamon.

Do you have any surprising saffron information, recipes, or questions? Please feel free to share or ask below!




Investigating Digital Food Trends


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Hello! I’m excited to announce that my article, #EatingfortheInsta: A Semiotic Analysis of Digital Representations of Food on Instagram, is out this week in the new edition of the Graduate Journal of Food Studies!!

For the past year I have been completing a M.A. at KU Leuven in Cultural Studies, where I focused my research and projects on various connections between food and society. Through various projects I have had the pleasure of digging into the fascinating world of food studies and am in the midst of applying for opportunities within the field.

lapin agile

“Le Lapin Agile” Louis Abel-Truchet (1890-1910)  This piece inspired me while I researched paintings of women in cafe society, and also now, as it almost looks like she’s browsing the classified ads for job posts.

It’s an exciting time, and I am looking forward to reviving this blog while sharing some of the experiences of this last year and the present! Keep an eye out for some posts on French cuisine and sustainable farming as I just returned from two months of WWOOFing throughout France. Feel free to follow along on Instagram for updates and if you are interested in the article or would like to share your thoughts on the implications of digital food media trends, please share in the comments below!!




Summery Fruit Galette


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As Autumn approaches, I find myself wanting to cling to the fresh abundance of summer produce, namely the sumptuous stone fruits and plump berries of early Northeastern summertime. From the delicate glow of ripe apricots with their velvet-soft skin, to the gleaming gem-like quality inherent in freshly picked berries, few other seasons provide such an aesthetically rich bounty for the senses as that of summer. While fruit pies are certainly a wonderful way to embrace the seasonal harvest, the rustic galette is regaining traction for both its simplicity and its ability to showcase what might otherwise be covered by (albeit lovely) latticework.       img_7592

The galette wins extra favor with me as it satisfies my desire to whip up something presentable to share, while also taking very little time and not requiring much skill. This free-form tart is a baking dream for those who want a quick and elegant treat. This post from Food 52, which I recently read, is a great guide to the basics of producing a great galette. This dish can be prepared in either a sweet or savory fashion, and is limitless in its possibilities for creativity. Similarly to fruit pies, the fruit galette requires some acid, some sweetness, and a thickening agent to help with moisture. I made the galette featured in this post vegan, but for a more golden brown crust, just brush on butter, egg, or milk.


For this recipe, I mixed together blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries with a little balsamic vinegar (for the acid) and some vanilla and agave (for the sweetness) and tossed them in a bit of cornstarch. I mixed the apricots separately with lemon juice and sugar so as to keep their color brighter. Arranging slices of the apricot in a fan created a pretty border which also helped keep the berries contained in the center. Served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream was absolutely delightful. Here in Belgium the weekly farmers markets have been torturous as I don’t have an oven here in my tiny apartment. Hopefully by fall time I will meet a few classmates who want to let me bake a few savory galettes with caramelized onion, squash, and goat cheese!

Please share your favorite flavor combinations or ideas for galettes in the comments. I can’t wait to hear of more delicious variations!


*Note: This popular tart form is not the same as a traditional french galette, but along with the name, they share a few similarities. The french galette is more akin to a savory crepe folded up around ingredients, rather than a pie-like tart.

Belgium: A country that understands the importance of snacking.


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Cappuccino (with house cookies) from ANNA

A couple of weeks ago, I arrived in Leuven, Belgium to settle in before commencing a Master of Cultural Studies program at KU Leuven, Belgium’s oldest and largest university. Although Leuven is a relatively small town, the university culture allows for a bustling cultural scene, complete with many charming cafes and restaurants. Leuven, also boasts the title of birthplace of Stella Artois brewing.

Yes, several items of obvious popularity abound: We have beer, beer, and more beer, enough chocolate to give pause to an absolute cocoa fiend- such as myself, and so many frites-the fatty cousin of the french fry. Leuven is a place where the following sign is unironically posted on the entrance to a local shop:

IMG_8112 I imagine the sentiment is something like: We applaud the enjoyment of snacks, but kindly finish them before entering the store. Alsjeblieft.

Upon arrival, a few surprising culinary trends became quickly apparent: Belgians adore Italian food- especially pasta. There are many quick Italian options akin to Chipotle in their set-ups, but with a choice of extra mozzerella or basil rather than guac and salsa. Stewy Flemish fare (which is basically any type of soft cooked meat with something creamy on it) is a given, along with the aforementioned frites, beer, and chocolate. We’ll save chocolate for another time. Let’s just say I am doing extensive ‘research’ at the moment.

The unexpected, however, came along with the coffee. In Leuven, far be it from anyone to serve you a coffee and expect you to suffer the duration of the drink without a snack. I am thrilled at this cultural difference. This is what I have always wanted without realizing it. You don’t ask for it. It doesn’t cost extra, nor are the prices inflated. It’s just a surprise little treat. Just for you…and everyone else. Locals are clearly unphased by this luxury, but for me, the novelty is unending. I have ordered coffee here and actually told the waiter it wasn’t my order because the little chocolate croissant which came along with it had to be a pastry that someone ordered, but no!


Vangrootloon’s house coffee


Werf Koffie at De Werf

The “Werf koffie” pictured above, listed on the menu as just coffee, wins the title of most gratuitous coffee snack of all. I was baffled when I was given an entire thermos of coffee accompanied by a container full of chocolate biscuit sandwiches, cream, sugar, and a side of whipped cream… all for €2.60!

Me, every day now: “What’s this? What’s this? I can’t believe my eyes!”Image result for what's this gif nightmare before christmas

I assumed my greatest challenge this year would be writing a Master’s thesis, but I am afraid it might be resisting the urge to eat every single thing. Follow my progress by checking in on Very Voracious, or check out my Instagram.

Keep snacking!



“A Food Truck You Don’t Have to Chase”


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During my last trip home, I stopped by one of Carlisle’s newer staples, Taqueria Laurita. Joining an amazing array of other local restaurants boasting authentic global flavors, this tiny, food-truck inspired taco joint is not only ridiculously delicious, but is also very affordable. I ordered a combo, and was blown away by the beef empanadas. Rich and savory meat, onions, and spices paired with a flaky, subtly sweet dough left me immediately wanting more.
IMG_4126 Also pictured above: Carne asada taco with queso freco and the special rock fish taco with purple cabbage slaw. So good. Go get some.
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Modeled after a food truck, the interior actually has a walk-up stand resembling a brightly colored truck facade, complete with lights and festive music. I love that Carlisle (with many thanks due to owner Ross Morris and his various cohorts) is able to support so many great restaurants that would easily hold their own against more urban competition. Also, I’m missing the whole restaurant family and wish someone was here to make me some “killer broth” for my cold!

Tell me some of your hometown favorites or go-to comfort foods in the comments!!


Late Summer Sweets


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Weeks before I moved to Washington, DC, I began stalking various foodie Instagram accounts and coveting their feeds. Although only two hours south of Carlisle, the balmy humidity of these more southerly climes packs a punch. Having moved from a house situated within a five minute walk of two local ice cream/custard shops, I knew it would be necessary to quickly find replacement locations to satisfy my ever-craving sweet tooth.

With snapshots of creamy gelato embedded in my subconscious after weeks of perusal, I consulted a handful of screenshots and navigated to the nearest Dolcezza Gelato & Coffee.

IMG_4089Lucky for me, the nearest location was housed in a converted flour factory behind Union Market-which is another post entirely, but oh-so-enticing.

The barista kindly allowed me to sample the double chocolate and the peppermint stracciatella. To be honest, I knew I wanted the cool, refreshing mint, but I like to stake out my chocolate options whenever possible. The interior (see pictures) was beautifully decorated with a blend of homey accents such as little flower jars with fresh blossoming herbs and rustic wooden crates, and a more blanched, angular, warehouse aesthetic.
IMG_4094 The peppermint stracciatella was incredibly smooth and luscious, and only failed to satisfy my craving because it was so delicious that I immediately wanted more. My friend and dining companion chose the plum, whose bright and fresh flavor profile perfectly showcased the ingredients, which, like a majority of Dolcezza products, are grown and sourced by local artisans and farmers.

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Next time I’ll try a “nitro” which is nitrogen infused coffee (think Guinness), and is apparently amazing. Do any DC folk have other recommendations for ice cream or gelato? I have only been here a few weeks, and now that I’m adjusting a bit, I will be sure to explore more places..and write more blog posts to accompany the bounty of pictures I’ve been amassing.

Table for one please-hold the table!


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Friday afternoon hunger is setting in, but before I go quiet it, I thought I’d share my tasty dinner from yesterday! This dish was one of those that comes together swiftly, with little forethought, yet somehow (to me anyway) seemed thoughtfully planned. I did ride my bike to the store for a shallot and some asparagus, but the rest was already waiting patiently in pantry or cooled compartment. Yesterday evening was blissfully mild, with a thankful absence of humidity, and that twinkling quality of midsummer that just demands outdoor dining. So I fired up the skillet, poured myself a chilled glass of crisp yet mild Chenin Blanc, and opened the doors to let the breeze float on in. IMG_3680

Spinach Linguine with sauteed shallot, asparagus, and baby bay scallops with a Saison-butter sauce.

I essentially just sizzled all of the ingredients in butter (sorry, not sorry), adding each element in succession: butter, slivered shallot, sliced garlic, asparagus, and finally the rinsed scallops- for just a couple of minutes. I then tossed in the pasta and took the whole deal out on the back porch to sip some wine and enjoy the evening. Channeling my inner Julia Roberts a la “Eat, Pray, Love”, I ate it all.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!!


Put a ring on it!


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..a pepper ring that is!

IMG_3609I finally fried an egg inside of a pepper ring! This incredibly simple recipe looks a little bit fancy but requires almost no finesse, which immediately attracted my attention. Not only is this quick and painless, but it would also be simple to make a large griddle of several at once!

This was a trial run, mid-morning snack, but I am already plotting various ways to serve it next: an herbed oil rub or marinade on the peppers, atop a pile of sauteed kale and alongside some roasted rosemary new potatoes…perhaps with a drizzle of hollandaise? So many possibilities! I simply enjoyed a side of cornbread (one of my favorite items in the bread family), which I heated up with butter on the griddle, and proceeded to dip into the runny center of the egg! The entire process took about five minutes, yet was totally satisfying.

2 pepper process

I am an enthusiastic supporter of putting eggs in or on various food item, so I would be very curious to hear of some new egg endeavors! Feel free to link to your blogs or add pictures in the comments to share your ideas for this, or another egg-centric recipe!!

*p.s. I feel the need to acknowledge my use of sriracha as a garnish. If you regularly read my blog, you may have noticed the trend, but there’s nothing to be done! It’s just so tasty and pretty:)

Vive la France!


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Happy Bastille Day! Merci France, for your role in the popularization of the much beloved quiche. Although a rightful tip-of-the-hat is due to Germany for its origin, this savory brunch staple is ever-associated with France. Until recently, I had not made a traditional quiche with any reference to a recipe. After a bit of research, I finally understand why they are so delicious when ordered at a restaurant. They are loaded with cream; sweet, frothy, and luscious heavy cream. C’est délicieux!

I had the pleasure of baking and assisting with another charity fête for the wonderful Carlisle Arts Learning Center. I used all local eggs, cheese from Keswick Creamery, and some greens from the farmer’s market as well. (*Side note, Keswick is so awesome! I also arranged a couple of cheese trays for the event using their products, and the herbes de provence chevré was both delicately beautiful and delectable.)

The first type of quiche was baby ‘bella mushroom, asparagus, shallot, and herbed goat cheese:

I even used my Le Creuset cast iron frying pan to make it extra authentic! Next I made a sightly larger quiche of sauteed spinach, kale, and caramelized onions with cheddar. I topped it with roasted cherry tomatoes, which worked perfectly as a cutting guide for slices. IMG_2930

I was nervous putting them in the oven, as they contained much more liquid than I imagined. Apparently the egg to milk ration is nearly equal. Luckily, my friend Kate, who is a quiche genius at Helena’s Chocolate Café and Crêperie, (my previous place of emploi) coached me on the phone on some basic points. The most relevant tip I can pass on is to watch for a firm jiggle. This springy shake signifies the quiche i ready to come out, and will have that silky smooth custard texture. I actually tried to take a little video of the shake, but was unsuccessful one-handed!

I hope everyone is enjoying their week, and soaking up the mid-July sunshine!

Until next time:)


Lentil We Meet Again


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(This particular title requires readers to casually rhyme “lentil” with “until” for full effect. Thank you for being so accommodating.)

Speaking of lentils, I had been dwelling on them for quite a while. I realize that many people already enjoy these grainy little protein pods, but the necessity of tightening my budget provided the extra nudge to try my hand..or fork. Upon closer examination, their nutritional benefits and price-point merge at a pretty ideal confluence of value and health (This week in news to no one…).

So, with a free afternoon, and a lentil bent on my appetite, I put together these two dishes:
IMG_2606This little sweet pepper trio is a perfect undertaking for anyone with an afternoon to kill and surplus patience to stuff these cuties one by one. They contain lentils, prepared and sauteed with shallots, garlic, and herbs, and I topped them with a sprinkle of goat cheese. After oven-roasting them, I garnished with some Thai basil from a friend’s garden, and of course, sriracha. The warmth and sweetness of the roasted peppers with simple and savory fillings made these feel like fancy grown-up poppers.
IMG_2565This dish was a simple savory stir-fry bowl, which I tossed together for lunch. I used some leftover lentils and mixed them in a skillet with olive oil, garlic, sliced cherry tomatoes, onions, a few yellow bell pepper slices, and some fresh spinach (which I slightly wilted). This light lunch was extremely fast and surprisingly satisfying. Despite the possible visual superiority of the first plate, I actually preferred this one. While a creative cooking undertaking is fun, a no-fuss healthy meal often wins with me. I have half a bag of lentils left, waiting for a tasty fate. Any suggestions? I’m eager to try some more!