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A Must -Visit Museum For Southern Food & Beverage

For anyone curious about southern food and beverage culture, a visit to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (a.k.a. SoFAB) is a must-stop when you visit New Orleans. Located at 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard, the museum is chock full of culinary culture and ephemera, ranging from the history of Popeye’s Fried Chicken and traditional New Orleans foods to the many foods, products and culinary curiosities native to each southern state. There is a demonstration kitchen; cooking classes and other educational programs are offered regularly. www.southernfood.org

Inside SOFAB. Museum hours are Thursday to Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

SoFAB also houses the Museum of American Cocktail (MOTAC), a fascinating history of America’s cocktail culture, and the John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library, containing over 11,000 volumes of culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets, archival documents and a growing number of important collections, other literature and ephemera, collected by and donated to SoFAB. It’s also home to the Nitty Grits Podcast Network, a selection of audio and video podcasts addressing food and drink topics.

The museum may appear small at first but, trust us when we tell you to take your time walking through the exhibits. There is much to digest, especially if you enjoy learning about the history of food and drink. The exhibits on New Orleans’ culinary history alone, ranging from the impact of Hurricane Katrina to the history of cooking with beans and a tribute to the late Leah Chase, offer much to reflect on.

Learn the history of New Orleans' famous Popeye's fried chicken and its dynamic founder, Al Copeland.
Learn the history of New Orleans’ famous Popeye’s fried chicken and its dynamic founder, Al Copeland.

Meet SoFAB’s Founder

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) was founded in 2004 by Elizabeth Williams, who wanted a place where the intersection between culture and food could be studied. The museum began with pop-up exhibits and was the first official exhibit for what is now the Museum of American Cocktail. Over time, individuals began donating family artifacts to the museum, requiring the need for more space. SoFAB has been at its current location since 2014.

Williams, who joined us as our guest on The Connected Table LIVE May 5th, was born and raised in New Orleans to a family with Sicilian heritage. She notes in her bio that she was “always fascinated by the way the lure of nutmeg and peppercorns motivated the exploration of the world.”

Elizabeth Williams, President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation
Elizabeth Williams, President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation

A lawyer by training, Williams has had a long career working with foundations and museums. She served as President & CEO of the University of New Orleans Foundation and UNO Research and Technology Foundation, Inc. working in foundation budget management and financing, development and fundraising and management for properties including UNO Studio Center, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the D-Day Museum, now the National World War II Museum.

Since 2004 she has served as founding President of the National Food & Beverage Foundation and established the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. She has researched and written on the subject of food policy and is coauthor with Stephanie Jane Carter of The Encyclopedia of Law and Food (Greenwood Publishing, 2011).

Over lunch at Café Reconcile, a nonprofit restaurant and hospitality training ground for at-risk youth ages 16 to 24, Williams shared some of her projects for the National Food & Beverage Foundation, which includes the cookbook library and culinary archives, the SoFAB Meat Lab, a state-of-the-art facility offering classes and demonstrations on everything meat-related, from butchering to grilling, and the Nitty Grits podcast studio and other programs around culinary history and education.

SoFAB’s repository library includes The John & Bonnie Boyd Hospitality & Culinary Library  which contains over 11,000 volumes of culinary books, food and cocktail menus, pamphlets, archival documents and a growing number of important collections, other literature and ephemera, collected by and donated to the Southern Food & Beverage Museum.  The collection is non-circulating but available for reference. The library also contains a collection of books written by members of Les Dames d’Escoffier, a nonprofit organization of leading women in food fine beverage and hospitality.

Williams is encyclopedic on food and drink culture, especially when it comes to New Orleans. Listen to our conversation on everything from Mississippi tamales and Alabama white sauce to New Orleans Krewe of Red Beans on this edition of The Connected Table. Click below or this link

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Cookbook Eat Explore THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Secrets of the Southern Table with Virginia Willis

Our August 14 edition of The Connected Table LIVE comes with a southern drawl and a discussion about food that left listeners (and us) drooling, courtesy of  Virginia Willis, author  of "Secrets of the Southern Table" and southern food chronicler.

The South is a delicious hodgepodge when it comes to its culinary heritage and it is one of the most fascinating places to visit because of it. Many customs are rooted in traditions that blend diverse cultures: Irish, Scottish, English, French, African, Hispanic, Vietnamese and Greek, just to name a few. In fact, the upcoming Les Dames d'Escoffier International Conference October 24-27 in Nashville has a seminar focused on sorghum and honey and another on the culinary influence of immigrants past and present in the state of Tennessee. Diversity is the fabric of the south, and it's delicious. Hopefully this unique cultural heritage will endure and achieve greater appreciation.


In Secrets of the Southern Table (Houghton Mifflin), Willis introduces us to the farmers, producers and fisherman who supply the foods many of us enjoy at the restaurants throughout the south. Some are multi-generational families; others are (relatively) newer enterprises born from the dedication of immigrants who settled in pockets of the south. It’s a culinary tour that runs the gamut from sweet potatoes and grits to gospel birds and game birds to sweet shrimp and sausages. Throughout the book you can’t help but ponder about what truly defines “heritage” in the new south. It’s a richer place today thanks to the many cultures you find there. We should never take that for granted.

Willis has written cookbooks covering everything from single subjects (okra and grits) to the complete southern table with Bon Appetit Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y'all. And then after filling us all up with rich delicious recipes, she taught us how to “Lighten Up Ya’ll” with a tailored approach to preparing southern dishes. - trimming the fat without losing the taste. Her  articles and recipes can also be found at her  "Cooking with Virginia" column in Southern Living magazine.

Read more about Virginia Willis on her website and blog: www.VirginiaWillis.com

Listen to The Connected Table LIVE with Virginia Willis here. Click image below:

 

Buy Secrets of the Southern Table Here. Click Image below.

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A Visit with Amanda Hesser, Co-Founder & CEO, Food52

Amanda Hesser, Food52 co-founder and CEO,

For anyone who aspires to build a brand that embraces the culinary lifestyle from all sides and seasons, look no further than Food52. The brainchild of journalists and authorsAmanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, Food52 has amassed a devoted community of culinary enthusiasts who engage and share recipes and appoint their kitchens with carefully curated products. And with the mission of “eating thoughtfully and living joyfully,” visualized in stunning photography and video shots, it’s no surprise that Food52 has hit two million followers on Instagram alone.

We first came to know Hesser when she worked as a reporter and food editor at The New York Times, where her The Essential New York Times Cookbook was a NYT bestseller. One of her “star” moments was playing herself in Nora Ephron’s movie, “Julie and Julia.” She’s also the author of Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover’s Courtship, with Recipes and The Cook and the Gardener, and several Food52 cookbooks, including her newest (with co-author, Merrill) A New Way to Dinner.

The story behind the creation of Food 52 in 2009 is a case study in a successful digital enterprise that took foresight and calculate risk. The co-founders parlayed a cookbook advance into a successful destination website which has grown substantially to become an experiential experience. Hesser has been named one of the 50 most influential women in food by Gourmet, created the Twitter app Plodt, and served on President Obama’s Commission on White House Fellowships.

Listen to our show with Amanda Hesser here:

 

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Cookbook Drink Eat

What Would Julia Say?

I’m a bit clumsy in the kitchen and have a habit of making a big mess. David just shrugs his shoulders and grabs my knife to save my fingers.

But when I’m really inspired, I put my hands together, look upward and ask, “What would Julia say?” Will I ever be a good cook or just better at making reservations?”

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook – try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!” ― Julia ChildMy Life in France

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

And when I spend a week eating greens after a weekend of what feels like gluttony, I wonder, “What would Julia say?” Is it worth giving up food with taste to trim my waste?

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” ― Julia Child

And, when I finished breast cancer treatment in 2010 and debated when and whether I could eat what I want and drink wine again without fearing for my health, I looked upward and asked, “What would Julia say?” She was a sister survivor who lived well, long and fearlessly.

…small helpings, no seconds, no snacking, and a little bit of everything. –  
― Julia Child

And when I realize every day that much of what I do is a labor of love working hard to monetize, and the time clock is ticking, I ask myself, “What would Julia say?” She found her greatest success in her fifties and well into her eighties. Can I do it?

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.-  Julia Child

Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.
― Julia Child

Julia Child photo courtesy of Schlesinger Library at Harvard University

Happy Birthday Julia Child! August 15, 1912- August 12, 2004

While researching an article I’ve written to remember Julia Child on her birthday that appears in Wine4Food this week, I spoke to a few people close to her. Each shared some delightful Julia memories. I could not include them all in the story. I am sharing a few more here.

Dorie Greenspan

Dorie Greenspan, co-author, “Baking with Julia” – At the end of a day of shooting, we’d sit on the set, which was her kitchen, eat Goldfish, drink wine and talk.  I’d never been a fan of (Pepperidge Farm) Goldfish before, but ever since, I’ve snacked on them to bring back the memories of those good times.

Julia Child and Sara Moulton. Photo provided by Sara Moulton.

Sara Moulton, Chef, TV Host of “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” (PBS) and and protégé of Julia Child – “One of my favorite Julia Child quotes hangs in my kitchen, ‘Never apologize. Never explain.’ You don’t have to strive for perfection. After all, there is almost nothing you can’t fix. If your soufflé falls, just call it pudding cake.”

 

Geoffrey Drummond

Geoffrey Drummond, Executive Producer, “Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home,” “In Julia’s Kitchen,” and “Baking with Julia.” – She was forever curious…relentless in wanting to know how things were done, and why, and then wanted to share what she learned. 

 

Julia-and-Jacques-Cooking-at-Home. Photo courtesy of The Schlesinger Library at Harvard-University

Jacques Pepin, Co-Host, “Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home” – She thought you should enjoy eating as much as cooking. She used to say, “If you don’t eat it with gusto and happiness, you are missing out.

 

Chef Patrick O’Connell, Inn at Little Washington, serving Julia Child on her 90th birthday

 

At The James Beard Foundation Awards in 1997. From Melanie’s photo archive.

 

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Cookbook Drink Eat Events

All Rise! The James Beard Foundation Media Awards


Congratulations to all the winners of The James Beard Foundation Media Awards, which comprises books, broadcasting and journalism. The Awards were presented April 27 at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers. I had the pleasure of attending and sitting with four nominees, Writers/Authors Kathleen Squires, Robert Simonson, Restaurateur/Chef and Author Maricel Presilla and Chef Gonzalo Gonzales Guzman, whose book, Nopalito, won in the International Category.

JBF Media Awards Host- TV Journalist Tamron Hall, who is active with the charity, Common Threads.

The Media Awards are usually overshadowed by the glitzier Restaurant and Chef Awards, which take place May 7 at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House. I feel they are as important. Writers and journalists are the chroniclers of our culture, news and history. It was evident by the nominated articles – several that addressed diversity and sexual harassment in the industry- that writers are the people who raise our consciousness through words. These words propel the rest of us to take action.

Cookbook of the Year Recipient Michael Twitty

Particularly poignant were speeches by Pati JinichMichael Twitty and Betty Fussell.  Pati, recipient of “Outstanding TV Host,” recounted her mixed emotions while shooting her show. “Pati’s Mexican Table,” at the Tijuana border. Michael, recipient of Cookbook of the Year for The Cooking Gene, talked about searching for his African roots and what it means to be a “fat, gay, black and Jewish.” Betty, resplendent at 91 and ever eloquent with her words, wowed everyone as she stepped up to the stage to receive the Cookbook Hall of Fame Award for her writings.

Pati Jinich- Best TV Host

The theme of the Awards is RISE. Participating Guest Chefs, which included dinner chefs, Michael Anthony (Gramercy Tavern, NYC), Ashley Christensen (Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC – who made the best tomato tart!), and Hugo Ortega (H-Town Restaurant Group, Houston), all have risen to the occasion to help support those in need. And the reception and pastry chefs, also RISE for consciousness and caring: Emma Bengtsson (Aquavit), Daniel Alvarez (Union Square Cafe, NYC), April Anderson (Good Cakes and Bakes LLC, Detroit), Claudia Fleming (North Fork Table & Inn, Southhold, NY) and Zachary Golper (Bien Cuit, NYC). As always, Pier Sixty, executed a magnificent event. A special “Thank You” to them and to Host Chef Philip DiMaiolo.

It made me proud to be part of this professional community and motivated to Rise further to make an impact.  MY

The amazing Betty Fussell, Cookbook Hall of Fame Recipient.
(I’ll have what she’s having to look this good!)

 

Here is a link to the press release announcing all Media Award recipients.

Photos by  by Kent Miller.

 

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Cookbook Drink Eat THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Chinese New Year Bites- Gung Hay Fat Choy!

We never need a holiday to enjoy Chinese food, but we always partake a bit more for Chinese New Year for good luck!  We started celebrating the Year of the Dog February 14th on The Connected Table Live! with guest, Hsiao-Ching Chou, author of “Chinese Soul Food.”

Hsiao-Ching’s parents, came to the U.S. from Taiwan and owned a Chinese restaurant in Missouri. She worked in the restaurant after school. After earning her college degree in journalism Hsiao-Ching became a successful food writer, most recently working at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for many years, Hsiao-Ching teaches cooking and shares her recipes on her blog, MyChineseSoulFood.com.

Hsiao-Ching Chou's dumplings ("Chinese Soul Food")
Hsiao-Ching Chou’s dumplings (“Chinese Soul Food”)

On February 15 we attended Lucky Rice Founder Danielle Chang’s Lunar Year Celebration at Canal Street Market (NYC) which continues through February 28. Different food and drink stalls served bites that were more global than Chinese, like Silk Road Falafel Wrap with Pickled Cabbage, Scallions, Crushed Cashews, Ginger and “Silk Road” Harissa Sauce from Ilili Box and Miso Lucky Salad (Brown Rice Topped with Miso-Marinated Beets. Bok-Choy and Avocado with Sesame Seed Dressing (loved!). Danielle Chang will join us on The Connected Table Live April 4th.

Danielle Chang, Founder of Lucky Rice (center)

My favorite discovery at this event was the Lunar Year Kakigori from Bonsai Kakigori, which  created powdery shave ice topped with icy snow drifts of mango and ginger and cream. Theo Friedman, the cofounder of Kakigori showed me how his Japanese shave ice machine worked and let me taste another Kakigori topped with shave ice matcha green tea.

Mango-Ginger Kakigori (snow ice) from Bonsai Kakigori

Our February 16 visit was to Red Farm NYC on the Upper West Side, where Owner Ed Schoenfeld recommended some “long life” and “prosperity” dishes. Ed said he was heading to London this month to open a Red Farm there. It was fun to see families celebrating Chinese New Year together and their kids all dressed up. This place always is one of our favorites.

Black truffle chicken soup dumpling at Red Farm NYC

Here is a link to our Chinese New Year show with Ed Schoenfeld and Chris Cheung, East Wind Snack Shop which aired live in 2016. Now on iHeart:

Listen to our show with Hsiao-Ching Chou here:

 

Purchase Chinese Home Cooking now on Amazon:

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Cookbook Drink

120 Turkish Recipes. Many Published for the First Time in English

We’re talking about Robyn Eckhardt’s new book, “Istanbul & Beyond- Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey.” In the book’s introduction, Robyn says she traveled some 15,000 miles, village to village and market to market to chat up local farmers, fishermen, groups of women making grape molasses, families on a picnics and other local folks to learn about Turkish food traditions.

More than 120 recipes. Many published in English for the first time.

Robyn’s sidekick is husband, David Hagerman, the incredibly talented photographer, who captures Turkish landscapes and foodscapes with equal finesse. If you are not familiar with Robyn’s work, check out her award-winning blog “Eating Asia.” It’s on our short list for inside information when we finally plan our trip. They lived on Asia for many years and are now based in Italy. (wanderlust envy alert!) Robyn’s articles have also appeared in The New York Times, Travel & Leisure and Saveur.

Robyn Eckhardt explores the world, and we are hungry to learn more

 

Listen to our show with Robyn here on The Connected Table LIVE – iHeart.com

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THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Hey Lisa, When Are You Publishing Your Book?

Some say people working in public relations should be seen and not heard. Others say they should be heard and not seen. I say the rules have changed entirely. Much of that is thanks to powerhouses like Lisa Ekus who redefined the rules starting in 1982 when she opened the first public relations agency solely devoted to publicizing cookbooks, chefs, and food products.

Lisa Ekus www.lisaekus.com

This year The Lisa Ekus Group celebrates 35 years in business  “representing a world of culinary talent.”  As the company grew it added a media training division, created a literary agency and now manages careers for authors and culinary spokespersons. Her clientele of more than 200 authors reads like a “Who’s Who of Cooking in Food & Beverage.”  Saying your career-cookbook-product-project is being managed by Lisa Ekus is a badge of honor. Lisa still works out of her 200-plus year old farmhouse in Hatfield, MA. Again, she’s a rule breaker, bucking the “you need to be based in in NYC to succeed” old school thinking.

After all these years, Lisa had amassed an enviable collection of more than 10,000 books (mostly cookbooks). So, when is she writing her cookbook or culinary  memoir? We’ll ask her July 12th.

Listen to our July 12th show with Lisa Ekus as well as Deepa Thomas, author of “Deepa’s Secrets,” here iHeart.com and the free iHeart App. Click here:

 

 

 

 

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Cookbook Eat Nutrition and healthy Eating THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

The Wake-Up Call That Changed This Chef’s Life

Many people have a wake-up call after experiencing a health setback. The call came to Chef Jean- Christian Jury after experiencing heart failure, not once but twice. Jean-Christian attributes his poor health to his erratic eating habits and relentless 16- hour day work schedule combined with the stress of running several restaurants and kitchens in London at the time.

Chef Jean-Christian Jury (Photo: Phaidon)

He heeded the call and changed his diet to plant based. In 2007, he opened his first vegan restaurant in Berlin, Mano Verde. Today, he’s based in Los Angeles and teaches vegan cooking around the world. His comprehensive new book, “Vegan The Cookbook,” (Phaidon) is filled with more than 150 plant based recipes from around the world. If you buy one book on vegan home cooking, this one is it.


Hazelnut Bean Burger from Vegan The Cookbook.
Photo: Phaidon

 

Chickpea Curry Burritos – Vegan The Cookbook (Photo: Phaidon)

 

Melanie Young and David Ransom are the insatiably curious culinary couple. Connected on Twitter@connectedtable Facebook/connectedtable. Instagram.com/theconnectedtable. Learn more at www.theconnectedtable.com

About us: Our mission is to engage and connect our audiences to the diverse world of food, fine beverage and hospitality and the dynamic people who help shape it through our shows, digital media and educational events. All of our 50 minute shows and SIPS! podcasts can be heard live on W4CY.com Wednesdays 2pm EST and anytime on iHeart.com and the free iHeart App.  Connect with us on Twitter@connectedtable, Instagram@theconnectedtable and Facebook@connectedtable

 

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Cookbook Eat

Talking True ‘Cue with Matt Moore – The South’s Best Butts

We share a pet peeve with Matt Moore: We get annoyed when people refer to a summer cookout or grilling as a “barbecue” or “barbecuing.”  It’s like calling Prosecco “Champagne.” It’s not the same.
Barbecue is a sacred tradition in the Southern states. Like real Coca-Cola, pimiento cheese and biscuits, we don’t like poor knock-offs or misuse of the word. In other words Don’t screw with the ‘cue.
In his book, “The South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection,” Matt says, “Southern BBQ is its own religion. And to experience it is akin to hearing the Gospel for the first time.” And if you’re still not convinced of the religious fervor for true barbecue know there’s another new book out on this subject called “Praise the Lard” by Mike and Amy Mills.
In the South’s Best Butts, Matt heads out to interview pitmasters throughout the Barbecue Belt for tips on making true ‘cue. Each pit stop is a story of humble people working with a humble product: a pig. The barbecue mother sauces vary by region as may the method of cooking and the spiced rub, but the pig remains the common denominator. This is a book acheterdufrance.com about butts and the people who expertly cook them low and slow.
Barbecue loyalists: Tune in May 31, 2pmEST to hear from Matt Moore on The Connected Table LIVE! on W4CY.Podcast to iHeart.com.

 

 

Want it now? Buy it here!

Listen here on iHeart.com

 

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Cookbook Eat RESTAURANTS AND CHEFS THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Chef Franklin Becker Talks Fat and Slimming Down

After a career preparing dishes to die for at restaurants like Abe & Arthur’s, Brasserie and Capitale, and working for Starr Restaurant Group and Grand Hospitality, Chef Franklin Becker needed to make changes to save his own life. Diagnosed at age 27 with type 2 diabetes, Franklin realized he had to change his diet. Around the same time Franklin’s oldest son was diagnosed with autism and celiac disease. Franklin wanted to cook foods that would help his son with his food sensitivities.

Changing his diet also changed Franklin’s life. He is committed to spreading the word about healthy cooking and enjoying it!

 

franklin-headshot
Svelte and healthy- Chef Franklin Becker

 

Like anyone who loves food and makes a living preparing it, you never want to sacrifice the pleasures of the palate and great quality and flavor. Franklin’s mission is to pack his healthy recipes with as much flavor without the calories and added sugars and fat. Speaking of fat; Franklin has a lot to say on this topic and wrote a book with Peter Kaminsky called “Good Fat Cooking,” which he will discuss on our show. Franklin is also author of “Eat & Beat Diabetes,” and “The Diabetic Chef.”

 

This book has a recipe for the best salmon dish ever! See photo on the cover.
This book has a recipe for the best salmon dish ever! See photo on the cover.

 

Franklin is also proprietor of the healthy prepared foods company, Hungry Root, which offers fresh, vegetable-based foods that are packed with protein and fiber and ready-to-eat in under seven minutes.

Hungry Root's Carrot Noodles with Tangy Sriracha Peanut Photo: Mark_Jordan
Hungry Root’s Carrot Noodles with Tangy Sriracha Peanut Photo: Mark Jordan

 

Buy a copy of “Good Fat Cooking” here:

 

 

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Cookbook Eat Explore

Meet the Golden Girl of Persia

There’s just something about the name “Persia” that seduces us. We are drawn to the flavors and aromas. Mint, cumin, cinnamon, oranges, pomegranates, dates and honey are ingredients we

like add to many of our everyday dishes. Aside from Melanie’s coming of age tour to Israel as a teenager, we’ve only traveled to the Middle East by way of our palates and the few restaurants we’ve experienced here in the USA. One of our favorites is recent JBF Award Winner Shaya in New Orleans.

Learn more about Sabrina Ghayour at www.sabrinaghayour.com
Learn more about Sabrina Ghayour at www.sabrinaghayour.com

Lucky for us a book entitled, “SIROCCO: Fabulous Flavors form The Middle East” by Sabrina Ghayour transports us and offers us new ways to accent our food at home. Dubbed “the golden girl of Persian cooking,” Sabrina is a self-taught cook, food writer and host of the popular Sabrina’s Kitchen Club in London. Her first book was “Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond.” In SIROCCO Sabrina draws on her Iranian

heritage and features dishes with a modern twist integrating African spices and Mediterranean staples.

BOOK COVER

 

A sirocco is a hot, dry wind that blows from northern Africa through the Mediterranean and southern Europe. Sabrina’s SIROCCO spreads the fragrant flavors of this region throughout her recipes.

Lamb Shank Tagine
Lamb Shank Tagine
Butternut Squash, Feta, Pesto
Butternut Squash, Feta, Pesto

 

Buy SIROCCO here and experience the flavors of the Middle East for yourself.