Cooking with Maya Angelou

maya-angelou

Right after Maya Angelou died earlier this year, I bought two copies of her cookbook Hallelujah! with the thought that I would keep one and give one away as a gift. It was the most I have ever paid for a cookbook, about $75.00 but it is the most inspirational cookbook I have ever read because Ms. Angelou writes about what was happening in her life at the time she discovered each recipe she shares in the book. The following is a very accurate review of the book. If you are a cookbook collector like Lauren and I, this one is a must addition.

Throughout Maya Angelou’s life, from her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, to her world travels as a bestselling writer, good food has played a central role. Preparing and enjoying homemade meals provides a sense of purpose and calm, accomplishment and connection. In Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, Angelou shares memories pithy and poignant–and the recipes that helped to make them both indelible and irreplaceable.

Angelou tells us about the time she was expelled from school for being afraid to speak–and her mother baked a delicious maple cake to brighten her spirits. She gives us her recipe for short ribs along with a story about a job she had as a cook at a Creole restaurant (never mind that she didn’t know how to cook and had no idea what Creole food might entail). There was the time in London when she attended a wretched dinner party full of wretched people; but all wasn’t lost–she did experience her initial taste of a savory onion tart. She recounts her very first night in her new home in Sonoma, California, when she invited M. F. K. Fisher over for cassoulet, and the evening Deca Mitford roasted a chicken when she was beyond tipsy–and created Chicken Drunkard Style. And then there was the hearty brunch Angelou made for a homesick Southerner, a meal that earned her both a job offer and a prophetic compliment: “If you can write half as good as you can cook, you are going to be famous.”

Maya Angelou is renowned in her wide and generous circle of friends as a marvelous chef. Her kitchen is a social center. From fried meat pies, chicken livers, and beef Wellington to caramel cake, bread pudding, and chocolate éclairs, the one hundred-plus recipes included here are all tried and true, and come from Angelou’s heart and her home. Hallelujah! The Welcome Table is a stunning collaboration between the two things Angelou loves best: writing and cooking.

Interpreting My Test Results

Blood-Test

I recently viewed my most recent lab results on my health care website and wondered what the results meant. I could have called my doctor and found out what each test result meant but I didn’t want to be charged for my doctor’s time so I went online and found a website called Lab Tests Online which gives information about each test and what they diagnose or evaluate. Below are the results of some of the markers of my blood test and a couple of explanations about what each marker means. The results indicate that in all areas I am in the acceptable ranges. Hopefully if anything were way out of wack, I would have heard from my physician. I won’t bore you with the all of my results but it is good to know that if you want to have a clearer understanding of your health and what your test results mean it is easy to access online.

White Blood Cell Count  

My Result 7.0  Standard Range 4.16 – 9.95

The White blood cell count (WBC) is used as part of a full complete blood count (CBC)
screen for a wide range of diseases and conditions including diagnosing an infection or
inflammatory process. It helps to determine the presence of other diseases that affect
WBCs such as allergies, leukemia or immune disorders. It monitors the body’s response
to various treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy that are known to affect WBCs.

Red Blood Cell Count  

My Result 4.42  Standard Range 3.96 – 5.09

Red blood cells circulate in the blood and carry oxygen throughout the body. They are produced in the bone marrow and then released into the bloodstream as they mature. RBCs have a typical lifespan of about 120 days and are continuously renewed and replaced as they age and degrade or are lost through bleeding. A relatively stable number of RBCs is maintained in the circulation by increasing or decreasing the rate of production by the bone marrow.

Some conditions affect RBC production and may cause an increase or decrease in the number of mature RBCs released into the blood circulation. Other conditions may affect the lifespan of RBCs in circulation, especially if the RBCs are deformed due to an inherited or acquired defect or abnormality. If RBCs are lost or destroyed faster than they can be replaced, if bone marrow production is disrupted, or if the RBCs produced do not function normally, then a person will become anemic, which affects the amount of oxygen reaching tissues.

If too many RBCs are produced and released, then a person can develop polycythemia. This can cause decreased blood flow and related problems.

Hemoglobin  

My Result 12.6   Standard Range 11.6 – 15

The hemoglobin test may be used to screen for, diagnose, or monitor a number of conditions and diseases that affect red blood cells (RBCs) and/or the amount of hemoglobin in blood. It is often used with a hematocrit as a quick evaluation of the number of RBCs or is performed as part of a complete blood count (CBC) as an integral part of a health evaluation.

Hematocrit  

My Result 38.5%  Standard Range 34.9 – 45.2%

The hematocrit may be used to screen for, diagnose, or monitor a number of conditions and diseases that affect the proportion of the blood made up of red blood cells (RBCs). It is often used with a hemoglobin level as a simple and quick evaluation of RBCs or is performed as part of a complete blood count (CBC) as an integral part of a health evaluation.  This test screens for, diagnoses, and evaluates the severity of anemia and dehydration.

48 Hours in Madrid

We recently spent 48 hours in Madrid where neither my husband or I had ever been. After 2 1/2
weeks traveling around Portugal, we were feeling a little bored and were looking for an interesting city with great museums, good public transportation, since we were going to be carless, and some great food. So Madrid it was.

While we were still in Portugal, we booked a hotel online in the Salamanca area of Madrid which is where all the high end shopping is and it is pretty easy to get around the city by walking, bus or subway. We arrived on a Friday evening and left on a Monday afternoon.

First Evening

The first night we ate dinner at a local place we found by walking around the neighborhood. The food was great and a refreshing change from the food we had eaten for 2 1/2 weeks in Portugal. Mainly because of the variety of options we had to choose from which was one of our big disappointments about Portugal.

Day 1

The next morning after a breakfast of coffee and Omelette Espanha (the Spanish egg & potato omelette) at a Tapas Bar, we went to the Museo de Prado which is the largest museum in Madrid.

spanish-omelette

After the Museum we went to a very crowded outdoor flea market and along the way went in and out of Antique stores. Which is something we love to do whenever we visit a foreign country because we have found some wonderful indigenous items for gifts or furnishings for our house.

flea-market

antique-stores

Day 2

The next day we visited the Museo del Sofia where the famous Guernica by Picasso is and afterwards, we visited the fantastic Mercado San Miguel, a gourmet market where you can walk around and look at all the beautiful food stalls and eat the most amazing Tapas for around 1 euro each.

guernica

Mercado-San-Miguel

Mercado-San-Miguell-2
Homeward Bound

The next morning we flew home after a three week trip through Portugal and a short weekend detour to Madrid which made the difference for us from feeling bored with Portugal to feeling refreshed, well fed and cultured from our time in Madrid.

Planning An African Safari

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My advise to anyone considering a Safari vacation is to go with a reputable company who has a presence in the countries you are visiting. We used Kensington Tours because they offered customized private tours at a fairly reasonable price. We wanted to go on a private tour versus a group because we didn’t want to share our game viewing space in our vehicles with anyone and wanted the individualized attention. We also went in an off peak time, late November and early December when the crowds for safaris is really low. Which for us was a perfect time to go because the weather was pleasant each day, mosquitos were at a minimum, our accommodations were practically empty and everyone was very happy to see us. The places we stayed were Safari Lodges and Tent Camps. Both varieties were comfortable and in some cases quite luxurious. We didn’t stay in the highest end lodgings rather the mid-range options and the rooms, food and service was great.

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africa7

We were not aware that we could have flown into each National park we visited thus eliminating long, bumpy and tedious car trips. However choosing to fly rather than drive makes it difficult to experience the culture and see how the majority of Africans live. Most of the Eastern African towns we passed through were very poor with makeshift housing and stores put together with wood and aluminum siding, no sidewalks or infrastructure such as running water.

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We saw many women carrying plastic buckets that were filled from the nearest water holes and carried back to their homes. Men and mostly children would tend to the cattle and goat herds during the day while the women did the majority of the daily chores. The Masai people were easy to identify because of the colorful robes they wore and the spears that the men and boys carried. They live in primitive round or sometimes rectangular mud and cow dung huts with as many as 10 in a compound for one family.

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The men are allowed multiple wives and their wealth is assessed by the number of cattle, goats, wives and children they possess. Africans are easy to communicate with because they are taught English in the schools but talk Swahili amongst themselves. Many are knowledgeable about world affairs and are very interested in American politics especially because we have a President who comes from one of the 42 tribes present in Kenya. The other thing that struck me about the country as I drove around was how clean it was. Here are some suggestions for a pleasant African Safari adventure:

Use a reputable travel company that specializes in Safaris. You can contract with
Safari lodges and tent camps directly and they all have drivers and guides they can
refer you to but if you are short on time and want to have things in place before you leave,
it’s best to have your itinerary planned and arranged ahead of time.

-Take many small new bills for tips to your bag porters and waiters at your hotels,
lodges and tent camps. These people are very friendly and don’t make much
money. Porters should get $1.00/bag and five to ten percent of your bill is
appropriate for waiters. Additionally you can add money to a communal tip box
for other personnel.

If you don’t want to spend long periods of time in the car and you are visiting
multiple parks, consider flying to each park’s airstrip and either meeting your driver/
guide there or hire one at the airport. Internal flights can be arranged by your
tour company.

While visiting the parks, you are not allowed to leave your vehicle, you spend many hours sitting in the car while viewing the animals and then driving back to your hotel at the end of the day, so make time to do some regular
exercise during your Safari vacation.

Avoid the overpriced curio shops your driver/guide stops at for lunch or bathroom
breaks. Either buy things at the hotel gift shops which tend to stock a higher quality
merchandise or wait and shop in the main parts of large cities. In Nairobi and
Tanzania, there are Masai markets around town on certain days that sell all the
trinkets you find at large curio shops for about 60% less. Also ex-pat blogs are
good resources for information about where to shop and eat.

It’s Soup Time

Last week it rained in Los Angeles. A rare occurrence since we are in the throes of a severe drought. I love the rain and I love to make soups when it rains. So I made two soups I have never made before from my favorite cooking resource America’s Test Kitchen. The first one is a creamy cauliflower soup made without cream. A very simple soup with a few ingredients, low in calories and low Weight Watcher points. The second one was a wild rice and mushroom soup. A flavorful and filling soup that is great with crusty bread.

cauliflower-soup2Wild-Rice-&-Mushroom2

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower (2 pounds)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
Salt and pepper
4 1/2 – 5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pull off outer leaves of cauliflower and trim stem. Using paring knife, cut around core to remove; thinly slice core and reserve. Cut heaping 1 cup of 1/2-inch florets from head of cauliflower; set aside. Cut remaining cauliflower crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices.

2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leek, onion, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring frequently, until leek and onion are softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.

3. Increase heat to medium-high; add 4 1/2 cups water, sliced core, and half of sliced cauliflower; and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add remaining sliced cauliflower, return to simmer, and continue to cook until cauliflower is tender and crumbles easily, 15 to 20 minutes longer.

4. While soup simmers, melt remaining 5 tablespoons butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add reserved florets and cook, stirring frequently, until florets are golden brown and butter is browned and imparts nutty aroma, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and use slotted spoon to transfer florets to small bowl. Toss florets with vinegar and season with salt to taste. Pour browned butter in skillet into small bowl and reserve for garnishing.

5. Process soup in blender until smooth, about 45 seconds. Rinse out pan. Return pureed soup to pan and return to simmer over medium heat, adjusting consistency with remaining water as needed (soup should have thick, velvety texture but should be thin enough to settle with flat surface after being stirred) and seasoning with salt to taste. Serve, garnishing individual bowls with browned florets, drizzle of browned butter, and chives and seasoning with pepper to taste.

cauliflower-soup

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

INGREDIENTS

1/4 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
4 1/4 cups water
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, peeled, plus 4 cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup wild rice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2/3 cup dry sherry
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grind shiitake mushrooms in spice grinder until finely ground (you should have about 3 tablespoons).

2. Bring 4 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, garlic clove, ¾ teaspoon salt, and baking soda to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Add rice and return to boil. Cover saucepan, transfer to oven, and bake until rice is tender, 35 to 50 minutes. Strain rice through fine-mesh strainer set in 4-cup liquid measuring cup; discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to reserved cooking liquid to measure 3 cups.

3. Melt butter in Dutch oven over high heat. Add cremini mushrooms, onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on bottom of pot, 15 minutes. Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add ground shiitake mushrooms, reserved rice cooking liquid, broth, and soy sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushrooms are tender, about 15 minutes.

4. Whisk cornstarch and remaining ¼ cup water in small bowl. Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest. At this point should be fairly thick so thin it out with some additional hot water until it is a soup consistency. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Wild-Rice-&-Mushroom-soup

Celebrity Sighting

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It was on a 7:40 am Southwest Airlines flight to Austin a couple of weeks ago that my Husband had a celebrity sighting. In the seat in front of us was a gentleman who was the spitting image of Bono from U2. He got out of his seat and walked to the back of the plane and that is when my Husband decided to follow him and get a picture taken with him. The guy was very friendly and graciously took two selfies with my Husband, in one of them they exchanged sunglasses.

Bono2

The celebrity sighting was a lot of fun but it wasn’t very realistic that Bono was on a commercial flight at 7:40 am. So that prompted me to do some research about celebrity lookalikes.

That’s when I learned about Pavel Sfera who is an actor that makes a living impersonating Bono.
Born in Yugoslavia to Romanian parents, Sfera, 45, grew up in Hawthorne. He was 14 when U2 made its 1980 debut with the album “Boy,” and from then on, Sfera says fans of the Irish band did double takes at his uncanny resemblance to the band’s lead singer.

By 1987, when the album “Joshua Tree” made U2 worldwide superstars, he was hearing it more and more. Still, he had his own musical interests to pursue then. He played classical piano and studied opera. He worked as a singing gondolier, and he sang in a restaurant, taking requests from the dinner crowd.

Still, by 2001, he wasn’t singing much. He was working in property management and was a little bored. And when his beloved father died that year he examined his own life. Sfera wondered if perhaps the face his father and mother’s DNA had provided might, in turn, provide him with some excitement.

So he signed on with an agency that books celebrity impersonators. Pavel Sfera is probably the best Bono impersonator working in the industry today. He is available solo or with a U2 Tribute band, for all private and corporate events.

So the next time you think you are getting an autograph or picture taken with a celebrity, it may very well be an impersonator.

 

Changing It Up

Every year for the last 20 years I made my Thanksgiving dressing the same way. It was a recipe for Chestnut Dressing I got from my Mother and if I dared vary it in any way, I received disappointing looks and disparaging remarks from my Mom. Sadly my Mom is no longer with us but I finally felt liberated enough to try something new this year with my holiday dressing. I decided to try a sausage cornbread dressing. I used turkey andouille sausage and It includes toasted pecans and dried cherries. All flavors I love so how bad could it be all together. I made a batch of browned butter cornbread to use as the base the week before Thanksgiving so the cornbread had a chance to become stale. The results were great. A very sophisticated dressing with a nice crumb and good seasoning from the sausage. Not sure I am making the same dressing next year but it was fun to change it up & experiment with a new taste.

dressing2

Sausage Cornbread Dressing
(recipe adapted from bon appetit Magazine)

¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, divided, plus more
¼ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup dried tart cherries
10 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread, preferably homemade, dried out overnight
⅓ cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup olive oil
1 pound turkey sausage, casings removed
2 medium onions, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
2 large eggs
3 cups turkey stock or low-sodium chicken broth, divided
¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 400°

Butter a shallow 3-qt. baking dish and a sheet of foil

Bring vinegar and 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan; remove from heat and add cherries. Let sit until cherries are plump, 15–20 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread out cornbread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 10–15 minutes. Let cool. Place in a very large bowl.

Drain cherries, reserving soaking liquid, and add cherries to bowl with cornbread (do not mix).

Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Toast pecans on a clean rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool; add to bowl.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook turkey sausage, stirring occasionally and breaking into small pieces with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
Add onions and celery to skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until onions are golden brown and soft, 10–12 minutes. Add garlic and sage; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and cook reserved cherry soaking liquid in skillet, scraping up any browned bits, until almost all evaporated, about 1 minute. Add ½ cup butter; cook, stirring, until melted. Drizzle over bread mixture.

Whisk eggs and 2 cups stock in a medium bowl; pour over cornbread mixture. Add parsley, season with salt and pepper, and gently toss, adding more stock ¼-cupful at a time as needed (you may not use it all), until combined and cornbread is hydrated. Mix carefully to avoid breaking cornbread into crumbs.

Transfer to prepared dish and dot with remaining ¼ cup butter.

Cover with buttered foil; bake until a paring knife inserted into the center comes out hot, 30–35 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450°. Uncover and bake until top is golden brown and crisp, 20–25 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
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Finding My Roots

I love that show on PBS called Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The series uses traditional genealogical research and genetics to find the family history of famous Americans.

About 15 years ago, I became interested in learning more about my family history and started asking the eldest members of my family on my Father’s side about where they had come from and how did they get to America. I focused on my Father’s family because other than my Mother, I didn’t really have any contact with other family members on that side.

During my conversation with a cousin about our genealogy, she mentioned that someone had done a research project and published a book about Spanish families who had migrated to America from Spain to escape Franco’s dictatorship and our family was one of the families she had profiled. So I contacted the publisher and found out that the book called Memories Of Spain had been out of print for some time but I got the author’s contact information and I wrote to her to see if she may have some additional copies laying around that she would sell. She happened to have one copy of the book left and she sent it to me.

memories

It was fascinating to read about how in 1907 my Paternal Grandfather and Grandmother came
to America. They were living in Malaga, Spain with one child, my eldest Uncle when a Sugar cane company came to their village recruiting skilled workers to work in the sugar cane fields in Hawaii with promises of a living wage as well as room and board and after 3 years of productive work they would be given a house on one acre of land. My Grandfather was a professional tree grafter and farmer and wanted to escape the political and economic oppression Spain was experiencing at the time.

The Long Voyage to America

Six ship voyages from 1907 to 1913 came to America from Hawaii, relocating nearly 8,000 Spaniards seeking a new life. They were recruited mostly from the Southern agricultural areas of Spain. The voyage was very difficult and long averaging 53 days for each of the six trips.

martin

Life on the Sugar Cane Plantation

My Grandparents were located on a sugar cane plantation near Hilo, Hawaii. According to an interview in the book with my eldest uncle who was five years old when they arrived, “The Hawaiians were barefooted all the time, ladies and men. The Spaniards communicated well with the Hawaiians, (we called them Kanakas) and sometimes we had parties with them. There were Portuguese, Filipinos, Chinese, and Japanese working in the sugar cane fields side by side, but they lived separately from the Spanish camps. There was a grocery store nearby but my family raised and grew almost everything that we needed.”

Leaving Hawaii

In another interview with my Uncle, he said, “My parents did not stay the full five years of their contract. Three Spanish families left Hawaii previously and went to Placer County, California. They wrote to my parents about the beautiful land and jobs, and this helped my parents decide to leave Hawaii and go to California.”

My Grandparents settled in Central California and lived and worked on rented farms. They had 12 more children, the youngest of whom was my Father. My Grandfather died in a car accident and left my Grandmother to raise the kids.

Someday I hope to pursue some additional genealogy research on our family but this accounting of my families’ migration from Spain is a good start.

5 Reasons I Take Supplements

Let me just say that I am not a good pill taker. But about 4 years ago my nutritionist put me on a regimen of pharmaceutical grade supplements based on some nutritional deficiencies she identified in my profile.

Why I take Supplements

1.  While I try to eat a well balanced and nutritional diet, the fact of the matter is that is not always the case especially when we are traveling.

2. It seems I am always on a diet to counteract the weight gain I usually incur while traveling. A protein supplement helps to provide extra protein that may be missing from my diet as a result.

3. As I have gotten older, insomnia has become a chronic problem for me. I take a Magnesium supplement to help me stay asleep longer.

4. I am pretty physically active and workout 5-6 days a week. I take amino acid supplements to increase my energy levels during training and help reduce post-workout muscle soreness.

5. During my last bone scan test, my doctor said I have the bones of a 16 year old. Glad to know I have still have something like a teenager. This is a result of the Calcium and Vitamin D supplements I take.

Here is an inventory of the specific supplements I take and what they are for.

OptiCleanse

Opticleanse

It is a comprehensive, fructose-free, low-allergy–potential dietary supplement designed to support gastrointestinal function, balanced detoxification, and a normal, healthy response to inflammation which I get from time to time.

ActivEssentials

ActivEssentials

Is a proprietary multivitamin/mineral blend that supports improved nutrient intake and provides Antioxidants.

OsaplexOsaplex

Is a comprehensive dietary supplement that supports healthy bones, cartilage, and ligaments with Calcium and Vitamin D.

CurcuPlex

circuplex

Is a phytochemical obtained from turmeric and a patented black pepper extract. Turmeric is believed to be an effective supplement to combat inflammation.

OptiMag

OptiMag

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body.  Apparently, many people to not have enough magnesium in their bodies.  It participates in the development and maintenance of bones and teeth; the metabolism of carbohydrates, blood glucose, fats, and proteins and for those suffering from insomnia will help you stay asleep longer.

If you would like to improve your overall health and do not feel you are getting the maximum nutrition from your diet, I encourage you to consult a nutritionist about the supplements that are right for you,

Epicure Imports

Epicure-Imports

If you are a Francophile foodie like Lauren and I, you should know about Epicure Imports in North Hollywood. They are a wholesale distributor of high-end specialty food items to restaurants, hotels, retail stores, caterers and chefs in Southern California. But 6 times a year they have an open warehouse sale that is open to the public.

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In addition to French gourmet food they also carry items from Italy, Asia and other parts of the world. They are the place to go for fine French cheeses and pates and hard to find olive oils, vinegars and condiments. The sale hours are from 11:30 – 5:00 and throughout the years, Lauren and I have tried different strategies to avoid the crowds.

This last weekend we lined up outside waiting for them to open and we shared a basket so that one of us could stand in the long checkout line while the other perused the warehouse shelves and collected the yummy samples. While we were standing in line this time, we remarked how improved their checkout system has become.

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When we first started going to this sale, none of the items had prices marked on them so you didn’t know if you were selecting a $3 item or a $40 item which resulted in some sticker shock once you got to the cashier and they started adding up your basket. Now they have everything priced and they have many more cashiers and computers to tally up your order.

Not everything at Epicure is a great discount. But I would say the cheeses, pates, sausages, sparkling French juices, Valrhona chocolates, olive oils, flavored vinegars,  specialty sea salts and wonderful Panetonne from Italy are particularly a good buy compared to getting these items at high end grocery stores.

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If you’re a cook, a baker, or anyone who loves to eat fabulous food, this is the sale for you!

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