Of the four seasons, winter is my favorite time of year in Laguna; late-winter to be exact. The tourists are mostly gone, the weather is slightly cooler, and the sunsets are often the most spectacular of the year. Mediterranean gardens such as ours are alive and thriving due to the scant rainfall. It amazes me that we can pour water on our gardens all year long, and as soon as we get a quarter inch of rainfall, the garden bursts forth. But most of all, in winter, we have some of the best foods of the year. I am thinking today of the East Coast blanketed in snow; of the chill of Burgundy limestone and tomettes underfoot in early February, and then I wander out on the patio in Laguna and pick a gorgeous and huge pink camellia off the bushes. Why, this bloom and its huge, glossy green foliage almost make me want to whip up a five layer chocolate cake to set them upon!! Yes, I say, it’s great to be in Southern California in winter…
Lazy-me has not pruned the roses yet, and my most prolific rosebush gave me one more Yves Piaget this week. The single bloom had about 100 perfectly perfumed petals, which I candied today, using French and American sugars. At the Irvine Farmers market this morning I found the first batch of my very favorite heirloom organic strawberries from Berumen Boyz. I love the French varieties at Chino Farm, but in Orange County, these are the bomb….it’s all I use for jams and sorbets…and in a few weeks for the Paris Food Camp, for strawberry tartes. The season is short and I am mindful of that so I’ll be busy with these for the next month.
We are so lucky to have the benefit of local citrus. Forget Morocco and Spain, these come from the kids at Cal Poly. Meyers lemons and blood orange. The darker the skin, the darker the flesh, fyi.
The egg basket was also refilled today, with free range eggs.
Returning home, I found a basket of passion fruit and kumquats from my niece’s garden. Not bad for a backyard gardener in SoCal….
These organic beauties will become a sauce for scallops at Monday’s Food Camp.
The strawberries were expertly hulled by Mom, they given a quick pour of homemade rose syrup and sprinkled with rose sugar and left to macerate for a day or two. These will be strawberry-rose sorbet for the ladies on Monday.
Meanwhile, I set up the vegetable stock for Monday, in the big copper faitout stockpot; organics from today go into the pot.
I wish the farmers left the whole root on the leeks, like they do in Beaune, but I know enough that these are basically freshly harvested.
And then there is the business of putting away all the rest of the day’s purchases. I see peas and prosciutto in the menu this week. And asparagus and mushroom omelettes. And lots of citrus. I prefer to buy produce with the leaves attached….Mother Nature does not lie….this is fresh!
Meanwhile on the stove I set up pots of quince, and pear,and quince trimmings, in a Champagne-based syrup, all for a few dishes for Monday. The blue willow saucer on top holds the fruits under the poaching liquid. I will turn these off soon and let them sit overnight in their sauce. It was an afternoon for multitasking, and trying to figure out how to best capture all of this local goodness right now.
And then on to a little soft and pretty stuff. For Monday’s class: generously oversized French linen lap-napkins, with a French finish.
I know the ladies will love this. I love this!!!!
And while I was drying the linens, how could I not appreciate the orchids, which bloom after the first cold nights. They never disappoint. This one is decades old. I love pale pink phalaenopsis~
The linens were dried in the fresh air, folded and organized. For lap-napkins or possibly for sale Monday. Pry these incredibly soft or incredibly rough linen 19thC beauties from my hands, maybe...
And maybe, also, a French sterling Puiforcat butter or cheese knife. I Loooove this~
I hope to have more of these in my online store this spring. Perfect gifts….for yourself!!!
Enjoy your winter weekend, where-ever you are~