Austrian Red Pepper Vinegar


I bought this vinegar from a vendor in the market in Vienna last year.  It is infused with sweet red pepper and makes a delicious substitution for vinegar in a traditional vinaigrette.  I watch it carefully because I’ll need to return to Vienna to replenish my supply. 

Irish Vessels



I keep sugar and flour in these charming canisters, which were made by the Irish potter Nicholas Mosse. I fell in love with his traditional Irish-country designs on a trip to Ireland 15 years ago and had these “cookie jars” (as they were originally purposed) shipped home. Their first abode was my previous kitchen but they happily adapted to the renovated site. Their quaint floral pattern makes me feel cheerful, even on dreary days.


Why do you need a mortar and pestle?


Why do you need a mortar and pestle? To make homemade sambal, of course! Sambal is a catch-all term for any one of a number of Indonesian chile pastes. Start with a simple mix of chile peppers and, for variety, incorporate more pungent ingredients such as shrimp paste

Icelandic Salt Cellars


Speaking of Iceland… these are saltcellars I picked up in Reykjavik. I love their whimsical, other-worldly designs. I have Icelandic sea salt in both – a smoked version on the left. Guess I’m missing that fantastical island today…

Aleppo Peppers

Do you ever stop to think that all the casualties of war aren’t just human lives? Take Aleppo pepper, for instance. It’s a Syrian chile, dried and crushed with a mild, fruity flavor and it’s one of my favorites. It has been grown in that country for centuries.  Sadly, because it is traditionally cultivated in the war-torn region around Aleppo, the city for which it is named, this pepper is no longer available for export. Most suppliers now substitute Turkish Maras pepper.

The Maras pepper is a very close relative – probably even the same variety — and it is grown in a very similar terroir, so for culinary purposes, if properly grown, it is probably a satisfactory swap. But I am grieving the loss of the authentic Aleppo. I discovered it many years ago in Montreal; Phillipe de Vienne, an extremely knowledgeable spice vendor, imported it for his shop Epices de Cru in the Jean Talon market. At the time, I was experimenting with a Middle Eastern cooking and was immediately smitten by the pepper’s sweet yet spicy flavor. I associate it with a time in my life when I was learning about Middle Eastern cuisine and exploring other regional spices and herbs such as sumac and za’atar.  It is part of my memory bank — like Proust’s madeleines – and in some ways, I feel like I have lost a friend.

If peace ever returns to Syria I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the farmers will return to their land and our supply of authentic Aleppo pepper will begin again.  In the meantime, chile growers are keeping the variety alive. Thanks to chile grower extraordinaire, Rebecca, Johnston at for cultivating the Aleppo pepper in Queensland Australia, and also for her beautiful photo. 




A peek into my kitchen

A peek into my kitchen: I keep my kitchen utensils close at hand and in vessels I’m fond of –antique white ironstone jugs. Handy and pretty. 

We Canadians are preparing for Thanksgiving


We Canadians are preparing for Thanksgiving this week… A holiday we celebrate almost a month earlier than Americans because the frost comes earlier here
First up? My cranberry sauce for the holiday turkey using port wine and orange juice. It’s delicious – but no match for this exquisite sauceboat from French artisans @astierdevillatte. I carried it back from Paris myself years ago after stumbling on their gorgeous shop on the Rue Saint Honore. GOOD NEWS: they recently opened an outpost on the Left Bank. (I accidentally found that one, too, while out walking last spring. Seems I’m programmed to find beautiful tableware.)

Speaking of chile salt… here’s a CHILE TIP


Speaking of chile salt… here’s a CHILE TIP: keep a dedicated coffee grinder for grinding dry chiles. Here’s mine. The beauty of a coffee grinder like this is you can control the texture to suit your preference and application. (For my salts, for example, I like my ground chiles a bit flaky.)