The Golden Stench of Vacherin Mont d’Or

IMG_5119I arrived at the Cute Gardener’s house on a late afternoon like any other day but there was something odd in the air of his pristinely kept home: a subtle yet rank perfume not unlike sodden socks set out to dry on a piece of concrete and forgotten about for a year. I politely enough said nothing and went about my work until I discovered the smelly culprit at the stroke of the cocktail hour.

As we got ready for a night out at a swank French bistro, the CG presented me with a wooden round containing a cheese that had never crossed my path before. Clearly it was the source of the home’s fragrance of the hour, and seeing that the cheese was already half eaten I understood why. It had enough time to permeate the entire atmosphere through the channel of my mate’s vulnerability and gluttony for exotic triple creams. I was instructed to take a sip of Riesling first and then try the cheese. After the syrupy crisp apple flavor of the vine hit the back of my throat, a small spoonful of the cheese on my tongue exploded in a bath of silken, woodsy flavor tinged on the edge with an almost oniony bite.

The vat contained Vacherin Mont d’Or, one of the most prized cheeses on the market. Known for its “spontaneous exuberance” (indeed, making me squeal a little with each bite), it is a highly seasonal Swiss cow creation made with the winter milk of the cows that produce Gruyere in the summer. It’s only available once a year and costs about $40 for the small tub. The CG got lucky while visiting the Beverly Hills Cheese Store and asking the man behind the counter if he had anything super runny. He was duly sized up in the store first before the man behind the counter concurred that he was worthy enough to be sold the very last one on hand. My own search online for more of the cheese turned out dismal results and continuous red SOLD OUT signs across the screen.

I took a third sip of Riesling with another pungent bite, delivered by a tiny metal spoon small enough to deliver the perfect smidgeon of such a million dollar palate punch. It was all I needed to be completely sated by this precious cheese, the perfect precursor to a classic French meal.

The Makings of a Great French Bistro

Everyone has their favorite spots to eat where they fit in perfectly, without effort, and consistently enjoy the food. Some like the crowded revelry of a hipster gastropub and some like the tux and tie elegance of an old school meat and potatoes joint but for me, I will take a quirky French bistro over the rest.

But what makes a good French bistro? For me, the essential ingredients are as follows: small and intimate atmosphere; a homey-feeling that is also contemporary with eclectic décor choices like ornate mirrors, gilt or other rustic or shabby chic touches that emphasize the thrown together but with excellent taste; starters that include rillettes, terrines, mousses and other fat and butter-laden indulgent dishes that go well with good wine and sparkling Champagne; classic yet creative dishes that a French mere would serve at home yet gussied up with the touch of a clever chef; top notch bread; and exquisite pastry desserts.

In the last week I have had the opportunity to test this theory as I ate at two French bistros of very different color.

IMG_5122Bouchon Bistro in Beverly Hills, which shares the courtyard with the classy Montage hotel, has been on my “to try” list for over a year. I had grand fantasies about the place being that it is the baby of Thomas Keller, a chef whose roasted chicken and cucumber vichyssoise have both been served to me by various people in my life to much applause. Plus he owns French Laundry in Napa Valley which all of my foodie girlfriends consistently have mouth orgasms over. So I figured it would titillate me as well.

IMG_5129On all accounts, the place was a class act. Large and boisterous with high ceilings and a curiously eclectic décor, we were met upon arrival with a packed dining room filled with everyone from young couples on dates to well-heeled families of the social climb to celebrities like Tyra Banks and Lionel Richie.  The service slowed down upon seeing our jovial party of six, not attempting to merely flip the table, which was a nice touch and the menu was filled with French basics albeit adorned with the Keller touch.

IMG_5134The food was good. A chicken mousse underneath a swath of fat that melted on the tongue; an ordinary well-cooked salmon atop a Meyer lemon sauced quinoa; and a perfect wafer-thin cake slice built with layers of salted caramel and chocolate that married a tiny spot of espresso in a divine way. But although the entire experience was perfectly fine and tasty, it lacked that certain je ne sais quoi that I have found in other French bistros …

…. Including the one I visited next, just last evening, in West Hollywood. Packed on the Whisky A Go Go block of Sunset in perhaps an unfortunate part of town not prone to deliver a sheer multitude of guests who might appreciate its greatness (like right smack in the middle of Beverly Hills like Bouchon), Gorge Charcuterie and Wine Bar definitely made the list of my greats.

IMG_2500In a small and warm space with diners lining the comfortable and dark perimeter of the room around an old-fashioned style luxe bar in the center, everyone felt like they were at a grand feast together while still feeling privately attended to by a hospitable staff that mixed and mingled casually with the patrons. Even Chef Elia came out to say hello to guests throughout the evening.

IMG_2502But the high note was the food. You could tell every plate was made with care and a nod to innovation that wanted to be creative yet comforting simultaneously. We ordered more than we are used to because we were that tempted by the offerings: a pot of granular yet smooth rabbit rillette to spread on country toast, a board of the house made charcuterie that included the best head cheese I have had to date, a slim and soft baguette topped with pickled diced pig ear, arugula and Meyer lemon crème fraiche.

IMG_2505Our last bite from pastry Chef Uyen (who also doubles as the beautifully gracious hostess) was a flaky and creamy pistachio St. Honore that came studded with a tiny macaron. Macarons being the last item that make my list of a great French bistro!

Bastardized Dishes Are an Unorthodox Given

IMG_5110I am called Unorthodox for a reason. It pretty much sums up my whole life, one in which I preferred to stake out on the open road to learn what I wanted to learn and when I wanted to learn it instead of conforming to school schedules and prescribed text books. Because of this, I was not great in class and preferred ditching for the library filled with a Dewey Decimal system starting out with books that called my name. Psychology and the Beatniks were the subjects I studied while the rest of my peers learned about history and danced around in gym. It carved a habit in me of being perpetually self-taught and wildly mucked up my later years as I continued to come into knowledge on my own rather than toe the line of tradition. It’s why my artwork has no genre and why editors of my articles oftentimes ask me what a word is that I have seemed to make up out of thin air.

It’s no different when it comes to cooking. My cuisine is a bastard child of my mother’s mid-western roots and my sophisticated and multicultural adult palate. If you were to ask me for a definition of that I am not sure I could form a proper sentence to explain although I could spit out a lot of words that might formulate some sort of picture. Things like heavy cream, mushroom soup, French, Indian, Greek, hot and spicy, coconut, raw, greens, butternut, dark chocolate, barley and lamb might start the association parade. In my kitchen, there is no rhyme or reason. If I find something I love, I buy it and try to make things with it – more times than not, these things are hybrid mixes of cuisines that would cause a purist to scoff or make an Elitist epicurean shiver.

IMG_5111Take for instance the blasphemized stir-fry I made for breakfast yesterday. Yes, I said breakfast – and it was what I was hungry for so why shouldn’t I eat it in the morning? The ingredients were as follows:

Indian Fenugreek spice and basmati rice
Red onion from a friend’s garden
Hawaiian coconut oil
American leftover BBQ pulled chicken

Together all of those ingredients made for a sweet tropical stir-fry with plenty of heat that spelled heaven in my mouth and I am sure if others were around to taste it they would agree.

Most of the chefs I know say the same thing. That even though they may have gone to school to learn the basics, or studied a particular culinary style or the food of a specific region, that it all boils down to finding what you love and practicing the art of cooking it, over and over again, with your tongue to guide the flavor. Exploring, trying new things and tasting concoctions over and over is the only way, they say, to learn how to really cook after the books have all been put away.

Yin and Yang with Anaheim Chili Peppers

IMG_5090It all started with a bag of vibrant green Anaheim chilies from the Cute Gardener that had been calling my name from the refrigerator all week. Bountiful this year, these particular chilies were fickle and had a sense of humor in that they never hinted at how hot they were until they ended up chopped raw in a salad or cooked into a dish on your plate. Sometimes they were mellow and other times biting and it has been a fun season trying to figure out how to incorporate them without knowing their fate in taste. I was waiting for a dish that I could throw them in for heat and spice as a blistered and chopped, full skin and seed mix.

I have always been inclined to follow the medicine of the natural world rather than rely on the convoluted chemical compounds of the Western medical and pharmaceutical industries. Because of this, I have been perpetually attracted to the garden where herbs and plants are plentiful and food grows when it should to provide the most conducive vitamins in the moment. This year I finally decided to make my passion a pursuit and am currently enrolled in an extensive course in herbology. One of the most interesting things I am learning right off the bat is how to simply balance the meal plates to create an optimum way of eating that supports a healthy system and how far off whack we’ve come in this world of preservatives and packaging from the most basic ways to bring nutrients in and out of the flesh.

IMG_5099I am really inspired by the way of the Chinese and East Indian culinary traditions wherein this basic premise for a daily diet is found: 20-30% whole grains, 20-30% protein with a heavy emphasis on beans and legumes, 30-40% seasonal vegetables geographically available and abundant, 10-20% dairy, fruit and eggs and 2-5% fat in the form of olive and sesame oil or ghee. Using this guideline to come up with my meals in a normal week has already improved many things within my body from circulation to digestion to energy.

This past weekend I spent two blissful days in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, mostly obsessed by the Fuk Yin Tong Herbs Trading Co. where jars of every herb and root lined shelves absent of the English language and patrons walked in complaining of ailments and then out again with curious bags full of things to combine and ingest. Shark cartilage for the skin, lotus tea for the mind, astragulus for the liver – you name it, they had it. For a dollar a minute, I also received the best fifteen-minute chi flushing massage of my life by a 60-year-old man who was more spry than a 15-year-old.

IMG_5062I was thrilled when I stumbled upon bags of mung and azuki beans so that I could practice some of my new herbal recipes at home as those two varieties were apparently king of the proteins and could be used in a variety of healing ways.

IMG_5063I chose the azuki bean first as it is a small and sweet red bean that would be a nice contrast to the hot chilies that laid in wait. After soaking the beans for a day, I then boiled them in chicken broth to cover and then simmered for one hour. The nice musky and rich soup that ensued was an ideal base for the chopped up roasted chilies to accompany a plate of short beef and fresh grilled vegetable leftovers. Washed down with a glass of iced cold tea made with fresh sprigs of thyme, it was the perfect example of the food percentages on a plate that I am learning not only nourishes our physicality but makes sure all the parts are working at their highest potential.

Metropulos Puts Moussaka on the Map in Santa Barbara

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In being a foodie, I have come to expect weird looks from family and friends when half of my vacation photos are of meat cases and pastry cabinets from places traveled rather than the prototypical “look Ma, I’m here” portraits in front of famous buildings and historical roads. A shot of a vat of dough at Boudin in San Francisco or the Cute Gardener’s palm holding a Vietnamese bahn mi sandwich overlooking Twin Peaks become personal reminders of the places we’ve been.

But it’s also a testament to the way we eat when we travel, seeking out local favorites and dishes that fly under the radar of the normal tourist books yet receive high ratings on websites like Yelp and Zagat. We tend to do our research, hoping to uncover a famous deli case as if it were a rare bird. This has caused us to discover many great things that become noteworthy and occasionally those things that completely flop. And when we find ourselves returning to a place a second time that’s not in our hometown or immediate environs, we know we’ve hit Eureka.

One of these jackpots sits in Santa Barbara on our way to and from Los Angeles in the neighborhood just off the periphery of the Urban Wine Trail. Metropulos is a tiny deli located on a bustling, sunny corner in a frilly Santa Barbara style building where you can find an assortment of Greek delights, wine, cheese, and epicurean items for picnics and wine tastings. But the main reason we go there is for the homemade moussaka that sits in a small pan of perhaps only eight pieces each morning waiting to be sliced and cut on a first come first serve basis.

A Balkan and Mediterranean classic kin to Italian lasagna or the American mid-west, family feeding casserole, it’s a layered morsel that consists of ground beef spiced with hints of nutmeg, onion and other earthy delights, mashed potatoes and a decadent béchamel sauce laid across the top that is browned in the broiler. A slice of comfort food that is both savory and then sweet, it’s the perfect thing to buy and share after a wine-soaked weekend or to start a day of sightseeing. We picked up a slice to take back home on our last trip so that we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking when coming off of a trip.

Metropulos is the real deal and although we prefer the moussaka there are other indigenous treats served daily like spanikopita and dolmas alongside traditional charcuterie and gourmet items.

Heart String Mac and Cheese

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If King Midas had the golden touch and flourishing botanists have green thumbs, then the Cute Gardener has a pasta persuasion; one that sinks right down into my soul every time he creates a new bowl.  In a recent article, I wrote that the way to my heart was through my stomach, and never is that more evident than when the CG pulls out the tall cylindrical pasta pot. He can cook virtually everything well and spoils me constantly with his renowned dishes, but it’s his pasta that constantly has me going to the stove for seconds and which continues to rival even the best Italian restaurants.

Over the course of the past year I have had so many incarnations of his noodles and toppings from pork and leek perciatelli to tomato and salmon farfalle to guanciale and shallot spaghetti to angel hair and basil pomodoro to butternut penne – the list goes on and on. And he’s never repeated a version yet.

But the dish he made for me last week was undoubtedly the best pasta dish I have had yet. Not just made-at-home pasta, but all-time-tried pasta.

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He claims to have stolen it from the Belvedere Restaurant at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills after loving the dish so much he just had to recreate it on his own. I haven’t tried the Belvedere’s version but knowing my mate, I would wager that his might even be better as it has an extra ingredient called “little touch of home”. Watching him cook it was a maelstrom of knife strokes and smells that included a golden sauté of shallots, the dicing of three different kinds of mushrooms, the boiling of tiny elbow macaronis, a folding in of provolone and parmesan cheeses and a final blend of all of the above into a pot into which enormous handfuls of spinach were wilted.

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All I can say is that this is my favorite pasta dish to date and when I woke up this morning on Valentine’s Day and thought fondly of the one I love, I first saw his face in my mind’s eye with his customary curmudgeonly smile followed immediately by a floating dish of this heartstring mac and cheese. My mouth is still smarting from the memory.

Any man can take a woman out on fancy dates to the best places but a man who knows how to whip up a dish in his own kitchen is a priceless gem. Here’s a Happy Heart Day to all those awesome male chefs in the world!

Trendiness Reigns at Fig and Olive

There’s no escaping the ever-present existence of the fleeting trend when you live in a city that thrives on the fickle allure of perpetual shining facades like Los Angeles does. Although there are many places steeped in history, depth and complexity, it’s all too easy to find the shallow flickering on every corner whereas you may have to hunt a little deeper when seeking out the rich. Fads are a plenty from skirt lengths to nose job styles to tints on a car window – and always inevitably end up somewhere on the dinner table as well.

Recently, the Cute Gardener and I decided to try Fig and Olive, a place that had been on my “to try” list because of its description of offering new twists on Mediterranean food classics.  We were smart enough to try it during DineLA, knowing that if we were disappointed, the price tag on our woe would be lower than normal. Walking into the joint, we had a feeling that it was more pomp than grit just by presence of huge male bouncers scattered throughout the two story dining room filled to the brim with flashy patrons dressed to see and be seen. We immediately chose the top floor, more private balcony area to sit knowing that we’d have less of a chance to be in the midst of the annoying starlight and fanfare from the crowd vying to be front and center below.  We then proceeded to be assaulted by a line of the latest food trends.

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Trend #1 – The Olive Oil Tasting Bread Course

Fig and Olive prides itself on using olive oil in everything, replacing butter and other fats in all the dishes. So it was no surprise that we were served focaccia with three pots of various oils to sample for our bread course. Although there was a nice lemon tangy version in the center, the product sold in house was not something I would go out of my way to purchase.

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 Trend #2 – Reconstructing a Classic

People typically order beef Carpaccio because they crave the simple and pure taste of raw meat. Not raw meat laden with a salad. Not raw meat buried under a puddle of fontina cheese. Not raw meat mucked up by flavors and spices that completely disguise the fact that there is any protein on the plate. But many restaurants get nervous presenting the classic dishes because in their simplicity there is sometimes more room for error than in the more convoluted recipes so they try to recreate the dish and make it their own. Fig and Olive’s reconstruction included juicy cherry tomatoes and many flakes of sharp Parmesan cheese, making it a yummy fresh salad but left us wondering “where’s the beef?”

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 Trend #3 – Deconstruction

Perhaps the most annoying food trend is the deconstructed dish. The CG always says if he wanted to cook his own food at the table he would have stayed home and I am beginning to agree. We ordered a chicken tagine, which is one of my favorite Moroccan dishes. But the beauty in the dish is the way the myriad spices and fruits and liquids sit underneath a roasted chicken and blend into an exquisite broth of layered flavors that furthermore accentuate a bed of fluffy quinoa or other grain. The mingling of all these elements takes time and produces something sweet and savory simultaneously. This melding simply doesn’t happen when you are brought chicken parts, steamed vegetables, sliced figs and apricots, olives, tapenade and other sauce components in bowls to mix yourself at the table. There is no time to steep the entree properly when your waitress is whisking away bread plates full of half eaten bread as you wait. (Which points to yet another annoying trend: restaurants that push shareable small plates at tables too tiny for the multiple pieces of glass and dining ware.)

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Trend #4 – Pot de Crème

Chances are if you are in a restaurant in Los Angeles, you are going to find a basic pot de crème on the dessert menu. In the beginning of this onslaught I was hardly complaining. It’s hard to get tired of a perfect mug full of creamy chocolate cream and a nice swath of whipped cream on the top. It’s hard to mess it up and the texture alone is rather heavenly no matter where you try it. As a matter of fact, Gjelina’s decadently thick, butterscotch version remains on my top ten favorite desserts list. But I have to admit that now after eating so many versions, I am less prone to order one. Fig and Olive’s was ordinary and because olive oil is used in everything instead of butter or cream, both the bottom and top layers were extra watery and less satisfying. The shortbread wafer cookies that came with mascarpone cream and cherries were exquisite and buttery delights though that ended the meal on a much-needed good note.

Upon leaving, I admitted to the CG that I had learned a lesson not to glom on to the new and flashy eateries that I read about so consistently in my food scene email newsletters but to try and seek out the tried and true gems twinkling just below the surface of a city bathed in fifty shades of bling.

Empty Nester’s Belly Full of Home

IMG_4884It’s been over two years since my daughter left home to go to college and prior to that it had been at least three more since we’d actually sat down and had a proper dinner together. Eating with her is only one of the things I miss since the nest has been emptied. Sleeping all night, cuddled feet to feet after a rainy day marathon of bad girl flicks is another. Not to mention the breakfasts on Saturday mornings we used to share painting each other’s nails and discussing things like the drama of her school years and all the participants involved. Or just the sweet chattering background noise of her in my home that is no longer heard: tapping on the computer, the weird ring tones in her phone, her laughter with friends and the sound of her clumsy feet, that she inherited from her mom, as she would clomp down the hallways upon waking followed by the sounds of fridge and cabinets opening and closing.

I can also draw a line of her life as she aged and dot it with odd and peculiar food trends. When she was little she wouldn’t touch a single variety of cheese but loved sushi. But when she was older she became obsessed with pungent asiago. One year, she was addicted to my lemon chicken dish and would request it almost any chance she could get. While going through an attitudinal teenage spell she preferred tempeh takeout from the health food restaurant in town instead of mom’s cooking when her friends would sleep over. In her tweens she had an obsession with anime and anything Asian therefore the translation into food became a lust for Philippine sticky rice for which she made me get a bamboo basket to make it properly and a bento box to carry it in for school lunches. When she was thirteen, all she wanted was tofu with soy sauce and weird Mexican candies that tasted like salt and fire such as saladitos and suckers with bugs in them. Then there were the random and odd fads that came and stayed for maybe a millisecond but were saturated in their fanaticism like Nutella crepes (after our trip to Italy), croissants, popcorn with milk duds melted into the batch, big, fat dill pickles, vegetable hot mix, and piping hot Cheetos. The two last things I can remember being constantly requested before she moved away were my famous gorgonzola chicken salad with the Champagne dressing and baked filets of brown sugar salmon.

Last week she came to visit, nostalgic for a sleepover and some hang time with mom – something that of course made me eager to make her a special meal just like old times.  I rummaged around in my old file box and brought out the comforting classic of chicken piccata with fettuccine (being that it was national fettuccine day and all). It’s not sophisticated or laden with superfoods or typical of the kind of meal I am prone to make today but it brought me back into the role of being a mom wanting nothing more than to feed my baby something belly warming, heart filling and simply good.

Who doesn’t occasionally crave the taste of home?

My Daughter’s Favorite Chicken Piccata

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup flour
Salt and pepper
4 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup brined capers
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

Cut the chicken breast halves horizontally, butterflying them open and pound each piece to a ¼-inch thickness.

Mix together the flour, salt, pepper, and grated parmesan. Rinse the chicken pieces in water. Dredge them thoroughly in the flour mixture, until well coated.

Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet on medium high heat. Brown chicken pieces well on each side for about three minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and reserve to a plate. Add the white wine, lemon juice, and capers to the pan. Use a spatula to scrape up the browned bits. Reduce the sauce by half. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Plate the chicken and serve with the sauce poured over the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.

Sweet-Toothed in San Diego

IMG_2475I am always a fan of the boutique small business rather than the big trendy chain and when it comes to sweets it’s no different. A decade ago, I recall all my San Francisco friends freaking out about Just Desserts, a place where you could go and get a convenient slice of cake. But the only time I tried it, the cakes were dry and ordinary and I ended up seeking out my old favorite coffee shop haunt in the Castro where the old woman who owned the place served up her own Midwestern recipe for coffee cake with the Styrofoam cup brew. For free and just because.

Walking into San Diego’s Extraordinary Desserts last weekend fell somewhere between the two sides of this world – a locally-owned business expanding off their success with two vast and cheerful stores in the region yet still small enough to offer display cases full of what looked like tenderly cared for artisan creations. I wouldn’t trust a person, male or female, who doesn’t get excited over gleaming glass boxes full of pretty sweets in every variation from scone to cake to cookie to roll and I definitely did here. Aside from the oversized treats of every kind were the carefully considered touches like rose petals on plates, buds on neatly trimmed florals and fruit slices on frosting leaving me completely and shallowly seduced.

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The Cute Gardener was hoping our blueberry coffee cake would live up to the one he had tasted before at their other location which he described as having perfect crumble per inner softness ratio. I was remembering my experience a day before at Michele Coulon Dessertier where I had such a delightful and special carrot cake so my hopes were perhaps high. For whatever reason, nostalgia or expectation-bent, we both thought the pastry was really tasty but not anything worthy of the word “extraordinary” – unless of course you are describing the presentation on the plate.

IMG_2477Again, seduced by the case, we took some chocolate chip cherry cookies and dark chocolate shortbread to go to enjoy at home later.

Although it was an overall enjoyable experience and I would probably go back for their big steaming mug of matcha green tea with the heart in the foam alone, I think my love of sweets will remain satisfied in those little tiny places where you can still see the women and men behind the counter manually whirring the dough.

Nutiva’s Coconut Manna

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There are very few things in life that would appear on a ”last ten things on earth” list for me. You know the list of things you would choose if you were stuck on a desert island and could only have these ten things for the rest of your life. Coconut would be one of them. I would eat it raw, use its oil for cooking, slather it all over my body and hair as a moisturizer and finally, drink its water for my daily vitamins. It’s one of those foods that is perfect in taste and versatility and can be utilized in so many different ways. It’s also a really healthy superfood that disguises itself as a sweet and fatty indulgence, which to me is like winning the taste bud lottery.

I stumbled upon the company Nutiva while looking for a source to buy organic coconut oil online and was intrigued by a product called Coconut Manna so I bought a bottle. It touted itself as a spreadable substance that could be used like butter or as an additive in smoothies and baked good recipes. Like coconut oil, the liquids in the manna tend turn into a solid when stored in temperatures less than 73 degrees so when you want to actually use the product you have to set the jar in hot water and let it melt first. I had to actually boil some water to get the substance in the jar to melt and then blended it with a fork. Once blended though, the grainy spread was very similar to tahini but tasted entirely of coconut. For a cuckoo for coconut person like me, it truly does bring to mind manna from heaven. I will have to have some hard disciplinary skill to stick to one tablespoon of the substance per day as it is as high in calories as olive oil or butter and I could easily spoon down the entire jar on some nut-embedded whole grain toast at one sitting.

This recipe that came with the jar is going to be my first order of business.

Creamy Coconut Hemp Smoothie

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 banana
¼ cup frozen, unsweetened strawberries
1 tbls. Coconut Manna
1 tbls. hempseed
1 tsp. maple syrup

Layer ingredients in order in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.