i8tonite with Forking Good Authors Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H. Segal & Recipe for I Kant Believe It’s Not Buttermilk Pancakes

Have you seen the new cookbook, Forking Good: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place by Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H. Segal? Like the show, Forking Good combines food humor with moral philosophy for a delightfully unexpected cooking experience.

Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H. Segal are the coauthors of Geek Parenting and the cofounders of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. They live in Chicago in an Art Deco building that dates to the days of pulp magazines and Prohibition. Their weird family enjoys fan conventions, well-considered color palettes, and lots of music.

Valya is the author of the novel The Silence of Trees. She earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her poetry and prose have appeared in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2019, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Strange Horizons, and Chicago Reader.

Stephen is a journalist who has covered artists, scientists, musicians, and makers for Philadelphia Weekly and WQED Pittsburgh. As the chief editor at Legacy.com and, formerly, Weird Tales magazine, he has encouraged writers of both fiction and nonfiction to dig deep for unexpected truths. He grew up at the Jersey Shore.

~What is your favorite food to cook?

Valya: Vegetables—the variety, color, texture, and taste of them in different combinations depending on the season and my mood. I find them so satisfying to all the senses, especially roasted/sautéed and well-seasoned! I tend to go on kicks for a few months, exploring the different things one can do with them. For a while it was brussels sprouts, then asparagus, then red cabbage, and it’s been cauliflower since the summer. Oven-roasted cauliflower with different types of spices is one of our current family favorites.

~What do you always have in your fridge at home?

Stephen: More than actually fits! Two kinds of milk and three mustards and four salad dressings and five raw vegetables and six juice boxes and honestly more maple syrups than you would think anyone would have….

~What do you cook at home?

Valya: We make a lot of curries, stir fries, and pasta. Each of those has so much room for creative improvisation (and spices!)

~What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?

Valya: Curiosity. I enjoy sharing a meal with someone who is curious, from their openness to savor new flavor experiences to their willingness to answer and ask provocative questions in conversation.

~What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?

Stephen: At meals, I’m happy either to chat or eat together quietly — but if we’re talking at the table, one thing that always riles me up is when someone asks me questions and then keeps interrupting me before I can finish answering. Hey, if you’re gonna ask, listen!

~Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?

Valya: Pyrex, hands down. I prefer the non-porous surface of glass for storing food and for dishwasher cleaning.

~Beer, wine, or cocktail?

Stephen: Cocktail — something complicated yet cohesive, a layered flavor profile that goes on expanding from the scent right on through the aftertaste.

~Your favorite cookbook author?

Valya: I have many cookbooks that I love, but one of my favorite cookbook authors is a dear friend and fellow writer, Mary Anne Mohanraj. Mary Anne is a fantastic cook and writer who has been sharing her recipes on Patreon for years. Her most recent cookbook, A Feasts of Serendib: Recipes from Sri Lanka, is available on her website: http://serendibkitchen.com

~Your favorite kitchen tool?

Stephen: Three-way tie: the Vitamix (it has ten speeds!), the apple corer (it’s so geometric!), and the pizza cutter (it rolls so satisfyingly!)

Valya: My Wüsthof paring knife and my cast iron skillet.

~Your favorite ingredient?

Stephen: Soft cheese. Chevre, mascarpone, soft manchego, whatever. It has a happy place in breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, and desserts.

~Your least favorite ingredient?

Valya: Cilantro. I’m one of those “cilantro tastes like soap” people.

~Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?

Stephen: The third load of dishes in the same day.

~Favorite types of cuisine to cook?

Valya: I love to cook Ukrainian cuisine. I don’t do it often, usually on holidays and special occasions, but the hearty, comfort foods like pierogis (which are called varenyky in Ukrainian), borsch, Ukrainian breads and cakes, all connect me with my heritage and my ancestors.

Stephen: Hm. To cook? Mediterranean. Flipping falafels is fun.

~Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?

Stephen: Humanely farmed chicken.

~Favorite vegetable?

Valya: Onions. I use onions in most of my dishes, especially caramelized. It’s such a perfect flavor, alone or layered with other flavors.

Stephen: More beets, please.

~Chef you most admire?

Valya: The chef that had the greatest impact on me growing up was Julia Child. I loved watching her cook on PBS; there was so much joy in it. Hers was the kind of passion I try to apply to all my meals. I also deeply admire Grant Achatz for his incredible perseverance and his fearless creativity. Eating at Alinea was an unforgettable and inspirational experience.

~Food you like the most to eat?

Stephen: At a meal: Indian cuisine — it’s such a perfectly satisfying blend of sweet, salty, savory, and spicy. As a snack: frozen dark chocolate-covered banana slices.

~What is your favorite non-food thing to do?

Valya: Our apartment is full of books. We are definitely a family of readers and music-lovers.

~Who do you most admire in food?

Valya: Melissa Clark. A dear friend and fellow foodie turned me onto Melissa’s videos, and I did a deep dive into her work. I love the way she writes about food, it’s such a pleasure watching her cook, and her “Weeknight Kitchen” podcast is one of my favorite things to listen to on my way home from work.

~Where is your favorite place to eat?

Valya: Honestly, I love to eat at home—ours and other peoples. I appreciate the intimacy and personality. Outside of home dining, we really love our neighborhood Ethiopian restaurant, Ras Dashen. Also high on our list is Band of Bohemia, such wonderful food and cocktails. w

Stephen: As an East Coaster relocated to Chicago, I thank the heavens for Jimmy’s Pizza Cafe, which is the place to get real New York pizza in town.

~How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?

Stephen: None.
Valya: Two. None of food, though.
Stephen: Yet.

I Kant Believe It’s Not Buttermilk Pancakes

Excerpted from Forking Good: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place by Valya Dudycz Lupescu and Stephen H. Segal. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.

“In this realm, IHOP stands for Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes. You don’t really eat these pancakes. It’s more like they eat you.”—Michael, Season 2, Episode 10, “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent”

When Chidi agrees to teach Eleanor about ethics, he turns to Immanuel Kant’s The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. In it, Kant creates a basis for defining what behaviors are ethically acceptable (and, further, what behaviors are ethically required). Kant believed that ethical action was guided by the so-called categorical imperative of rules that produce ethical behavior if they are followed. It was his opinion that immorality is the result of a person holding others to a different standard of behavior than they do for themselves.

In Season 2, Episode 10, Chidi struggles against the obvious need to lie to maintain the Soul Squad’s aliases when they find themselves in the Bad Place. He tells Eleanor that according to Kant, lying is always wrong. He tells her, “Principles aren’t principles when you pick and choose when you’re gonna follow them!” Eleanor declares herself a moral particularist, invoking the philosopher Jonathan Dancy to make the argument that, “You have to choose your actions based on the particular situation.” Eleanor wins that round, and the conflicted Chidi tries to blend in.

The limitations of Kant’s categorical imperative don’t seem to apply in the absurdity of the afterlife. Kant may have argued that the contradiction of standards was immoral, but what happens when you have a completely different set of rules to follow, because you’re literally in hell? Or when you find yourself at . . .

In Season 3, the Soul Squad arrives in the Neutral Zone between Good and Bad, at the Interdimensional Hole of Pancakes—the crossroads of all dimensions, where the pancakes contain interdimensional portals and want to eat you as much as you want to eat them. The Judge augments reality to make this place appear as a regular IHOP, but dangers still exist. As Michael warns the humans, “If you eat anything in this IHOP, you will literally explode.” Chidi missteps and falls into a portal, shrinks, and tumbles through time and space. Before he’s retrieved, he gets a glimpse of the Time Knife, which he describes as “a trillion different realities folding onto each other like thin sheets of metal, forming a single blade.”
For the indecisive deontological philosopher who spent his life in perpetual conflict for being unable to make the simplest of decisions, what does it mean to see so many dimensional possibilities at once? We’re not sure; he seems to snap back into their dimension fairly easily. Fortunately, the glimpse of the fractalesque reality did not launch him into the existential crisis that Jeremy Bearimy did.

So how does this influence our pancake recipe?

Some version of it has been part of the human diet for thousands of years, so it’s fitting that the crossroads of all dimensions is a symbolic house of pancakes. The earliest written reference to a pancake is the tagenia from ancient Greece, mentioned in the writing of the fifth century B.C.E. poets Cratinus and Magnes, and made with flour, olive oil, honey, and milk.

There are versions of pan cakes all over the world: Ethiopian injera and Indonesian serabi, French crêpes and German Pfannkuchen, Chinese bing and Indian cheela— some sweet, some savory, all grain based. In America, the earliest pancakes were likely made with cornmeal or buckwheat and called flapjacks or johnnycakes. Buttermilk pancakes, which are perhaps the most popular iteration in the United States, are believed to have come from Scotland, where they are called drop scones and made with a leavening agent that produces a taller cake than the typical crêpe-like British pancake.

Our vegan version drops the buttermilk and eggs but still captures the delicious fluff and flavor. And they won’t try to eat you.

I Kant Believe It’s Not Buttermilk Pancakes
MAKES: 25–30 silver dollar pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly (use refined for a neutral flavor or unrefined if you want a stronger coconut taste)
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
Vegetable oil or coconut oil to grease the griddle/pan
Powdered sugar and fresh fruit, for topping

• Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
• In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, combine melted coconut oil, milk, and syrup.
• Add dry ingredients to the wet, stirring until just incorporated. Don’t overbeat the batter or the pancakes will be tough.
• Allow batter to sit for 5 minutes while you heat a griddle or a cast-iron skillet on medium-low heat. The pan is ready when a drop of water sizzles upon contact.
• Lightly grease the griddle with vegetable oil or coconut oil.
• Using a large spoon, ladle small portions, about a heaping tablespoon, of batter onto the griddle. (You want the pancakes to be bite-sized.)
• When bubbles form in the batter, use a spatula to flip pancake and cook for another minute or two. Transfer cooked pancakes to the prepared baking sheet and warm in the oven while you cook the remaining batter.
• Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top with the fruit of your choice.

i8tonite with Keto Author Lindsay Boyers & Recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu

With nine books and thousands of articles published across the internet, Lindsay Boyers, CHNC, is a seasoned author. Lindsay’s latest publication, The Everything Keto Diet Meal Prep Cookbook, is a new foray, as she breeches the world of published recipes. The cookbook highlights Lindsay’s stance on health and nutrition, positing a low-carb, ketogenic lifestyle needn’t be complicated, intimidating, or expensive. Indeed, Lindsay’s cookbook demonstrates a ketogenic way of life can be enjoyable and satisfying. Further, readers can make many of these dishes with standard pantry items.

The Everything Keto Meal Prep Cookbook starts out introducing ketogenic basics and food prep, before moving onto recipes. The recipes are detailed, easy to follow, and, true to Lindsay’s promise, uncomplicated! From comforting classics (hello, Chicken Cordon Bleu!), to summer favorites (Key Lime Bars), and delicious twists (Thai Peanut Mason Jar Salad), Lindsay has all cravings covered. All food lovers will enjoy these cleverly crafted, easy, and delightful recipes regardless of carb orientation.

Lindsay Boyers, CHNC is a nutrition consultant with extensive experience in a wide range of dietary therapies including the ketogenic diet. She also specializes in elimination diets, gut health, and identifying food sensitivities in her clients. Lindsay’s articles on nutrition and health have been published on various health and wellness sites, including Healthline.com, Livestrong.com, and JillianMichaels.com. She lives in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers! It’s always a hit and I love using my pressure cooker whenever I get the chance.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Tessemae’s Habanero Ranch Dressing!

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Open-mindedness! I love when someone is willing to try something new.

Greek Buddha Bowl

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
Close-mindedness! It doesn’t bother me if someone doesn’t like something, but it does bother me when someone says they don’t like something before even trying it!

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Beer in the summer, wine in the winter.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Danielle Walker of Against All Grain.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
It’s a tie between my Instant Pot and my French press.

Gouda and Bacon Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Italian and Mexican (even though I’m Portuguese).

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Beef if it’s ground, chicken if it’s not.

Favorite vegetable?

Chef you most admire?
I’m a big fan of Alton Brown.

Food you like the most to eat?
Avocados with Everything Bagel Seasoning sprinkled on top!

Food you dislike the most?
Cottage cheese, for sure.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Does reading count? I’ve always been in introvert, and my favorite thing in the world is reading in a hammock with a blanket.

Zucchini Pizza Bites

Who do you most admire in food?
There are a lot of people, but I’d probably have to choose Dr. Mark Hyman.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
My house! I much prefer cooking to going out to eat. That way I can control the ingredients and make it exactly to my liking.

What is your favorite restaurant?
There’s a sushi restaurant that’s local to me called Yama Zakura, and it is OUT OF THIS WORLD.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I do! I have two. None of them are of food. I was 18 and 19 when I got them, so they’re not the best looking things.

Recipe: Chicken Cordon Bleu with Creamy Lemon Butter Sauce

If you want a richer flavor, you can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts. This will also double the fat content of each serving, as chicken thighs are much higher in fat.

Note: Save Money with Thighs! Chicken thighs don’t get as much love as chicken breasts, but they’re an excellent source of both protein and fat. When cooked, the fat renders from the chicken thigh into the sauce in which it’s being cooked and gives it a richer flavor than chicken breasts. Plus, chicken thighs tend to be cheaper and go on sale more often, especially the bone-in, skin-on varieties. You can use chicken thighs in any recipes that call for chicken breasts. If the recipe calls for skinless, you can save money by buying it with the skin on and then removing before cooking.

6 (4-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices no-sugar-added deli ham
3 tablespoons Paleo flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter, divided
1⁄2 cup keto-friendly white wine
2 shallots, minced
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons lemon juice

  1. Pound chicken with a meat mallet to 1⁄2″ thickness. Place one slice of cheese and ham on each breast and fold chicken over, securing with a toothpick.
  2. Combine Paleo flour with paprika in a medium bowl. Dip each chicken breast in flour mixture and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken breasts and cook 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. While chicken is cooking, combine wine and shallots in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce until 2 tablespoons of liquid remain.
  5. Reduce heat to low and whisk in remaining butter, stirring constantly until butter is incorporated. Remove from heat and whisk in cream and lemon juice.
  6. Pour sauce over chicken and cook 1 more minute. Remove from heat.
  7. Transfer one chicken breast and equal amounts of sauce to each of six separate airtight containers. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat, up to one week.

PER SERVING Calories: 686 | Fat: 55 g | Protein: 39 g | Sodium: 441 mg | Fiber: 2.5 g | Carbohydrates: 6.5 g | Sugar: 1.5 g | Net
Carbohydrates: 4 g

Excerpted from The Keto Diet Meal Prep Cookbook by Lindsay Boyers, CHNC. Copyright © 2019 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, a division of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.

Find Lindsay online:
Website: https://www.lindsaybnutrition.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lindsaythenutritionist
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lindsaythenutritionist/

Keto Kalamazoo has a wanderlust for travel and culinary adventures. In 2017, she ate her way across 29 countries and is itching to set off again! To date, her favorite destination is Budapest, Hungary, where she ate enough sour cherry soup to fill the Danube. A former secret diner, KK tries to stay active by promoting food and culture within her local community. She’s also a professor–but that’s not as fun and exotic as food adventures.

I8tonite: A New York Pizza Experience

Pepperoni Pizza

On a recent work trip to the Big Apple, I found myself working voraciously from one area of the boroughs to another, with only an opportunity to grab a quick slice of pizza for lunch, before hailing an Uber (Who takes cabs?) or jumping on the subway, repeating this action until dinner. I did this for five days. By the end of the trip, exhausted and not feeling well plus I felt bloated from the amounts of consumed dairy and wheat. (Yes. I  realized that milk products including trace amounts of butter and I are no longer friends.)

With this said, the trip provided me a rewarding experience that only Lactaid can cure the next time I venture forth with so much mozzarella. And, although, the New York slice, the version that you dab with a napkin to relieve of extra grease, rolling-up like a New York Times straphanger, is becoming extinct like said transit-rider, it still is served deliciously — and for me, gratefully.

On Quora – the internet answer for everything — someone tried to figure out the number of shops, reckoning it’s anywhere from 3200 to 32500.  Suffice it to say it’s a broad number. They even try and figure out how many per day a pizzaiolo must toss, bake and sell (about 50) to stay in business.

Whatever the case and take this with a grain of well-tossed salt hidden in the folds of rising dough, here are my selections for a few grand pizzas – in today’s Manhattan.

Prince Street Pizza

Formerly known as Ray’s when I lived was a poor New York student in the eighties, I would stumble by for a pepperoni slice after nightclubbing, something to soak up the alcohol. Purchased a decade ago, the existing owners kept the place alive and very much a Soho tradition. Instead of the fold-and-go variety of pies, they execute a Sicilian square loaded with small circles of spicy pepperoni. When baked onto one of the gooey delicacies, they become mini-cups of flavor, holding liquid fat, ready to drip down your chin or shirt. There are only a line and a counter so may do like a New Yorker and eat while walking.

27 Prince Street (between Elizabeth and Mott Streets)

(212) 966 – 4100



Days of cheese and pepperoni

 I came by the Romanesque pizza shop after Uber hightailing from a meeting in Brooklyn to Lexington and 78th only to be thirty minutes early. Rarely do opportunities arise with time on your side, so I sought out a quick place to eat and came across Farinella Pizza and Bakery.  Here the pies are elongated rather than round and the dough stretched rather than tossed. Regardless, it’s really delicious with a crispy under-carriage while it grips onto the selected toppings. The margherita is divine Italian simplicity at it’s best.

1132 Lexington Avenue (between 78th and 79th Streets)

New York, New York, 10075

(212) 327 – 2702


Pepperoni Pizza

Who knew that pizza – an import foodstuff brought over by Italian immigrants – could be so delicious in the hands of a Turk? Hakki Akdeniz worked for many years making $300 per week to learn the tasks of pizzaiolo trade. The outcome is a true slice of New York pizza. Folded in half, paper plate underneath – and a walk to the subway – or hanging out at one of the few tables. Eating the chewy dough and cheese with just that right amount of giving made me feel like all is right with the world – that Andy Warhol, Deelite and Nell’s where still around.

17 Cleveland Place, New York, New York

The end. Go eat.

(P.S. Apologies for the long space between posts. Life happens.)

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Burgering to Coachella & Back: 4 Must Eat Burgers Along California’s 10 Freeway

On the way to see The Weeknd, Beyonce, or Eminem for Coachella? Well, folks get hungry for burgers and food on those four wheels traveling towards Palm Springs.

Along the way, there are dozens of little towns that serve up great eats. Looking for a bit of an adventure? Maybe a little history with that patty? Look no further – travel on and dance the weekends away. P.S. They all have bathrooms.

Apple Pan Hickory Burger. Via Facebook

The Apple Pan, Los Angeles

The Apple Pan has long been considered one of Los Angeles’ oldest eating institutions, if not in the country. Think Musso & Frank’s, The Grill in The Alley, or even the tony Beverly Hills The Polo Lounge. The founder of the Johnny Rockets restaurant chain, Ronn Teitelbaum, used it as the inspiration for his throwback eateries. Upon visiting one of the faux-back diners, customers familiar with both will find paper-wrapped sandwiches and a pristine white-uniformed waitstaff. That’s pretty heady stuff for a small, family-run restaurant which was born when Sony Studios was Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

Last year, the 27-seat restaurant, which only has a wraparound counter framing the kitchen, celebrated 70 years in the same Pico Boulevard spot. Nearly three generations of burgers lovers and pie eaters have eaten at the hard to come by seats. And, yes, today it’s a thirty to forty-minute wait to belly up to that burger bar, but that’s part of the experience.  Tourists and So Cal locals chow down on the Steak and Hickoryburger. After all, the delicious food is only part of understanding the restaurant’s appeal; drenched with Hollywood sightings, you are likely to be eating next to today’s celebs like Nick Jonas, John Lithgow, or a Kardashian.

If you start your journey or end it atop one of the modest swivel chairs –  coming here is a must  – eat the Hickoryburger mentioned above. It’s a patty slathered in a delicious (secret) hickory barbecue sauce, pickles, onions, lettuce, and a toasted bun. Served since 1945, the sauce is as much a mystery as the Mickey D’s “special,” the latter being a somewhat glorified Russian dressing.

It will keep you satiated until you reach the end of the three-hour drive or more drive. (LA traffic, baby!)

Location: 10810 Pico Boulevard (at Westwood Blvd.), Los Angeles 90064
Phone: 310-475-3585
Price: $7.10 plus .50 for Tillamook cheese.

In-N-Out Cheeseburger.

In-n-Out, Baldwin Park

Driving the 10 towards Palm Springs and Coachella, another LA icon pops up in Baldwin Park. In-n-Out is now as well-known as the Golden Arches, and many burger lovers consider it an even better choice. Founded in 1948, the fast-food chain was founded right in this very Baldwin Park spot.

Apart from the zealotry that In-N-Out aficionados have for the burgers, Henry Snyder developed the first drive-thru with a two-way speaker. It was his way of making the name ring true. If you are looking for the “temple” to the burger, go no further, as a replica of the original store is in this spot. Pick up a burger, your In-N-Out towel and swimsuit for the pool in which you will be swimming between Beyonce and Portugal. The man sets.

There is no way one can go to the ultimate music festival without stopping at the quintessential California drive through.

Location: 13850 Francisquito Ave, Baldwin Park, CA 91706
Phone: (800) 786-1000
Price: Double Double $3.45

Pastrami Cheeseburger. Via Facebook

P & G Burgers, Colton

You’re in your car on the 10 freeway between Santa Monica and Coachella with your BFFs. One – the individual with the ketchup stains on their vintage Wonder Woman t-shirt – says, “I’m hungry for a pastrami cheeseburger!” Well, that’s what friends do on the way to Coachella Music Festival. You create an adventure. Someone gets on their phone, seeking out the closest spot to eat a melty, succulent, and juicy pastrami cheeseburger right off the asphalt ribbon.

Located on a corner across from another the golden arches is P & G Burgers. It’s a retro diner in the vein of Johnny Rockets, but with seating from the eighties. But your posse isn’t here to critique the interiors; it’s eating time.

And there you are chowing down on something luscious, while wiping your lips slathered in salty richness, talking about how deliciously awesome the patty with pastrami, melted cheese, and grilled onions is. In between sloppy bites, your gangsta groupies question why Colton, California doesn’t receive attention as a great burger town.

The only thing better is a sweaty Queen Bey in tight lace performing “Formation” as her hair whips about in the hot desert air…although the onion rings come in a close third.

 Location: 190 W Valley Blvd, Colton, CA 92324
Phone: (909) 824-9630
Price: Quarter pound pastrami burger with fries and soft drink, $9.95. Thank us after you’ve danced away the weekend

The Obama

Tony’s, Cathedral City (about a 45-minute drive to Coachella)

 Laid down in a strip mall off of Date Palm, the Cathedral City location of this burger emporium is a “blink and you might miss it” type place. It’s boisterous and noisy with a heavy side of conviviality, served up with beer, wine, and good old-fashioned “sit yourself down and eat.”

Names such as “Shakira Guaka-Guaka” (guacamole and chipotle mayo), “El Jefe” (ghost pepper cheese and jalapenos), or “Rainbow” (avocado, chorizo, lettuce, roasted red pepper) showcase the Latin-infused menu. And the food is right out of an episode of Fieri’s “Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives”. (They have been on the show.)

Yeah, it’s pretty IG-photograph and delicious. If you like to have a POV, order up the “Obama Burger.” He and the Mrs. supposedly bought a place in the tony neighborhood of Thunderbird Heights. They would have the secret service pick them up since they have an entourage to take to dinner. (Kind of like Justin Beiber or Kim Kardashian.) Even if it’s not true, it’s nice to know that the former president enjoys a well-made burger.

Location: 35903 Date Palm Dr., Cathedral City, CA
Phone: (760) 832-7794
Price:  A Classic Burger with Cheese, $7.25

Extra Credit: In 1940,  the “McDonald” brothers moved their food venture to San Bernardino, Calfornia at West 14th and 1398 North E Streets. The restaurant was renamed “McDonald’s Bar-B-Que” and had 25 menu items, mostly barbecue.  Eventually, it became known as just “McDonald’s.”


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Burgering to Coachella & Back: 4 Must Eat Burgers Along California's 10 Freeway




Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Southern California’s love affair with coffee goes way back to earlier land settlers and cattle-drivers. The pioneers would awake to the rising sun while a blazing campfire is percolating that first pot of mud juice. According to True West Magazine (October 2001), “Cowboys were undoubtedly the most devoted group of coffee drinkers in the West. As a rule, they liked it strong, scalding hot, and barefooted (black).”

Almost two centuries later, coffee houses are a fixture on every well-driven, So Cal street – although mostly emblazoned with a green mermaid logo. True to the western American ingenuity way, the Golden State still has some independent shops crafting luscious java jolts in small batches. Coffee connoisseurs in So Cal have a myriad of baristas fashioning joe in unique ways. Here are some of our favorites, from Palm Springs to Orange County and into Los Angeles. With a full tank of gas and a thermos of rocket juice as fuel, high-octane lovers can make a road trip visiting them in a single day. Go get your jitter on!

Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Portola Coffee Lab (Costa Mesa, Orange County)

Found in an Orange County hipster strip mall called OC Mix in Costa Mesa (in the same place as famed Taco Maria), Portola rose to prominence when the coffee industry’s major publication, Roaster Magazine, honored the caffeine maker with its 2015 “Roaster of the Year.” While already beloved by locals, the award catapulted the four-year-old shop into a nationally known bean-lover mecca. Noted for their lack of syrups and additives while using only mocha and milk for additional flavors, the single store has branched to six locations, all within Orange County. Furthermore, they use three distinct brewing methods to get to the only-in-OC taste: a manual pour-over, a siphon, and the trifecta (a combination of the siphon, pour-over, and French press). For an espresso made from a single origin bean, it’s a one-shot deal with a one-of-a-kind machine. Be prepared to stand in line for your cuppa, but It’s good to the last drop.

Rose and Cardamom Latte at Portola.Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Portola. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

LAMill Coffee (Silver Lake, Los Angeles County)

When LA Mill first opened a decade ago, there was nothing quite like the coffee roaster and maker. For one, it cemented Silver Lake as a destination for good eats. Menu was crafted by Chef Michael Cimarusti of Providence fame, in conjunction with the LA Mill owner Craig Min. The interiors designed were commissioned by their next-door neighbor by Silverlake decorator, Rubbish Interiors. It personified early hipster-hood. And there still is nothing quite like it, as far as coffee shops go. Coffee may be the thing to try, but you’re spending your time here because, well, the grub isn’t just an afterthought. It’s a reason to eat. Coffee is made four different ways, and then there is the $11,000-dollar espresso machine. That’s almost as much as your electric Smart Car.

Outside LA Mill. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip LA Mill. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Koffi (Palm Springs, Riverside County)

For those who have traveled to the Palm Springs area for two decades, Koffi is as much a destination for coffee as is tramway travel to the top of the San Jacinto mountains. The flagship spot located as drivers enter the resort town is a welcome relief. Although the line winds around the counter, it moves quickly, giving the legs movement after an hour and half driving from LA or San Francisco – which can clock in at five to seven hours depending on traffic. What started off with only one roastery has clovered into three locations, with the original, a Rancho Mirage location, and another mid-century outpost on the edge of Cathedral City. Stopping at Koffi and partaking of their java is as important as a warm desert pool on a chilly night or a hike into Joshua Tree.

Koffi and Cake. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip Koffi. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Alfred (West Hollywood, Los Angeles County)

Most coffee lovers would bypass Alfred, as they serve the yummy but ubiquitous Stumptown beans. Alfred, though, with its two chic shops – located just two blocks from each other – is unique without the coffee roastery…and is why it’s on this list. Made in West Hollywood, the liquid energy is chock-full of L.A.’s pretty people, tourists checking out the nearby luxury shopping, and a mélange of neighborhood folks. Matter of fact, if you felt the subway rumble or heard car horns slamming, one might feel they were in New York or Paris. Yes, it’s that cosmopolitan. Yes, it’s that fashionable. And yes, it’s as much a part of the sartorial coffee scene as City of Light’s Les Deux Magot or Manhattan’s Balthazar. If you happen to be in Japan, Alfred lovers can find two Tokyo outposts – making it even more tres, tres chic. Plus, Stumptown, a Portland roastery, is nothing to sniff at – no matter where you are.

Cakes at Aroma. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip Alfred Coffee and Donuts. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip

Aroma Caffe (Studio City, Los Angeles County)

Another mainstay of the entertainment set is Aroma Café on Studio City’s treelined Tujunga. Aroma, which started as a small house and grew into a house with a garden, patio, backyard, and sidewalk café, has served up frothy cappuccinos, bracing espressos, and sipping lattes for 20 years. That’s a long time for a television series (only The Simpsons can beat that) and a restaurant. While delicious java juices and herbal teas can be imbibed on site, the coffee house is a hybrid of a one-time java house which morphed into a full-blown restaurant. Mud-drinkers can fulfill their need for high-octane lattes while filling up on fortifying salads, crusty paninis, and savory egg dishes throughout the day. If in the Los Feliz area, the independent coffee and eatery has another tree-lined outpost on Hillhurst, serving up a twinned menu for the artistic side of the hill.

Cakes at Aroma. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip Aroma Coffee and Tea. Top 5 So Cal Coffee Shops: A Coffee Klatching, Caffeinated Road Trip


– The End. Go Drink. –

2017 Best Restaurant Dishes in Southern California

As the end of 2017 draws to a close, one of my favorite novel quotes comes to mind. It’s from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The legendary character says to his friend Nick Caraway, “I don’t want you to get the wrong idea of me from all these stories you hear.” Of course, Gatsby hides behind sordid tales masking his true intentions. As a man of incredible wealth, how he came by money is dubious until the end of the book, when it is revealed that he is just a typical criminal, albeit a rich one. His cohort, Caraway is a memoirist in this context, besotted by the novel’s central character until the lies of luxury and excess become stripped away. In many ways, the allegorical Fitzgerald masterpiece is prescient today, even in our food world, as real stories of harassment come bounding out of the kitchen doors. None of this is new; there have always been hidden agendas among those that want power, whether behind a stove or a desk.

While the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN kept me up at night, I went looking for comfort in the foods that I ate this year. I wasn’t seeking hype or multi-million dollar restaurants, but honest-to-goodness eats that were democratically attainable. I desired to eat comforting ingredients showcasing the diversity of the United States – right here in Southern California. Gratefully, I think I found it without trying too hard.

In no particular order, they are:

Chori-Man’s Breakfast Burrito (San Pedro)

I discovered Humberto Raygoza and his homemade chorizo while working with Brouwerij West, the famed craft beer brewery in San Pedro. He was a regular at the spot, cooking up his artisan chorizo under a tent with a portable flat-top. From him, I learned that nearly every Mexican state makes a different version of chorizo, a spicy sausage mixture. It even came in different colors, such as green, red, and brown. Statesiders typically find the “rojo” version, but when in Mexico, seek out the others – or head to Chori-Man in San Pedro who opened a storefront/ eatery in the summer. Food Gal Carolyn Jung once said to me, “A burrito can be a thing of beauty.” Raygoza’s are the Mona Lisas.

The Chori-Man
2309 S. Alma St.
San Pedro, CA

Chori Man Breakfast Burrito. 2017 Best Restaurant Dishes in Southern California

Tony’s Burgers, The Obama Burger (Cathedral City):

According to the waiter at the decidedly unstuffy restaurant tucked into a strip mall on Date Palm Drive, the Secret Service would come in to order this messy but incredibly delicious and satisfying burger every time the President was in town. Made of almost a 3/4 pound of ground beef served with crispy bacon, goat cheese, grilled onions, and garlic aioli on a cloud-like bun, the former President was getting his tastes on with this enjoyably messy monstrosity. If the Obama burger isn’t your favorite, then try one of the other 39 types of burgers on the menu. Order up a side of hand-cut fries too, thank you very much – get the large to share amongst your dining companions.

Tony’s Burgers
35903 Date Palm Dr.
Cathedral City, CA

Obama Burger at Tony's Burgers. 2017 Best Restaurant Dishes in Southern California

Jardineros Taco at Taco Maria (Costa Mesa)

What else can I mention about the upscale Cal-Mex food experience that Food & Wine Magazine or Jonathan Gold, the masterful food critic at the LA Times, hasn’t? That it’s a glorious dining experience? Foodophiles can’t miss eating here? Out the six or so times I’ve dined here — and not all in 2017 — I keep coming back to the jardineros taco. It’s not cheap at $14 for mostly three or four bites, but it’s perfect, and memorable, a combination of flavors in an Orange County urban-setting. With the picture-perfect blue masa tortilla, smoky mushroom “chorizo,” some heft added by papas, topped off with molten cheese (or queso fundido) and some micro-greens, I feel like I’ve eaten one of the best Mexican foods ever created in California.

Taco Maria
3313 Hyland Avenue, Ste. C21
Costa Mesa, CA

Jardineros Tacos at Taco Maria. 2017 Best Restaurant Dishes in Southern California

Tropicale Café’s Tomahawk Pork Chop with Cranberry-Pear Chutney (Palm Springs)

In the early 2000s, Los Angeles was graced with Chef Scooter Kanfer-Cartmill’s homey confections of lobster mac and cheese and animal cookies served with a shot of milk at her Larchmont restaurant called The House. After closing the doors, she went on her way to a couple of other LA stints before winding her way to Palm Springs. In the desert community, Kanfer-Cartmill has hit her stride, where she has been directing the kitchen with generous portions infused with tropical themed flavors. Hence, the mighty pork chop, butchered from a massive animal, gets rubbed in savory herbs and garlic and then pan roasted. The dish comes served with a sweet and sour chunky sauce with a mild hint of heat. It is worth a Los Angeles drive to the desert every single time you want pork.

Tropicale Café
330 E. Amado Road
Palm Springs, CA

Tropicale Café’s Tomahawk Pork Chop with Cranberry-Pear Chutney (Palm Springs). 2017 Best Restaurant Dishes in Southern California

Irenia’s Pancit (Santa Ana)

As a half Pinoy and half Caucasian American, I only have good memories of my dad and his family when we ate around a dinner table. While the memories of living with him are not fond, we ate incredibly well. So when I came to eat at Irenia’s, I had to leave my baggage at the door and go in as someone who was eating Filipino food for the first time. I’m glad I did, because Chef Ryan Garlitos created something special at the restaurant he named after his grandmother. Most of the dishes are not traditional, but something ethereal, combining his Pinoy cooking experience with those that he acquired at a variety of stints, including Taco Maria. It’s not the noodle dish I remember, but something different and more delicious. Although there are nearly four dozen versions of the Filipino dish, each with different ingredients but always some form of noodle. Garlito’s pancit bihon is all his own making. Simple, mouthwatering, and memorable. Topped with a soft-boiled egg and carrots and assorted vegetables, it’s worth going to Santa Ana and carb-loading.

400 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA

Pancit. 2017 Best Restaurant Dishes in Southern California



i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea

Get ready, readers! Cheese Tea is a new and interesting drink…boba with a twist! Have you tried it yet? What do you think?

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese TeaJenny Zheng, 25, is the Founder of Little Fluffy Head Cafe, one of the first cheese tea boba shops in Los Angeles of its kind. She graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a Master’s degree in Bioengineering in 2016. While on a trip to Asia before graduation, she stumbled upon the latest millennials craze: cheese tea. Being a big fan of cheese, she obsessed on bringing the concept to the U.S.. So upon graduation, instead of going a traditional route with her degree, Zheng decided to spend the time to develop her own version of creamy cheese tea and opened her very first cafe in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles in the summer of 2017. Right now, she is fully dedicated to running the cafe to provide her customers the highest-quality and authentic cheese tea.

Find her online at https://www.instagram.com/littlefluffyhead/

Cheese Tea from Little Fluffy Head Cafe, LA. From i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
My mom used to make me a tomato noodle soup every morning when I was younger, utimately it has become my favorite Asian comfort food I like to cook at home. It reminds me of my family.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Different kinds of cheese to pair with wine

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
One characteristic I look for in a person is the ability to criticize or the ability to question. Especially if I am going to eat with this person, I want the dinner table conversation to be as meaningful as possible, talking about things that we could be better at.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Definitely wine!

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese TeaYour favorite cookbook author?
I don’t have one yet. At this moment, I spend most of my foodie time searching for great restaurants to eat at, rather than a good cookbook to teach myself how to cook.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
Hand mixer

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
East Asian cuisine

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?

Favorite vegetable or fruit?

Chef you most admire?
A sushi chef by the name of Kazunori Nozawa

Food you like the most to eat?
Squid ink pasta with lobster sauce. So yummy!

Food you dislike the most?
Anything with mushroom. My mom made me eat a lot of mushrooms when I was little, and I am mentally afraid of mushrooms now.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?

Who do you most admire in food?
My mom. She could make you a platter of seafood like the ones you see at high end restaurants.

Where is your favorite place to eat? What is your favorite restaurant?
Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar inside the Grove in Los Angeles. Great atmosphere and fresh sushi.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I have two tattoos. I got them before I turned into a foodie, so sadly none of them were related to food.

Recipe: Jenny’s version of cheese tea

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea

1. Prepare:
9 teaspoon of whipping cream
3 teaspoon of milk
0.5 oz of cream cheese
a pinch of salt and sugar

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea

2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whip together using a hand mixer until the texture is thick.

i8tonite with LA Cheese Tea Entrepreneur Jenny Zheng & Recipe for Cheese Tea


3. Brew a cup of tea

4. Sugar to taste

5. Add ice to cool down the tea

6. Layer the cream on top of the tea


– The End. Go Eat. –


i8tonite: One New York Woman’s Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Gluten-Free to Industry: Allie Luckman Overcame Food Allergies for Her Family and Found a Calling

Allison Wolin Luckman. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery“Do you mind if we chat while I’m driving?” starts CEO and owner of Allie’s GF Goodies, Allison Luckman. “I couldn’t find allergen-free gumdrops, so I’m on my way to the store to buy the ingredients to make them.” With that as an intriguing conversation starter, how could one not want to talk to her via Bluetooth? The Long Island, New York-based Luckman, like many of today’s mothers, found that she had genetically passed her many food allergies onto her kids. Therefore, she started baking for them to make sure her kids could eat baked treats just like their friends – without feeling left out of any celebration.

Black and White cookie. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Starting with a hobby crafting cakes and muffins for tiny tots birthdays and celebrations in 2012, Luckman found the flowering enterprise grew into a bakery. The certified gluten-free and qualified kosher shop concentrates on baked goods free of potential allergens such as dairy, egg, soy, gluten, coconut, peanuts, tree nuts, or sesame. Hence, most of the products are also suitable for vegans. As her business grew, Luckman developed a following among those in the entertainment business. Her clients have included rapper Snoop Dog and hip-hop impresario Steve Lobel, as well as having been featured on A & E’s Married at First Sight and on an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker.

Allison Wolin Luckman. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning BakeryAlmost two years ago, Luckman found a growing need to serve the gentile and Jewish communities by turning her baking business into a complete kosher pareve (dairy-free) enterprise. “I was getting more calls to omit eggs and milk products, so we decided to make a go. Our business gets supported by the many rabbis recommending our goods,” Luckman comments.

When asked what she finds the hardest to do, she doesn’t pause. “Finding good bakers. If they have been working for as a baker for a while, they don’t understand how to work with my recipes that I have personally developed, sometimes working on them for weeks, if not months. When someone fresh comes in, I can train them to work with the types of flours we use. It’s a specific process particular to our products.”

Luckily, those with allergies can now have some of the best in award-winning baked goods (TasteTV’s “Healthy Gourmet Snacks of the Year Awards” and ““People’s Choice Award for Most Innovative New Product” at the International Food Service & Restaurant Show) in the world including bagels, black and white cookies, and challah. Seriously, what child or adult could go through life without devouring a bagel and a smear? They won’t have to go without, due to Allie Luckman and her GF Goodies. #nochildleftout.

Bagels. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Allie GF Goodies are available online and can be shipped throughout the U.S. Follow on Facebook, website: www.alliegfg.com, or by calling (516) 216 – 1719.

Allie's GF Goodies. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I love to make either a full roasted turkey or chicken. My family loves it, giving them the feeling of comfort. Along the same lines I love to make them traditional chicken soup, and they have always loved mine the best.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
In my fridge at home, we have freshly sliced turkey breast, a variety of cheeses, and kosher pickles, both half sour and garlic dill.

Mandelbread (Jewish Biscotti). From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I enjoy eating with people who enjoy and appreciate good food.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
I hate eating with people with bad table manners.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
I am definitely a wine person.

Your favorite cookbook author?
My favorite cookbook author has always been Mark Bittman.

Buddies. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Your favorite kitchen or bar tool?
I have three favorites in the kitchen. Every baker/ chef needs a whisk, a KitchenAid stand mixer, and a food processor.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I like to cook all types of cuisine as long as there is flavor, room for personal flair, and not too spicy (although my husband will eat as spicy as I give him)!

Beef, chicken, pork, seafood, or tofu?
I’m either a chicken or beef person. Never tofu.

Favorite vegetable?
I love asparagus and broccoli, although I’m not personally allowed many vegetables.

Chef or culinary person you most admire?
I admire Florian Bellinger, the pastry chef.

Hamantaschen. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Food you dislike the most?
I truly dislike mushrooms. I loathe the texture. However, I don’t mind the flavor in a sauce or soup.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
My favorite nonfood thing to do, aside from catching up on sleep, is spending time with my husband and grown children, either watching television or traveling.

Whom do you most admire in food?
I admire Ron Ben Israel for his cake business that he’s created.

Where is your favorite place to eat/ drink?
I live on Long Island. My local faves are 388 Restaurant, where they make excellent family style Italian food. They carry and use my products, and are hyper vigilant about my celiac disease so that I can eat safely. I have always been a Peter Luger’s fan—like every New Yorker. And my go-to in Manhattan these days is Felidia, where they take celiac disease very seriously.

Crumb cake. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I do not have a tattoo, nor will I ever. I’ve had so many surgeries that I’m marked up enough.

Recipe: Allie’s Banana Bread

Recipe: Allie's Banana Bread. From i8tonite: One New York Woman's Food Allergies Became an Award-Winning Bakery

2 c Allie’s flour
3/4 c sugar
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 t salt
1/2 c unsalted butter or Earth Balance, softened
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1/3 T lowfat or hemp milk
1/4 c chocolate chips or blueberries (optional)

• Preheat oven to 350.
• In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar
• Beat eggs in separate bowl and add butter/sugar to the mixture. Then add bananas, milk, and vanilla until well blended.
• In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Then add to the banana mixture until fully blended.
• Add chocolate chips or blueberries, if desired.
• Pour into greased pan and bake 50-60 minutes for loaf.



– The End. Go Eat. –

The i8tonite 2017 Gift Guide

It’s that time of the year to start thinking about gift-giving. At i8tonite, we are all about the kitchen. Instead of giving a general blanket list of ideas, we thought about fun cookery suggestions for different types of folks on that holiday list. Here’s our gift guide:

The Culinaire

This person has pretty much everything as it relates to cooking. Give the gift around “decolonization,” its cooking knowledge using indigenous plants and meats associated with the Native Americans or the First Nation, as known in Canada, and their diet. Our suggestion is simple and inexpensive: the three sisters, a combination of corn, bean and squash which is the bedrock of many tribes, specifically those in the Southwest. Sow True Seed has a gift collection of the trio. $6.95 plus shipping and handling.

The Non-Cook

In every group of friends, there is one that can’t boil water. We make them a designated bartender. West Elm has a very chic set of bar tools. $63.00.

The i8tonite 2017 Gift Guide

The Person that Wants to Cook, but Complains They Can’t Because They Don’t Have Time

This busy bee has one of those all-important jobs like being an entertainment publicist, a life-coach, or an event planner. You know the type, they are always working on someone else’s life and they don’t have time for themselves. We recommend D’Artagnan Food Lover’s Gourmet Gift Basket. It can work two-fold: as dinner with leftovers, or dinner plus a guest. Costco, $99.99

The i8tonite 2017 Gift Guide

The Vegan or Vegetarian

Most likely, this individual is a vegetarian that will order the salmon special at a newly opened restaurant. It’s also easier just to go vegan with a gift basket. Pangea, the online, non-meat food store has the perfect one which comes with a bumper sticker, which says “Go Vegan!”. It will look perfect on their BMW or Mercedes.

The i8tonite 2017 Gift Guide

The Fitness Fanatic

Those who are really into fitness – bless their hearts – love to go on and on about burning calories. Eating with them consists of a salad and maybe a protein like fish – hold the butter or oil. However, occasionally after a HIIT class or a de-stress yoga session where they have perfected their sun salutations, expect some form of a juice cleanse splurge. Skip eating with them unless they are cooking.

And…Merry Christmas, Joyous Hanukkah, Jolly Kwanzaa, and Happy Holidays!

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i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake RecipeSimon Thibault is a Halifax-based journalist and radio producer whose work focuses on food. His written work has been featured in The Globe and Mail and East Coast Living. He has contributed to CBC Radio, and The Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy podcast. He was also a judge for the 2015 James Beard Foundation’s Cookbook Awards.

Thibault’s new book, Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, is a fantastic read – and resource. This expertly written and beautifully produced new title is part cookbook and part history guide exploring the culinary legacy of Canada’s Acadian Diaspora located within the eastern Maritime region. We don’t know enough about Acadian history and food – and I am glad to have the opportunity to learn more, in this book.


i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake RecipeAcadian food is humble, homey, and comforting, which is what inspired Thibault to highlight the cuisine. It is made with love and devotion from a larder that is small but mighty, and holds history within itself. Each recipe is adapted from Thibault’s own family collection or from various women’s auxiliaries within the region – the result is a cookbook of extraordinary value and uniqueness.


Tip: Make the apple pie (it was the first thing I made from the book!). It’s incredible.

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I think readers of cookbooks falsely imagine that the authors cook nothing but the food they extoll in their books. I did do so when I was recipe testing. I think I ate more lard and molasses than one perhaps should on a regular basis while living a semi-sedentary lifestyle. But I tend to cook, for lack of a better term, Pan-Asian food at home. I’m lucky that I know farmers here in Nova Scotia who grow a lot of northern Chinese/Korean/Japanese vegetables. So I often will cook extra rice in a rice cooker while I am doing other things, and then will cook the vegetables à la minute. I usually top things off with an egg or two.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Eggs. Always. At least a carton and a half. That way the older eggs can be used for boiling, the fresh ones for poaching and frying. Salted onions, which is a condiment from my book. It lends a nice salty/umami kick to soups.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
For them to chide me when I say, “I screwed this up, this could be better,” when realistically, they are right. it’s usually quite good. I just always have this platonic ideal of a dish in my head, and it doesn’t always happen. But the other person is happy that someone has cooked for them. And cooking for another is something I love to do.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
If I am in a restaurant, if they are dismissive of staff. As someone who has worked the front of house in various places and times in my life, I find that to be especially heinous.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
If I am at home, amaro. I am learning to embrace the bitter. And all I need is an ice cube. If I am in a bar where I can see what’s behind the bar in terms of booze, I tend to go for a cocktail.

Your favorite cookbook author?
I have to say Naomi Duguid. She wrote the foreword to my book, Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, but the books that she wrote with her former partner, Jefferey Alford, taught me how to cook. I am still very grateful that I have gotten to know her. I even cooked an apple cake from her book, Home Baking, today.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
A food mill. Apple sauce is magical, and the best whipped/mashed potatoes you’ve ever eaten. And they’re very inexpensive.

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Chinese. Grace Young’s “The Breath Of A Wok” was the beginning of my understanding of how chinese food works from the act of cooking.

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Grass-fed beef, that has been well-reared. Preferably something like a flank, or a hanger steak.

Favorite vegetable?
Chinese long beans. The season is short, and you can cook them in a minute or two, or make a variation on the Vietnamese Som Tam, or green papaya salad. Just substitute the long beans cut into pieces and flattened with the side of a knife.

Chef you most admire?
The people who work at America’s Test Kitchen, behind the scenes. They teach so many people to feel comfortable in kitchens, and answer all the questions you may have when creating a recipe. I admire any chef who thinks it’s important to give people agency in a kitchen.

Food you like the most to eat?
Anything made with flour. I live for carbohydrates, whether sweet or savoury.

Food you dislike the most?
Although I love Japanese food in so many forms, and I like fermented foods, I can’t wrap my brain around natto. It’s fermented soybeans that have long white mucilaginous tendrils when you pull it apart. I can’t.

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
I can’t stop reading about food. I have a (bad? good?) cookbook habit. I went to Kitchen Arts and Letters in New York City, and walked out $700 poorer. And I practiced restraint in doing so.

Who do you most admire in food?

Where is your favorite place to eat?
An apple, in my parent’s orchard.

What is your favorite restaurant?
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I live, there is a wonderful spot called The Highwayman. Small plates, Basque-inspired cuisine. In New York, I have a love for Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune. Every. Little. Thing. Is. Thought. Out. From the amount of servers on staff, to the wine list, to the price point, to the friendliness of staff. I went there with my friend Sofia, who is a native New Yorker, and she and I ate like kings and queens.

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
I don’t actually, though I can see why people would assume. If I did, it would probably be of fruit that grows in my parent’s orchard. Peaches for my sister, who passed away and loved them. Apples for my parents, who taught me the value of work. Blueberries for my nieces, who love picking them. And I would be a quince.

Molasses Cake Recipe

i8tonite with Pantry and Palate Author Simon Thibault & Molasses Cake Recipe

Excerpted from Pantry and Palate by Simon Thibault © 2017, Text by Simon Thibault. ©2017, Photographs by Noah Fecks. All rights reserved. Published by Nimbus Publishing

2 cups molasses
1 cup lard or shortening
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (optional)

• Preheat your oven to 375˚F.
• Grease a 10×10-inch cake pan, and then dust generously with flour. Alternatively, add greased and floured parchment paper and place into cake pan.
• Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, fold the flour and lard
together on low speed until completely combined, about 4–5 minutes.
• Add the molasses, cinnamon, fresh ginger (if using), and allspice, and mix on low. Make sure to occasionally stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure all the molasses, lard, and seasonings are blended.
• Add the baking soda and salt, then the milk to the batter, and stir until well incorporated.
• Pour the batter into the pan, and place into the oven.
• Bake for 50 minutes, or until the cake has receded from the edges of the pan and a toothpick placed in the centre comes out clean. Depending on the size of your pan, it may take a bit more or less time. Just keep checking until it comes out nice and clean.
• Leave cake in pan for about 20 minutes, and then invert onto a rack.

Serve on its own, or as a dessert with Maple Whipped Cream (page
176), Easy Caramel Sauce (page 177), or Brown Sugar Sauce (page 202).

– The End. Go Eat. –