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Food & Drink

Buvette Mousse au Chocolat Recipe

by Grace Bonney

Chocolate Mousse from The Buvette Cookbook
As we get ready to pack up and head out for the holidays, I wanted to share something special related to one of the happiest days of my life. Last November, Julia and I got married in a friend’s backyard. Afterward, our families walked together to enjoy what was one of the most delicious – and meaningful – meals at the back table of Buvette in the West Village. Buvette – and chef Jody Williams – is one of the most beloved restaurants in New York City. A favorite of writers, artists, foodies and even Martha herself, Buvette is open practically around the clock, serving delicious food made from one of the tiniest kitchens I’ve ever seen. Every spare inch of Buvette’s 1,000 square feet is used wisely. Tiny plates are stacked high on marble shelves, waitlists are written directly on the door frame and espresso machines behind the bar steam up eggs for breakfast orders. Any space not used for displays of decadent food is decorated with cherished vintage pieces that Jody collects during her travels and from antique fairs. In short, it’s one of my favorite places in the world.

Julia+Grace_lvolo_0714
We chose to have our wedding dinner at the back table of Buvette for all of the reasons above, but mainly because Jody is someone who means a lot to Julia – and now to me, too. Julia worked on the Buvette cookbook and the recipes from this very special cookbook are near and dear to my heart. But none quite as dear as the recipe for Jody’s Mousse au Chocolat. If you think you’ve had chocolate mousse before, get ready to rediscover just how rich, decadent and transformative it can be. This is, without a doubt, the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever eaten. We love it so much it was served up as our dessert course for our wedding dinner. The greatest compliment it could ever receive was when Julia’s grandmother, who is vigilant about healthy eating, requested that the mousse be placed directly in front of her.

I’m so happy to share the recipe here today and to give away a copy of Jody’s wonderful book, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food. All you have to do to be eligible to win a copy is leave a comment below answering the following question: What is your most powerful food memory? One of mine will always be this chocolate mousse and I’m so excited to hear all of yours. After the holiday we’ll choose one lucky winner to receive a copy. xo, grace

UPDATE: THE COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED

Cover image_Buvette

Recipe from BUVETTE by Jody Williams. Copyright (c) 2014 by Jody Williams. Used with permission by Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved. Photography by Gentl & Hyers.

Mousse au Chocolat
[Serves 4 to 6]

Ingredients:
-12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
-½ pound (8 ounces) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
-1 tablespoon water
-3 large eggs, separated, plus an additional egg white
-Pinch coarse salt
-2 teaspoons superfine sugar
-Crème fraîche or lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Directions:

1. Put the butter and chocolate in a stainless-steel bowl along with the spoonful of water and set over a small pot of barely simmering water. Stir until completely melted.

2. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool slightly.

3. Whisk the 3 egg yolks together in a large mixing bowl with the salt. Set aside.

4. Meanwhile, place the 4 egg whites in a large mixing bowl, or into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip. Add the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

5. Whisk the yolks, one-third at a time, into the chocolate mixture, making sure each addition is completely combined before adding the next. Don’t be tempted to add the egg yolks all at once—adding it in batches will help regulate the temperature of the egg yolks and keep them smooth and uniform.

6. Next, carefully fold the stiff egg whites into the chocolate mixture, being as gentle and careful as possible so as not to lose any of the volume you have worked so hard to create in the egg whites. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in the refrigerator until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days in advance.

7. Scoop the mousse, which will have become a striking combination of fluffy and dense, into serving bowls and serve with creme fraiche or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

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Comments

  • I remember going on vacation for the first time with my then boyfriend (now husband). We went to a crazy expensive restaurant and had the best time trying different foods and learning about ingredients we had never heard of before. I cherish that moment because it was we explored a new frontier together and that brought us closer.

  • Apple cheddar scones from Smitten Kitchen. My husband made them for me when I was pregnant with our son and having an off day. They will always be my go-to comfort food.

  • my most powerful food memory was my first bite into the Tres Leche donut at the Donut Plant in NYC……unbelievable!!

  • On Christmas Eve afternoon, ever since I was a kid, we would gather in the kitchen to make applesauce for Christmas day. The stickiness of coring and peeling the apples, combined with the sweet and cinnamon smell of the apples cooking down on the stove is still one of my most cherished traditions.

  • I was never a coffee drinker until the semester I spent in Croatia. There I discovered Turkish coffee. Wow.

  • Trying to narrow down my most powerful food memory to one is tough! My mom was (and is) an excellent cook, it was the chief way to feel the love of an otherwise rather chilly woman.
    The memory I will choose is… the liver she would make for me only when I was sick. We would be home alone, the house would be so quiet, I would lay in bed reading or sleeping. Then at lunchtime, I could eat in my room, something never allowed otherwise. I don’t even like liver now, but I remember it being such a treat when I was young. Maybe because I was sick, I didn’t mind the taste so much!

  • My last job used to “ship” me to France, one week, to do some work with our sister company. It was located in Dijon. Once I discovered at Saint-Seine-L’Abbaye a small “auberge campagnarde” with typical regional menu. The place is not particularly typical, but the food! Almost 10 years after I still remember that I quickly get that I was not in a touristic place but in a truly authentic restaurant. When they brought me the entry (pâté de campagne), I thought I had a cut a slice of what was in the plate. The portion was so generous! Then I had “andouillette” (a kind of sausage) in Dijon mustard sauce, with fresh pasta. I’m still drooling at that souvenir. A rich texture, perfectly cook (you can easily overcook them so they dry, or get them oily…). Then, as I was undecided about having white cheese with cream, or “le plateau de fromages”. So… they offer me both, no extra charge! Of course I had french wine with that, selected by the woman in charge of the cooking and serving.
    That experience was memorable because this woman and her sister were providing authentic and excellent food quality and taste at a very fair price. Very friendly people, too.
    (the day before, I had the same kind of lunch at the “Hotel de la Poste”, just the next door or so. Although the food and service were okay, it was “just” okay. No more. No wow factor, you know.

    Thanks for the giveaway. And… I’m always very pleased when I get a RSS feed to read from you, guys. Keep your good job !

  • Oooh, thank you for this recipe, I love mousse. My favorite food memory is of my Paw Paw’s homegrown tomatoes served at every meal between May-September, thickly sliced and doused in salt and pepper. He had a decently sized garden plot, but he refused to grow anything but tomatoes, which is apparently an inherited trait! It was the simplest and most delicious part of the meal and though it never required a recipe, I still serve ‘Paw Paw style tomatoes’ when they’re in season.

  • One that I can still remember is the first time my mother steamed live lobster for us. I was in elementary school. I am now 60 years old and lobster is still at the top of my food favorites.

  • My mother would tell me to say it was my first french fry — I was 18 months old and sucked on it for dear life. And I’ve been an addict ever since.

    But since I don’t remember that, it’s the first time I ever had a piece of sashimi. My father said I had to give it three bites before I gave up. And he had ordered me salmon, so I figured it would be like lox.

    The first bite, I gagged.

    The second bite, I was neutral. The wasabi helped.

    The third bite, I had found paradise.

  • The smell, the texture, the taste of southern fried chicken. I no longer eat meat but the smell of it frying in my mother’s home still brings back the memory of my introduction to this delight.

    I was almost 7 years old and living in foster care. We rarely had chicken and the only time I remembered was when it was boiled and stretched to feed many. The smell and the foam on top of the pot, yuck though I was always grateful when it was served. That Christmas I was allowed to visit with potential adoptive parents for a short trial period. One night, FRIED chicken. I was in love. The new parents were pretty cool too! ♥

  • One of my most powerful food memories is actually chocolate mousse related! Growing up, my mom was a bit of a health nut so if we ever had sweets it was carob NOT chocolate — except on my birthdays. She would get me a chocolate mousse cake from the grocery store for my birthdays and it was the most decadent thing I’d ever eaten!

  • My most powerful food memory is also my earliest. I was no more than four or five, and we were in Italy, visiting family just north of Forte dei Marmi, a beach community on Italy’s Tuscan coast. The sun was setting, we could hear the waves crashing in the distance, and we were all gathered on the veranda, eating giant bowls of linguine con cozze (linguine with mussels) in a fresh and very light tomato sauce. I can still taste the tomatoes and the garlic and the brine from the sea. Yes, I was young, and yes, I may be romanticizing it just a touch, but it was magical and really marks the beginning of my love affair with food and how our experiences of it help shape who we are and how we see the world.

    Your wedding photo is beautiful! Thanks for hosting this giveaway — I can’t wait to one day experience Buvette myself!

  • My memory is of the hash browns I had years ago at the Lincoln Diner in Gettysburg, PA. They were everything that hash browns should be: light, brown & crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and not greasy at all…the fact that the waitress had a beehive hairdo and called us “hon” was a bonus! I still dream about them (in color) and have never had anything that comes close to those hash browns since.

  • When i was eight years old visiting my family in Croatia for the summer: sitting at a terrace cafe and my father ordering me ice cream, three little balls in a dish, lemon vanilla & chocolate. I have NEVER since tasted ice cream that good and can still recall the flavours, I am 45 now. I remeber the gentle waiter, too and my fabulous European father but mostly the gorgeous ice cream.

  • My most power food memory takes me back to when I was in elementary school. Whenever I stayed home from school due to a cold my mom would make me a bowl of soup. I didn’t eat soup that frequently so it felt like such a treat to have it.

  • My most powerful food memory is breaking my long term vegan lifestyle with a filthy Arby’s roast beef sandwich when I was pregnant with my first child. I NEEDED that sandwich. And I cried afterward. Oh, pregnancy. :)

  • I think my most powerful food memory is with my late grandmother, in her kitchen, in the sierra foothills of California. I remember the first pie we ever made together. There were hundreds after that but the first one sticks out. We picked the apples off her tree, made the dough, rolled it out. I can hear her instructing me, every step. There were so many after that where we hardly spoke, but I think her words echoed on anyway. It’s funny, even now when fluting the edges, working the lattice I can almost hear her coaching me.

    Funny how those things stick with us. Oh my gosh, that is such a sweet story from your wedding day. I love how much food can tie in to the best memories.

    xoxo
    Katie

  • Being of mediterranean descent, many of my memories are of food! One that is a cherished memory is of my beloved grandmothers cooking. I was a young teenager and she had made the most lavish christmas dinner, course after course, after course, followed by a beautifull Charlotte Russe. It was so pretty with its crowning langues de chats and the mousse was so divine, silky and airy. It was one of those moments that define you, the love of celebrating and good food combined brought me to become a chef. Thank you for reminding me of this forgotten memory, it is the most beautiful christmas gift I could receive! Merry Christmas! xo

  • So many that it’s impossible to choose just one!!

    A favourite though was my first time having butter again after having been a vegan for three years. A friend fried up some mushrooms as a side with dinner, and when I ate one, I exclaimed, “What on Earth did you cook these in?! They are amazing!!”. Just butter. Everything is more delicious with butter.

  • My most powerful food memory would have to be eating Duck à l’orange at an amazing restaurant in Paris when I travelled for the first time overseas about 4 years ago. I’d never had it before and was blown away by the richness of the taste and experience and the flavours that just worked so effortlessly together!

  • A lovely story of this place. I’ve heard wonderful things about it but never had the chance to go. Thank you for sharing. My strongest food memory is sitting in my great grandmother’s strawberry patch with a tiny plastic bowl of sugar in my lap.

  • Oh, what a sweet story. My most potent food memory is the smell of the kitchen when my Lithuanian grandmother would make kugelis, which is a Lithuanian potato casserole. The smell of it baking in the oven that brings me right back to my place at the counter watching her cook!

  • Visiting my ukrainian jewish immigrant grandmother who would always (ALWAYS) make me fried potato slices with sauteed onions, served alongside tea with milk. This combination was mouth heaven for the first 12 yrs of my life.

  • There’s an Italian restaurant in Marina del Rey, CA called C&O Cucina that serves the best ‘bread’ I could easily eat it as my meal. Instead of traditional bread for filling, they serve these garlic bread balls fresh out of the oven that melt in your mouth. I’m not a 100% sure what herbs they use, but it’s drenched in a butter and olive oil mixture with fresh garlic and fresh herbs with just enough sea salt. The biggest problem is they constantly refill your plate and how can you say no?

  • i guess the biggest memory with food/beverage is the lace cookies my grandmother used to bake during the holidays. i have tried to recreate them but they never taste like hers. i was very close with her growing up and miss her terribly.

  • My most powerful food memory is of the chocolate tarte at Dali in Somerville, Massachusetts. My fiance and I went there on our first date and were so giddy with the excitement to be together throughout the meal. However, once we each took a bite of the tarte we were unable to speak because of how decadent it was.

    Every anniversary since we have gone back to remember our first date and celebrate our relationship…and to eat that absurdly delicious and rich dessert!

  • My most powerful food memory would have to be ordering carpaccio in Paris on family vacation as a 6th grader. None of us knew what it was nor had enough French to understand the description. When the food arrived, all I saw was a wee pile of condiments on a immense red plate. It actually took several minutes for any of us to realize that the red color was actually raw beef. I ate every bite.

  • It’s hard to come up with just one powerful food memory. I have so many and what they all seem to share in common is not just an exceptional food item but the experience and people it’s associated with…. I will never forget the fresh raspberries I ate after the birth of our first daughter. My sister-in-law brought them to me and although I didn’t know it until I ate one, they were exactly what I needed and wanted at that fragile, overwhelming, ecstatic time.

  • Eating my Mother’s roast beef on Sunday afternoon and trying to name the performer on the radio with my Father. A very long time ago.

  • One of my best food memories is makibg and eating kieflees (sp) with my grandma every christmas. They were so hard to make she only did it for the holidays, but gave them to just about everyone. I loved my face and fingers covered in powdered sugar. Shr never wrote down the recipe and has since passed, and i miss them so much!

  • When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I would sneak down to the basement and steal of the solid packs of “caramel flavor” out of the caramel instant popcorn, and eat them. Yeah, that’s gross. But when you’ve spent your entire life struggling with your weight, your food memories aren’t always good ones.

  • My most cherished food memory involves standing on a cold, wind blown stretch of rocky beach on Hood Canal in Washington state. My father was carefully choosing small oysters and shucking them with the sturdy knife he always had on hand for our walks in the wild. My two brothers and I lined up like little birds, waiting our turn for the unadorned, briny treats. We ate our fill standing on the beach and then chased seagulls and danced around in the foggy mist. My brothers and I have relived this story with one another over and over for 40 plus years and it always makes us happy.

  • ALL of my favorite food memories can be directly attributed to my grandma, who has a starring role. My grandma taught me to cook from a very young age and her motto was, “You need to learn to cook– not to please a man, but for YOU.” When she was young, that was why you learned, but she wanted me to know that it was about doing something for and empowering myself. My most powerful food memory is being seven years old and pulling up a chair at her butcher block counter, watching her make meatballs. She would explain every step to me as she did it.

  • Making applesauce cake with my mother. From when I was very little (and just about able to measure things out) to when I was in college, the thought of this cake (originally from an island in Maine) brings her spirit right back to me.

  • One of my most powerful food memories is actually fresh rhubarb dipped in white sugar. When I was small, we would pick it straight from my grandmother’s backdoor garden and steal saucers of sugar from the sugar bowl on her kitchen table to dip it in. We would sit on the back lawn and eat it in the sunshine.

  • My most powerful food memory is of my Scottish grandmother’s Christmas shortbread. Every Christmas I make it and with the first bite time and space seemingly compress. It is intense.

  • My Mother’s spaghetti and meatballs – I loved it and always requested it for my birthday dinner.

  • The lobsters my fiancé and I grilled on Fire Island this summer, tasting of the salt air and our first real vacation together.

  • Almost anything chocolate and mousse is right up there. Thanks for posting recipe.

  • Hard to pick just one. The wonderful warm smell of baking bread? (My mom did a lot of baking.) The sight of my grandma, a farmer, wringing a chicken’s neck (one of my first clues about where meat comes from)? The cornichons I fished out of cut-glass serving dishes at my other grandma’s house? The sights, sounds, and smells of our Indian neighbors cooking (back in the the early 70s, when I didn’t yet realize how many cuisines the world has to offer)? A Hass avocado I ate on a Marin hike during my first visit to California, when I was 21 (a long time ago)?

  • My absolute favorite food memory is of Maine blueberries in cream, sprinkled with sugar. Having a bowl of simply blueberries (as you would do with a bowl of cornflakes) felt so decadent to me, being a California girl! When I was around 7, my entire family went to Yosemite for Thanksgiving, and my grandfather treated us all to daily breakfasts. His absolute favorite thing to do was to spoil the grandkids with sweets, and sugar sprinkled berries fit the bill. Now whenever I can get my hands on fresh Maine blueberries and cream, it reminds me of iceskating in Curry Village with grandpa, and being floored by his skating skills. His camel colored sheepskin jacket, jeans and red plaid hat with earflaps, and (I kid you not) spinning like an ice dancer! I cherish the memory of that trip, when I was awakened to the idea that my grandparents had stories to tell.

  • As a little kid, I remember my dad always dunked a peanut butter sandwich into his hot coffee and let me steal a bite. The combo of coffee and peanut butter is still one of my favorites!

  • I have so many from my childhood, and now my children’s, but since my mom died a month ago, I’ve been missing her arroz con pollo, or chicken and rice. I’ll be making it for my family this week…

  • This looks delish, and I’ve definitely flipped through this cookbook every time I’m in a book store! Maybe it’s being home for the holidays, but my biggest food memory is the culmination of family tradition food through growing up. I’m from North Carolina, and I remember BBQ on a weekly basis. Or always eating spaghetti by candle light growing up because when we were young kids, the electricity went out one time when my Mom was serving it so she brought out candle sticks and has done so every time we’ve eaten it since. Or serving sourkraut with our Thanksgiving and Christmas Turkey because my great Grandmother immigrated from Germany. It’s the memories of foods growing up, not a specific meal or time!

  • When I was 13 (25+ years ago) my family went to Switzerland for a holiday. One evening we ate a dessert that included chestnut paste with whipped cream, and for some reason eating this dessert is by far my strongest food memory.

  • My favorite memory of food is my Grandmother’s brown bag apple pie. Not only does it taste amazing but it is beautiful and she was the most amazing woman I have ever known. Additionally she used to let me walk around as a young girl and eat loaves of bread and cucumbers in apple cider vinegar and I was allowed to eat a whole tub of cool whip! Ah, the memories!

  • I think my most powerful food memory is eating spaghetti sauce with bread. This was a common snack for the kids in the family who were too impatient to wait for dinner. The sauce is the sauce made by my grandfather and passed down to each of the kids.

  • My absolute most powerful food memory occurred years ago when I was a freelance floral designer and did quite a bit of traveling and it was Thanksgiving week and I happened to be working on a big project in Washington DC and the friends that I was staying with were certain that I could come with them to their friends large Thanksgiving dinner party- except that the friends who were throwing the large Thanksgiving party said there “wasn’t really any room” and I ended up sitting in front of a TV eating cheese and crackers for my holiday dinner. It was so lonely and embarrassing and I sat there and made a promise to myself that when I had a home of my own and cooked my own holiday meal that I would ALWAYS include that straggler, that extra – and we always have. Those people have no idea what a gift they gave by not including me that year so long ago .

  • My best food memories are the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners we had with our big extended family back in the 70s and 80s when I was a kid. Now everyone has moved away, grown up or passed on and my small immediate family is the one I share these holidays with, which are precious just the same. But back then you could feel the love. We were one big, crazy, happy family and those times will forever be etched in my heart…

  • Thank you for this recipe! It’s saved me from having to find a dessert idea for Christmas day.

    Probably my most powerful food memory is my Polish grandma’s pierogies. She took so much care and effort in preparing things that were devoured in minutes by our large family on Christmas eve. So many good memories tied up with them.

  • Growing up as a Chinese American in the Midwest, my strongest food memory is an amalgam of big dinners at Chinese restaurants in LA, NYC, and Hong Kong while visiting family. The chaos of the big chinese restaurant where waiters are flying about, setting platter after platter on the lazy susan, the head waiter solicitously asking my Grandfather (who had done all the ordering) if we wanted more. Disdaining sea cucumber but liking jelly fish. Teapot lids being placed askew as a signal to waiters to summarily remove an empty pot. Sheepishly asking for a coca-cola. Hoping hoping hoping that a crispy mahogany skinned duck was ordered so I could eat the salty fatty melty crispy skin.

  • The earliest and fondest food memory would be from my childhood in northern California foraging for blackberries and walnuts. The blackberries would be so sweet and I would eat more than I collected with my lips and fingers stained pink. When we would collect the walnuts we’d have this basket full and I loved the sound they made rattling together. When we would get home we had to open them up. I was too small to use the nut cracker properly but for some reason my mom would let me hit some with a mallet. It was so fun and after all the hard work there was always a delicious treat my mom and I would bake together.

  • I have very early memories of pickled beets as a child. They were and are strangely comforting to me. Whenever I smell them, I instantly feel calm and comforted. This past year, I even grew enough beets, in my community garden plot, to pickle my own.

  • My grandmother’s divinity. I have never found any that is as good. Fluffy, sweet little balls of heaven. I always looked forward to the one time of the year when she would make it.

  • Growing up, I knew my mother wasn’t a fancy cook. But she knew how to make simple comfort food. Cheesy casseroles, meatloaf and mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, all the dishes that make a little person’s tummy happy. But when I grew up, the one dish I worked the hardest to replicate was my mom’s chicken soup. The flavor of the broth, the vegetable quantities, the chicken parts, the tiny star-shaped pasta…it all had to be just right. Now I’m the mother, and even though my chicken soup recipe is a staple comfort food dish in my house, it will never taste just like my mom’s. And I think I like it better that way.

  • Making fruit cakes with my Gran months before Christmas. When she passed away early this year, I have found it hard to do baking since then but lately trying to get my baking mojo back as my way of remembering her.

  • My favorite food memory is from my childhood and waking up at Grandma’s house. She was up early making thin Norwegian pancakes or waffles one by one. My sisters and I along with my cousins would run downstairs for breakfast and eat through the stash she had warm in the oven. But she would keep making more until we were full. Pannekaker and waffles are memories of my grandmother’s love.

  • My grandmother, who ran a dairy farm, raised 11 kids and was a full time school teacher was never a fussy cook. Her meals were fresh, abundant and simple. When we visited, which was often, there were farm hands, cousins, Aunt, Uncles and friends crowded in a kitchen that always smelled like love to me. The table was extra long with a church pew on each side to accommodate everyone. It was filled for the mid day meal (called dinner on many farms) with giant bowls of mashed potatoes, a variety of garden vegtables, pot roast, stacks of homemade bread and always a pitcher of milk, scooped straight from the tank in the milk house — cold and rich and oh so delicious! The smells, flavors and sounds of my Grandmother’s bustling farm kitchen are the strongest and most cherished of my childhood memories. Food always tastes best when immersed in a room filled with love.

  • Thank you for sharing this recipe, I cannot wait to try it!

    My most powerful food memory coming to mind is a meal I had with my mom at Balthazar in New York for Thanksgiving dinner. She visited me from Ohio while I was in graduate school. We’re French, so we did not celebrate the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and our entire family is still in France. I had to make a reservation a month ahead of time to get the perfect time for dinner on Thanksgiving day. We re-created a typical French meal, which was simply amazing — the atmosphere felt surreal, the food tasted great and our drinks were delicious! We finished our meal with a chocolate pot de creme, which felt like a rich chocolate mousse. The best part of this meal, is that Thanksgiving that year ended up being my mom’s birthday. We had a great time and my mom was happy.
    Now that I moved back to Ohio, our goal is to continue this tradition of going to Balthazar for Thanksgiving dinner… one day..

  • My grandmother’s beef stew. I’ve been a vegetarian for seventeen years. Her stew (and bacon) are the only things I really miss.

  • I have been to Buvette three times and love it! Last time was when I requested to go for my birthday. Love Buvette!

    Food memory – So many! I’d say making koulourakia with my grandmother. They are simple buttery cookies that my little (at the time) hands could handle rolling out and shaping.
    Just to give you an idea what I am talking about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koulourakia

    The feeling of the dough, the smell of baking cookies and my grandma’s hands. I miss her so much.

  • In college I studied abroad in Ecuador and decided I would eat anything put in front of me there (after years of not eating pork or eggs). For one of my first meals, we had pork chops. I finished mine, but left a fair amount of meat on the bone. My host mother gestured to my plate and said, in Spanish, what I thought was, “you should eat all of that, we like it here.” So, I started to pick at the bone grudgingly with my fingers. She then gave me a look like I was the strangest person on earth and asked what I was doing. Then, she clarified that I should “GIVE THE BONE TO THE DOG; SHE REALLY LIKES IT.” We laughed about that one for YEARS!

  • My most powerful food memory is actually a series of memories. Helping my mother in the kitchen and learning to cook, and learning to love to cook. Cooking is one of my most treasured skills. (My husband agrees with that also..)

  • All of my strongest food memories are from my grandma Pina’s kitchen. Specially the cinnamon cookies that you could always find in a tin jar. Every time I eat cinnamon cookies now it reminds me of her and how much I miss her.

  • The first time my (now) husband and I cooked together we made home made pasta in a tiny student kitchen. Flour was everywhere and the Alfredo sauce was a bit scorched but it was all wonderful.

  • The smell of unagi don immediately transports me to my honeymoon in Tokyo – three years and two kids ago! Merry Christmas everyone.

  • On my very first trip to NYC we are at Babbo and I had lamb chops.. The whoa moment was the mint dust!! The chips were sprinkled with this sweet salty minty dust that married with the sear of the chop so wonderfully!! The fact that they play great music in the dining room was an awesome plus – Merry Christmas ladies, can’t wait to check out the book!!

  • Great Aunt gathering little potatoes & green beans from their massive garden. Taking them in the house, the potatoes smelling like earth and snapping the ends off the beans. Ahhhh. I ca still smell it.

  • My first sous chef experience as a server at an event center…no, I hadn’t worked in the kitchen before that day. The acting chef invited her cousin from Italy to make a specialty dish for an event. He spoke no English but I volunteered to help. Turns out, we didn’t need words…he created the most fragrant Italian meal of homemade Italian sausage, broccoli and rigatoni. It captured my senses of not only taste, but the aroma and feeling he conveyed as he carefully added his fresh herbs and spices, taste testing as he went; me too! I still don’t know what this dish was called, but I know it was heaven!

  • Traditional nyonya chicken curry! I remember it being cooked by my great-grandma, and this family recipe has been passed on till today :)

  • Pouring over cookbooks and magazines with my mom and trying new things together in the kitchen- everytime brings a new favorite flavor or fond memory. One of our favorites recipes is making mocha chocolate icebox cake and enjoying it day after day as it only gets better, if that’s even possible… (Sigh)

  • My first and best food memory is my granny’s “soupe au pistou” (basilic soup, it is a dish from Provence, South of France). It is the best meal in the whole world because it always reminds me of sun lavender and sea.

  • For me, it’s not one moment but the many breakfasts and lunches where my mor mor (grandma) made my siblings and me her Norwegian pancakes. She passed away this summer, and those pancakes will always remind me of my childhood and how she so much wanted to pass down her favorite meals to her grand kids.

  • My favorite food memory: being one of the youngest in the hot Thai kitchen full of female members of my family and tasked with shredding the hard coconut meat that will be then hand-mixed with water to make coconut milk/cream for curry and whatever else grandmas were making that day. At the time I hated that I always got pegged with the dreaded job, but the fond memory that always bring along the smells and noises in that kitchen give me so much comfort now that I live half the world away from them all. Can’t wait to make this delightful dessert this weekend. Thank you for sharing!

  • Home made ice cream on the 4th of July was is a family tradition. One year the ice cream maker broke, resulting in a spoonful of over-salted ice cream – yipes!

  • What a wonderful post–and a lovely giveaway. I hope to see many, many more comments here. My most powerful food memory is not centered around just one food–it’s the memory of growing up in the kitchen with my mom, a super talented (Cordon Bleu calibre) cook. I am (or was, I guess, since I now live in the US) an American expat–I was born in Bonn, West Germany, grew up in Cologne–and food played a very big role in our concept of ourselves as Americans and as global citizens. I spent part of every day in the kitchen with Mom, listening to the American Forces Network or to the Archers on the British Forces Network (Germany was still nominally occupied then) and cooking. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t allowed to crack an egg, measure a cup of flour, or use the hand mixer to cream butter. Every week, my parents hosted 15 to 20 creative professionals (my dad was an opera conductor and composer) for dinner and, as an only kid, I was always allowed to stay up and say hi to all the “uncles” and “aunts.” From the chili and cornbread Mom made for the Fourth to the very French-influenced chopped liver, er, chicken liver pate that always graced our Hanukkah table to the boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, etc. Mom produced seemingly effortlessly for most dinner parties to the mountains of cookies that came out of our kitchen at the holidays to the homemade bread Mom taught me to make at the tender age of four, food has always been part of my most important memories. Today, I am often found in my own kitchen missing my mom and feeding everyone just as she did. Congratulations to Grace and Julia on your first anniversary, and may you make many, many more food memories together. (And sorry for the long comment, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart!)

  • Visiting a friend in New Mexico and eating fresh homemade tortillas right off his grandmother’s comal.

  • I remember the first time my grandmother gave me Brie and crackers when I was little. To this day it is my all time favorite snack.

  • My grandmother made an incredible there layer mousse: dark chocolate as the base layer, milk chocalate and white chocolate on top of it. Not only was it delicious, but it was beautiful.

  • Mjudderah: It’s a lentil dish that I was forced to eat as a child and detest it! But now it’s back in style and I have a recipe that I may try to see whether my taste in food has changed!

  • One of my most favorite food memories is of our entire family making huge breakfast’s for Christmas morning, we put the littles on the counter and gather chairs around for those not yet tall enough and all help to make the tastiest casseroles and biscuits.

  • I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and as an Asian, I didn’t see myself different from any other kid around me; I was raceless. However, it was my musubi (rice ball) that truly set me apart from the other kids who brought lunch either daily or for field trips. I love musubi and didn’t think it odd that no one else around me had one. Such a portable food, neatly packaged and with an infinite number of meat/egg toppings if desired. Yum!

  • Wow! This brings back amazing memories! 31 years ago we also had a chocolate mousse cake complete with chocolate filigree fretwork topper and decoration! My memory is of how difficult it was to find someone to create it and how different, wonderful (and delicious!) it was!!

  • My food memory would be when I had the most amazing butternut squash ravioli at our wedding. We had a buffet style, and I couldn’t help myself from having seconds on it. I am not the only one though, I still get told how much everyone loved it and the horseradish for the beef. Happy holidays.

  • That restaurant and cookbook look extremely special.

    I have two immediate food memories —
    1) The obscene amount of sugar in my grandmother’s iced tea. The spoon could stand in it. I would always ask her if she would like some tea with her sugar.
    2) During a thunderstorm in Brooklyn, my oldest son and I were icing cupcakes. With the thunder and lightning, my toddler son remarked that “God needs a cupcake!”

    Happy holidays, girls.

  • This is a tough one but I would have to say that my most powerful food memory is of my Mom making us rice and beans for dinner when I was a little girl. We didn’t have a lot of money but she put lots of love into that steaming bowl of comforting deliciousness. We’d eat out of these big, blue ceramic bowls with handles and sometimes we’d even have cheese on top. :-) I still have those bowls today and whenever I use one I think of warm, cozy nights with a big bowl of Momma’s rice and beans.

  • The New Jersey tomatoes of my youth, in a tie with the watermelon of my youth, in a tie with the pints of Haagen Dazs I ate nightly all during college decades ago. You can’t get any of them now, because they no longer exist. Cherish Mama Nature who produces your food, and use only top quality ingredients in anything you make. Share the bounty with the people you love! Merry Happy to you and yours!

  • My Portuguese grandmother, teaching me to cook at my Uncles home in LA. Believe it or not, it was rabbit. I was 8 – I think. (For the record – I actually owe all my cooking ability to her). As an aside, Lady Di and Prince Charles were getting married during the lesson. And in between the chopping and stewing I watched the history unfold. *While leaning up agains a taxidermy bear.

  • Ooh that recipe looks amazing. I am definitely going to make it. Though I hate to be one of those annoying people saying that it would be nice if there were metric measurements! I can make do but looking up conversions isn’t always that accurate.
    Anywho – strongest food memory would be the time my mum, bro and I first went back to Romania after having left as a child. My uncle had his wedding and the foo preparations in the village took a whole week and everyone got involved. The local hall was filled with all the ladies young and old preparing the freshly butchered pig that the men had slaughtered out back. We used every part of the animal as is tradition. And then the feast for the wedding was amazing – 7 courses of food – THEN the cake!

  • My first food memory, still strong and makes me smile: fresh from the stove, still-warm vanilla pudding with a dash of cinnamon on top. I was only four years old, but I knew then I wanted to learn to do this cooking thing all by myself. :)

  • A roast turkey and stuffing at Thanksgiving and Christmas! Cornbread stuffing, of course.

  • My granny’s fried cabbage. Thinking of it, bright green, warm, slightly salty from the bacon water she boiled it in, crisped edges from the pan. My toes, warm against the aga range, a triangular cakeslice of cabbage on my plate like a been frittatta. And the taste, like no cabbage before or since, as the recipe died with her. A lesson learned in hindsight to record my family food heritage while I can. Thanks for promoting the memory! Hope that you and Julia have a truly happy and memorable Christmas Grace x

  • So many! I think one that is very strong though I’d never replicate it, is liverwurst and miracle whip wonder bread sandwiches at my grandparents house as a child… Sounds so gross, but its such a warm memory

  • My strongest food memory is of the smell of my Nonna’s speidini cooking on the grill as I enter her house. The grill is in the second, basement kitchen (a necessity in Italian households) and the scent of the tiny meat and herb skewers would drift up throughout the rest of the house. It was heavenly and it brings me back to my childhood every time I make them!

  • For the “day after” my wedding, my mom and baba made a huge meal that included all my favorite Ukrainian foods. It was tons of work and everything was obviously made with lots of love.

  • Mmm, looks yum! My best food memory is of eating fresh watermelon, cut with a pen knife, when traveling around Russia with a friend.

  • One of my most powerful food memories is warm peach upside down cake my mom used to make when I was little. It reminds me of the house that I grew up in.

  • Strawberry pasta sauce! If you hold your nose, you can’t even tell it’s not 100% tomato sauce.

  • The first time I had foie gras… In Paris when I was 15. It was love at first bite … And everlasting to this days

  • My husband and I eloped on Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park one September evening at sunset. We only had his childhood best friend and my son (who was 7) there with us as witnesses. No one in our families had a clue what we were up to. We were married by the town clerk of Bar Harbor Maine and through the planning process I asked her for a suggestion for dinner. Something special to mark the occasion. She told me that her husband was a fisherman and the only place he would eat seafood was a small restaurant on Mount Desert Island called The Burning Tree.
    After our simple, but beautiful ceremony we shared one of the most amazing meals we have ever had at that restaurant. My husband STILL talks about the pecan crusted salmon he had that night. We shared bottles of wine and instead of wedding cake we had a fresh Maine blueberry pie.
    Pure magic. :)

  • Cupping a just harvested August tomato in my tiny hand and biting into it as the juice dripped down my chin. I will always cherish these fruits that my grandmother planted every year and remember her spontaneous dancing in the garden or wherever the spirit moved her. Viva la August tomato!

  • Cooking with my Ukrainian mother in general; realizing that her knowledge is only in her head and I have to cherish it and her for as much as I can.

  • My most vivid food memories are the ones when I tried something new for the first time. My first caesar salad made table side at a restaurant in St Croix; my first creme brûlée; my first tamale made by one of the women who worked in the cafeteria at the school where I teach; my first calamari at a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in Chicago. The first time trying an amazing food is always the best. And of course, my mom’s chocolate mousse served in demitasse cups is delicious!

  • My favorite food moment is decorating a hundred sugar cookies with my dad. We did it every year and it never got old!

  • Potato latkes made by my dad. Nobody makes them better and they will always be a treat that reminds me of family.

  • Growing up, my grandmothers tradition of corned beef and cabbage. The aroma was awesome, and was such a treat on a cold, snowy evening.

  • How fun to try to hone in on my most powerful food memory! My aunt and uncle used to live just across the street from us, and Aunt Jana would entice us over there with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. To this day, I still feel like their house should smell like freshed baked cookies when I walk in. There’s really not much in the world that beats a fresh baked homemade chocolate chip cookie.

  • My strongest food memory is making tapioca pudding from scratch in a grungy apartment kitchen with my first boyfriend. (Now my husband of 15 years!)

  • My best friend of over 20 years had an amazing secret family recipe for a Maltese spaghetti sauce. We lived together for 2 years and she would always make it for me but would never disclose the recipe. The day I moved out she handed me a framed copy of the secret recipe with a note saying “Because you are family!”

  • My mom told me when I was a little girl that I inherited the “Dee affliction”. Meaning that I take after my grandfather, Buddy Dee. My grandfather was passionate about food and loved to cook AND eat! I certainly inherited that trate. I think about my grandpa every time I enjoy a good meal and I thank him for passing on such a wonderful “affliction”.

  • Burnt endive gratin, labored over by my then date, now husband, and promptly forgotten in the oven as we made out in the next room. Charred endive, red wine, and romance…

  • One of my most powerful food memories is my great-grandmother’s spaghetti. It was the best I’ve ever tasted, and the memories of time spent with her and my family only add to the goodness of the memory.

  • Learning to make brioche from my grand-mother while on vacation at her home during the summer. I have her recipe framed in my kitchen :-)

  • The smell of my grandmother “Ita’s” pantry. I have three siblings and when I mentioned this recently, every one of us went “ahhhhh” in unison. It smells so distinct. It smells of love. Of all the amazing meals she prepared from it.

  • The first thing that comes to mind when I think of memorable food experiences is the time when I was studying in Paris and trekked all the way across the city to the boulangerie that was awarded that year’s official prize for best baguette in Paris. All I can say is yes, it was worth it.

  • One of my favorites is eating freshly caught seafood in Venezia with my mom as we traveled throughout the country of Italy. We had many wonderful meals during that trip but that one stands out as particularly delightful.

  • Most of my favourite food memories are somehow rooted in when we needed to be creative in order to create wonderful feasts out of dry goods and what we could find in the tiny villages to which work with African refugees takes us. I arrived in the Congo a firmly salty-food person, able to make Italian-colleague-acceptable pizza dough out of hand-ground flour and perfectly happy to pick the weevils and stones out of rice before attempting biryanis with Indian peacekeepers. I learned to cook just-killed meat slowly to make it tender; the wattage was too low to cook anything quickly, anyway.

    One year, when we discovered a rash of birthdays in January and February, I started to get orders for ever-more fantastic cakes. They didn’t know that I had bombed out of basic cookies and so was fearful of sugar and I didn’t have the heart not to try. So we planned for months, bringing in chocolate by the kilo (thanks to Nairobi duty free Lindt), dried fruit and nuts from R&R trips to the middle east, and butter frozen and transported between bricks of frozen tuna.

    Almost every week for two months I got up early enough to beat the heat and make egg-whites form mountains and begged and borrowed space in medical fridges and shady corners. We made Sachertorte; a fudgy nut cake with wine-poached figs; cheesecake with cherry glaze; carrot cake with whisky icing and, at the request of a friend for the last birthday (apparently intended as a joke), a three layered meringue, chocolate mouse and crème anglaise concoction that still has people talking years later.

    That last ‘soiree qualite’, where we shared the best of our larders and invited our replacements so that they would know that living on the edge of a war could bring joy as well as heartache, has set the tone for future adventures and on-going friendships. It is the building block of food memories yet unmade…

  • Sitting in a local bar built under and between two boulders on beach on Koh Samui, sharing fruit out of plastic bags that the old local men were taking home for the markets… And them laughing as I tried things for the first time… Who needs words when you have the language of food and laughter!

  • My most food memory – 50 years ago in my home after my father died. In the rural South, neighbors take care of their own – and our home was filled with the smell of fried chicken, baked hams, baked macaroni and cheese, and pecan pies coming through the front door on the way to the kitchen.

  • When I was ten, my family traveled to Hungary to visit relatives. There was one very small restaurant near the village my father grew up in outside Budapest. It had the most amazing cream of mushroom soup. It was all I wanted to eat our entire stay. The family who ran the place even opened up early one night to accommodate us. I can still remember the taste very distinctly. Made from scratch: warm, fresh, creamy…..The closest I ever got to getting that taste again was at the Hotel Pulitzer in Amsterdam 15 years ago. Their cream of mushroom soup was pretty amazing, but the soup I had in the little village restaurant in rural Hungary will always be the best thing I have ever tasted.

  • Too many food memories to recount — some during travels — but I have to go back to childhood in Nova Scotia when we’d climb the crab apple trees every summer and eat until our hearts were content. Also, that very first bite of sour cherry pie every year! As for a memorable meal… for my birthdays I’d always ask my mom to make broiled barbecue spare ribs, fluffy rice, and salad. Weird thing for an 8 year-old to ask for, but to this day, it brings me back.

  • Your question stumped me initially as how can I just name one.. There are so many powerful foods memories wrapped up in beautiful memory making moments in my life… Trying pistachio gelato for the first time , biting into the soft nougat of a lemon torranne, anticipating the first bite of homemade pizza with fresh mozzarella and garden tomatoes so lovingly made by grandfather and lastly one of the first dates with my husband..taking me to what he called a southern rite of passage..a hot glazed donut from Crispy Creme Donuts…all sweet, sticky and melt in your mouth delicious. Thanks for the walk down food memory lane ;-).

  • My most powerful food memory is making and eating oliebollen on New years eve and new years day with friends and family.

  • I have many. Probably the first awakening experiences of how food could be so good and interesting. My grandpa was a chef and when I was seven he taught me how to cut vegetables nicely for a salad. I’m 37 now and remember that moment with a lot of clarity.

  • Lately some of my strongest memories are (as they should be!) from work – I’m one month in to my first job on the line of a downtown New York restaurant. But among my favorite memories are the recollections of my dad grilling ribs back home in Houston, or more recently in southern California. The ribs were good, often very good, but always exciting because of the energy and anticipation that went into them. My dad would spend the entire day talking about the ribs he was making, and when they would finally be ready the family would sit together around the table and devour them. The best part, though, would always be watching my mother, a petite woman, eat more ribs than anyone else – and lick the bones clean, too!

  • Ordering take out Chinese with my Mom all through high school. My Mom didn’t cook much at all so eating take-out was how we bonded over food. We’d spread a blanket over the coffee table and sit on the floor cross legged and eat our take away feast, while watching Jeopardy. It will always be one of my fondest memories of her and now when I am sad or sick I always crave Chinese.

  • My Mom’s Christmas cookies. The recipes were handed down from my Father’s Mother. She has since passed. Oh how I would love to have some of those cookies today. I bake those same cookies today but they don’t taste like my Mom’s creations.
    Thanks so much for the recipe.

  • We were in Florence, Italy, a place full of wonderful Italian food (although over there, they just call it “food”). Searching for a quick bite to eat, we just walked into what looked to be a chain restaurant serving make-your-own-pasta combinations. How good could it be? It was right next to the main train station…

    To this day, the wonderful richness of that penne alla vodka and the spiciness of that succulent seafood fra diavolo remain etched in our memories. The lesson, as always: don’t judge a book by its cover!

  • I love when you post personal stories! So great!

    I have multiple food memories…what’s sticking out in my mind is when I had high tea alone in London. They were the best scones and earl gray tea I’ve ever had. It wasn’t just the meal, but what it represented. I’d just come out of a long term relationship, and that trip, and that meal, confirmed that I could experience joy and be alone and be okay. It was a simple meal, it was lovely, and it was a new beginning. Ah, the power of food!

  • So many memories, its hard to pick just one – but if I had to pick one to share, it would be the taste of my mother’s Apple Chip Spice cake that she has been making since we were kids. It is now a treasured family recipe that I always make for holidays (and any other reason I can think of) – deep dark chocolate, fresh sweet apples and the spice of cinnamon all come together for a taste of home.

  • Devouring a salmon benedict from Zell’s in Portland the morning after my daughter was born.

  • Small town Indiana, my French club in High School went to an actual French restaurant in a nearby town and I can still clearly remembering trying creme brulee for the first time. A tiny portion, sweet, and so different than anything I’d had before. I’ve yet to taste a creme brulee that lived up to that first taste

  • I love reading all of these so much! You could make a whole book of them… such great stories! Happy holidays!

  • This Oct. My husband and his 2 sisters came to town
    To celebrate his birthday. We choose Domenics Steakhouse
    In Scittsdale for the special occasion. It was a great time
    The steaks were exceptional and a couple of great bottles
    Of wine. I am guessing our bill was close to $400. We sang
    Happy birthday a couple of times… The waiter came to
    Our table…and instead of presenting the bill , he announced
    That someone annonomously had paid our entire check.
    It made for a wonderful evening.

  • On my 30th birthday my boyfriend surprised me with a pre-planned personalized 4-course menu at a lovely winery.
    He told the chef I love creme brûlée and the chef made a peppermint (candy cane) creme brûlée with a ginger snap cookie spoon. Loved the combo and the surprise. Awesome food memory.

  • Love the memory of drinking warm hot chocolate out of big bowls, with warm crepes, while I was exchange-studenting in France, many many years ago!

  • It’s hard to choose just one memory! One of them is when I made chocolate chip cookies with my husband (then boyfriend) – my first experience with a KitchenAid stand mixer! We had started to date shortly before Christmas. We festively packaged up the freshly baked cookies and passed them out to neighbors. It was a wonderful experience and example of our desire to bless those around us.

  • It’s funny, but my favorite food memory involves my ex-husband. It was several years ago, in winter. We had two young children and were mostly broke, so didn’t go out much on dates. We live in Alaska, and at one point the stores were flush with a harvest of enormous Russian red king crab. I bought three pounds, two artichokes, a baguette and a buttery chardonnay. Once the kids were in bed he put on music and we sat at the table in candlelight. It was blissful, belly-filling indulgence.

  • My Mom’s homemade apple pie (which she only makes for the holidays) brings back the memories of years of family time, opening presents, watching ralphie get his BB gun for the millionth time, and a Christmas tree aglow in the night after the chaos of Christmas morning. now it will also remind me of watching my niece and nephews experiencing it all anew. Happy holidays everyone!

  • I was in France visiting my sister and we went to a tiny restaurant and had Duck confit. It was wonderful.

  • My favorite food memory is, as a kid, helping my grandmother make homemade pasta for the Sunday meal. After she had rolled out the pasta and cut it by hand, she would quickly cook a few pieces in olive oil for me, a real cook’s treat.

  • Sucking on a bar of Toblerone when I was about four years old, while we walked along a cobblestone road in southern England.

  • My favorite food memory is when my dad took me out to a lobster dinner when I was little for my birthday.

  • Eating a good chocolate croissant brings me back to 2002, newly engaged and living in a new city, in Shanghai, China. We lived in the old French Concession and discovered a tiny French bakery called Le Garcon Chinois in an art deco lane house along one of the back alleys. It became our comforting Sunday morning routine to cycle there for a cappuccino, croissant and good magazine before exploring what was becoming a very exciting city.

  • We would go to Midnight Mass at Immaculate Conception church: very, very high Mass. Then go to my Grandmother’s house for posole, empanaditas (both fruit and real mincemeat), coffee, cocoa, biscochitos, traditional chiles rellenos (not fried peppers), and egg nog. Bliss.

  • Grandma’s homemade bread, topped with homemade chutney and Brewers yeast Vegemite, for weekend lunch with family on breezy summer afternoons in New Zealand. Just perfect.

  • A box of homemade truffles sent to me and made by my 23 yr old son, last Christmas. There was a lavender one, and this year I sent him some Meyer lemons…he was planning a Greek Oregano-Meyer lemon truffle this year, among others.

  • Years ago when I first moved to Brooklyn, then ugentrified, there was a string of Middle Eastern restaurants along Atlatic Avenue. My family was very unadvenurous when it came to eating, but now I was on my own and free to try any kind of food. I picked a restaurant at random. My first bite of tabouli, although not so hard to find these days, was a revelation. The entire meal was eye-opening and sublime. It taught me that food could be a an adventure and a delight. I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and start cooking. From then on, cooking and eating out became a major focus of my life. How poor my life would be if I still viewed food as sustanance only. These days I live to eat, instead of eating to live.

  • yesss! favorite food moment was probably my first fresh oyster at tomales bay near SF. it was just so amazing and fresh and i couldn’t believe these things were just plucked from the water like a ripe plum or something.

  • The smell of onion on the hands.

    When my maternal grandparents were alive we always used to travel to them for the first few days of Chanukah. When I was little I used to help Bubbe make the latkes – I would stand at the counter, on a little stool, and grate onions on the box grater.

    To this day, whenever I prepare onions, I can feel Bubbe standing behind me, soft and solid, her strong hands over my small ones, helping me grate.

  • It would have to be my 27th birthday dinner at The River Cafe in London. A place I had really wanted to visit for many years before I got the chance to go there. I often cooked from their recipes and fell in love with their approach to serving seasonal food simply. I could never forget the delicious hand rolled ravioli, pheasant or grappa panna cotta. Luckily I also got to share it with my siblings who were in London at the time. We all adored it and I still have a treasured copy of the menu.

  • In the summer of 2007, while vacationing in NC, I took my 5 year old daughter strawberry picking. My husband and some friends were whitewater rafting, which I couldn’t do because I was pregnant. So my daughter and I spent the morning picking strawberries instead. And to this day, I have never had any strawberries that tasted as good as those. Perfectly sweet and full of strawberry flavor!

  • I have so many wonderful food memories, but the one that sprang to mind happened on a business trip a couple of years ago. I had a morning to myself in Estes Park, CO. I woke early to buy donuts from the Donut Haus, and then drove my bag of sweets (including an amazing strawberry fritter) to a small table by the river. As I was eating, I realized there was a hummingbird feeder above my head, and it was time for the morning buffet rush. Hummingbirds, Colorado air and donuts? I’m not exaggerating when I say it was magical.

  • It’s gotta be the wiener schnitzel in this little café in Berlin. We were visiting friends in Kreuzberg and it just was the perfect meal with the brown sauce and potato bites. Us being americans, they offered us ketchup for it and we couldn’t help but laugh and decline.

  • Thank you for the wonderful recipe, Grace – and how happy you and Julia look esting mousse at your wedding celebration!

    One of my many happy food memories (my Mom was a great cook) is of my Mom’s lemon sauce for the plum pudding at Christmas. My Mom died way too young, and i have never found the recipe – but i think of her so often and so many of my memories are tied up with what she would cook for us. At Christmas, i especially remember the wonderful way her tart lemon sauce mixed with the warm plummy goodness of that home-made Christmas pudding! Childhood dreams are made of this. Oh, and i would so love to win thst book.

  • My favorite food memory would have to be my paternal grandmother’s cornbread. We went to Appalachia for Christmas with her and many more relatives so the table was full of hungry travelers. The cornbread was 3 inches thick in a large square metal pan and was cooked in a wood stove oven. Such a sweet memory.

  • Having been an extremely picky eater of a child and a victim of anorexia until I was 23(ish), food was never something I enjoyed. Then I found myself married to the most wonderful Arab man and being introduced to cuisine I had never tasted before. That first bite of kibbeh and tabouli was surreal. The hints of clove mixed with the ground lamb, the lemon and garlic marrying with the chopped parsley…I just couldn’t believe what I was eating. I grew up in an Army household where meals were quick and usually boxed; to sprinkle zataar onto olive oil dipped pita bread while enjoying a conversation with my new Palestinian family was the opposite of what I had previously known. Those first bites of a new culture, a new cuisine, will always stay with me.

  • How to pick one?!!
    My Lebanese father owned a place (a restaurant, he called it a store) in Virginia that served Southern fare to a largely working class trade.
    Strongest memory there: our cook Lorene’s lunch rolls More of a dinner roll, redolent of yeast and simply made from yeast , water, flour and and least an equal amount of pork lard?…or, the Thursday special f fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and real butter beans?
    Or, was it at home with my mother’s Southwest Virginia 2-piece thin biscuits with a tomato fresh from the garden- sometimes with Duke’s mayonnaise.
    Or, how about my first taste of pastured beef raised on a solely organic farm and raised only on organic grasses?
    I still remember them all like yesterday!
    Great and fond memories….

  • My most powerful food memory is not a singular event but time spent with my Grandmother. Her food was not revolutionary nor experimental in any way, it was methodical & consistent yet delicious. Delicious & comforting because of that consistency & because of the rhythmic way that it was planned & produced. I can still hear the radio, the Westminster clock & smell her kitchen. Pure magic.

  • I have so many wonderful food memories but the most powerful is from a little family run italian restaurant in palm springs that makes the most delicious red sauce. I had to order more bread to get every last drop of that sauce because I could not let it go back to the kitchen uneaten. So Good! I have been back many times!

  • My grandma used to make no-bakes (chocolate and oatmeal cookies) and stored them in an old oatmeal canister. When the last of the batch was gone, my grandpa would grab the canister and two spoons and we would scoop up all the crumbs from the bottom. Somehow this was even than the cookies themselves.

  • chocolate mousse my 5 year-old daughter requested in Paris after a long flight. We were on my husband’s sabbatical, heading for Ramatuelle. Her father allowed her to have two and she still remembers the taste.

  • My favorite food memory involves my mother’s homemade apple pie and the birth of my 3rd child. Three days before my due date my mother came into town. She was prepped to watch my older two children while I had the baby, and she arrived with my favorite Apple pie in tow. We enjoyed pie after dinner, and in the middle of that night I went into labor. At Christmas dinner dessert yesterday we enjoyed telling my 5 year old daughter that Grandma’s delicious apple pie was the last thing I ate before she was born.

  • A beautiful chocolate layer cake for my 5th birthday made by my father. I had asked for Big Bird on my cake that year, so he spent the night coloring white chocolate yellow to create chocolate shaving ‘feathers’. It was a work of art!!

  • My first trip to France….A Michelin restaurant, the owner a friend of my daughter’s…..His presentation of a glass of wine…..My comment….So this is what good wine is to taste like. This was a moment I can picture that always brings a smile.

  • My Gram-mama was an incredible woman, not to mention an amazing cook. She made the most delicious applesauce which she canned and gave out to family, friends, church members. I can still recall exactly what it tasted like although it’s been over 15 years since it last graced my mouth. It more like a purée than traditional applesauce, and was like eating the first crime, like silk on your tongue. My Gram-mama lived to be 97 years old, and I naively thought she would always be around. I can still hear her voice, smell her perfume and she the twinkle in her eye. Food is something that allows us to go back in time, to remember a person, a moment a meal. I’ll never forget her and I’ll always treasure the memories I have sitting around her chrome dinning table in her mint green kitchen.

  • my most powerful food memory was when I finally got to go to Italy (my life long travel wish) and try the food I’d always dreamed of eating. I was at a little trattoria near my hotel, and I ordered a meat cannelloni. I have no idea what the meat was, and it was presented in a rustic style with sauce drizzled on top – nothing like the cannelloni we serve / eat here in Australia. But I have Lways remembered it, and recreated my own version here at home for my own “taste of Italy” experience whenever I yearn to go back.

  • I will visit this restaurant for tasting this delicacy. The chocolate mousse has long been a favorite delicacy of mine. Your description about this restaurant makes me very curious to visit and taste this delicacy. Thanks a lot for writing about this restaurant in New York City :)

  • When I was a kid, my mom would often go to potluck style dinner parties. She would make these lemon and oregano potatoes, and leave the extra crispy ones at home for me and who ever my lucky babysitter was. The smell of those potatoes brings back the image of my mom getting all dressed up and ready to go.

  • My most powerful food memory has to be the daily ham and cheese croissant I ate for nearly two years as a baker at Tartine Bakery in San Francisco. After nearly eight years of being a vegetarian, I fell in love with this croissant. I would have a solid two hours of work, setting up the cakes case, and then I would pause for maybe five minutes to enjoy my croissant. If I was really lucky, one of the croissant bakers would put some mustard inside before baking it for me!

  • one of my favorite restaurants!

    mine is the dishes/drinks i met on a trip when i met the love of my life. belgian beers, mussels, croque madames. i love creating them now at home.

  • My most powerful food memory is really a collection of memories of watching my mom cook when I was a child. I didn’t realize how much I’d learned from those observations until I was a young adult and one of the few in my group of friends who knew my way around a the kitchen.

  • Arriving at the beach with no groceries, making a quick run to the store, and, then, sitting on the balcony, watching the waves and sipping wine while eating cheese, salami and fresh cherries.

  • So simple yet unforgettable- my Italian grandmother, who migrated to Chile as a teen, leaving the tomatoes from her garden to dry in the sun for weeks to prepare us summer tuco or tomato sauce. She passed away when I was relatively young so I never got to ask her for that recipe, but I have never tasted tuco like it again.

  • One? Only one? I have many, all equally strong. My mom had invited me to lunch with friends, and I’d left work early, not knowing it as a fancy restaurant. I walked in from hanging sheetrock and repairing plaster walls, covered in dust, wearing work boots, a t-shirt and shorts. Some dust sprinkled from my cuffs and pockets as I sat down, enough for a small pile beside my chair. My mom looked at me disapprovingly while our friends tried not to laugh. I was late, most at all tables were finishing up or to dessert. I ordered only a smoke trout appetizer, figuring it required no cooking and wouldn’t put out the kitchen staff. It had been smoked in-house; I’d only ever had store-bought. I didn’t realize I was making sounds as I ate it, but when I finished I saw the waiter, the chef and several others watching, me, with big grins. They brought other food just so they could see my reaction. Quite a meal! My mom got over her embarrassment. Still, you ask, only one?

  • Pho. Good god, PHO. Always and forever, till death do us part, Amen. Ten years ago a lackluster and short lived boyfriend took me to a Pho Noodle place in a Vietnamese shopping plaza. Under the crushing weight of our mutual hangovers. Seconds after ordering, an indifferent Vietnamese waiter plunked that cavern of hot, fragrant broth in front of me and I was imbued with a better life. I think I just stared at it for a full minute, bringing my face an inch above the bowl, letting the steam burn me clean and new, inhaling the aroma that will forever have an Pavlovian effect on my saliva glands. Over the years, I’ve returned to that same soup den hundreds of times, whenever the urge over takes me. It is the most powerful and immortal food urge I have. When I am low, sick, tired, weak, misguided… or just plain hungry… I shred basil leaves and spoon chili paste over that magic bowl, toss in bean sprouts with a kind of gleeful violence. I eat to the bottom, while tipping back tiny cup after tiny cup of hot green tea into my god damn soul. In the hours after leaving this restorative heaven, I can be found performing and bestowing superhuman acts of greatness and charity upon humanity.

  • walking to the tomato patch with my dad, salt & pepper in his pocket, seasoning and eating sun-warmed tomatoes, mmmm

  • Having a cherry and a peach tree in my backyard growing up. Spending summer days on a chair trying to reach all of them.

  • One of my best food memories was the smell of my mom’s cinnamon rolls as I came in the door from school. They were heaven after a hard day.

  • My mother’s Christmas dinner of rare roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted vegetables and a plate of homemade Christmas cookies!

  • We used to live in Oakland CA, down the street from a bagel bakery. I would walk my big german shep mix dog Zelda down to that bakery, with some fellow pedestrians shying away because she was large and appeared to be quite a formidable dog. Well, on the way back Zelda got only chuckles and grins because she held in her formidable jaws one of the “dog bagels”- any bagel that accidentally fell on the floor- which the bakery held in a sack for her and other neighborhood pooches. She always carried it daintily home, and ate it once we arrived. That’s a pretty distant but cherished food memory, already around 15 years in the past. More recently, I love hearing one or both of my boys say “My mom makes the best _____” and depending on what we’re eating and who’s listening, the list could include cookies, chicken, grilled cheese, pierogies (even though these are from frozen!), pudding from scratch, hot cocoa, and on and on. A beautiful memory in the making <3

  • Bologna in the oven with a piece of cheddar in the middle — comes out of the oven as a bologna bowl. Another fond memory were black olive sandwiches, surprisingly delicious.

  • My most vivid food memory is my mom’s “party mix.” It’s basically a homemade chex mix made with an unbelievable amount of butter and essentially every spice in the cabinet. My mom always made it at every holiday gathering – Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. The smell of the sauce cooking down just makes me think of family and home.

  • My grandma used to can her own pickles. I know there are a million books and blog posts on canning, but I have little hope of replicating what she made. She used cucumbers from my grandpa’s garden and she had some way of making them stay so crisp and snappy in the jar. They were full of garlic and spices and other magic. I once tasted a pickle very similar at a restaurant in Chicago and it was like that scene at the end of “Ratatouille”, the one where Ego flashes back to his mother’s cooking. One day I might try, but something tells me they belong to her kitchen not mine. :)

  • Every travel experience is remembered by the food we ate, perhaps the strongest is when I first learned to drink coffee in Spain with churros y chocolat.

  • A 75-plus-year memory that stays with me still, fresh figs from my father’s tree! He babied that tree each winter against the Connecticut cold. Those figs were so sweet and so good.

  • Nineteen years ago I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest son. I suffering a bout of food poisoning, but it was NOT going to interfere with our last couples getaway weekend in the Napa Valley wine country. We cancelled our dinner reservations and I shivered and slept in the hotel room. But I woke up at 5 AM famished and feeling great, and I sent my husband on a quest for food. He returned with a pink box tied with string — fresh-from-the-oven bear claws – buttery, warm, oozing with rich almond paste. Best. Breakfast. Ever.

  • i’m peruvian, i live in lima. here in my country most of our memories revolve around the kitchen and a table full of flavors and family traditions. i just can say from street vendors, big restaurants and chefs, the peruvian cuisine is more than delicious.

    in my memory, “aguadito de pollo” -a kind of meal between risotto and a chicken soup with species, “aji” and aromatic herbs- will stay for ever because it reminds me how much my mother love us all. have a super 2015!!! wellcome to peru!!cecilia valencia

  • my grandmother’s thin and crispy oatmeal cookies—always available in a big jar whenever we visited!

  • Sitting underneath my grandmother’s table while she and all my aunts made tamales and gossiped. ..the earthy smell of the cornmeal and the spicy pork filling and after hours of waiting,finally unwrapping the corn husks and biting into the wonderfulness of it. I can still picture my grand mother in her colorful flowered apron ever time I smell tamales cooking

  • It would be the Swedish ginger cookies we made every Christmas. They never even made it onto the pan, we would just eat the spicy sweet dough right out of the fridge all Christmas season long.

  • The first Mother’s Day my husband and I spent together, we had brunch at the Jeffersonian Hotel in D.C. I ordered scallops…OMG! Those scallops! They were unquestionably the briniest, sweetest, most intensely flavored scallops I’ve ever eaten (I licked the plate!) – and a food memory against which I measure all others!

  • My most powerful food memory was eating ice cream for the first time in about 10 years after a very strict and unhealthy self-imposed “diet” was finally broken. I cried. I’ve had ice cream almost every day since then.

  • Nearly 20 years ago, I was taken on a trip to Greece with my then boyfriend and his parents. The second night we were there, we ate dinner at a small outdoor restaurant, the patio covered with vines and lights; it was magical. It was that night that I had the best dish I have ever eaten. From what I can remember–as it was a some years ago after all–it was a cauliflower gratin. To this day I dream about it, so much so that I would be willing to give my left arm to eat it again.

  • One of my fondest food memories is when my parents invited my elementary school principal over for dinner and he made “Mr. Harringtons Chicken Curry”. I still have the recipe it is one of my favorites!

  • My Grandpa’s fried chicken! I remember the sound, the smell, the texture, the flavor, all of it. He made extra legs for us kids and joked that he hunted the special 6 legged chickens just for us.

  • Without doubt, my Grammy’s meatloaf. Her signature dish, the recipe reflected the times in which she cooked and raised her five children – they didn’t have a lot of money and they lived in the glorious then-new age of readily available processed foods. Getting a delicious but inexpensive meal on the table for a family of seven was made easier thanks to McCormick seasoning packets and ketchup and canned condensed soup. She made it often, with carrots and mashed potatoes, and all of us loved it.

    After she died I searched for the recipe among my dad’s relatives. My Uncle Bill claimed to have it and emailed it to me, but ketchup was noticeably absent. His kids hate it, he said – which is fine for them, but I wanted the authentic real deal. One day, I remarked to my mother that I had all but given up hope and she said, why Greta, I have that recipe! Long divorced from my dad, I hadn’t thought to ask – sure enough, a handwritten version of Grammy’s authentic meatloaf recipe arrived in my mailbox the next week. With a McCormick seasoning packet taped to it.

    I told the man I would eventually marry that we were veering off our regularly scheduled healthy eating program to indulge in my Grammy’s meatloaf. I bought all the ingredients, set up my kitchen and washed my hands in anticipation of the best/grossest part, mixing up the meat by hand. When I dug in and the aromas of all those old flavors met my nose, tears ran down my cheeks. I was eight years old again, sniffing around outside Grammy’s kitchen, watching her cook Sunday supper. I felt like she was right there with me, in my kitchen – what my dad would call a “thin space” in time that made it feel like she was not so far away.

    I’m so happy I had an excuse to revisit this memory today. Happy New Year, Design*Sponge team!

  • Sushi. by far, sushi.
    I finally realized how a meal could reach all of my senses. The balance of ingredients and the beauty of how they all come together is thrilling and delicious.

  • One of my most powerful food memories is the first time I ever baked something by myself. I was young, maybe 13 or 14 and had been interested in cooking but my mom had yet to give me the reins in the kitchen. One day when my parents were out for the afternoon I made an Apple Crisp all by myself, and it was so delicious!

  • When I was a little girl during summer vacation I would spend a whole month with my grandmother in another town. This was my favorite time of the year. One of the highlights of my visits was when she made homemade tortillas. There was a ritual to it, always the same aluminum tub, rolling pins, and the tortilla holder. She was never rushed, it was like watching a meditation. We would chat, I would help. The smell of the cooking tortillas was divine, and the taste even better. Fresh tortillas off the griddle, smothered in butter, and time spent with a grandmother that I loved beyond measure. Bliss.

  • there’s a particular moment in the summertime when we grill the first batch of eggplants to make baba ganoush. i leave small bits of the of the burnt skin for a smokier flavour and leave it to cool just for a little bit. i like to eat it slatherd thick on a slice of dense farmer’s bread with big chunks of bull’s heart tomatoes picked fresh and still warm off the vine. it’s what summer tastes like to me. and i get to enjoy it every year!

  • My most powerful food memory was when I was roughly six years old and I am sitting on the front porch crying my eyes out while eating a peanut butter sandwich. The tears were because my mom used crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy.

  • Eating “mud” with my mom as a little kid–brownie batter minus the eggs, stirred into a thick paste. It tastes exactly like you’d think it would. This recipe seems like a much better version.

  • I have two powerful food memories: loving to eat fried eggs at my gramas – preparing each egg differently for my sisters and I…never complaining about our particularities. And also eating my other grama’s chocolate chip cookies while sitting in the tractor with grampa.

  • As a kid, my mother and I got lost on our way up to Canada by means of New York, forcing us to stop at whatever was the closest restaurant. We ended up at a very rough looking place, all weathered wood and gruff. We ended up getting the best ribs and slaw I have ever had, can’t remember the name of the place but the standard for comfort food was set.

  • Im from Mexico, I love mole! and my most powerful food memory its that my grandma used to make mole from scratch, with chocolate peanuts dry chiles etc… she would grind it and powderize it so we coukd eat it later, by just adding chicken broth, it was so delicious!!!

  • One of mine is really quite simple. I remember not just the taste, but the images and smells of when I first moved to Greece (though back to NY now), our first summer there, having figs off of grandpa’s giant old tree behind our home. Aside from the fact that I’d never had a fresh fig, especially not one like these before, I remember my mum’s excitement in showing me how to peel, check and eat it. She loved the opportunity to share a pleasant memory from her rather challenging childhood, and I loved it too.

  • The Beauty of My Mother who had constantly no money left at the end of her weeks due to no income and raising 5 kids on the principle of sharing whatever we had in our cupboards which were always nearly bare, with others that might be hungry even when we really had barely just enough for us. Mum would make scones because we had no bread and only flour and rice with vegetables which we would live on for days ,with giving this also to the single mother next door and the old man over the road because they needed something hot and were hungry. Food in it itself was not the memory, but the kindness showed in sharing the food we had was what I treasured most. Food and sharing with a generous heart give the greatest taste to life! Thank you Mum for sharing whatever you had with whoever needed a little kindness, this is memorable to me. This is a lasting memory and you always cooked so much love into the pot or the oven, that it had lasting aroma of goodness for the soul body and spirit!.

  • Tang has always been a favorite essence of flavor for “moi”, as a 4 year old in a Navy family newly transported to Nice, France in 1957. Every morning, the smell of fresh croissants and hot chocolate emanated from the tray at the doors which was alluring enough. But then to be introduced to real yogurt on which we sprinkled sugar at the top to complexify (?)the tang, oh yes, and the full fat-ness of it, as well.