almondcake.jpgA few months ago I had an amazing dinner among friends at Vino's, a local family-run Italian restaurant in Fairfield, CT. We enjoyed all their best Italian dishes and their desserts accompanied by live music. One dessert stood out in particular, the almond cake. My friend demanded that I make one soon.

I took it upon myself to bake one that captured the best of an almond cake: a soft yet textural interior, buttery color, crisp exterior, and most importantly a noticeable fragrance and flavor of almonds. It turned out that baking the cake was far from the hardest part of this recipe. The biggest feat was finding almond paste in my area. I visited every grocery store and supermarket and could not find a can or tube of it. Luckily I was reminded of the Italian market. How could have I neglected to look there first?

Almond paste has a sort of grainy texture due to all the ground almonds. But to further play on that texture, this cake combines cornmeal with flour. The cornmeal lends a homey quality and along with the butter and egg yolks, a beautiful pale straw color.

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female_mannequin.jpgEvery time I see a naked mannequin, I just want to stick one finger out, point, and yell “NAKED MANNEQUIN!”

I can’t be the only one, and I certainly can’t be the only one who has wanted to dress that naked mannequin up in a summer outfit just so I could invite him or her—or it—out for tea time in Central Park.

Yes, certainly, we’d have a tea party as lovely as the Mad Hatter’s on a blanket spread out on the Great Lawn. Although, I’d leave the invite for the Red Queen behind, because she’d surely be too delighted with how easy it would be to “be off with it’s head—that is, if the mannequin I window shopped for on 5th Avenue had a head at all!

But we’d sit for hours in the sun…me the Mad Hatter, and the mannequin, the Alice to my imaginary Wonderland-ah yes, it’d be the perfect tea party for two. Both of us, pale, and in serious need of SPF 50, we’d sprawl out across my blanket, and we’d laugh about the kids swinging and missing in their game of wiffle ball, and we’d compliment the jazz performers we could hear off in the distance, and above all, we’d share stories.

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We received a letter from a reader telling us how how much she loved the scene in “Desk Set” (a film that Amy Ephron’s parents’ wrote) where Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy make fried chicken and floating island! And since it’s Oscar Season, it inspired us to ask some of our contributors what their favorite food scenes in movies are...

daryl-hannah-splash-lobster-484ANJELICA HUSTON
Favorite food scene! I won't say it was 'the Dead', which involved sitting in front of fish-fed goose for 3 weeks! I would have to say 'Tom Jones', the scene where Joyce Redman and Albert Finney eat Lobster....

The scene in Ron Howard’s 'Splash' where Daryl Hannah attacks the shellfish in the fancy restaurant mermaid-style and the scene in 'Big' where Tom Hanks razor nibbles the baby ears of corn the way a kid would. In character, ingenious, and hilarious in both instances.

I guess the most memorable food scene in movies for me is from 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?' when Jane serves her sister's lunch under a silver salver that once open, reveals a rat, it is kind of heart stopping.  To this day when I see dinner being served under those shiny domes I hold my breath until  the contents underneath are revealed by the liveried footman.  Not an everyday occurrence for sure unless you are as devoted as I am to Downton Abbey.

Jeannie Berlin eating an egg-salad sandwich in 'The Heartbreak Kid'.

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growth_chart_girl_web.jpg“Do you see this chart, Lynne? This is your height-weight percentile chart.  And do you see where you are? You’re waaaaaay up here. Waaay past the 90th percentile. Do you see that? How would you like a shot to suck all the fat away?”

Ok. So Dr. Salvo didn’t sound quite that evil, but it’s not too far off.  To this day, whenever I hear the word “percentile,” no matter the context, I cringe a little, remembering the good doctor showing me my elevated, childhood status on the red-lined chart.  And why did it have to be red?  As if being a chubby little kid were cause for dire emergency.

He really did ask me if I wanted a shot that would “suck all the fat away.” At the time I remember shuddering and saying no, needle-phobic as most little kids are.  Then, down the road a little bit, in my pubescence, I remember regretting telling him I didn’t want the shot. What if he really did have one? What if I could have saved myself all this pain? All this praying at night that I’d wake up thin?

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ImageLos Angeles is a contradiction: a paradox of urbanites that crave the outdoors and yuppies that eat vegan. Fancy jeans, successful lunatics, poor rich people, and other oxymorons splattered across Sunset Boulevard, a street with beaches on one end and mini skyscrapers rising up on the other end. I love LA. It satisfies my needs for culture and nature simultaneously.

So when I got an email blast from the Architecture and Design Museum about an Urban Hike through downtown LA, it seemed right up my alley.

It started with a rap. Mike Sonksen, aka Mike the PoeT, begins and ends each tour prosthelytizing about Los Angeles. Along with being a 3rd generation LA native, he is a historian and museum tour guide and has recently teamed with the A + D Museum to lead these tours every other Sunday.

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