Kari Winter

Tagliatelle al Tartufo Pasta at Il Palio

I’m a big fan of the pastas at Il Palio Restaurant in the Siena Hotel. I’ve tried quite a few, and have never been let down. One night a month or so ago I was accidentally brought the Tagliatelle al Tartufo instead of what I’d ordered. My server quickly started to take it away to bring the pasta I had ordered, but I assured him that this was in no way a problem, since it is one of my favorites. At this point he said “Then you need to hear the story of this pasta from the chef.” The Tagliatelle al Tartufo at Il Palio is decadent and delicious. Like all their pasta, it’s made in house. This freshness allows it to soak up the sauce and flavor the pasta strands. The silky truffle sauce tastes both homey and extravagant, and the pine nuts on top add a wonderful crunch. The dish is finished with finely grated grana padano cheese. The night I got the wrong pasta Chef de Cuisine Isaiah Allen came out and introduced himself. He’s a fascinating person. Not only is he an amazing chef — he also has a farm, and tells a great story. Isaiah got his start in the restaurant world working as a dishwasher at Carolina Meadows. He would watch the chef cooking and especially loved the smell of the fresh bread...

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Chapel Hill Toffee

Just after the holidays I was meeting some friends for dinner who share my interest in food. I wanted to give each a little something as a gift. Not having time to make something myself, I decided to head to Southern Season. My daughter and I wandered around the candy section, looking to see if we could find something local. We started talking with a man who works there who suggested Chapel Hill Toffee and gave us each a taste. As he did so a woman walked by with an empty cart and started loading it up with the toffees. She saw that we were trying it and said, “I’ve been sent by all my out of town friends to buy the store out of this stuff. Everyone loves it.” After tasting it, we could immediately see why, and quickly knew this was the gift for our friends. If you’re looking for something just a little different but still sweet to give your Valentine, Chapel Hill Toffee might be just the thing. I’ve always been a fan of Heath bars and kind of assumed all toffee tastes the same. While I still like Heath’s, Chapel Hill Toffee is some seriously good candy. And, unlike most toffee, it doesn’t bring to mind visions of your next visit to the dentist to replace an old filling. Instead of fighting you back,...

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Fish Tacos!

I tried my first fish taco when I visited my brother Justin in Santa Barbara, CA in 1999. It was a typically beautiful southern California day, and he brought home some fresh fish, got out his cast iron skillet and opened up a few beers. Within about 10 minutes I realized that I’d been missing out on something special (not the beer, I’d had plenty of that). When my boyfriend (now husband) spent a few months in San Diego in 2001 my love for the fish taco was cemented. For the longest time it wasn’t easy to find fish tacos on the East Coast, but these days they show up on menus everywhere. Locally you can get fish tacos at a number of places. I’m a big fan of Tyler’s version, fried whitefish with sliced cabbage and a house-made slightly spicy white sauce, served with lime on the side (you can change up the fish for salmon). I also love City Beverage’s tuna tacos. They take rare tuna and lightly grill it in a cilantro and scallion crust, then serve it with greens, tomatoes, red onions, spicy black bean salsa, avocado and crème fraiche. And for a sweeter version NanaTaco’s come with a mango-jalapeno salsa. On a recent trip to San Diego we stopped at Escape for a fish taco fix. This place is far from fancy, but the...

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Radically Simple & Fresh

This piece contains excerpts from ‘Radically Simple’ which you can find here. I cook a lot. I love it, but like most people I occasionally find myself getting bored, or feeling like it is a chore. When I find myself feeling this way, sometimes I just need a new cookbook. It doesn’t always do the trick, but when I bought Radically Simple by Rozanne Gold it definitely helped get me out of my cooking funk. Gold’s concept is to keep the ingredients and instructions to a minimum without losing out on flavor or elegance. This does not mean, necessarily,...

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A Day in the Life: British Pubs

“I rose politely in the club And said, `I feel a little bored Will someone take me to a pub?’” — G.K. Chesterton, 1874-1936   There is something about a British pub that says cozy. It makes sense that a country that gets so many wet, chilly days came up with an institution that welcomes you, warms you, feeds you, and comforts you while you sit with a pint of beer or a glass of wine. Not all pubs serve food, but those that do tend to specialize in comfort food – exactly what we crave during the winter. Each pub is different – some don’t serve food, some don’t allow children. For the past 20 years a more gourmet, restaurant-like version called a gastropub has become popular. Some pubs are brewery owned, and therefore only sell beers from that brand; you’ll see the brewery’s name over the top of the pub sign (for instance Fullers or Young’s). Others are called Free Houses and sell many different brands. Many Brits see their local pub as a home away from home, so much so that they’ll call it their “local.” Pubs and American bars are not the same thing, and the rules are different. In a pub, you go up to the bar to order, even if you’re eating. You pay right away and carry your drinks back to your...

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In The Kitchen With Kids

Parents often ask me what I did to transform my 6 year old daughter into such an adventurous eater. My first answer is that I got lucky. But there are a few things you can do to help get your child interested in eating new and different foods. One of them is to get them to be part of the cooking process. Think about it, what do kids really yearn for from their parents? Time and approval. And by cooking with them, and asking for and valuing their opinion, you are giving them both. You don’t need to be...

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