View of Collioure

Without a great stroller, hiking these hills outside Collioure was a challenge.

As I mentioned in my last post, we made a lot of great decisions during our trip to France with our three-year-old daughter. But, there were a few areas for improvement, as the corporate types would say. Here is what I wish we did differently.

1. Brought the all-terrain stroller. Instead of the roll-over-everything City Mini stroller, I bought a contraption known as the Lilly Gold Zoomer, which turns your car seat into a stroller. Pretty cool, right? It is cool but only when your trip involves smooth floors and newly paved sidewalks. The Zoomer wheels were a challenge when we hiked the gravelly paths along the Mediterranean (see Collioure, above) and wandered those cute French cobblestone streets. I wish we had rented a car seat from the rental car company, checked the stroller and not brought one more extraneous thing into my life.

2. Did a bit more research. Normally, I plan every detail of a trip, including exactly where we’ll eat each day. With a kid in tow, I didn’t want to make plans, but a few times on our trip, I felt a little panicky because I was spending so much time figuring out what to do. I wish I had read up in advance and made a list of possibilities so we could just pick something and go.

3. Never drove more than 3 hours a day. We flew into Paris and headed straight for Collioure; you essentially drive about 8 hours south until you hit the Mediterranean. After a week there, we drove up to Burgundy, about 6 hours north. Because we traveled during peak French vacation time, we hit tons and tons of traffic so both drives lasted longer than the GoogleMaps estimate. Never again! Next time, we’ll either take the train (we considered this for a long time but opted for the car so we could more easily contain our little one) or plan the trip with shorter drives in mind.

YellowTable

As soon as it cools down a bit, I’m totally going to make this Zucchini Parmesan.

A friend I admire very much self-published her cookbook, The Yellow Table (above), last year and then sold it to a publisher for wider distribution. Here, a story about her and kitchen keepsakes on Food 52 . Go Anna!

My husband works for a wine importer and sells wine wholesale to NYC accounts. This insidery article gives a glimpse into how the wine market works in New York and some of the (very first world) frustrations he experiences.

I linked to this on the sly in an earlier post, but in case you missed it: A terrific article on how pink wines became such “a thing.”

File this under #NotSoModernPotluck: A Social History of the Rise and Fall of the Jello Salad. 

And then something that’s #SoModernPotluck: These beautiful drink dispensers pulled together by The Fresh Exchange.

Ok and finally, this has nothing to do with food, unless you count this company’s chef-related tote bags. In any case, when it comes to clothing, I’m a chronic under-buyer. I hate shopping, and as I’ve gotten older, I’m really picky about the way fabrics feel and the way clothes fit. Over the past year, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with Everlane for high quality, affordable basics. Because they sell exclusively online, their mark-ups are lower than usual and they’re completely transparent about the factories they use. I highly recommend them for anyone who loves wearing black, white and neutrals, like I do!

Grilled Zucchini with Dill and Walnuts

My cookbook, The Modern Potluck, is forthcoming from Clarkson Potter in July 2016. On occasion, I will share recipes—either my own or those I encounter out in the world—that I feel are fit for a potluck. And, of course, I’m creating a new hashtag around this theme: #SoModernPotluck. Enjoy!

I almost feel like I’m cheating, writing this dish up as a recipe. But this is what summer cooking should be, right? Take something you have in abundance and grill it. Sprinkle on the herb that’s growing wild in your garden or that you bought too much of at the farmers’ market. Add a nut that’s hanging around in the pantry. Serve it all with ricotta toasts and you’ve got dinner. Or a really nice dish for a #modernpotluck.

That’s the story here. I had too many zucchini and summer squash in the fridge as any cook tends to in the summer. Grilling the squash made sense: Not only do they become incredibly silky, the pieces shrink, so two people can polish off four of these babies if you’re not serving much else. I would have garnished them with basil except that I had a huge bag of dill. Walnuts then felt like the right nut to sprinkle.

Of course, you can plop the dish down in the middle of a table at a party, perhaps with ricotta and toasts, as I did, or a drizzle of salted plain yogurt and tell your guests to have at it. Any leftovers are great on sandwiches or tossed with pasta.

For wine, you ask? We ate this with a dry German Riesling, which was a stellar pairing. The zippy acid is delicious with rich, milky ricotta. Any light, citrusy white would work well here. continue reading

Traveling to France with a three-year-old.

We knew we had to forget about the long lunches, multiple winery visits and hotel hopping we would have planned for a trip to France if it we didn’t have a three-year-old in tow.

Renting the tiny convertible? That was put on the “In 15 years” list as well.

We also decided to skip Paris (quelle horreur!), figuring we live in NYC and would rather take a break from the little-kid-in-a-city stress we experience on the reg. We made a few mistakes in our planning, which I’ll cover in another post, but I’ve got to give ourselves props: We did a lot of things right when prepping for this trip.

1. We rented houses. For most of the trip, we stayed in one place for at least one week at a time, so we rented two different houses through Home Away. (AirBNB and VBRO, among other sites, are also great options for this). Having a house gave us a safe space to take a cranky kid and establish routines, which are always so important for little ones. Plus, we could cook whenever we wanted and spread out within a space.

2. We ate at tourist restaurants. My old self would turn up her nose. My mom self didn’t care: Tourist restaurants tended to be packed with little kids. Plus, it was France: Most of the time, the ingredients were great and simply prepared and the views were often amazing, so what could be bad?

3. We made few plans. I had no idea how jet lag would affect our daughter, so I didn’t create any kind of itinerary. We went with basic ideas of what we would do: Go to the beach the first week; visit Beaune the second week. Maybe hit up a winery or two in each place. We let our daughter find her rhythm naturally and tended to figure out what we would do for the day the night before.

4. We picnicked. Remember when you backpacked across Europe and loved how you could just buy bread, cheese and fruit, and maybe some ham; sit anywhere and make that a cheap meal. Well, it’s no different with a kid. Our daughter loved the picnics because she could run around while we lounged, and we loved them because we could lounge while she ran around. Bonus: I got a break from cooking.

5. We flew at strategic times. When buying our flights, I tried to pick times that would set our daughter up to sleep as much as possible. Being shoved into a tin can is stressful for anyone, but three year olds aren’t always so great at managing that stress in productive ways. We flew out of New York at 9:30 pm, just past our daughter’s bedtime. She was fast asleep within an hour of take-off and didn’t wake up until we landed. On the way back, we left at 4:30 France time, so she watched cartoons and colored for the first half of the flight and slept for most of the second half, with a couple of quick meltdowns in between. (Inevitable, I guess, right?) The best part about this return flight was that we got home at 9 pm and she went right to bed. She was barely jet-lagged the next day. Meanwhile, we still were, several days later!

What have you learned about traveling with little ones?