Welcome to Four Eyes Forum, a meeting place to exchange news and views on food, food photography, the word on food, food science, style and architecture. Join me, the blogger who wears glasses, in this world as I throw out engaging stuff that I think you'll find interesting, beautiful and delicious. As Charles Dudley Warner, American editor and writer, said,
"Lettuce, like conversation, requires a good deal
of oil, to avoid friction, and keep the company
smooth....You can put anything, and the more
things the better, into salad, as into a conver-
sation, but everything depends upon the skill of

That's my job.

(All photographs, unless otherwise cited, copyright
Kristin Halgedahl Photography 2016)

Monday, August 30, 2010


On August 5th, I read about Noma, the restaurant voted #1 in the world. I read this article, an interview with the chef Rene Redzepi, in the London Times. It was and is a big deal, as he has given the word 'locavore' new meaning, taking it to new heights. I posted all this on August 7th.
Two weeks ago I bought the September issue of Vogue (the big one, the most important issue of the year) and on p. 672 there is a feature article on Noma! I nearly fell over! I admit to being gleeful about printing the news first. Stay with me, dear Followers -- Four Eyes is always on the cutting edge. Another example -- see A razor A shiny knife on my blogroll, an interactive cooking theater based on molecular gastronomy. I'll give myself 5 'Os' on the newly created Four Eyes rating system -- Whoooooa!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

SIFT, a cupcakery: Eyes Bugged Out

From the polka dots on the window to the kiddie corner inside, it's all bubble gum colors and sugar plum dreams at Sift, Santa Rosa's new, premiere cupcakery, Sift. I know, I know, aren't cupcakes a dying food trend? I don't think so, not yet, not here. It just caught up to getting here in Santa Rosa! Sift resurrects the inner child.

Only a few months old, Sift has been done right. It's always busy, but the wait, if any, is short. And it's fun to while away those minutes looking at adults with eyes bugged out at the choices -- fifteen, plus seasonal flavors, custom cupcakes, Cruffles and Top Cakes. Those numbers double for wedding cake, filling and frosting choices. They also have adorable t-shirts and party items, and the space is rentable. Chandeliers? Tulips? Designer furniture? I love it all.

It's hard to imagine a guy with a host of tattoos is behind much of this, but Christian King, the head decorator, is just that.

He told me that at Sift, they use the art of Gumpaste and fondant to create their cupcakes. It's a 
technique he had to go to Oakland to learn.

And what cupcakes!
They earn a 5 'O' rating on the Four Eyes Rating Scale.
That's 'Whoooooa!'

The cupcakes range in density of cake
and intensity of flavor
from these lemon cupcakes

Black Cherry Jungle, a rich chocolate cake, black cherry frosting and a cherry on top
the wild Irish Carbomb, named after the famous drink that's nothing but trouble-- rich chocolate Guinness cake with Irish Cream frosting.

I've been in three times this week since stumbling upon them while doing some copying downtown.  I suppose this obsession will subside, although I'm afraid of myself. Maybe this is an addiction I can't kick.

(707) 703-4228

GIALINA - Tried and True

I went to a book signing for my blogger mentor, Dianne Jacob, Saturday August 21, at Omnivore Books in Noe Valley in San Francisco. The book, Will Write For Food, is the second edition, which contains the new, meaty chapter on food blogging. As the event wrapped, I asked the bookshop owner, Celia, where my friend and I might eat in the neighborhood. Without hesitation she said, "Gialina! And try the salads!" O.k!

They didn't know Four Eyes was coming, so one of the waitresses told us it'd be a 10 minute wait, or would we like to sit at the bar. Then another woman, a manager, intervened and ushered us two to a table for four--well done.. As I settled into my chair in the well lighted, airy space, I noticed a lot of smiling, well behaved children, and a lot of smiling adults -- eating salads. O.k., I get it. Salad.

The music was a little edgy and a little loud. To maintain momentum in the kitchen, no doubt. When I looked at the menu, however, the music ceased to be a problem for me. Salads and  pizza in unusual combinations. In Will Write For Food Dianne Jacob outlines some of the 'rules' for restaurant reviewing, and I took one to heart this day -- try something you don't like. I don't like beets. So, for starters I had the beet salad with green goddess dressing.

I closed my eyes and winced as I brought the fork to my mouth and then.... The beets were incredible! A little kid would love these, thought the big kid. They tasted somewhat pickled, but the sweet still predominated, and they were firm and meaty against the crunch of the fresh lettuce. The dressing was a perfectly measured compliment. I followed this with the mini meatballs, which were authentically Sicilian in fragrance and taste, with just a hint of fennel through the marinara and aged asiago and parmesan. And five of them were just enough; cut in half and savored, I was practically done, except to taste my friend's pancetta pie with a farmer's egg and her stuffed squash blossoms.

Here was the STAR! ***** The squash blossom stuffed with ricotta cheese on a bed of cherry tomatoes. Five '0s' on the Four Eyes rating scale. Whoooooa! This was amazing. No oil sodden frying here. No. It was one light, melt - in- your - mouth, delicate mass of creamy goodness.  And the aioli provided just that nano second of pucker. If I was a professional restaurant reviewer, I would return often to order just this dish and check on the kitchen's consistency. My guess is that it never disappoints. 

We didn't have room, but the table next to us had their to-go boxes ready and were launching into a dessert pizza, which was so cute I suddenly realized why all these children were smiling. Because if they ate their beets they'd get a chocolate pizza, with ice cream, for dessert! I get it! What a strategy, what staging setting these kids up! Wouldn't it you? Look!

Gialina pizzeria
2842 Diamond Street
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 239-8500

Friday, August 20, 2010

FOOD TRENDS 2010 - Drink With An Italian Flair

If you want to startle and delight your dinner guests, make and serve them Nocino.
It's an Italian liqueur made with unripe walnuts. Yes, you heard me. Epicurious predicts death to over-the-top theatrical cocktails in 2010. Who has money for those anymore? Maybe one percent of the American population?
Instead, drinks made with simple, good ingredients are taking their place. 
Food trend - liquid. simple. That word keeps surfacing.

Most of us know and love limoncello. Well, Nocino is like that...sort of.
I became aware of it at a recent Farmers' Market here in Santa Rosa, CA.
I took my camera, as always, (usually carry two) but I had a bad attitude that morning.
"What can I find that's new? Nothing, probably. I've shot it all a hundred times."
Oh yeah?

There was a box of something, and a lot of people huddling around it making a big fuss. 
I was immediately drawn in. 
Walnuts were in that box and there was a recipe.

Whoa...amazing. Nocino?
"Oh, yes," said a woman beside me.
"It's wonderful! Are you going to post this on your blog? I forgot a pencil this morning and I need the recipe." 
Indeed. Here it is. Let me know how becoming a liquid chef works out for you.

Elise Bauer on Simply Recipes has the best
story and recipe, so take that for a spin, too.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

THERE IS NOTHING LIKE A DAME: Great Chefs of America

Dear Follower,
Gaze upon the countenance of Miss Edna Lewis, 1916-2006.

"Who?" you ask.
She was, and remains, the grand dame of southern cooking, that's who. Much like Zora Neale Hurston, who was a grand dame of southern letters, coming late to mainstream fame.
Judith Jones, vice president and senior editor at Knopf, was courting Miss Lewis at the same time she had discovered and was courting another little known cook, Julia Child. That was in the sixties; they both wrote books.

As current food trends are having a field day with fried chicken, (everyone's featuring it, including Thomas Keller at Ad Hoc) surely hers is the gold standard of that dish. Her recipe, and much about her, can be found in the documentary film,  Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie,  by bbarash Productions LLC, a small, award-winning multi-media production company, posted on Gourmet.com.

She eventually engaged in an extraordinary, long term relationship with Scott Peacock, former owner of Watershed Restaurant in Atlanta. What an unlikely pair!  I'm going there in October to visit a friend, and we're going to feast on fried chicken at Watershed, saving room for her most famous, simple  caramel cake, another food trend this year. (great recipe in September, 2010 issue of Food and Wine "Best Recipes From The New South") Peacock speaks of one epiphany he had in working with her, that he learned "creativity can be about stripping things away, not adding things." Well. Every photographer knows that. but, how refreshing to think of food that way. Check back the first week in October for my review!

Enjoy her legacy. What a woman. What a story. 

What a gift left behind.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Eat Local - The Sonoma County Fair

I haven't been to a county or state fair since I was a kid, some...well, some many years ago.
But this is how I think all kids see it in their dreams; I did. Simply hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy, sno cones, soda. So, it was with a great sense of anticipation that I, all grown up and having had a substantial breakfast, set off for the Sonoma County Fair to explore contemporary fair food.

"Im just here to shoot the food for my blog," I kept telling vendors, which only seemed to fuel their desire to give me free samples of things, if not the whole of things. (Oh, puhleeez! I'm trying to lose 10 pounds and you want me to eat a Funnel Cake? Dream on, pal, I'm not going there. A few mini doughnuts, maybe....)

Within 10 minutes, I resolved not  to rant about fair food/FAT food. And, once past all those colorful stalls, found the better choices at the end of the pieway. Thank god for the Italians, the Greeks and Mexicans -- here was food and drink I would've ingested had I been eating. And lemonade was everywhere, and Agua Fresca and iced teas. I was happy to see that. There was everything to choose from; some good, a lot bad, and a little downright ugly. But, it's recreational  food, I kept reminding myself, back off the rant.

Exhausted, I came home and did a little web research on fairs nationwide, finding interesting regional differences. The Iowa State Fair, for example, has an entire category of foods on a stick. Get this -- hard boiled egg on a stick, salad on a stick, hot bologna on a stick! EEEEUUUU! Pennsylvania's fair isn't a fair at all it turns out, even though it's listed on some sites as such. It's a farm show, period, held in January, and has really wonderful offerings in all categories in its food court -- vegetable soup! "Seasoned slow roasted rotisserie sliced chicken" Red beet and mustard eggs! (Wow, this sounds like Sonoma County!) 
And this MOST astonishing piece of stumbled-upon information -- there is an annual Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Arizona! And, beyond that, it is celebrated in Iraq by some of our Native American sisters and brothers in the Armed Forces, a world away from the neon pastels of fairgrounds across the United States.

(no photographer cited)

And then, after the mornings' shoot and research, sitting at my desk about 3 p.m., I realized I was hungry.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Think Global - How Chef's Think - Interview with Rene Redzepi, Noma, Copenhagen

Don't miss this interview! Rene Redzepi has breakfast with London Telegraph food critic Jasper Gerard (an adept writer) and they go to corners of the chef and restaurant worlds I love. Redzepi did train at The French Laundry (I had my suspicions) and touches on molecular gastronomy, one of my favorite subjects. (restaurants Moto, in Chicago, and Jose Andres' The Bazaar in L.A. specialize in this)
Also, this article includes a Frommer review of Noma.
It's all a great read.
Then, see the restaurant itself, in my last post.
(sorry, I can't get the  link to work this morning, so...)

  • www.telegraph.co.uk
  • click Lifestyle
  • type 'Noma restaurant review' in SEARCH
  • scroll down to "What makes the best resturant in the world?"
This should work. It's worth the trouble, believe me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

#1 Restaurant In The World 2010 - Noma

We Americans can become so insulated that we often ignore the larger, world view of cuisine. Who cares if I can't afford to fly to Denmark to eat-- it's there. And Copenhagen has just been crowned with ownership of the #1 restaurant in the world, leapfrogging over everyone else to enjoy that spot. If you want a review, go to Telegraph.co.uk, Friday, August 6, 2010. (masterfully written) For other details, see The Huffington Post, August 6, 2010. And for an overview of the restaurant, RUN to www.noma.dk/   
Here are screenshots from Flicker user tomislavmedak, and Noma's own website.
Thank you, Tomas. Wow. Enjoy, everyone!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Lettuce Macro
String Beans

Cherry Topiary

Cherry Tomatoes

Squash Blossoms

Organic Rhubarb

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Peaches On The Pedestal

"An apple is an excellent thing--until you have tried a peach."
So says George du Maurier, (1834-1896) grandfather of Dame Daphne du Maurier.
 I have to say, with the exception of the Honey Crisp apple,
or my mother's apple pie, I agree with him.

But it's summer now, Honey Crisps won't come again until Thanksgiving, and stone fruit is King.
I live in Santa Rosa, CA, home of Luther Burbank, the great American botanist, horticulturalist and agricultural scientist.
He put this city on the map with the Santa Rosa Plum, a plum
so sweet it comes close to but cannot equal the peach.

And the supreme monarch here is the July Flame.
I've never made a peach pie (crumble, yes) but I'm going to try one this year, using this variety.
Peach pie, with my mother's crust and vanilla gelato!
Whoa, decadent breakfast fare. I'm not kidding; cut and reserve one piece, claim presentation excuses, and enjoy this flaming endorphin rush in the morning! Maybe Sunday morning, with coffee and the NY Times. Church.

A lesser known variety is the Donut Peach, or the Saturn Peach,
so named for its shape. Mother Earth News, October/November 2006, has a concise blurb on these peaches, including a top ten list of their attributes. Nowhere on this list does the word 'cute' appear, but they are, (yes?) and kids of all ages love snacking on their almond flavored white flesh.

Speaking of pies, did you know there's an American Pie Council, and a National Pie Day? Really. It's January 23rd of every year, and the APC website has the greatest pie recipes, urging us to remember that all pies are not sweet. True. But at this time of year, peachy is all I want to make.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"We do not remember days -- We remember moments"

I intended to write about peaches today, but a friend ambushed me with an invitation to see her
strawberry bed here in Sonoma County. 
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this photo submission has saved me a whole lotta time. 
(enough to get to those peaches in our backyard in my next post)
You should know that I'm not a gardener, so whenever I'm among them and their produce, I'm in the kind of awe that they find pretty funny. "She doesn't know they go through several permutations before presenting themselves in secret stealth and numbers, ready to be popped into the mouth!" they snigger.
wink, wink, ha ha on me. Well, here's how they looked. (a thousand words, remember?)
And tasted? A warm explosion of sugar; it was as if they had already been cut and dressed with sugar for maceration. And soft all the way through, every bit of them edible. It was a circus on my taste buds,
sugar, strawberry, sugar, strawberry -- fading gracefully like a decrescendo. Like Yo Yo Ma playing the lyrical music of Ennio Morricone, Cinema Paradiso...melodies dying into sighs.
Cesare Pavese, Italian novelist and poet has said, "We do not remember days -- we remember moments." And when my friend popped that first strawberry into my mouth, the ecstatic shock became a moment I will never forget.