Archive for the ‘comfort food’ Tag

Food, Families and Fate   Leave a comment

The Comfort Food Diaries

Emily Nunn knows food. She wrote about it as a staff writer for The New Yorker and Chicago Tribune, among other publications. She also knows heartbreak and self-damaging behavior, which she shares in The Comfort Food Diaries.

A description of her seemingly-ideal life in Chicago where she lives with her boyfriend, dubbed “the engineer” and his lovely daughter, “the princess,” fades quickly. After Nunn learns that her brother has committed suicide she begins her own self-destructive tailspin through alcoholism and ending the romantic relationship.

Nunn reveals her backstory as she seeks to find balance in her life. The loss of her brother, her parents’ dysfunctional marriage – and ultimate divorce – her relationship with other siblings, relatives and friends fill the pages. At the suggestion of a friend, she embarks on a “comfort food tour.”

The direction of this tour is different than what I anticipated. Rather than a road trip around different parts of the country in search of consolation fare, Nunn sojourns to the places of her past and the role of food in her past and present. This isn’t a one-food-fits-all look at comfort, it is only about Nunn and her perceptions.

My family, for example, has dishes deemed “classics” in lieu of comfort foods. Not because they are universal, instead because they’re unique to us. Nunn, with her family and friends, has her own.

In addition to narrating her quest, Nunn shares recipes with her memories and new experiences. Her writing style is conversational and honest. She also knows how to whet the appetite.

The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart
Three-and-a-half Bookmarks
Atria Books, 2017
310 pages


Comfort Classics   Leave a comment

It’s important to use the full name when discussing Twist On Classic Comfort Food, even though it’s easier to refer to this exciting restaurant simply as Twist. The eatery has established itself as a major culinary player in Breckenridge thanks to the spins it puts on mostly-familiar dishes. It doesn’t hurt that Twist is located in a Victorian-style home, another comfort source.

Although it was busy, service never wavered; on a few occasions a server other than our own stopped to see if we needed anything. That’s a nice touch.


The best strokes, though, came from the kitchen. Meatloaf reigns high on the comfort food throne, here it’s made with chorizo and bison. Although it sounds intriguing, we didn’t try it. Instead, the Braised Short Ribs and the Jackfish comprised our orders. Properly braised meat should fall off the bone, which is exactly what happened. Jasmine rice, peach pickled ginger gremolata, cauliflower and a wonton crisp were served with the tender pork.


The Jackfish was a nightly special, and since I was unfamiliar with it I thought I should go for it. This grilled, mild fish was a bit dry but the squash ratatouille provided contrasting texture. A small amount of tomato basil sauce enhanced the not-quite-parched fish. I probably wouldn’t have this again, but am glad I tried it.


This time of year in Colorado, Palisade is synonymous with peaches. The featured dessert was a hand pie filled with blueberry and western slope peaches served with vanilla gelato. The crust was flakey, but the fruit and gelato stole the show.

Four-and-a-half Plates
200 South Ridge St.
Breckenridge, CO

Comfort (food) Italian Style   Leave a comment


I’m not Italian, but that’s my go-to comfort food and pasta tops the list. At Terroni in downtown Los Angeles, the pasta is made fresh daily on site. There’s little else that can offer such solace when it comes to food.

Terroni is located in a cavernous space that once housed a bank. The ceiling seems to reach several stories. Sculptures hang overhead, a boar’s head and art adorn the wall, the open kitchen surges with activity and the dining room is very contemporary given the historic roots of the building.

Bread is brought to the table in a brown paper bag. It’s old world and clever at the same time. Plus, the bread is soft with a chewy crust. We start with Arancini di Modica. The spin on these rice balls, besides the artful way they’re plated, is the cheese and hearty ragu. There are three of us and four arancini. We’re polite about it, but wish we didn’t have to share the fourth.


I order Maccheroncini Geppetto, which was difficult to say, but easy to eat. The rigatoni-like pasta was suffused with a tomato-based sauce featuring homemade sausage, garlic and fontina. The sausage had a nice spice kick easily absorbed by the pasta. I tasted the Spaghetti al Limone, which was like a lemon grove. Olive oil and parmigiano were part of the mix, but lemon was the overwhelming essence.


The restaurant is beautiful and likely to be noisy when busy; fortunately, it wasn’t on our visit. I enjoy good conversation with my comfort food.

Terroni Downtown
Four Plates
802 S. Spring St.
Los Angeles

At Home in The Range   2 comments

We discovered The Range Café in Bernalillo years ago when we used travel to New Mexico for soccer tournaments. Bernalillo is home to the original Range, but there are two other locations down the highway in Albuquerque. We try to time our travel so we can stop for a meal: usually breakfast or lunch. Recently, we arrived for a late lunch on a weekend afternoon. The restaurant is cavernous, albeit festive; nonetheless, we were in for a 10 to 15 minute wait unless we sat at the bar, which we did.

Colorful, original art and Western décor adorn the walls, as do numerous references to ranges. Not a range as in open prairie, but as in stove. This makes sense, because there is plenty of good cooking going on.

The emphasis is on comfort food: meat loaf, mac and cheese, sandwiches, salads and a standard selection of Mexican dishes. I knew we still had more than five hours left in our drive home, so I didn’t want to overeat. I ordered the Veggie Sandwich with slabs of mozzarella, tomatoes, grilled zucchini, thinly fried onions all pressed between a sliced baguette lathered with pesto aioli! This was a garden on bread. The only disappointment was the tomato which lacked that fresh taste of summer. Although other sides are available, I swear when I ordered I only saw sweet potato fries listed, nothing else was on the page.

I ate only half my lunch and still slept afterward – fortunately, my husband was driving.

The Range Café
Four Plates
925 Camino Del Pueblo
Bernalillo, N.M.

Table Talk   1 comment

Our presence at “The Charlie Chaplin table” at Musso & Frank Grill for dinner
recently prompted one passerby to comment: “You must be somebody special to be
sitting there.” This led to a lively discussion among those in our group while we
enjoyed what could be construed as old-school cuisine – except it tasted so good –
in the dated restaurant.

Around since 1919, Musso & Frank bills itself as “the oldest restaurant in Hollywood.”
This is hard to dispute. The staff, along with the dark and cavernous décor, helps au-
thenticate the claim. The history may be appealing, but it’s the food that continues to
draw people of all ages.

The menu is eclectic: from Fruit Cocktail to Welsh Rarebit, from Lobster Thermidor to
Chicken Pot Pie. The latter is the featured special every Thursday. Three of the five in
our party ordered it. With its flakey crust, large pieces of chicken, a colorful array of
vegetables and a rich creamy gravy, it’s easy to see why this comfort food is so popular.
I ordered Veal Scaloppini which revealed the Marsala very nicely, but the surprise was
the tapenade served atop the side of rice. The Bone-in Pork Chop was the final dish se-
lected. It covered the plate. The chop was perfectly grilled and tender, something unex-
pected given the thick cut.

Musso & Frank has no visible signs of its place in Hollywood history. Nonetheless,
the booth to the left of the front door is known as Chaplin’s favorite. We did feel
pretty special.

Musso & Frank Grill
Four Plates
6667 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA