NEWS: Totally not dead!

::taps mic::


Hi :)

So if you've been following along, you know that Tableau Vivante had taken a bit of a sabbatical in September 2008.

It's been an interesting 10 months. A much needed break.

Never been one to rest on my laurels for too long though. The RSS subscribers know this, but it occured to me that a few of you from LJ may not.

There's a new food blog now. Same delicious content. But a whole new name and look.

If you'd like to add it to your friends list, you may do so here:

Hope you like. Thanks for reading.

Food, Bento, France, etc.

Tableau Vivante has moved.   Haven't added tableau_vivante  to your LJ friends page yet?  Dooooo it.  Doooooo it.

I've been posting a few more tidbits these past few days.  Instead of relinking every post here I'm just going to occasionally put in a heads up.  Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to say hi.  The migration of old posts will continue through this weekend.  When I finish, I'll lock up tableauvivante and set out the mint juleps and finger sandwiches at the new site.

NEWS: Changes are afoot, dear readers

I'd go into a whole post about this, but it might just be easier to direct you over here.  Fun times are ahead.  Hopefully you'll come along for the ride.

EDIT: tableau_vivante for those of you wanting to add it to your friends pages.  I'm going to be SLOWLY importing the posts from the past two years so please forgive me if it ends up dumping a load of oldies on your doorstep.

FARMERS' MARKET: Springtime surprises in Pasadena


I take a lot of pictures of pretty fruits and veggies at the market. But the ugly ones definitely merit some face time. These seemingly bruised and battered pears aren’t abused Boscs, as I had originally thought. They’re a variety Joe at Walker Farms calls “Winter Pear”. When I first saw them last week I was going to pass them by. Joe insisted I try them. I am ever so glad he did. Big, juicy pear flavor. Fragrant like a fruity flower. Musky just enough to make you go wow. Ugly? At first glance, I’ll admit that yes, I was turned off. Lesson learned. He parks these under a yellow tarp so the picture above is a bit on the amber side.


It’s not too late to plant your own peas for a nice early summer harvest. But if you can’t bear to wait, there are a few growers at the market more than willing to provide you with some instant garden gratification. Took all my willpower to not pluck these juicy looking pods from the vine.


Asparagus is sweet and crispy and oh so wonderful right now. Had some for lunch today that blew my mind. Just needs a light steam. Don’t bother with salt. Let the flavor come through on its own.


Spring here is early summer in the desert. TONS of cherry tomato varieties were out on the tables today. All of them look almost oversized possibly due to the healthy rains we had this past month? Looking to make some sunny tomato salad like the kind I enjoyed yesterday at LFCC. No basil though. Drat. Too early still.

Not a ton of shots today because I spent a good chunk of my time at the market chatting it up with a wonderful man by the name of Hel (he spelled it for me). Hel spied my camera and his eyes positively gleamed with interest. We started gabbing about lenses and such and I come to find out he’s a professional photographer who used to own a studio in San Gabriel way back in the day (he’s in his 80’s now). At first I thought it would be just a short, “nice camera” conversation. But he was genuinely interested in my photography and through the conversation I became very interested in his. And of course I’m kicking myself because I didn’t get a shot of him. I’m hoping he’ll be at next week’s market. Thanks, Hel. Was a real pleasure.

REVIEW: Lunch at the candy store

In an e-mail to someone yesterday morning, I gleefully typed, “…and today I’m having lunch at the candy store.”

Sounded like a child’s Hansel and Gretl dream. I indulged in an imaginary plate full of caramels, chocolates, and lollipops with a childlike glee. The reality of that little voyage would of course be one sickened, over-sweeted stomach. But it immediately put me in ‘wonder-mind’ prior to my much anticipated lunch at the candy store.


I have been to the Little Flower Candy Company before. It is on one of the more important streets running through Pasadena, but is placed on the hairy western edge of the city next to a peaceful (minus the roar of the 134 in the background) tree-lined residential neighborhood. Those of us on the eastside get to cross the graceful span of the Colorado St. Bridge to get there. My suggestion to those coming from the west – take the 134/210 east until Fair Oaks. Turn right on Colorado and then amble across the bridge. The LFCC will be less than a mile after the bridge on the left.


When I was last here, Christine (a.k.a. The Queen of Tarts) was testing out a new sandwich menu (which was essentially what is in the above picture plus a few additions). She willingly provided me with a copy of her handwritten menu and JJ insisted that I post something about it. I didn’t have any pictures from that visit and was knee deep in piles of busy at the time, so I let it slide. Thankfully, other more powerful voices have since trumpeted the arrival of savory at the sweet shop. The hard working queen seems pleased by the rise of her candy empire. Truth be told, so are we.


The menus are still handwritten. Yes, plural. The second page lists some really decadent seasonal offerings, some inspired by local farmers’ market fare. First my eyes lingered on the prosciutto with tomato-basil salad and goat cheese sandwich. Let your eyes wander down a bit and you hit a burrata with now in-season baby broccoli, garlic, and pine nuts on ciabatta that would be a sin to miss.


I went with a friend so we split the difference and each took one half of the other’s sandwich – half a burrata ciabatta and half a prosciutto and tomato-basil salad.


The sandwiches were the main event. But rarely do the sides ever get my rapt attention. To my delight, the pickles that accompanied them were pure gold. They get a random variety from A-1 Eastern Home-Made Pickle Company over in East L.A. and they are really one of the only accompaniments that could hold their own on a plate with her sandwiches. I recommend the garlic pickle. So so good. 

EDIT: I just realized that I didn't even talk about the sandwiches.  Silly blogger.  Yes.  They were good.  The french bread on the prosciutto sandwich was crusty and flavorful and the tomato-basil salad draping it was practically summery in its warm, sweet tomato flavor.  The burrata sandwich?  Pure delight and vegetarian to boot.  The baby brocolli was tender and very green tasting, a mouthful of spring, complimenting the uber-fresh milk creaminess of the burrata.  The pine nuts just gave you something to think about amidst all that tenderness.

We sat at a large communal table in the main bay window. The seating is spacious and cozy, warmed by the presence of exposed brick, multiple tall and wavy flower arrangements, and eye-catching artwork. The pathway to the giant kitchen in the back is unobstructed, and it was pleasant to watch the kitchen at work prepping for a big catering event. Yes. Catering. Christine’s empire is going Roman in its scope. They don’t have a set menu arranged as they would rather work with you to get an idea of your tastes and preferences.


And what is the Little Flower CANDY Company without the candy? Not all of it was made on the premises. But whatever she was retailing from other candy houses looked and smelled quite lovely.


Her baked goods also didn’t disappoint. While drooling over the blood orange tarts, we were offered several samples of this cake or that cookie.


And there are always her trademark caramels and marshmallows. The sea salt caramels? So nice. They are velvety smooth and an ideal size for a small indulgence. We walked back to our parking space very content.

Which brings me to the one downside at LFCC – what parking? The bulk of the spaces behind the storefront are taken up by the women’s gym next door and the little stretch of street out front was full the entire time we were there. As this part of Colorado borders the 134, there is only street parking on the retail side. It was a pretty day so we parked by the park down the street. There really isn’t much LFCC can do about it – in every other way the space is ideal for them – but it did require some creative navigation and red-curb avoidance. Trust me, it’s all worth it.

Little Flower Candy Company
1424 W. Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA
(626) 304-4800

A-1 Eastern Home-Made Pickle Company
1832 Johnston St.
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 223-1141

BENTO: Will I ever get sick of edamame?


Maybe someday. But not this day. Simple lunch today - somen with whole mini shitakes and edamame, dilled cucumbers, and blood orange slices.

This bento effectively uses up my current frozen supply of the glorious bean. I've looked for a supplier of fresh soybean at the market but no luck in Pasadena. I've seen them at the Hollywood market occasionally though. The shitakes are from my favorite (and only) mushroom vendor at Pasadena. In fact, aside from the beans and the somen, it's a fully farmers' market lunch, right down to the dill.

FRANCE: One of my favorites...

This shot was taken looking through the corner glass of a butcher's meat case (in Rue Mouffetard) as he was pulling cuts for a customer. It's one of my favorite shots from the trip.  It's not especially great, composition-wise.  But I remember the moment very clearly. 


It was the moment when I wished JJ was with me.  I think it was because on the day I went there, the street was full of couples holding hands.  February 16th - the first Saturday after Valentine's Day.  I was working Valentine's Day so I didn't give it much thought that I was thousands of miles away from him during a "love holiday".  But Saturday, it felt like I was the only lone woman on the street.  I'm sure I wasn't.  But at the meat case, I remember turning around and taking it all in and then wishing I could buy one cut of 'rosbif' with him to take back to a rented apartment for a decadent lunch.

I liked France.  But I love JJ.  Food just isn't the same without him. 

FRANCE: Macarons


A little bit of macaron comparison is underway here. During my past few days in Paris, I was sickity sicky sick. The cold air outside would hit my lungs and I’d be leveled by a string of coughs that made me unfit for human company, let alone trips on the Metro or strolls along the Seine. For health’s sake, I confined myself to a one block walking radius from my hotel. Normally, this situation would have had no redeeming aspects. I anticipated pawing at the window of my room, full of longing and a pout stretched across my mouth as I watched Paris be interesting and tasty without me.

And then I walked into Stoeckl Patisserie et Salon de Thè. It was one block from my hotel on Ave Kleber. It was small. It was intimate. The women behind the counter were friendly and helpful and helped me with my French. I would get a few brioche, a salad, and some tea to go and head back to my room to watch French costume dramas. They also had the above pictured macarons, of which I bought two boxes to smuggle home. Those pictured above are the last of them. Sadness.


Europane, I noticed, also has macarons. So I brought some home for comparison.


Um. Ok. Kind of giant.  Less cookie.  More sandwich. 

Bless them for trying though. Not only are the bigger macarons huge by comparison, they are also sweeter and the cookie parts are almost gooey, unlike their French counterparts which have more pillowy cookies. Think marzipan vs. well-done chocolate brownie. They aren’t bad. But not even close.

Did this stop me from eating them? Non. Pastry is pastry. Next stop: Boule. Word is they have the macaron down pat. We shall see…