Here are links to some of my favorite people, products, and their associated websites...

Lodge - America's Original Cookware

Urban Survival Kitchen – My Favorite Cast-Iron Skillet

 

Among my array of tools as an urban private chef is a set of stainless steel pots and pans. Although they are quite handy, there is a certain “coldness” about them. And so, my heart belongs to the Lodge 10-inch cast iron skillet which always sits proudly on my stove as the “go-to” pan – particularly for “comfort food” cooking.

 

As I gaze at my Lodge skillet, I realize that I have had this pan for over thirty years…so many memorable meals come to mind. For example, I remember pan-cooking fish that had been freshly plucked from the water – on so many fishing expeditions to the “River” off of Long Island.

 

And then there were those catering jobs… New England seafood dinners prepared in the ship’s galley of the historic USS Sequoia (which I later discovered had been the official United States Presidential Yacht), whilst cruising along the Potomac River.  Or preparing Chicken Milanese for Al Pacino in a Frank Lloyd Wright kitchen. Then there was that film location inLouisiana. I worked in the kitchen of an old Antebellum house, preparing my Fried Country Tomatoes for the cast of “Steel Magnolias.” My 10-inch Lodge cast iron skillet was an integral part of those memories, and so many more.

 

Lodge cast iron is a work of domestic beauty, as I see it. Treat it properly, and you will have a loyal kitchen companion for life. Like a rare wine, the cast iron continues to improve over time, developing a rich patina (and easy-to-use surface). While rugged and built to last, it is at the same time versatile and subtle.

 

I decided to use my Lodge 10-inch skillet as an element of my Urban Survival Kitchen logo. I developed Urban Survival Kitchen as a culinary health program that teaches budget-conscious students how to FACE the future by preparing food that is Flavorful, Affordable, Clean and Eco-conscious.   My students discover that cast iron is easy to use and maintain; and that it deserves to play a prominent role in the urban kitchen because (among many reasons) it is affordable; healthful (providing a natural source of iron); and has demonstrated centuries of service to cooks worldwide.

Nuvo Olive Oil

I recently discovered this excellent olive oil, which I highly recommend.  Below you will find my recipe for 20-Minute Pasta Puttanesca, which incorporates it. Visit their website at:  www.nuvooliveoil.com

20-Minute Pasta Puttanesca

 

I learned how to make Pasta Puttanesca from a New York City mob figure (believe it or not!).  As I stood next to him in the galley of a large yacht, while docked in St.Thomas, he showed me how to carefully prepare this sauce in its Sicilian authenticity and simplicity.  All of the ingredients came from the pantry, making this dish a perfect meal made entirely from staples.

 

Pasta Puttanesca has a high nutritional profile.  In addition to the healthy Omega 3 fatty acids, chlorophyll and Vitamin E, there are the beneficial super antioxidants called polyphenols from the garlic, olives, olive oil and tomatoes.  An added benefit is that canned tomatoes have been shown to have a concentrated polyphenol content compared with fresh tomatoes.  While some of the Vitamin C is lost in the canning process, there is a significant increase in the concentration of the polyphenol antioxidant, lycopene.   Here’s a little health tip:  Peel the garlic cloves and let them sit for 15 minutes before cooking; this will optimize its strong medicinal properties.  Garlic retains 100% of its health benefits when eaten raw.  However, when sautéed in a “low and slow” fashion (as I demonstrate in my instructional video at www.junepagan.com) garlic and olive retain more of their nutritional qualities. Cooked garlic is easier to digest than raw garlic for many of us, so the “low and slow” method is a smart way to go.

 

Pasta Puttanesca works wonderfully with California olive oil.  I have discovered a particularly delicious one made by Nuvo, a boutique family-owned olive orchard in Oroville.  Upon tasting Nuvo Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the first time, I could immediately detect its richness in polyphenols, particularly oleuropein, the phenolic compound that gives olive oil its bitter and pungent aftertaste.  As I poured a small sample into a white cup, I immediately noticed its particularly vibrant yellow-green color, which predicted the bouquet of flavor that was to follow.  This oil reminds me of fresh green olives; the flavor is pleasantly mild, beginning with a fruit-like sensation, and ending with a nice peppery finish.  I have learned that best way to assess the level of oleuropein polyphenol is to look for a pronounced peppery quality in the finish on the palate. 

 

I had been searching for some time, for a quality extra virgin olive oil to use consistently in my kitchen.  I believe that I have found it in Nuvo Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  One interesting fact about Nuvo:  The trees in their orchard are over 100 years old, having originally been planted in the late 1800’s by the Freda Ehmann, considered “the mother of the California olive industry.”  According to information provided by the University of California at Davis Olive Center, the age of the tree is very important.  Older trees produce olives containing a significantly higher amount of polyphenols, which are resistant to disease.  We are now discovering that this may also have the same effect on humans.  I particularly appreciate the fact that Nuvo prints the crush date on all of their bottles.  I prefer to use olive oil within one year of the crush date to assure freshness.

 

Because the polyphenols from olive oil are known for their excellent bioavailability, it makes good sense to incorporate a few tablespoons a day into our diets.  In many parts of the world (particularly the Mediterranean), high-quality olive oil is actually considered to be an essential daily food supplement.  This is because polyphenols are believed to have anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, and anti-viral properties.  Some experts suggest that for optimal health benefit, adopt the habit of using the same high-quality oil at the same consumption level on a daily basis. 

 

Yield: 2-4 Servings

 

Ingredients:

 

2 Tablespoons Nuvo Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tablespoons Anchovy Paste, or more

2 Tablespoons Nuvo Olives, chopped medium dice

2 Tablespoons Capers, rinsed and chopped

2 Garlic Cloves, sliced razor thin

1 – 14½ oz. Can Chopped Organic Tomatoes

1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil (optional)

Salt and Pepper, to taste

2-4 Cups Cooked Pasta

 

Method:

 

1.   Heat a pan over medium flame for one minute.

2.   Add olive oil and heat for 30 seconds.

3.   Add the anchovy paste, olives, capers, and garlic to the pan, and stir to dissolve the anchovy paste

4.   Cook this mixture for a few minutes until the garlic is starting to brown slightly.

5.   Add canned tomatoes. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes over a low-medium flame, stirring       occasionally.

6.   Taste and adjust seasoning. You may not need to salt this dish.

7.   Prepare the pasta, strain off, and add the finished sauce.

8.   You should be enjoying this dish within 20 minutes if it’s done right.


Suntava Purple Corn

As a recipe developer with a focus on health-oriented cuisine, I am inspired by Suntava Purple Corn. This remarkably versatile product has found a prominent place among my palette of ingredient choices.  With it's earthy flavor and brilliant color, Suntava Purple Corn plays a key role in my development of menu ideas for the discerning palates of my Hollywood clientele.  Here is a link to their website...

This rice producer, based in Louisiana, has an exquisite product that is flavorful and healthy.  Although it is not yet available here in Southern California, I am hoping to do something about that!  Here is a link to a local (Louisiana) news story about them:  http://www.katc.com/videoplayer/?video_id=13340&categories=2183

 

 

And here is a direct link to their website:  http://purpleblackrice.com/

MoJo Roast is a provider of personal coffee roasting services.  They roast only the finest Arabica coffee beans for themselves and their customers. They offer Organics, Cup of Excellence, Fair Trade, and Estate coffees.  MoJo Roast is a socially responsible purveyor.  By purchasing these coffees, MoJo Roast helps many people in many areas of the world. They also offer natural water processed and Swiss Water processed decafs.  I have found all of their coffees to be of the highest quality.

I had an enlightening conversation with Jo Khalifa, the owner of MoJo Roast.  She explained to me that all of her coffees are not only 100% Arabica - they are Specialty Grade coffees, comprising 5% of the world's coffee. Since coffee is a perishable food item, she roasts all of her coffee to order.  In this way, the consumer experiences the best cup possible.  She has discovered some truly unique coffees.  For example, she has a Gayo Mountain Sumatran coffee that is shade grown, bird friendly, and organic.  She is the first (and thus far the only) coffee company certified organic in and by the State of North Dakota. Most of her organic coffees are Fair Trade, Bird Friendly, Shade Grown, abd Rain Forest Alliance certified.  She even has a Kosher coffee that is certified organic.  In addition to her commitment to high quality, Jo Khalifa has a strong commitment to social responsibility.  Through the sales of these coffees she provides financial support to domestic abuse centers in Mexico, Peru, and the county in which she lives.  She also donates to Cancer Foundations that have evolved around her coffee.

MoJo Roast recently did coffee pairing for a domestic abuse fundraiser in New Jersey.  She provided a blend that she created to go with decadent desserts. Jo explained to me that there are various acids in coffee that react differently to each of our palates, negatively and possitively. If for example, your palate leans toward full body and you drink an acidic coffee it will be very harsh and bitey. And, if your palate leans toward acidic coffee and you drink a full bodied coffee - you may think a Chia pet is growing on your tongue; it really coats your mouth in a negative way.  Jo muses, "Once you find your personal coffee, you will drink a little bit of heaven every day."  We also discussed methods of brewing.  Jo explained to me that the most effective means of brewing a flavorful cup of coffee is the "French Press" method.  In addition to producing the most flavorful cup, this method is also the most cost-effective, and with the price of premium coffee always on the rise, this is an important consideration.

Here is one of the dessert recipes I've developed using MoJo's excellent roasted beans:

MoJo Flourless Chocolate Cake/ Wheat Free
This has to be the easiest recipe in my repertoire
 
16 Ounces Quality Dark Chocolate
1 Cup White Sugar
½ Cup Light Brown Sugar
¾ Cup HOT Coffee (I use MoJo Roasters “Viking Thunder”)
½ Pound or 2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp Cocoa
8 Large Eggs, Room Temperature
1 Tbsp Quality Vanilla Extract
 
1.  Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees
2.  Butter and lightly flour 10” Springform or approximately 12 muffin tins
3.  Break up chocolate and place in a food processor
4.  Place both sugars into processor
5.  Start to pulse. Add HOT coffee.  Continue to pulse
6.  Add the remaining ingredients,butter,cocoa,eggs and vanilla extract
7.  Blend until smooth
8.  Pour into pan or muffin tins
9.  Bake until puffed, 45 minutes for a 10” Springform or approximately 30 minutes for individuals
10. Remove from oven and serve warm or chill and garnish with whipped cream

Contact; sales@mojoroast.com for the best tasting custom roasted coffees. You will not be disappointed.

Contact : www.patriciarain.com to connect to the Vanilla Queen site for a history of the vanilla bean and fair trade practices.

Enjoy!

Drinking Coffee May Lower Ovarian Cancer Risk

Washington Post, January 22, 2008: Drinking three or more cups of coffee a day may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by over 20 percent.

I’ll drink to that! A study was recently conducted by physicians at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. The study findings suggest that this benefit may be related to the caffeine in coffee. Senior Author Shelly Tworoger, Assistant Professor of Medicine, reports that she and her colleagues found that caffeine consumption may actually lower estrogen levels in post menopausal women. The findings also suggest that this benefit is more pronounced for postmenopausal women who have never used oral contraceptives or postmenopausal hormones. The study found that decaffeinated coffee does not offer the same benefit. The study also found that there is no connection between alcohol consumption and ovarian cancer. Of all the cancers of the female reproductive system, ovarian cancer has the highest mortality. To make matters worse, it is a silent disease - women often have mild or no symptoms until the disease has progressed. The study findings are published in the March 1, 2007 issue of the journal, “Cancer.” 

Visit MoJo Roast on the web, at:

www.mojoroast.com

WholeVine

This grapeskin-based flour is on the cutting edge of health-promoting foods, and I think it shows great promise as a preventive component in recipes.  It can be considered a true whole-food supplement. It proved to be perfect for the tartar sauce accompanying my Cabo San Lucas Flounder

The merlot grapeskin flour was also perfect for my Sardinian sauce on this prosciutto-wrapped shrimp appetizer.

Susan B. Dopart M.S., R.D.
Registered Dietitian & Exercise Physiologist

Susan B. Dopart, M.S., R.D., is a nutrition and fitness expert who has been in private practice for more than 15 years. As a trusted partner who works closely with clients and their physicians, she specializes in medical nutrition-related issues, including diabetes and endocrinology, heart disease, weight management,  cancer, pregnancy, infertility, PCOS, and exercise nutrition. Before establishing her own consultancy, Susan worked at UCLA as both a medical and kidney dietitian.

Susan has consulted for UCLA Medical Center, UCLA Extension, the Beverly Hills Country Club, Sebastian International, and Procter & Gamble. She has written and contributed to multiple publications, including UCLA Medicine, Sports and Cardiovascular Nutritionists SCAN publication, Best Life, Men’s Health, Message Magazine, and Diabetes Forecast.

As a member of the International Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers, Susan advocates a client-directed counseling style for eliciting behavior change. This approach helps clients explore and resolve ambivalence.

Susan is a member of the American Dietetic Association and participates in subgroups of the ADA for Sports and Cardiovascular Nutritionists, Nutrition in Complementary Care, and Diabetes Care and Education. She is also a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Diabetes Association.

Susan received her B.S. in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics from UC Berkeley and her M.S. in Exercise Physiology and Sports Medicine from California State University, Hayward. She is certified as an Exercise Test Technologist from the American College of Sports Medicine.  She is from New Jersey and grew up in Northern California before moving to Los Angeles to work at UCLA Medical Center. She resides in Santa Monica with her husband Jeffrey. Susan’s passion is finding reasonable lifestyle solutions to assist others in having health and happiness.
 
Here is an excerpt from her excellent book: 

Beware of Hidden Sugars

Since American culture is accustomed to high levels of sweetness, many of our foods have additional sugar added. This includes anything from small yogurts to salad dressings, and many other foods you may be eating on a regular basis. The typical carton of yogurt at the grocery store has a minimum of 30 grams of carbohydrate, unless it is a plain yogurt or is sweetened with non-nutritive (i.e. artificial) sweeteners, such as AspartameTM, Sweet and LowTM or SplendaTM.  Many fat-free and low fat products have sugar added, causing them to become basically high sugar products. Most juices or smoothie drinks contain 60-90 grams of carbohydrate, which would be 4-6 slices worth of bread.

The following list reveals foods that can have sugars or hidden sugars you may not be aware of:
 
• flavored, sweetened yogurts
• condiments, such as ketchup, barbeque
  or teriyaki sauce or other sauces
• any low fat or fat-free product
• salad dressings
• smoothie drinks
• canned or bottled tomato sauces
• pre-made deli case salads or entrees
• sweet relishes
• frozen vegetables and entrees
• canned fruits in syrups
 
To learn more, please visit Susan's website:
www.susandopart.com

Guava Products from Mexico
 
I came across these excellent products a fellow foodie, and I have been thrilled with their superb flavor and versatility.  Here is one of many ways that Guayeco guava can enhance a dish...

Guayeco & Co. All Natural Guava Products are a joy to work with as a component to a recipe.

Not only is guava four to ten times richer in Vitamin C than oranges, full of antioxidants and enzymes that promote good digestion, it also has a pleasant flavor that enhances other flavors in a dish.  Move over pomegranate, there’s a new kid on the block!

Guava is high in pectin which, helped to naturally thicken a tangerine guava sauce that I designed to serve with grilled poultry or pork. This sauce would also work well with egg rolls or shrimp tempura. Here are some recipes that I've developed....

Guava and Tangerine Sauce
 
1 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
½ Cup Organic Sugar or Alternative
Grated Peel of Three Tangerines
1 Tbsp Minced or Grated Ginger
Juice of 10 Tangerines
4-6 Tbsp Guava Paste or Guava Jam
 
1. Combine vinegar, sugar, tangerine peel and ginger in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer and let it cook down by 50%. Take pan off heat.
2. Meanwhile juice 10 tangerines and measure 4-6 Tbsp of Guava paste or jam and add to juice.
3. Strain the reduced vinegar sugar mixture into tangerine juice guava mixture and return to pan.
4. Return to a simmer and reduce by 50%. Stir well to blend in the guava
5. Let the sauce cool to room temperature. This will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator.
 
1 ½ Cup Yield
 
Instead of Mango Lassi, a refreshing drink that promotes good digestion and can be consumed before, during or after a spicy meal or simply as a refreshing snack, I decided to try my hand at Guava Lassi and it was delightful:
 
Guayeco Lassi
 
3-4 Tbsp Guava Paste or Jam
¾ Cup Filtered Water or Glacial Water
1 Cup Plain Yogurt
6 Cubes of Ice
Optional additions: add to your own taste, rosewater, cardamom, turmeric
 
Place all ingredients in a blender, pulse until thoroughly blended. Consume immediately.
 
I made rugelach for a client recently and decided to make the filling with guayeco jam instead of my usual raspberry jam. These were a noticeable hitthat night. The plate came back clean.
 
Guayeco Guava Rugelach
 
Pastry Dough:
2 Cups Organic All Purpose Flour
8 Ounces Cream Cheese
8 Ounces Organic Unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp.Granulated Sugar
2 Large Egg Yolks
1 ½ tsp.Vanilla Extract
 
Filling:
½ Cup Guayeco Guava Jam
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice (optional)
½ Cup Macadamia Nuts or Walnuts, fine chopped
I Egg Yolk
1 tsp Water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 Degrees
2. Place flour and sugar into a food processor. Cut cream cheese and butter into cubes and place in processor with flour mixture.
3. Blend eggs and vanilla. Start to pulse the flour butter mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then slowly add egg vanilla mixture until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the side of the container. Do not over mix.
4. Divide dough into 4 balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for an hour to firm up for rolling.
5. Meanwhile blend the guava jam with nuts.
 
To complete:
1. Roll each ball of dough on a floured surface until it is approximately ¼ inch thick.
2. Spread jam and nut mixture evenly to edge.
3. Cut dough into eight segments.
4. Roll each segment into a crescent shape starting from th outside towards the center.
5. Place each rugelach onto a parchment paper lines sheet pan. Brush each rugelach with a well blended egg yolk and water wash.
6. Repeat this process until all the dough is used.
7. The finished product can be refrigerated at this time until you  are ready to bake. It’s impressive to have these served from the oven.
8. Bake at 400 Degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes just until the bottoms are lightly browned.

These are very nice served with a tropical sorbet or vanilla ice cream, which is also tropical (the vanilla).
 
 
And some other ideas to consider...
 
Use diced guava paste to garnish an orange flan
Use as a filling for French Macaroons
Add to a  mango salsa for grilled fish
Blend with pineapple for an interesting sorbet

World-Wide-Waters.com

With many of us suffering from Orthorexia Nervosa (Dr. Steven Bratman coined this term in his book “The Health Food Eating Disorder”), it comes as a shock to me that we tend to overlook water – which is perhaps the most important substance we consume, and an key ingredient that goes into the flavor of cooked and baked foods.  

High-end sake brewers know that the cleaner the water - the better tasting the result. Sake is made from the fermentation of rice, koji, yeast and water. It takes thirty times the amount of water to rice - to produce the final product.  So it’s safe to say that water is an important ingredient in sake production. Water aids in the process of fermentation. Elements in the water can enhance or adversely affect the outcome. Too much iron can darken and create an off-flavor and fragrance. The best sakes are made with the ice run-off from mountains.  Bread bakers also know that the quality of water used in the baking of breads is important, as well. Bread is the fermentation of simple honest ingredients - flour, water, salt and yeast.

It was once believed that New York Pizza could not be reproduced anywhere except in New York.  There is an urban legend that this had something to do with the water. NYC water comes from an upstate source and is considered to be hard water.  Hard water contains higher levels of calcium and magnesium.  Like sake, bread is a fermented product and as such, it relies on the water to form the gluten and to give the dough consistency, yielding a very digestible result.  Water with a mild hardness produces the best crust.

Second to oxygen, water is the most important “ingredient” for a healthy life. Most of us are chronically dehydrated.  Dehydration, if not treated, can lead us into a life of suffering. Drinking a good quality mineral water helps one’s body digest and absorb nutrients from foods. When we sit down to a lovely dinner with wine, we are taking in alcohol, which is dehydrating. It is always a good idea to have water with your wine; you will have better digestion and enjoy the flavors on your palate.  With the excellent selection of high-quality mineral water that is available (still and sparkling), we can enhance our dining experience, while promoting our overall health.  I have found an excellent selection of water at this website, which I urge you to explore.

I have had excellent results with the use of some of these specialty mineral waters in my menu development.  For example, the Lauquen still water from Patagonia produced a very clean-tasting lavender icing... 

And here is a recipe that is enhanced by using a specially selected ultra-high-quality water...

Street Fair Zeppoles

Recipe:
 
1 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Organic All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking powder
3 tsp Granulated Sugar
1 ½ tsp Tahitian Vanilla
Pinch of Salt
2 Cups Grapeseed Oil, or preferred Vegetable Oil
 
Method:
 
1. Preheat oil in a deep pan to 375 Degrees
2. Combine Ricotta Cheese, Eggs and Vanilla. Set aside.
3. Combine Flour Granulated Sugar, Baking Powder and Salt
4. Mix wet and dry ingredients. Let sit until oil comes to proper temperature.
5. Drop teaspoon size portions of batter into the hot oil.
6. Brown evenly to a deep brown. Turn over and continue to brown.
7. Transfer to a paper lined pan.
8. Serve warm with a generous dusting of Confectioners Sugar.

These Zeppoles go very well with a variety of fruit sauces or a warm chocolate sauce or fondue.

Here is a nice pairing with crab...

I really like this combination.  This water has a great fresh taste that complements the crab perfectly.  And here is a nice recipe for the sauce:

Dino's Sardianian Fish Sauce:  Take equal parts of Dijon mustard, mayonaisse, creamed horseradish, and honey.  Blen well, and serve.  That's it!

This very creative purveyor has some excellent products available. I have sampled these two products and have been thrilled with the results....

Here are two examples from my kitchen...

The Vanilla Queen

I discovered "the Vanilla Queen" a while back, and it changed my culinary world.  Much more than just an ingredient in baked goods, vanilla is a magical flavoring and can do wonders for most foods and beverages.  The Vanilla.COMpany has some exquisite vanilla products...

I used their vanilla beans in the preparation of this Italian dessert...

Visit the Vanilla.COMpany at
 
www.vanilla.com

Bluebird Grain Farms

These specialized grains help me to create desserts that not only taste great - but are also beneficial to one's health.  You can visit them on the Web at:
 
www.bluebirdgrainfarms.com

Grafton Village Four-Star Cheddar Cheese – A Postcard from Vermont

Grafton Village Four-Star Cheddar Cheese (www.graftonvillagecheese.com) is mature sharp cheddar, ivory in color. It has excellent body, crumbly but smooth. Sealed in black wax, this cheese captures the flavor of Jersey cow’s milk. Jersey cows are a pure breed with good genes. Cheese from Jersey cows has its earliest documented beginning in Normandy, France, in the year 1771 (Normandy butter, anyone?). Jersey milk has to be the richest milk with the highest percentage of butter fat and protein. At 110 calories per one-ounce serving, Grafton Village Four-Star Cheddar delivers more calcium and protein, compared with cheese that is made from other cows. Due to the “in your face” rich and clean flavor of this cheese, a little goes a long way, in cooking the low-fat way. It takes four years for the Four-Star Cheddar to mature. The earthy flavor is reminiscent of Vermont’s slow, close-to-the-earth lifestyle. Visit Vermont without leaving your dining room, and support our domestic farm families and creamery workers, who are maintaining a vital tradition.

El Faro Restaurant in New York City

I often think about the memorable meals that I enjoyed during my years in New York City, dining at a delightful restaurant called El Faro, which is still going strong after more than eighty years in business!  One afternoon, while daydreaming about El Faro and wondering if the restaurant was still around, I decided to do a little Internet research.  I was thrilled to find their website, which is www.elfaronyc.com - and I decided to send them an e-mail:

My name is June Pagan. I am a private chef in Los Angeles. I was influenced by your restaurant at an early age. My aunt and uncle used to take me to dine at the one on 72nd Street, several times a year. My first experience with wine was at the age of fourteen - Sangria at El Faro's. I loved the pommes soufflés that you had at the time and the shrimp in green sauce. Also, my favorite dish was the Chicken Villarroy. For many years I pondered in my kitchen, trying to figure out the ingredients. I achieved a close facsimile, but now can only rely upon my memory. That was during the period of time between 1968 and 1974. My last meal at El Faro was in the seventies. In the next few weeks, I am going to try to recreate a dinner using your menu. It will be the next best thing to being there.

Sincerely,
June Pagan


Here is the kind e-mail that Sr. Lugris sent back to me:

June, thank you for your recollections of El Faro. We are especially flattered that you have been influenced by us and have gone on to a career as chef. I have had offers to open several El Faro's in such destinations as Philadelphia, San Diego, Seattle, even Japan! Offers are one thing; financing that type of project is another. Being in the industry, you know what I mean. Only corporate entities can afford to open in markets like LA & NY. The mystique of El faro lies in that it has been a family-run operation for 80 years. One ingredient that the corporate giants of the restaurant industry cannot duplicate is the love and caring that goes into delivering our dishes to your table. This is truly the greatest ingredient you can use in any recipe! Many restaurants are successful, but that love and caring is substituted for profit margin & flow charts to keep investors happy. The love and caring ingredient - that is our secret, plain and simple. So cook with passion and love, and I wish much you success.

Gracias, un abrazo,
Marcos Lugris Owner, El Faro Restuarant est.1927