Pesto Trapanese

[My friend Dara Bratt–an award-winning filmmaker and unabashed bon vivant–positively pounced when I mentioned “Sauce Week” and here’s her delightful contribution. Take it away, Dara!]

Recently, I had a girls’ night at a fairly new restaurant in Brooklyn called “Rucola”. The conversation was great, and the food equally impressive, the standout dish being the pasta, which my friend ordered; “Garganelli – Tomatoes – almond pesto, cherry tomatoes, zucchini.”

It was so light that the impact of flavor was shockingly impressive. A pesto with almonds at the core instead of pine nuts?! Cheaper? Healthier? Sold!

Dinner with Cara and Dara at La Vara

One time in grad school for dramatic writing, a teacher tore into me and called the play I was working on “sophomoric” and “juvenile.” Classmates called me afterwards to console me, and though I’m pretty much over it, sometimes I look back at that moment and wonder if she was right. In all of my efforts to be taken seriously, perhaps I was at my best when I made the Janet Jackson Breast Cupcake? Or Condoleeza Rice Pudding with Berries of Mass Destruction?

Take, for example, the dinner I had last week with friends in Brooklyn. I couldn’t get over the fact that two of the friends I was eating with were named Cara and Dara and we were eating at a restaurant called La Vara. Cara and Dara at La Vara. I told everyone I knew; I Tweeted about it. I told the waitress and the chef. At a certain point, you’d think I would’ve gotten over it, but no sirree. I find the title of this post endlessly amusing. In fact, I could just end it here but then you wouldn’t get to see the absolutely amazing food that we ate.

Let’s Bring Back The “Thank You” Note

The worst moment of my 13 year-old life was when my mom pointed to a stack of cardboard cards featuring my name written in glitter and told me that I had to write “thank you” notes for all of my Bar Mitzvah gifts. This was weeks after having been hospitalized for dehydration (my Bar Mitzvah was very stressful; all those “CH” sounds) and I couldn’t imagine a universe where anyone, in their right mind, would voluntarily write a “thank you” note. “Thank you” notes are strictly for those whose parents are making them write them.

Last Minute Gougères

On Saturday night, with 45 minutes left to go before our friend Dara was due to drop by for drinks, I made a drastic decision. I decided to make gougères.

This seemed like a drastic decision because: (a) I didn’t have the right cheese in my refrigerator and (b) I’d have to dirty the kitchen and a bunch of dishes just before the arrival of a guest. Things would be messy, things might burn. This was dangerous drink-hosting and I was living right on the edge. That’s what made it all so exciting.

Pickle Spiced Ice

[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Today we continue talented female filmmaker day with another talented female filmmaker, Ms. Dara Bratt. (Check out her film, “In Vivid Detail.”) Dara isn’t just a talented filmmaker, she’s also an excellent cook–see here–but this post, I have to confess, has me a little worried. Take it away, Dara!]

What I’m about to share may shock you, some will be repulsed, others curious or even amused. Nothing beats a hot summer day like frozen pickle juice.



Dinner parties are rarely life changing events. Usually, you sit around a table with friends, drink wine, eat cheese, and talk about light subjects like abortion and torture and then you all head home. At least, that’s always how it’s been for me until this past weekend when our friends Dara and Kieran–who’ve kindly hosted us before— invited us to dinner.


My friend Dara, who I met because she went to film school with Craig, cooked me not one, but TWO fantastic meals over the past two weeks. The first was an intimate dinner with her, her husband Kieran, Craig and myself; the second was a Rosh Hashanah dinner for a small group of mostly non-Jews (Dara asked me to do the prayer for the bread, and I forgot it!)

So this is just a quick (public) note to thank Dara for her wonderful food. At the first meal, there was a barley risotto that Dara fretted over because it took a long while to become tender–but the work paid off: it was extraordinarily flavorful, and a great base for the scallops (perfectly cooked) that she served on top with a piece of pancetta.

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