Home from Epic trip

I didn’t think we would be able to take a trip like this. perfect italian villa But, certain forces conspired to help us have an Epic European trip.

Look ma I'm in front of the Duomo in Milan, oh yeah Ma, you are taking the picture

Look ma I’m in front of the Duomo in Milan, oh yeah Ma, you are taking the picture

I’m going to pick out one part today.

My darling husband spoke at the USA Pavilion about dining trends in the USA,front of usa pavilionedible garden at usa pavillion

My wife told me to wear this shirt, wait that's not what I was talking about!

My wife told me to wear this shirt, wait that’s not what I was talking about!

at the Milan Expo. In THE Milan, you know, the one in Italy.  By the way the Expo is an underated attraction. Sure there are some odd translations here and there, but it’s a coming together of countries across the globe to entertain, feed and educate the world… well, mostly Italians in this case, but I felt really lucky to get to be one of the people there. This is what the world’s fairs of old have morphed into. Remember “Meet me in St Louis”?  This was Meet me in Milan.  Every five years a country hosts and the host country picks the theme.  Last time it was China and the subject was “Clean Cities”.  Which I know if very important, but sounds as sexy as a flushing toilet.  The Italians hosted and they picked food, or rather feeding the world.   I had assumed in our jaded, TV, social media age the quaintness of the world coming together for education and recreation would be over.  But, oh no.  It felt like the United Nations meets Disneyland.  It runs through October and just in case you can get there I would advise you go.

spoiler alert: it will affect the food supply

poster for Expo

We visited different countries, ones that we know, France.. great food, natch.  Holland… which had a ferris wheel restaurant.

why didn't we think of this?

why didn’t we think of this?

The most charming, whimsical eating experience I’ve ever taken part in.  The kids and I got in, thinking it just and old ride and then the lady said, “no, would you like some wine or beer?”  Well, yeah, sure.  I sipped Rose as we went around, next round we got Rex a grilled cheese, then another round or two a sweet crepe.  It went very slowly. We loved it.  Another little food truck at the Holland area was offering “Silent Disco”, okay, what is that?  Dancing with myself! I love the irreverence.silent disco

funniest sign at expo

is that what the kids are calling it now?

Each country had a different take on the theme of feeding the world. USA took it seriously.  As we walk up there entrance of usa pavilionwas President Obama on a loop saying we have to figure out how will we feed 9 billion people by 2050?  I got choked up.  From seeing homefolk abroad and the enormity of that proposition. Then you walk at your pace to different  areas where there are video presentations from chefs, farmers, etc talk about how they are trying to create food that is sustainable.  It was educational, and important, yet I couldn’t help but be amused when I saw that USA had one of the odder translations at the Expo

We went to places we’ve never been, Turkey ( best tasting rice), Estonia ( one of our faves… when do we go), Poland, Russia ( impressive, but we were NOT going buy the Putin T shirts), Bolivia ( a mini pavilion in the are with countries who didn’t speak the mega bucks) and places we are unlikely to ever go, Iran, Zimbabwe.

Strangley there was a big pavilion for Sudan.  I didn’t get to it, but I was curious.. how are they feeding their people with civil war?  But, that’s what’s interesting about the Expo.  You get a lot for your travel dollar.  A sampler of countries and culture.  I said the the man I bought tea and spice from in Iran Pavilion, “I feel like I’m doing something illegal to be here.”  He said, the government is not the people, that Iranian people love Americans.  I didn’t want to belabor watching the hostage crisis as a child.  Let’s move on.

Russia had clearly spent some rubles on their pavilion.

Back in the (former) USSR

Back in the (former) USSR

 

russian pavilion

cool mirrored over hang at entrance to Russian Pavilion

By the way, USA was the only pavilion that was privately funded ( Source: USA pavilion).  Russia showed off it’s grains and grain based beverages if you know what I mean.  There was a line to sample some Russian delicacy they were handing out.  I thought of making a joke about Soviet era bread lines, but thought better of it.  Makes me seem older than I am the way  I know history.  Rex really wanted to go to the top of the pavilion which was hot, so we didn’t stay long.  The roof top was partly given over to a Sky bar like cocktail lounge where the vodka was available.top of russian pavilion

 

We were most moved by the former Soviet bloc countries.  There is an earnestness there.  As if they are saying , “We survived Nazi’s, Soviet Union and now we are HERE!”  They really celebrate their food, dance, customs.  The Polish were very smart.  They thought of EVERYTHING.  People will be tired, okay, big couches in front so people can relax.  While there a stage with music and stunts by off road cyclist, which is a big deal in Poland.. who knew?  Everyone will want to charge their phones.  Free charging stations.  Free cotton candy made to order.

forget the jokes, the Poles are smart

forget the jokes, the Poles are smart

That’s before we even walked in!  There was a beautiful upstairs garden surrounded by mirrors. Showcasing what grows in Poland.  Rex went twice, “mommy, this is enchanting.”  It was. IMG_3678 Mark noticed we were there just in time for a Chopin concert by an award winning Polish pianist.

go Poland

go Poland

We listened entranced.  Later the same spot was used to show wordless videos of different Polish chefs cooking.  It was probably the most beautiful food photography I’ve ever seen.  Rex and I didn’t want to leave and only did so because Viv and Mark were downstairs in the cafe waiting for us.

getting lots of ideas in case there is a season 3

getting lots of ideas in case there is a season 3

They had a 3-d movie of the history of Poland in about 8 minutes they covered over a thousand years.  Spoiler alert, lots of wars.  They showed what they produced, great water, grain, vodka.  They had beads for the kids to make bracelets.  They had a Chocolate Village!

I can smell it now

I can smell it now

It was good propaganda… We walked out impressed and ready to fly to Poland. Lord knows they have been through a LOT and keep trucking.

I know what you are thinking: How was the Estonia pavilion?  Swinging good time!

Swings that go in and outdoors

Swings that go in and outdoors

Did you know that swings are big there?  Well, they had swings on every level.  One way you were indoors, the next you were out.  Great little sandwiches at their cafe too.  Plus, they know sometimes you just need to crash.

relaxing..like an Estonian

relaxing..like an Estonian

 

From there we went to the Vatican pavilion. It was small, but was basically pictures and videos of the poor throughout the world.  While one can feed their face at the other places The Vatican asks us to consider those who do not have enough food.  Then you get a complimentary pope magnet when you leave. My kids curled their lip at it.  I had made them finish their cotton candy before they entered and all they got was this dudes blessing?   Um, did you see that kids don’t have food..?  Okay, let’s keep moving

In Zimbabwe I spoke to a nice man there about his country.  They had a yummy soda that was from some plant they have there.  They also had some hand cream.

“why is it all written in Italian?”

Him, “No one was going to buy the Zimbabwe cream, but our ingredients manufactured in Italy, people like that better.”  Makes sense. We show how we are ready to embrace the culture for a few minute and not get into the into any dictator talk kids love zimbabwe at milan expo

They were in the area with smaller pavilions.  Next door was Bolivia

talk about your instagramable moment!

talk about your instagramable moment!

 

I went for 3 days and didn’t scratch the surface.  The kids were with me for 2 of the days and they loved it.  While there were bigger message in some places, a lot of pavilions featured their local cuisine more than weighty issues.  Rice from Turkey, is a winner.  Best I’ve ever had

Hmm, Turkish rice

Hmm, Turkish rice

 

Turkey had a pretty outdoor pavilion,

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight

though the first day I was there it was 100 degrees

it's so hot

it’s so hot

and I ran to..well, crawled to the French pavilion which had air con and the best beet soup I’ve ever had.

We all enjoyed the Iran pavilion.

Undercover in Iran..pavilion

Undercover in Iran..pavilion

Though their exhibit was wanting.. some herbs, a little music, yawn, but they had a great shop and we got cool spices, tea and cross cultural connection.  I said to the nice man working there, “I feel like I’m doing something wrong by being here,”  He seemed optimistic about US Iran relations improving if the Nuclear issue was soon to be resolved ( full disclosure.. I have next to no opinion on it).  “Iranians love Americans.”  I told him how I love the Iranians in LA.  Nice people, great tea, good sports in soccer ( I left out that I hate the remodeling some have done in Beverly Hills).  It was a people to people moment like Eisenhower had once envisioned. eisenhower people to people

Which is really kind of why the Milan Expo is so great.  Because I don’t have the time, money, energy, shots to go to all the countries represented here, but I get a little taste of them.  Well, actually since I think I ate my weight in food while I was there I also got to taste the diverse, delicious food of our world.  Hopefully, it will sustain us.

 

The Mayor comes to dinner

I can’t even say, “guess who?”

I’m SUPER excited to share that the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti will be joining me this Sunday on Daphne Dishes.  As some of you know we ( more Mark) has known his family for years.  I volunteered a ton on his campaign.  His parents, wife, daughter, all lovely, warm down to earth people.

Gil, Mark, Sukey, Amy, da mayor, me

Gil, Mark, Sukey, Amy, da mayor, me

So when Daphne Dishes got picked up for a second season I thought.. oh, dream guest list!!  When I approached I said I wanted it to be about the incredible diversity of food that is available in LA and how it inspires me in the kitchen.  Well, they got that pitch, The Garcetti’s are big booster of LA’s food scene, high brow and everything in between.  It was VERY hard to decide what to make. Not just because I had to make the Mayor a great meal, but because LA has So Many influencers it’s hard to narrow down for a 22 minutes.. or whatever it is …show.

When I was working on Eric’s campaign was when this show was being talked about, developed, slowly, slowly.  I would periodically update him on it and he was always excited to hear about it. I  clearly remember one day I was sitting in his kitchen calling voters and he had come home from an event.  Amy was calling from the living room, many volunteers strewn around the place and I popped my head up and said, “Eric, Food Network says they are going to do a pilot with me.”  He high fived me and wanted to hear more.  Well, cut to second season and he and his family remember their friend.  I really appreciate the support and since he is a very busy guy we said whenever you can fit us in we will make it happen.  It ended up being at 8:30am in the morning. But, you know what it worked!  We all enjoyed the meal and Amy and I are making plans for them to come over again when they have more time and I’ll make them the same meal, but without the camera’s.

He and his parents are from LA, so they all have memories of their favorite foods from growing up here.  Gil talked about going to Grand Central Market with mom when he was a little boy. Of course, that’s where Mark’s Bombo is now.  That’s where I  shopped for the food to make a great LA centric meal for LA’s number one fan.  desert for garcetti

 

Watch the show and tell me what your faves are.  I concluded the meal with a Very Berry LA Tart!

 

Daphne Dishes is Back!

Season two baby, Season 22222!  Super Excited to officially announce my show is coming back!!!

JUST Finished shooting most of the show.. hence, lame on posting… It returns with more food, more laughs, more Rex and Viv on June 7th Sunday at 11:30 on the Food Network.  Yeah, that’s right.   Although right now it’s on reruns on Sunday at 10:30am  ( set your DVR to ease confusion)

what me have a cooking show?

what me have a cooking show?

The charming folks at Concentric Entertainment were back to produce.  Actually it was all the same folks except my brother’s long lost friend Barbie was on hand to also work on the show. Barbie takes the kids to school so mommy can get into make up I wanted her on board, not only because she is a hard worker, smart, but I was a tad bit afraid of PTSD considering the tragedy that befell the night before we shot the last shoot and wanted someone who knew us near ( totally get how people like Elvis get an entourage).  Thankfully grinding intestinal upset was the only problem ( that’s another post) on this season.shooting daphne dishes

It was a challenge to get recipes together for 13 episodes, especially since my number one advisor, my chef husband, is working non stop on his newly opened eatery, Bombo.  However the work I did helping him get that open did inform some of my recipes and I have one episode titled “Steam Power” where I riff off the steam kettle power that generates most of the dishes at Bombo to change the way we do home cooking.

lunch break at Bombo with my the gals who make me look good wardrobe Lauren Francis, hair and make up Crystal Bernal. On our "on location" day at Grand Central Market in downtown LA

lunch break at Bombo with my the gals who make me look good: wardrobe Lauren Francis, hair and make up Crystal Bernal. On our “on location” day at Grand Central Market in downtown LA

I hope you like this next season.  I felt like I finally started to get it this season.  How to cook, host, look at camera, stir a bowel so the cameraman can see it, etc.  It’s a trip.

 

Let’s try something new…

So, haven’t posted lately because Mark and I are consumed with opening a NEW eatery.  It’s the first time he has done a fast casual concept.  I give you a news links HERE  Please like it on FB or instagram.

He has been working VERY hard.  Excited for it, but already wondering how this will impact our lives!  I’m very proud of my sweetie.  I helped get things in line the last year and half, but now it’s all him and he takes it very seriously.

If you are in LA, check it out!

trying out the fried chicken.  They like it

trying out the fried chicken. They like it

New Eatery!

We just announced the name of Mark’s new eatery: Bombo! bombo This will be his first ever fast casual concept after a lifetime of winning praise and awards in the fine dining realm.  After Campanile closed.. or as Rex calls it,  “your cooking job”, we talked at length about what he wanted to do and how it needed to work with our life as a family.  Our dearly departed Tar Pit was a cocktail driven place so the hours were terrible for a family with young kids.

We also felt strongly that fine dining while not completely over was played out.  In post recession America even if you have money most don’t want to flaunt it.. at least not in a restaurant.  Even if people in LA still spend $100 on dinner they want it to be in a relaxed environment while they were jeans.  A few strong fine dining places can withstand this Age of Casual, but not a lot. They’ve been dropping like flies.

Plus it was played out for Mark.  He wants to cook.  He likes cooking for people, not necessarily rich people or having the artifice and overhead that goes with a ‘fancy’ place.  So in my capacity as his business development manager I started thinking locations.  Areas of town, and then where within those areas.  Eventually our search landed at Grand Central Market in downtown LA.  Built in 1917 it’s been getting a lot of press lately as they revamp it.  It combines many elements of LA’s culture.  Latin, Asian and now celebrity chef driven.  Bombo is going to emphasize seafood, but not just seafood.  There aren’t many places in LA that you can get reasonably priced seafood outside of  a sushi joint in a mini mall.   Mark was keen to work with steel jacketed steam kettles.

something like this

something like this

They are pretty and will be prominent in our design.  They will allow him to cook things quickly using his 4 broths as his base. Cut to a montage of financing, design, approval for permits, negotiations and now we arrive at the moment where we have announced the name.  It’s inspired by the kettles as Bombo is Spanish for bass drum, as well as used loosely to indicate a kind of musical energy, excitement.  Also, we liked how it sounded.

So I’ve been setting up pop up nights for Mark where he can try out his new dishes on real people, not just me in our kitchen.  It’s great for focusing him and I like it because a couple of times there was a critique  I wanted in a dish, and the public backed me up.  Hurumph.  But, really he is making some tasty dishes, reasonably priced, but still flavor packed like his food at Campanile was.  Tonight he starts a trio of Tuesday nights at our neighborhood favorite, Rascal.  If you are in the area come by.

Our friend Eric, Mayor of LA, stops by our pop up in Nov.

Our friend Eric, Mayor of LA, stops by our pop up in Nov.

After a couple of under eventful work years both of our projects are debuting roughly around the same time.  If “Daphne Dishes” gets a second season maybe I can make something at Bombo for the show. It’s been a great partnership, we both assist and advise each other.  Almost ten years of marriage and it all seems to be working well. (knock wood)mark peel daphne brogdon

it’s almost time…

For my show to start.  SUNDAY JAN. 4th at Noon on Food Network.  I’m getting nervous.  Nervous worried- that Food Network will write and say, “we’ve never had NO ONE watch a show before, until now.”

Nervous Excited – OMG I’ve never had my OWN show.  I’ve always been part of an ensemble.  Its got my name, my stove, my toaster.. oh, not my toaster, they thought it looked too dingy so they moved it for the show.

You'll never make toast in this town again!

You’ll never make toast in this town again!

If you all can watch the 6 episodes that will be rolling out over the next 6 weeks I’d be mighty appreciative.  If you are on any social media please use #daphnedishes and @coolmomdotcom @foodnetwork in any posts.  They do notice this stuff.

I really hope you like it.  Please give  me any feedback, because if it gets a pick up I can incorporate your notes into future shows.

Mom in the make up room, otherwise known as my bathroom. Expert work done by Crystal Bernal

Mom in the make up room, otherwise known as my bathroom. Expert work done by Crystal Bernal

The first episode is very dear as my mom and sisters are featured.  I’m reworking healthy recipes of my mom’s but making them taste better.

My kids are in it a bit.  Mark will be in some episodes, he is always in the opening title.  (See how fast he can chop onions)

The day before we started shooting we had a deep loss in our family, which I haven’t been able to write about yet.  It was very hard to carry on, but everyone from the Food Network to my kids were very supportive.  I loved having Vivien on set when she wasn’t in school.  She is my little ray of sun and when I was on set and downcast she would say “Mommy” and give me a smile and thumbs up.  Then I could put a smile on my face.

Vivien sets up the shot

Vivien sets up the shot

 

Daphne Dishes

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT…

I’m going to have my own show.

A show on Food Network

daphne dishes

Recipe testers, Rex, Vivien and family friend Judah. All who make cameos in the show.

I know!!

 

daphne dishes

Vivien helping me get camera ready. Sitting in chair bought for me by Richard Hart, my first National TV co host.

This has been in the works for about 4 years.  From the first call from Food Network till now.  Thanks to the mom blog world that helped birth  co creations Momversation, Coolmom and made it possible that my friends and family no longer had to truck out to a crappy black box theater with a leaky toilet to watch me perform. In early 2008 they could stay home sit on their own leaky toilet and watch me perform online.

I’ve hosted a lot of shows since 1996, but nothing is as challenging as hosting a food show.  Well, live red carpet is no picnic either, but this was a big challenge for me because I can talk to camera.  I can be funny.  I can cook. But, all at the same time while SMILING, that’s a hat trick.  I worked on about 15 recipes for the the show.  Some I mastered after a bout 4 or 5 tries.  Others I made so much I thought I would never eat them again.  I developed a brownie recipe from scratch.  Mark said I was nuts to do that.  “Start with a known recipe and tweak it and make your changes from there.”  But, in the end it turned out. Though I did gain 5 pounds in the prep and shooting of the show.  I had to make sure they all tasted good!

concentric gang on daphne dishes

So, it starts Sunday January 4th at noon.  It’s just 6 episodes and if it does any numbers we can hopefully make more, so I really need any support you can give it.  I need the eyeballs.  There are good recipes in it, some helpful hints, cute shots of my kids.

Remember, by supporting this new venture, you don’t have to leave your house!

xo

 

Picked another winner

Last night GeorgeMckenna won the school board seat in LA for District one.  Mark and I were there.daphne brogdon and george mckenna victory

My cute partner in crime

My cute partner in crime

Happy the experienced guy won and the Mark Ridley Thomas machine did not prevail.  But, what did we eat?  They served some good Caribbean food.  Good we ate before we walked in the room because it was Louisiana hot in there.

when it looked like victory...  ah, where is the media consultant.. why the blank wall?

when it looked like victory… ah, where is the media consultant.. why the blank wall?

Think they didn’t have the campaign funds for A/C.  But, good vibes mixed with the heat as the results came in he was ahead from the start– barely, but never lost the lead.

with our friend retired Councilman Nate Holden

with our friend retired Councilman Nate Holden

Of course hardly anyone voted so in the end though he won by about 6%, that was only 1,800 votes. In a city our size that’s tiny.  But, hey, a special election in summer?  To be expected.

"Mey Ms. Waters can I get a picture?" We use to live near her. "Where are you now?" She asked.

“Hey, Ms. Waters can I get a picture?” We use to live near her. “Where are you now?” She asked.

The event we had for him a couple of weeks before went well. I was sweating with A/C trying to  get bodies there.  Summer vacations, apathy and resistance to a nuanced political strategy made it hard to get people to commit.  But, in the end I got the numbers I wanted.

The candidate speaks in my family room

The candidate speaks in my family room

It was a fun party and it was good mix of people. Folks were charmed and impressed by Dr. Mckenna when he spoke and everyone loved Mark’s grilled cheese.

grilled cheese fuels democracy

grilled cheese fuels democracy

Daphne Brogdon's mckenna event

The opening act

I was really touched by a few old friends who came or volunteered and loved seeing new faces.  I think it’s great for our kids to see us involved in our community. But I won’t kid you, I’m glad it’s over.  Oh wait… this was just the special election!  Next year it happens again.  Honey, warm up the grill!

Me, Nate, actress Lisa Raye McCoye, Mckenna, Mark, Jan Perry

Me, Nate, actress Lisa Raye McCoye, Mckenna, Mark, Jan Perry

stop me before I volunteer, again

 

I think I have a problem.

I can’t stop volunteering.

A few months ago I was elected head of my neighborhood association.  10 Saturdays out of the year I run the meetings, bring the refreshments and in general voice the concerns of our community to the city.  So far I threw a block party, longwood block partyhelped get some trees planted, advocated for some issues with our local councilmanherb wesson with constituents , and got a website up.

The jewel in my unpaid work history was my mayoral appointment to the Central Area Planning Committee.  Roughly twice a month I am one vote on planning issues that come before us.  I get to go to city hall and I have a laminated pass.  Never has anyone felt so excited to be accepted as a civil servant. Maybe because of all the years of freelancing, I like going to an important building with a clip on badge and working.. albeit with no salary.commissioner Brogdon

I’m also on a few committee’s for my daughter’s school. ( charter, underfunded).  So I take some interest in the school board races.  There are few that do.  It’s pretty un sexy, but in LA we have a mammoth school district and unlike other cities the mayor and the council have no control over them.  So, it’s a whole other empire.  Charter’s, while somewhat apart from regular public schools, still must be granted their charter through the school district.  So, the LA school board is “our” school board as well.   Teacher’s unions tend to not like charters because the teacher’s are outside of the union.  Charter’s are suspicious of teacher’s unions and afraid they will try to shut them down.

My take on all this is that parent’s are discerning consumers of education.  So, charter’s magnets, traditional, private they will be existing with each other. But, we need to put our best foot forward. There are people in our area who would be interested in going to the local public school, but they don’t offer tours.  “Why?’  is what we have heard more than once when calling the school…that sound you here is the interested parent filling out an application for a charter lottery. No surprise, it’s under enrolled.  A mile away a traditional public school does do tours and shows itself well. That school is humming along.

So,  heard some charter parents were rally around one candidate in a special election to be held August 12th.  Good lord, the only thing lamer than having a special election in the dog days of summer would be starting school that day.  OH, that is what LA unified is doing.   I spoke to some of my political mentors about one candidate, George McKenna.  He is a retired teacher and administrator.  Years ago they made a “Stand and Deliver” type movie about his work turning around a tough school starring Denzel Washington.  A friend set up a lunch for us to meet and I went, even though he looks nothing like Denzel.  While not a movie star, I found a charming Southern man who was very thoughtful and earnest about helping children.  Before I could order an ice tea he was talking about trying to get mental health services to students in LA schools who come from troubled places.  It was one of the concerns that reminded me of how vast the LA school system is. By the way since I was a kid I have thought the district should be broken up, but fat chance of that happening.   But, what can happen is for the grip to be loosened a bit on school so that a school can cater to their particular community.  This was something Mckenna and I agreed on. Well, we agreed on quite a bit.  From the good deviled egg appetizer to how a lousy principal can sink a school.

I told him, look the charter’s are scared of you.  He didn’t know why.  “I’ve gone on record as saying if a local school is working, charters wouldn’t exist”.  He was surprised the Teacher’s union backed him because of this.  He believes in traditional, charters, magnets, whatever works for children, not one ideology. I was touched by his sincerity and persuaded by his intellect and experience. He is being outspent. “Can Denzel give you some money?”

“I don’t know how to get to him.” he said.

So, before my after lunch espresso arrived I volunteered AGAIN.

“George, maybe I can throw you an event.” My dear husband was eager to hear about my lunch.  Later we attended a political meeting that a neighbor of ours had invited us too.  On the way out he met George.  The candidate was walking by himself having just thanked the group we were attending for their support and was on to the next.

“You need to go to 5 events a day.” Mark said earnestly.

“I wish it was only 5.” George said in his honey dripping accent.

We walked away and Mark said, “Let’s do grilled cheese.”  He was totally on board.  We must have done at least 3 grilled cheese events for Garcetti.  Now that the famous Thursday grilled cheese nights at Campanile are gone for good, it might be a bit of a draw for folks.  Former council members Nate Holden and Jan Perry who are my friends are also hosting.george mckenna fundraiser

The story has been picked up by a local online publication.  Come by if you care about educating the young, or just want to eat.  Don’t make my volunteering in vain!