travelogue: culinary bucket list (foodie friday)

One, no doubt, has a travel bucket list — Paris, Rome, Alaska, for example. But, one might also have a culinary bucket list. Perhaps: bahn mi, cassoulet, frog legs. Also: mochi ice cream.

“Japanese mochi ice cream is any flavour of ice cream wrapped with thin and chewy mochi (rice cake). It’s a bit like finger food because the ice cream is not on paddle pops or anything but you just grab the ice cream mochi balls with your fingers. They are super delicious.” (Chopstick Chronicles)

Pictured above, I had a chance to finally sample these sweet treats at the Cornell Café at the Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens, ranked one of the top three museum dining experiences in the country by the Food Network.

Consider me happy.

So, what’s on YOUR culinary bucket list? Comment below!

Travelogue, February 2019, photo ©2019 Jen Payne, Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens, Florida.

(Chinese Food)

The note says (Chinese Food)
but it is random
out of context on a piece of paper
in a stack of papers
at least 2 months passed

my past included (Chinese Food)

but what?
and with whom?
and what is the purpose
of this little clue
set out for me to follow
too early even for General Tso,
though I never met him personally

rumor has it, he was a press man…

as a proponent of the written word
do you think he rose early
to consider form and function,
rhyme, reason and rice —
like this poet now hungry
for the pork fried variety at 6?

Poem & Photo ©2017, Jen Payne.


It’s 12:45 on a Tuesday when I cross over Chapel Street heading north on 91. In the air, the tell-tale scent of magic. Not your ordinary puff of smoke hocus-pocus, but the alchemy that is Wooster Street, its fusion of garlic and oregano and tomato, the elixir of city water said to be its Essential Element, the kitchens cured with patience and love and arrogance. There is none better.

Poem ©2017, Jen Payne. National Poetry Month, 3. Pizza ©2017, Modern Pizza, New Haven.

Make It So: Five Oh

Jean Luc-Picard had it right. If you’re going to boldly go where no one has gone before, you have to “Make It So.” No one is going to do the bold stuff for you — and why would you want them to? That meaty bold stuff is what makes all of the gristly bits palatable.

With that in mind, I set out to make this — my 50th year on the planet — all about making it so. In March, I told you about my 50 for 50 List, remember? Fifty delicious things to do before the clock strikes 12 on December 31: from BIG things like a 1. Cross Country Road Trip to sweet little things, like 40. Bake a Cake. From dreams that have been on my Bucket List for years, like 39. Visit MOMA, to new culinary experiences, like 23. Eat a Bánh Mì.

Today is a good waypoint, now 10% of the way along this journey! Including:

27. Make Ina Garten’s Roast Lamb
Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is my go-to food guru, and her Perfect French Dinner Party recipes for 4-Hour Lamb with Provencal French Beans did not disappoint.


4. Guggenheim Museum/Sylvia’s Soul Food
My friend Mary Anne and I have been talking about this trip for several years, and we finally set aside a gorgeous weekend in April for our NYC adventure. Sylvia’s was fabulous — some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had — and the Guggenheim was extraordinary. The exhibit of Peter Fischli and David Weiss’ collective works continues to inspire me, now, two months later.



11. Write a Poem a Day for National Poetry Month.
Yes! A poem a day for a month. That’s 30 poems. Count ’em. Better yet, read ‘em! Click here.


8. Buy a New Camera
I have not had a “real camera” since I tucked away my trusty film Minolta ten years ago. And oh how I’ve missed it! This new one promises to be a good traveling companion, I can tell already.


20. Find Julia’s Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
This gem arrived today, copper foil embossing on the front cover and everything. Can’t wait to try my first recipe! Any suggestions?


So that’s Five down and Forty-five to go…best we Make It So, don’t you think? “Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning.”

Writing & Photos ©2016, Jen Payne. Quote: J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan.

Fifty for Fifty

Ina Garten is my go-to guru for recipes, and she’s never failed me — Roasted Chicken, Scallops Provencal, Sole Meunière. Parfait!

One of her signature recipes, from her cookbook Barefoot in Paris, is a 4-hour Roasted Lamb. Simmered with lots of herbs and served with her Provencal French Beans, these two recipes have been begging me to make them for years!

It’s why, no doubt, they appear on my grand 50 FOR 50 list. Yes, neatly written up on a two-page spread in my journal are the 50 things I wish to do here in my 50th year on the planet. Fifty.

Anyone who knows me knows I love lists, and I couldn’t think of a better way to start the big five-oh than to a) buy a new journal, and b) make a list!

I’m happy to report that just this morning I checked off 27. Make Ina Garten’s 4-Hour Lamb. It made for a delicious Easter dinner…and leftovers!

Nearby on the 50 FOR 50?

2. Eat a hot fudge sundae (because I haven’t in years)
26. Prepare Cassoulet
47. Have oysters at Grand Central Oyster

No, Go on a Diet is not on the list, but it does include 6. Hike the Round Branford Trail and 48. Take a yoga class.

The first item on the list — 1. Cross Country Road Trip — is as exciting as a chance to explore 5. The Guggenheim, 18. Boston, and 39. MOMA, because, honestly? Turning 50 gives you the suddenly-inspired perspective that It’s Time.

Time to 12. Write the next book! 19. Get a tattoo? 37. Plant an herb garden

Time to 40. Bake a cake and celebrate…even if the big day is still months away. Because 50 is too big for just one day and just one wish. Don’t you agree?

©2016, Jen Payne