A dear friend of mine is attending a conference at Disneyland in Anaheim.  She told me she was going with her  adult colleagues, and I had a flashback to my last visit to the Magical Kingdom.

Fiona was six.  I had been invited to Disneyland at Epcot to do a cooking demonstration, a gig I happily accepted because it meant I could take Fiona.  Personally, Disneyland holds no interest, but the offer of a guide, lodging and meals was compelling. What a great opportunity to show Fiona a good time.

fof and bear

Indeed.  We arrived and were settled into our “princess chamber” where the minute we turned on the television we were plunged into an exclusively Disney world.  But the sun was warm and the music outdoors compelling, so out we went.  Fiona was instantly enchanted by everything; who at six wouldn’t be?  She hugged all the life-sized characters, danced her way around fountains and tropical plantations, and couldn’t believe the hamburger we had for lunch, which was almost the size of her head.

Breakfast bounty

Breakfast bounty

The following morning we were at the breakfast buffet at 7 a.m., thanks to jet lag.  Fiona’s eyes were saucers as she surveyed the bounty.   She couldn’t decide between bacon and eggs, a big bowl of cereal,  pancakes topped with M and M’s , or a mountain of fresh fruit. So, she had a bit of it all.  Because it was Disneyland, I let her.  She dabbled at it all, finishing only her fruit plate. “Mom,” she said with great seriousness. “This is really way too much food.”

And that sense of “way too much” continued.  As I prepared for my demonstration of Tapenade sur ses 31 (A fancy, lovely version of tapenade that you’ll find below, sans photo), Fiona was pampered by everyone. When it began, to a full house, Fiona did an impromptu dance on the stage in front of me, vamping her way to a chair near my countertop.  There I was, upstaged by my daughter!

Vamp style

Vamp style

Our second and last day was really the only day in Fiona’s eyes.  We had a guide who whisked us to the front of every line. She was a godsend in every way, but mostly because she went with Fiona on all the scary rides, which I cannot abide.  Time after time they swooshed and flipped their way through terror; Fiona and I did the easy things like driving the bumper cars (there she discovered a taste for getting behind the wheel – we must have gone at least ten times); getting her face painted, singing along with “It’s a Small World”.

At the wheel

At the wheel

Fiona collapsed early, after another hamburger, her face a sweet, painted tableau. I didn’t have the heart to clean it; she’d become instantly attached to those sparkles and swirls.

I haven’t heard from my friend who is at Disneyland as I write.  She’s a little older and wiser than Fiona was back then, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear that she’d vamped a little, gotten her face painted, and sampled an early morning pancake topped with M and M’s.

Here is a recipe for one of the dishes I demonstrated.  It went over VERY well, and you will love it too!

Tapenade Fit to Kill – Dans ses 31

The tangy yogurt cheese softens and highlights the wonderful salty depth of the tapenade, and makes for a beautiful appetizer!

3 cups (750ml) whole milk yogurt

For the tapenade:

8 anchovy fillets, preferably packed in oil

2 cups (400g) best quality black olives, preferably from Nyons (or from Turkey or Greece), pitted

1 tablespoon capers, preferably packed in salt, rinsed

1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

2 cloves garlic, green germ removed

4 to 6 tablespoons (60-90ml) extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

For garnish:

Thyme flower blossoms if available

1.  Line a sieve with two layers of cheesecloth and place it over a bowl.  Turn the yogurt into the sieve and let drain for 24 hours.

2.  Place all the ingredients except the oil and the pepper in a mortar and pestle, or in the bowl of a food processor, and grind or process until the olives are ground to a thick puree. Slowly add the oil until it loosens the puree just slightly, and is fully incorporated.  Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

3.  To serve, turn the yogurt into a shallow serving bowl, and mound the tapenade atop it.  Garnish with the thyme blossoms and serve.

About 12 servings

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