Subscribe to my newsletter

  • Add your e-mail address:

Become a Fan

Join Me on Pinterest

« | Main | The Magical London Empire »

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Mary Ann is a very passionate woman!
And she is passionate about nothing more than food.

Your description and the wonderful pictures capture it so perfectly, that I wish I could have been there...

suvir saran

I agree with your Ralf.
It begins and ends with good food around Mary Ann.
Not that she is obsessive about it. It is just that she has grown up eating good food, or rather great food. And so even in minutes, cooking something VERY basic, she makes magical flavors come out.

Glad you approve of the pictures. They were taken without flash, without much light, with a slow shutter speed, and have not been photoshopped. The credit if any due to them, for their looks, goes to Mary Ann and the food.

I too wish you could have been there. Been ages. Hope you are well. Certainly you are a year older. Sorry to have missed your birthday bash.

Ajit Sagar

What can I say about Mary Ann? She is one of the most wonderful souls you would ever come across in your life. And I am not just talking about her cooking.

But let us talk about her cooking and hospitality. I have had the good fortune to be connected to Mary Ann through Suvir, and have been invited to many parties she has hosted. Her hospitality will blow you away. I can categorically say that I have not found a restaurant that serves better Labanese dishes than the ones I have had at her place.

I am glad Suvir mentioned her grape leaves, one of my many favorites. In fact, I had these yesterday, when Suvir brought these back to our apartment. Mary Ann was apologizing on the phone and sayig they were burnt. I said "really?" If these were burnt and taste like heaven, I don't know if I can even imagine the joy the perfect (in her mind) ones would be able to bring to the palatte. I think she is just very modest.

Her soups and salads always leave me longing for more. And I never leave her apartment feeling overfull. Everything is light, refreshing, scrumptious, and very healthy. Mary Ann, you are a wonder.

I have had the fortune of watching her prepare some of these dishes. There are no shortcuts, either in the work involved in preparing a carfully crafted meal, or the unbounded love that goes into it.

Thanks, Suvir for this blog - giving us all a chance to share our personal joy in knowing Mary Ann and profiting from her wonderful cooking.


I agree, the photos are amazing! Such beautiful colors let us know how skilled Mary Ann is in the kitchen. I would love to have her recipe for the cauliflower! It is much maligned in the US, but cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies. Mary Ann has a magical patio - sitting in it, you would never know you're in the midst of NYC. What are the beautifully colored cocktails? Campari and orange?


Also meant to say that Mary Ann's is one of those rare places where you feel instantly at home and at ease. She welcomes you like a long lost favorite relative, and you feel the same way about her. We are lucky to have her in our universe!

Patti Mooradian

Thanks, Suvir, for this very accurate description of my Aunt MaryAnn, her warmth and welcome, her food and home. I have delighted in many of her meals and every time I am lucky enough to be in NYC, I savor the opportunity to dine with her at her home. You captured it all quite beautifully and I will save this blog post to share with my children. You have a gift with words and your passionate descriptions brings the character of my Aunt to life. Thank you for coming into our lives! And Aunt MaryAnn, thank you for your heart, your love and your food! God bless. Patti


I have beautiful grape leaves growing all around, but I have not figured out the knack to making stuffed grapes leaves. I envy your dinner.

suvir saran

Paula, the next cookbook has the recipe for Mary Ann's delicious stuffed grape leaves. It is coming out October of next year. You will LOVE these grape leaves. Not at all what one imagines when wanting to enjoy grape leaves. If you LOVE grape leaves, these will show you a new appreciation for them. If you hate grape leaves, think again, these will have you loving them. How wonderful that you have grape vines. We tried growing a few, and none of them came up the following year. We need to ask you for help.

Come join us for dinner sometime. It would be a pleasure to have you at the table. You are such a special and gifted person. We are lucky to have you as a neighbor.

suvir saran

Sally the drink you ask about is indeed Campari and Orange. Charlie and Mary Ann's favorite cocktail to enjoy when dining together. And it also happens to be one of these few cocktails that I LOVE as well. I had two of them last night. Ha!

suvir saran

Patti, you are too kinds. Hardly gifted with words. They are what they are. I speak too much in a world that revolves around sound-bites. I wish I knew how to be precise and articulate.

Mary Ann is so special that it is not very difficult to show her in a good light. Of course another person, especially a writer, would have done her justice. I did try and meant every word. Like the many comments after the posting of this entry - it is clear that people are touched by Mary Ann and her generosity in more ways than one.

Your family is very special. And I am lucky to have found you all. Thanks for visiting the blog. And thanks for your kindness.


Who needs meat? I do, but that's another story for another day! ;-)

Gorgeous pix of gorgeous food. I need to find people like you all Suvir, to hang out with.


suvir saran

It was more of a statement about great vegetarian food being so satisfying that most would not miss meat when served food like that.

Of course there are wonderful meat dishes that are so very memorable and special, that one could hardly fathom living in a world without them. But that still does not account for the mediocre dishes that people eat, just because they think of them as "nice" and "fancy" just because they are prepared with meat.

I am sure you already have people like us, and yourself to hang with. You are always too polite and kind.

Did you ever make the Mujadarrah?


I haven't made the Mujadarrah yet. Traveling to Las Vegas then Lake Tahoe for my job has kept me busy and out of the kitchen. I have some time off coming - heading for the Coast I hope - near Santa Cruz and then some time in our farmers markets.

suvir saran

Cannot wait to see the photos and reactions from your Mujadarrah experience.

Enjoy the farmers market, Santa Cruz and your time off.


What a gorgeous recipe for harira: It is one of my favorite soups, but I've never made it with chicken--will give it go as soon as the mercury drops below 98 degrees! I so agree about the lemon--it commpletely transforms the soup. Beautiful photos throughout this post, BTW!

suvir saran

Glad you approve of the recipe of the harira Courtenay. Try making it, and you will understand why it is so special. Thanks for your kind words about the photographs. You are too nice to me.

Jackie Joulwan Dougherty

Hello Suvir,

Lovely article on my sister Mary Ann. It captures the essence of her love for family and friends as shown through the preparation and presentation of food. Simple, sincere, delightful and delicious.

Jackie Joulwan Dougherty

suvir saran

Hello Jackie!
Your sister is family to us. And she treats us and spoils us like only a very dear friend or a family member can ever afford another.
Her food is exactly how you describe it, "simple, sincere, delightful and delicious". Thanks for giving me succinct words for that magical food she prepared. Hope you and yours are well.


Adam Croxall

Hi there Mary Ann, Suvir, Charlie and friends!

Having had the pleasure of Mary Ann and Suvir's cooking delights I feel a lucky boy!

Mary Ann, your English breakfasts are the best! Miss you, much love...

Suvir, Miss you both, the house, the dogs, the animals, your energy and passion and Bob's Diner!!

Hope to speak to you soon!

Adam (your English son!)

suvir saran

Hi Adam!
Where in the world are you?
I know you are not in Afghanistan anymore.. are you in the UK?
Hopefully settled somewhat?

We are lucky to have been blessed with your company and friendship and your person at our tables and homes.

Mary Ann's table is beautiful in so many ways. I have never had an English Breakfast in her home.. so I must try and get myself invited for one... hopefully Mary Ann will read this and do the needful. Hehe

We were at Bob's Lunch yesterday. It was great.. we missed you and talked about you. Come visit us. Charlie missed Daniel and you. The doggies, ducks, chickens, goats, sheep, alpacas and guinea hens would all love your company.

Enjoy the summer and hope we get to see you very soon.



Okay I went to the store today and purchase the ingredients for the Mujadarrah. That may happen tomorrow. I have Lahey's no knead bread going too. 6 days off from work and I better have something to show for it! ;-)


Mary Ann Joulwan

To all of you who have honored me so warmly
and so generously, I thank you from the bottom
of my heart.

To be honest, I am embarrassed for being praised
for something that comes naturally to me - that is,
sharing my home and my food with you. Really, I
mean it when I say "I can't wait for your next visit"!

Drawing from my Lebanese heritage, let me offer
this heartfelt expression of welcome to each and everyone of you - "ahlah wa sahlah"

suvir saran

Hey David!
Did you make Mujadarrah?
Do take photos please.
Cannot wait to hear all about your experience cooking and serving it and savoring it.


suvir saran

Mary Ann - you deserve all the warmth and generosity that others can shower you with. You spoil all your friends like few know how. Thanks for always being so kind and gracious.

What does "ahlah wa sahlah" mean?

Mary Ann Joulwan


"Ahlah wa sahlah" means welcome in Arabic. Say it to an Arabic speaking person and see how they react. It's a warm and loving greeting when people are invited to your home and you greet them at the door - or when giving a toast at the table, it means everyone is welcome here. It also feels good to say.

When you come for dinner with Charlie and his grandmother, I will greet you by saying this, loud and clear! Incidentally "ahlah wa sahlah" is singular and said to one person; "ahlan" is plural, meant for more than one person. So this is what I'll use.

Given your generosity and with the way you and Charlie entertain, you would need a recording of this greeting to be turned on every time your doorbell would ring!

suvir saran

Thanks for explaining Mary Ann.
You are the best!


I haven't made it yet. I decided to take a drive down our coastline to Gayle's Bakery in Capitola. An amazing place. I took a class with Gayle and her husband and it was wonderful.

I will get to it before the weekend is over Suvir. I promise.

suvir saran

What is Gayle's Bakery like? What are they best known for? What did you eat there?


Gayle's is 30+ year Capitola institution. Gayle began with the desire to learn how to make croissant. Her husband was painting houses - he supported her dream and is now an expert on bread baking. There place is heavenly, just heavenly. Run exactly the way a place like it should be run. Full cases of everything sweet and savory under the sun. Dozens of regular customers in and out all day long. And then those like me who look to it as our "Mecca." Well worth the drive, Gayle's never disappoints.

I fully support my teacher from chef school that a croissant is never sandwich bread - LOL! Gayle's is the only place I break that rule and have the Almond Tarragon Chicken Salad on a croissant. I can't help myself.

As I leave I always load up on delicious perfection from the pastry case (they are always full - I wish more shop owners understood the beauty AND psychology of that practice):

For my roommate's parents (I stopped for dinner with them on my way home) I purchased:

Strawberry Delight
Three layers of vanilla genoise cake soaked with a strawberry puree ~ one layer of strawberry whipped cream and one layer of pastry cream inside ~ vanilla whipped cream & sliced strawberries on the outside ~ decorated with whole, glazed strawberries on top.

To take home I purchased:
A Red Velvet cupcake (my roomie loves red velvet)
Olalaberry turnovers (magical)
A lemon cake (loaf) imbibed with lemon simple syrup - MMM MM MMM

Gayle's book I give to all new brides and those that want to learn how to bake. It's never done anyone one of us wrong.

And Joe's book on bread is used by boulanger's world wide.

Now I'm hungry!

Check out the link. The picture that comes up is how her cases look all the time!!

suvir saran

David, this is wonderful of you to share. I hope to visit Gayle's someday very soon.

What is Olalaberry? Tell me more please.

The strawberry Delight sounds delightful. I want a few of them just about now, at 12:09 AM.

Now I am HUNGRY and for nothing I can sate my hunger with around here. You are naughty to tell us such detailed details. Thanks!


Yes, naughty is often a word used to describe me. :-)

Check this link out for the Ollalieberry. It's very popular in my neck of the woods.

Gayle's is located on the coastal town of Capitola. Just a few miles south of Santa Cruz. And not far from the very popular
=restaurant Manresa. Chef Kinch was just featured on some Food TV program.

The strawberry delight is very easy to make. Genoise with all of that cream and imbibement AND fruit. Heaven!!

Does Charles like food as much as you do?

suvir saran

Charlie loves food as much as me, perhaps even more. And he cooks very well. He is a great cook because he appreciates and understand great food.

Many people can cook. Many are chefs. A great cook and a great chef, understand the difference between good and great. Between mediocre and bad. It is in the subtle nuances that elevate food from being bad to good, and from being good to great that lies the talent of a person. Be it in a home kitchen or a restaurants.

Thanks for sharing the link to the Olallieberry. Funny that we were just speaking about them with Bill and Holly Briwa who spent the 4th weekend with us at the farm. Lucky you! Enjoy your summer preserving.

Perry VoScott


Lovely post. Jon Andrew was my dearest friend from university until he left this mortal soil. So sweet to read your your post and know he is remembered so fondly.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

My Cookbooks

My Products

American Masala Farm

  • Farmhouse_Crispy_Creamy_Potatoes
    Charlie and my farm is in the bucolic hills and valleys nestled between the Adirondack and Green Mountain ranges.

Fall Cider Party

  • DSC_0154
    An annual tradition in our farm community is the Cider Press Party at the home of our neighbors Ron and Judy DeWitt.


  • DSC_0037
    My home in India rich with sensory experiences and an electrifying energy that is at once captivating and dizzying.

Beirut Farmers Market

  • Herbs olives and more
    The smells of fresh bread, the tastes of pastes and pickles, the feel of the sea winds.

Hiroko Shimbo

  • Dessert 2
    My friend Hiroko is wthout a doubt one of the most talented Japanese chefs I know. Here a few images from a lunch she hosted for Charlie, I, and a few dear friends.

Mary Ann

  • Grape leaves
    A glimpse into the ever chic and warm home of my first friend in the United States, a cook who inspires in all of my cookbooks.