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Beautiful food

(article, Liz Crain)

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What happens when a French expat living with her Irish-American husband in Boston craves the culinary traditions of her native land? Well, she starts a food blog, of course, and stocks it with all kinds of Frenchy foods and recipes. Béatrice Peltre of La Tartine Gourmande first started blogging as a way to organize her unwieldy recipes, and now, a year and a half later, she has a wide audience spanning the globe that drops in regularly for tasty tales. 

[%image bea float=left width=250 caption="Béatrice Peltre"]

p(blue). Blog: La Tartine Gourmande
Average posts per month: 16
Blogger: Beatrice Peltre
Age: 38
Blog place of origin: Boston

Peltre defines a tartine — for which her blog is named — as “a slice of bread with a spread on top.” But don’t let this simple definition lead you to believe that Peltre’s tartines, often featured on the blog, are anything short of extraordinary. Think honey and prosciutto tartine, stacked with avocado, pink radish, and herbed ricotta cheese with hazelnut oil on broiled sourdough bread.

Peltre, just as well known for her food styling and photography as for her recipes and writing, has become so interested in capturing food on film that she recently attended the International Conference on Food Styling and Photography, along with industry experts from such magazines such as Gastronomica and Gourmet. And this month she's hosting a regular blog event: DMBLGIT, aka "Does My Blog Look Good in This?" 

Where do you photograph most of the food for your blog? 
Of course, I would love to have a studio — who wouldn't? But most of my photographs happen to be taken in a corner of our living room at the moment. I move according to the sun. Mornings are better in the living room, afternoons in the dining room.

Any photography tips for newbie food bloggers?
Well, learn as much as you can about the possibilities of your camera. Think about natural light, and if you can go through the expense, definitely use a tripod. It’s really hard to get proper focus without one. 

I always start a photo shoot by thinking about the mood and feeling I want to create in the picture. Then I change the composition by moving things around until I find the right balance. Sometimes I have no clue how things will end up. I just start playing with colors, positions of food, and then things take shape and happen.

[%image "promo-image" width=400 float=left caption="Peltre's honey and prosciutto tartine."]

What are your favorite tartines?
So many! I love savory tartines more than sweet. With ricotta or goat cheese, meat or fish, fresh or marinated vegetables, herbs, fruit. I like to combine cooked and raw food to balance texture. Choosing the right type of bread according to the toppings is key too. It’s just fun to create and improvise. 

What’s your kitchen like?
Too small! Seriously, I am lucky to be pretty well-equipped now, which also means that I need more space. I love open kitchens, with the dining and cooking area in one huge room, and lots of light. I don’t have my dream kitchen yet, but hopefully one day!

When did you move to the states? 
I moved here about nine years ago. But I lived in the U.S. for the first time in 1995 before moving to New Zealand where I lived for two years. Then I moved to Boston and have been here ever since.

[%image ratatouille float=right width=350 caption="Ratatouille, looking delicious."]

How often do you get back to France? 
I try to go back at least twice a year. It is easier now that I live on the East Coast as opposed to New Zealand.

What French ingredients and dishes do you miss most? 
Well, I am lucky to live in a city where there are a lot of imported goods from France, and tons of exotic foods, but if I had to name a few, I would say that I miss les produits laitiers, which is anything using milk, products like yogurts and dessert creams. In France, the variety is huge, and this is the first place I visit in the supermarket when I go back. 

I also miss faisselle, a fresh soft cheese, and wish that there were more good bakeries, and open markets — bigger, in fact. But, like I said, we can find most everything; it just requires more searching.

What do you do for work? 
I used to work in technology and translation, and I also taught French for many years. But I am currently changing career paths. Surprised? I am freelancing in food styling and photography, and food writing when I can. I love it!


h1. Liz's favorite posts


1. Styling and photographing food
2. Mango-tatin tartlets
3. Soufflé: If I blow, will it fall?
4. A French tradition: A kumquat buche de noel


How much time a week do you spend blogging?
Maybe two hours a day spent reading and writing. It really varies but definitely quite some time.

What haven't you tackled on your blog that you’d like to? 
Oh, so many things that I don’t know where to start. I don’t really have plans. I blog about spontaneous things — what I like to cook and create.

What food blogs do you read on a regular basis? 
So many that it is hard to make a list. I check food blogs for different things. But I have to say, I am more sensitive to blogs that have great photography and storytelling. I feel that the writing is as important as the recipes. Many are English-speaking, but I also read French blogs. The feel is just different, altogether.

p(bio). Liz Crain is a writer in Portland, Oregon.

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