Cookbooks and Criticism

I don’t recall why, but I decided to watch all of the films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar this year. I think I did this once before, years ago, and am learning the same lesson as I did then—the films aren’t that good. With a couple of exceptions, I have found them mostly mediocre or actually bad. I’ve been posting flippant reviews of the movies as I watch them on Instagram for a laugh and a few people have messaged me to say that I don’t seem to like anything. Well, yeah.

What has surprised me about the tone of these comments (accusations?) is that they seem to come not from a place that is aware of how mediocre most cultural production is, but from a criticism of me as a spoil sport or unnecessarily critical or worse, mean. Which baffles me. Taste being subjective and all, we have all surely encountered a work of art that we think is really, really good. We know it is possible. So why would we ever settle for less? And to be clear, I am not talking about enjoyment here, I am talking about quality. I happily can enjoy (and do!) bad things all of the time. Two of my favorite tv shows are The Bachelorette and Midsommer Murders. They are indefensible, and I love them. If you tell me all of the reasons they are bad, I will agree with you but I won’t stop enjoying them. Just like I am not going to act like I think Past Lives is a good film because it is nominated for an Oscar. And how you can still enjoy Maestro and feel connected to it even though it is so very bad. read more+++

L + D Gift Guide 2023: Special Guest Edition

Continuing a tradition started last year, I again managed to convince five of my favorite people to share their gift picks with all of us. I could not be more excited to bring you this very special edition of the gift guide. Once again I have already ordered multiple gifts from these lists. And in case you missed it, my annual guide was published last week—check it out!



You probably know who Samin Nosrat is from her best-selling cookbook (another is on the way!),  television shows, podcast, or world tour (which I had the pleasure of hosting on her Chicago stop!). But you should also know that she is a dear friend who has impeccable taste. The kind of taste that feels effortless. I’m always learning something new from Samin, which is in itself such a gift!

From Samin:

Over the last few years, I’ve found myself spending more of my time considering a single question: “What is a good life?” Another way of asking the same question might be, “At the end of my life, how do I want to have spent my time — which is to say, my most limited, and hence most valuable, resource?”

I’m in the midst of a shift in my life, toward making the answers to these questions — and a handful of others — the points on the compass that guide my decisions, both large and small. And so, in some ways, it feels odd to offer gift ideas when the thing I’d really like to suggest is that you give the most valuable gift of all, which is your time. Yet I hardly make all of my own gifts, nor do I spend time with the people I love the way I wish I could, so I can’t suggest that. Anyhow, I’ve found that often, people most appreciate a gift that allows them the time or encourages them to do a small project they’ve been putting off, to cook a dish they’ve been wanting to try, or just stop and make a cup of tea each afternoon in their new favorite mug. In that spirit, I offer this handful of suggestions:

Blackthorn Sea Salt
This year I tried Blackthorn Scottish sea salt for the first time, and it’s heavenly. Made by master salters using traditional methods along the Scottish coast, the huge, white flakes are gorgeous and clean-tasting. A 3 pound bucket would make a wonderful gift for any avid cook (or eater), and last for ages, too.

Japanese Mandoline 

After nearly 20 years of using the narrower version of this mandoline at home, I recently upgraded to this “Big Beni,” and the only regret I have is not having done it years sooner. Every kitchen needs a mandoline — just glancing at mine hanging on a hook in the kitchen inspires me to make shaved salads with all sorts of fruits and vegetables I might not have otherwise thought to use that way.

Black Walnut Cutting Board 
I’ve had this work of art sitting on my kitchen counter for over a year now, and I never tire of looking at it. It also makes slicing and dicing feel a little bit luxurious, every time.  Add the optional feet and finger grooves, and it’ll make an extraordinary gift for any aesthete with a tiny kitchen who needs to expand their counter space. (And don’t forget to get the Board Butter, too!)

On the Necessity of Gardening
I’ve had this gorgeous book on my coffee table for over a year now, and never tire of browsing through it and reading a little essay or bit of history. It’s inspiring and surprising and has led to much careful thought on my part on the role of the garden in my life. It’d make a lovely gift for any avid gardener or nature lover.

Gregory Parkinson Tablecloth, Placemats, or Napkins

Setting my table with Gregory’s gorgeous double-block printed textiles makes every single meal feel special. Digging through my bin of napkins to find the ones that best match each diner’s personality is a true delight. Any of his offerings would delight a textile lover, but a few sets of napkins would make a truly luxurious gift for anyone who loves to host groups of friends for long dinners around the table. read more+++

Lottie + Doof Gift Guide 2023


This was my birthday gift to myself (a tradition I highly recommend). After admiring John Sohn’s work for years, I finally treated myself. It is a big chunky hand to hold you close, or to lay cheekily on your couch. The craftsmanship is really outstanding, and the packaging it came in was inspiringly chic. Don’t forget to have fun!


I love Chicago. And hot dogs. And chips. And so these chips obviously combine a lot of my interests. They are also very good. Some seriously better living through chemistry because you can actually taste all of the components of a Chicago Dog in each chip (though I would argue that with the canvas of potato they might best represent a depression dog). It’s a wild ride.

BUBBLE GLASS by Building Block

I learned about these glasses from my friend Aya who has impeccable taste. They’re so lovable and hold a genuinely surprising amount of liquid. A proper little weirdo ready for a good time.


An absolutely legendary piece of design that should be in museums if it isn’t already. The simplicity! The lines! The functionality! Because it folds flat I hang it from a pot rack when not in use. It is perfect.

BRASS PIN by Alexis Stiteler and Ann Erickson

I don’t wear jewelry often but I do like a pin or brooch on occasion. This tiny brass pin is the result of a collaboration between Alexis Stiteler (whose hand-drawn clothing is outrageously beautiful) and jewelry maker Ann Erickson. It has medieval vibes in the best possible way.


Serious LOL.

MORE THAN CAKE by Natasha Pickowicz

One of the greatest baking books ever published—a total game changer and instant classic. Anyone who cares about baking should have this book. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I don’t know what else to say.


Eating in London

We recently returned from three weeks in England. We spent a week in Somerset and the Cotswolds, but the bulk of the time was spent in London. It was a dream trip with origins in a week-long trip we had scheduled in 2020 that was canceled for the obvious reason and the longer it was delayed the more it grew. Revenge travel?

We ate a lot of good food in London, it is easy to do. Growing up I remember jokes about British cuisine, but these days I don’t think there is a city I enjoy eating out in more. It’s good fun. And so we had two weeks of meals at restaurants that were old favorites or recommended by friends or written about by people I trust. The funny thing about having that many nice meals in a relatively short amount of time is that it can be disorienting. Meals that might have stood out during a normal week suddenly seem less special. It got me thinking about what makes a good restaurant. And the main thing I’ve arrived at (and this isn’t original) is that it is never just the food. In fact, sometimes I think the food isn’t even at the top of the list. We ate good food at places that didn’t feel great for other reasons. There was a cool new place with incredible food where the staff kept telling us they needed our table in 2 hours (1 hour, 30 minutes, 15 minutes…), an iconic favorite that felt “museum-like” (to quote a friend I was complaining about it to), and another that was phoning it in and relying on an endless stream of tourists. We had good company and were on vacation at these spots, so none of this really bothered us. But you know when something is off. A handful of places felt so right that I keep thinking about them…


L + D Gift Guide 2022: Special Guest Edition

[clockwise: Nadia Gohar, Dorie Greenspan, Merve Emre, Camilla Wynne, Kelly Cooper Kordylewski]

This year, in an unprecedented move on my part, I decided to ask other people to contribute to a second, bonus gift guide. This was mostly very selfish. Because my gift guide is always stuff I already have, it doesn’t do me much good. It occurred to me to ask people who I think are very cool for what they would recommend. And it worked! And I have already ordered multiple things on this list. It’s so good! Could not be more thrilled and grateful to have collaborated with these five brilliant, stylish, and wonderful people. Enjoy!


Nadia Gohar is one half of the sister/sister duo behind Gohar World, the brand currently taking the world by storm. Her work and background in the arts, impeccable style, and cleverness helps define the style of the brand. And like all genuinely cool people, she has a great sense of humor and seems to know what is ridiculous and wonderful about lace sleeves for eggs or adult bibs (see my gift guide). A friend who also regularly writes gift guides messaged me a few months ago when Gohar World launched their first collection and said: Truly cannot wait for our holiday guides to all be Gohar World. Which, truly! Because nothing Gohar World sells is necessary, which makes it all so wonderful.

From Nadia:

First on my list, a little jar of something from SOS Chef. Atef’s spice shop in the East Village is pure magic. When I’m there, I like to grab bits to gift to friends. Recently I got the Plum Soaked Sesame Seeds & a jar of freeze-dried capers.

I love giving the Week-end Soap from Santa Maria Novella because I think it’s the perfect gift for someone who’s going to be spending some time away from home- either for the holidays or in general. Three perfectly packaged soaps for someone in a place that’s not their own.

This is a splurge, but I’m obsessed with my metallic silver bedding from Magniberg. Totally festive.

It wouldn’t be a proper gift guide from me without mention of Gohar World ;) Our linens have a special place in my heart because of where and how they’re made. Along with the collaborative creative work I do with my sister, I also oversee the production part of things in Egypt- which mostly takes form in the linens we create. This season, we made a color-block tablecloth, with a duo tone split down the middle. Each square tablecloth comes with buttons and buttonholes, allowing you to attach the squares to expand your table (for the host whose door is always open!)  The three available color combinations are an ode to the painted landscapes of one of our favorite artists, Etel Adnan. 



If you read this blog or care about home baking, Dorie Greenspan likely needs no introduction. Truly one of the greats of the food world–an icon even! I’ve been lucky enough to also call her a friend. We met more than a decade ago at a hot dog stand in Chicago (thanks to our mutual pal David Tamarkin) and I can attest to her being as wonderful as she seems. A few years ago when I was moderating a discussion with Dorie in Chicago, I asked her about being a style icon and she quickly brushed the idea off. But Dorie has impeccable taste and style and we all know it. (She also has a wonderful newsletter that you should subscribe to.)

From Dorie:

This Hermes Scarf is admittedly a splurge, but if you know a stylish baker with a love of France and its pastry, the odds are good that it’ll be the most memorable gift of the season. It’s small more a neckerchief than a scarf (although it does come in a full, tie-it-this-way-and-that size) – but bountiful: There are images of macarons and sweet pears, charlottes, marzipan and frilly cakes galore. And if you think it’s too pretty to wear, you can frame it!

My husband, the breadbaker in the family, saw this offset bread knife at a friend’s house and went out and bought one for himself the next day. It’s one of those things that you might think you don’t need, and then you cut with it and nothing else feels as good ever after – it’s the knife that spoils you for all others. He bought it to cut through croissants, homemade baguettes and artisan loaves with sturdy crusts, but I use it every day too – it’s terrific for chopping bar chocolate into chips (always use an offset serrated knife for that job) and for slicing cakes that have a delicate crumb.

Like a genie in a bottle, a spoonful of this bright, aromatic, deeply flavorful preserved lemon paste makes just about everything taste like a million bucks. I keep a few jars on hand at all times because I get a little panicky if I think my supply has dipped below the safe level. Of course, it’s good in Moroccan dishes – every tagine is better with this paste, but so is pasta of all kinds, dishes with tomatoes, chicken, shrimp or pork, vinaigrette and dozens of vegetables. And if you like a little heat, try the Harissa with Preserved Lemon – it’s as good as it sounds. read more+++

Lottie + Doof Gift Guide 2022

Adult Bib

My main advice this year is to shop Gohar World. Because no place online has a better selection of frivolously wonderful things. Like these adult bibs, which are as unnecessary as they are beautiful—my definition of the perfect gift. The packaging from Gohar World is almost as beautiful and thoughtful as the products, which adds to the fun. Get on board the Gohar World train! 

Portrait Commissions from Christopher Gee

Christopher Gee paints brilliantly moody portraits of people, pets, or places starting at around £200, which is a lot of money for something but not for this. Hopefully he raises his prices, but not until after you order yours. 

Tortilla Press

I want to tell you I am obsessed with this tortilla press without using the word obsessed. This thing is a work of art. It is fun to use and I am convinced it has improved my tortilla-making even if I do still curse a lot.

Perfumer H Candles

I seem to be incapable of writing a gift guide without including Perfumer H, my favorite London perfume shop. But this year I am primarily here to tell you that they are now selling less-expensive versions of their scents and candles. They forgo the beautiful hand blown glass vessels for mass-produced—but surely the smell’s the thing! And the hay candle they created in collaboration with Osip restaurant is really wonderful. 

Rodeo T-Shirt

A good t-shirt. Clever. Well-designed.

October 22

Cranberry Gingerbread Crumble Bars

I recently made these Cranberry Gingerbread Crumble Bars that are extremely delicious. Recipe is by Asha Loupy, who is a genius recipe writer. They are a riff on another bar she makes with strawberries and pistachios, which I make all of the time. Now we have a version for each half of the year. And for the record, I think these are especially good cold (they need to be stored in the fridge).

Doma Cafe

Somehow took me longer than it should have to try Doma, a Croatian cafe in Chicago. I am in love. Not only is the food great (the hash brown is a work of art). But the design of the space is so rad. Feels like a mini-vacation. Can’t recommend highly enough. Also, they sell a t-shirt with the motto: “It’s Healthy if You Like It”, which—WORD.

Rachel Connolly

You know that feeling when a baby is so cute you want to bite it? I sometimes feel that way about writing. Like, the writing is so good I want to do more than just read it. I feel this way about Rachel Connolly. I’ve followed her work for years and she is one of a handful of people who seem to regularly make me better at thinking. She recently wrote a beautiful essay for The Cut called My Childhood Under Northern Ireland’s Abortion Ban, which tries to unpack the consequences of the environments we grow up in. read more+++

Into It, July 22

We were in Michigan last week and on a very hot and humid day went to an orchard to pick fruit. We came home with more sour cherries and blueberries than we probably needed and the seasonal fruit timer ticking away. I made a cherry pie (this recipe has become my favorite) and then decided to make jam with the blueberries. I used a recipe from Camilla Wynne’s Jam Bake (I know I am a broken record) that infuses the blueberry jam with coffee. Weirdsies! I couldn’t really imagine it but gave it a try because I’m a wild and reckless guy. The jam is super good! It’s hard to describe what happens. You can taste the blueberry jam, and also a hint of coffee. They don’t necessarily blend together, my palate kind of vibrates between the two. And if I didn’t know there was coffee in the jam, I might think there was just a sort of vague nuttiness which helps temper the sweetness. Anyway, I am a fan. The recipe I used made 5 pints of jam and all you would need to do to try is to put a tablespoon or so of coffee beans into a tea strainer and boil away with the jam. Or buy Camilla’s book.

Some other stuff I’m into…


Into It #1

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I think is cool and why. Or maybe, more accurately, I have been thinking more about what is not cool.

I regularly get sent catalogs from Flamingo Estate, a company in Los Angeles that insists it is selling a “natural” hedonistic lifestyle, but actually feels like a 1990’s shopping mall Crabtree & Evelyn (with a dose of Colonialism). Flamingo estate, which is…a farm? a house? an ad agency?…a brand! sells Instagram-ready vegetables and other household products to rich people who believe in vibes, pseudo-science, and “clean” ingredients. The catalogs are highly (read: expensively!) produced, inexplicably full of aesthetically ideal bodies (mostly unclothed) and $180 jars of honey. I wonder where I went wrong to end up on their mailing list. It all feels like it was created by some sort of horrible advertising algorithm made sentient. Somehow humanless and absolutely humorless. And also strangely untrustworthy—there is no way this relatively small organization can be producing the number of products they are producing to the quality they claim. But it is the humorless part that really kills me. Even when they do ridiculous things, like sell a bag of animal shit for $75 (I’m not joking), they somehow make it no fun. Maybe stuff that is only for rich people will never be very cool. The whole thing feels, as the kids would say, a little cringe.

On the other hand, Laila Gohar, along with her sister Nadia, recently launched a houseware company, Gohar World, that sells bonnets for fruit, black silk bags festooned with bows and ribbons to carry your baguettes in, and adult bibs made out of linen, lace, and silk ribbon. Gohar, who straddles the line between chef and artist (leaning art), is regularly profiled in the NYTimes and Vogue and it is hard for the term It Girl (groan) to not cross your mind when observing her role in our culture. But the thing is, Gohar is cool, despite it all. And the stuff she is selling is all ridiculously wonderful. A friend recently assumed I would not like Gohar and lumped her together with Flamingo Estate. I argued. The two could not be more different. Gohar’s work feels earnest and fun and understands the parts of itself that are ridiculous. It makes all the difference! And while most people won’t spend hundreds of dollars on a silk bag for their baguette, the buying of things seems beside the point. Anyone can make jello centerpiece, or find some doilies at a thrift store. We could all get weirder. Her relationship to art and food doesn’t feel exclusive, it feels inspiring. If coolness requires humor, Gohar’s got it.

“When you put my work into these spaces, it’s sort of like an equalizer,” Laila, 33, says. “Everyone is equally confused.” (quote from The Cut)

Genuine lol.

Some other stuff I’m into:

2021 Lottie + Doof Gift Guide

Cruche from La Soufflerie

I dig the classical shape of this pitcher which feels like something you’d bring to a bacchanal. It works well for water or flowers and even on its own as an objet. This company makes a lot of great stuff including some odd head-shaped vases that I love.

Material Cutting Boards

Cutting boards always seem to be either heavy or ugly—and obviously neither is ideal. These recycled plastic boards from Material come in great colors, and they are the perfect size for a general purpose cutting board. The colors make them special, I get a tiny charge of pleasure every time I use one. These are especially good for anyone, like me, whose last name starts with an M—we can just tell ourselves that these are monogrammed and not branded.

Caramelo Flour Tortillas

I love flour tortillas and these are the best I have ever had—by a mile. I know this seems like a huge indulgence, and it is, but you’re worth it. Stock up and freeze some for future meals. They are ridiculously good and turn a quick quesadilla into something very special. The pork fat are my favorite. Thanks to my friend Helen Rosner for the recommendation. Speaking of Helen, she writes a great gift guide over at The New Yorker that you should also check out.

ZigZag Drinks Table by Jermaine Gallacher

I know you’re unlikely to buy someone a table as a gift but you might buy one for yourself, and isn’t that what gift guides are all about? I had been searching for a drink table that had a sense of humor, and found what I was looking for in this beauty from Jermaine Gallacher. It comes in a variety of colors and makes a big impact in a room, despite its diminutive size. They also make a candlestick that is really good (in case anyone is looking for a gift for me).

Grist by Abra Berens

Full-disclosure, Abra is one of my best friends. But she is also my favorite cook and her newest book is so good. I am obsessed with the meatballs and farro risotto recipe, and the little barley cookies are great. But more than any one recipe, Grist will help you learn to cook more like Abra—which should be everyone’s goal.

Beatrix Bakes by Natalie Paull

I’m obsessed with this book from the popular Melbourne bakery. The recipes are well-tested, and exactly what I want to be baking. A carrot cake with a layer of cheesecake in the middle! Shortbread made with olive oil and walnuts! Every page I am like: OMGYESSSSS. It is a beautiful book and anyone who cares about baking should own it.

Bee Brooch by Charlotte McLeish

A while back the NY Times wrote about men wearing brooches and I am fully onboard. My favorite is this little bee from ceramicist (her work made it to the guide last year) and jewelry designer, Charlotte McLeish. (Navy jacket by forever favorite Carrier Company)