The Kindness of Food Bloggers

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What’s worse than traveling during the holidays? The answer: traveling from one snow storm to ANOTHER snow storm during the holidays.

That’s what I attempted to do yesterday in what may have been the worst travel day of my life (though I’m sure you’ve experienced worse.) Let’s not talk about the 12 hours on the plane, the refueling in Salt Lake City, and the waiting for a gate to open once we arrived in Seattle. Instead, let’s focus on my helpless situation once I got off the plane. You see Craig, whose family lives in Bellingham (two hours north of Seattle), was stuck in Las Vegas because his connecting flight was canceled (he’d left the day before). The Bel-Air Airporter bus which goes from the Seattle Airport to Bellingham was all sold out; the idea of taking a car there was ludicrous (the snow was pummeling down from the sky.) My only option was to spend the night in Seattle and, utterly exhausted, I flipped open my phone and though Craig has many friends who would’ve let me stay with them, my eyes fixed immediately upon a food blogger friend who you all know and love: Molly, aka Orangette.

Molly and I have become fast friends in the few years we’ve known each other through our blogs. She came to a meet-up I had at the City Bakery a few years ago; she cooked Craig and I lunch on my first visit to Seattle; we’ve been horseback riding together, we rang in 2008 together and, most recently, we joined her and her husband Brandon for dinner at Franny’s in Brooklyn a few days after Thanksgiving.

Despite all that, I was a bit hesitant to call her because it’s a big next step in a friendship to say: “Hey, I’m stranded in Seattle, can I stay with you?”

But, for purely selfish reasons–reasons based entirely on enjoying Molly & Brandon’s company, and, more importantly, their food–I decided to try my luck. I dialed the number and Molly answered in a voice that let me know she knew it was me calling: “Helllloooo?” she said in a sing-songy dragged out way.

“Hey Molly!” I said and I stammered and stuttered through where I was and what was happening.

“No problem at all,” she said, “let me tell you how to get here.”

I can’t tell you how grateful I was. There’s nothing worse than feeling stranded and desperate at an airport (almost all of the flights were canceled at Seatac yesterday, so everyone was looking stranded and desperate) and nothing better than having a friend come through for you with a solution just when you need it most.

I waited on an hour-long line for cabs in the bitter cold and, finally, got into a cab and endured a treacherous journey through piles of snow on a highway. When I arrived at Molly and Brandon’s, they were on their way to cook with their friends Ben and Bonnie and they insisted that I come along. A home cooked meal with Molly and Brandon? New friends? A very bad day took a very happy turn.

Bonnie and Ben presented Molly with a Christmas gift which she quickly unwrapped:

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As you can see, it’s a potato gun. Well, not sure you can see that: but you stab it into a potato and shoot it at people. Molly used it very gracefully.

Here’s Ben, Bonnie and Brandon (3 Bs!) in the kitchen:

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Brandon set to work in the kitchen with Ben and they made a “hippie” (Brandon’s word) pasta dish that fused Italian and Japanese culture in an enchanting, mysterious way. There were udon noodles. There were tomatoes. There was ginger. There was garlic. There was fish sauce and Parmesan cheese. I know, it sounds crazy, but it was just the most perfect thing I could imagine eating at that moment. Pasta is my comfort food and this was comforting in every possible way:

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There was crem brulee for dessert, which Ben made from a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, and though he accidentally incinerated two of the six crem brulees under the broiler (we were enthralling him with our conversation); he kindly served the incinerated ones to himself and Brandon, and let Molly, Bonnie and I enjoy the good ones. And they were indeed good: taken just to the edge so the caramel was smoky and complex.

It was at this point that I felt like I might drop off into a coma at any moment. I was utterly exhausted.

I don’t remember coming home (oh, but I do remember going there: I got to see the inside of Brandon’s restaurant!) or falling asleep, but I slept like a baby.

And then this morning Brandon and Molly handed me the key to their house because they were leaving for the airport. That’s right: I am sitting here in Orangette’s house right now by myself; Molly and Brandon are in Oklahoma!

No, cruel reader, I won’t go through their private things and tell you all about their secret possessions (I have, however, gone through many of their cookbooks and I am envious: definitely have to add “Mangoes & Curry Leaves” to my collection). I did, luckily, get a top-secret, hot-off-the-presses galley of Molly’s book. I can’t wait to dig in and read it.

Tomorrow I’m Amtraking it up to Bellingham (Craig actually got a direct flight from Las Vegas to Bellingham; that’s right, it was easier for Craig to get to Bellingham from Las Vegas than it is for me to get there from Seattle, 2 hours away) but I will be forever grateful to Molly and Brandon for showing such generosity and hospitality when I needed it most. It was something of a Christmasanukkah miracle.

And now: it’s time to raid their fridge!

Happy holidays, everyone. I hope your travels go smoother than mine.

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