The Kindness of Food Bloggers

December 23, 2008 | By | COMMENTS

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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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  • Jeanne

    Whew – I’m exhausted by your travels and warmed by your rescue. Here’s hoping the final two hours of your trek are restful.

    Merry Christmasanukkah!

  • Lindsay

    SOOOO jealous about the book!!! I haven’t actually purchased a book in years (I work in a library) and I can’t wait to fork over the cash for Molly’s.

  • http://pamplemoussepreserves.com Lee

    What a fun story! I used to live in Seattle and can imagine the amount of chaos from all that snow.

  • http://www.foodrenegade.com FoodRenegade

    I was once told that cooking food was the only art that used all five senses. And b/c it is such a creative process, it only makes sense that your friend could fuse Japanese and Italian food so harmoniously. The pictures make the pasta look surprisingly edible and good. :)

  • Rachel

    That is such a wonderful holiday story. I am glad to see everybody being so generous. Now I just need to find a way out to Seattle once their restaurant opens so that I can enjoy their warm hospitality as well.

  • Anonymous

    How wonderful! It’s amazing to know people all over the place, isn’t it? Well, sometimes it feels that way, to me. Maybe it’s just me. It’s just me, isn’t it?! LOL

    By the way, thank you for spelling canceled correctly. Yes, I know the dictionary says two Ls is also correct, but it really isn’t. And now I’ve officially flown my freak flag.

  • http://theitaliandish.blogspot.com The italian dish

    Ah, the graciousness of fellow food bloggers. This story warmed my heart. Sorry you had such awful weather, Adam, but I’m glad you got such a fun side trip with Molly out of it.

  • Anniesnyeats

    Adam, I congratulate you; I would have been too shy to do this. Congratulations also to your hosts and their friends, who absolutely saw the true meaning of Christmas (be kind to others and EAT!)

  • zeep

    Welcome back to the Northwest AG – glad you made it! That train trip is going to be gorgeous… Happy holidays…

  • http://adventuresinsf.blogspot.com Jamie

    The kindness of strangers, and fellow food bloggers, is amazing! What a nice post…and even nicer to see that two of my favorite bloggers are friends! :)

    Sounds like everything worked out for the best in the end, and that Adam even got a nice meal and made some new friends out of it!

    Cheers!

  • http://mollycookie.wordpress.com MollyCookie

    It’s strange, I’ve been a reader of yours for quite a while, and I just heard about Molly and Orangette in an article I read in Oklahoma Magazine this week, so I felt “in the loop” when I read your post. Imagine that!

  • http://rosesandlemonade.blogspot.com Rachelle W

    Hey Adam! That’s so nifty about staying at Orangette’s! I’m a big follower of you AND Molly. I actually attended a couple of her and Brandon’s cooking classes up here in Bellingham.

    I’ve thought for a long time that it would be cool to set up a food bloggers houseswap sort of thing. A site that allows people to trade homes when convenient and spend time in cool towns and cities. It would be a great network because you can read about the person’s life through their blog and not feel like you are trading homes with a total stranger. Crazy idea?

    I’d love to hear your take on the Bagelry. There are things I like and dislike about it. It would be fun to find out what a bagel-savvy New Yorker thinks about the local bagel spot. I loved your best crab breakdown! Anyway, I hope you have a lovely stay up here! Merry Christmas!

  • camille

    as a hardy midwestern transplant in the NW, i find the paltry excuse the seattle area offers for winter road maintenance is at best terrifying. agreed with zeep…that train ride will be an amazing and memorable winter wonderland.

  • http://www.boscoethecookiedoctor.com Mark Boxshus

    Adam

    First off……..Happy Hanukkah and many more. Your holiday story is indeed very touching. And yes, the genuine compassion of fellow food bloggers can be unbelievable. I’m glad your story had a warm, happy and delicious ending. Being able to see Brandon’s restaurant and get a sneak peak at her cookbook were also huge pluses.

    Thanks for your inspiration on so many levels. While I haven’t been blogging quite a year, I’ve become very endeared to the food blogging community, it’s diversity and the genuine feeling of brotherhood/sisterhood. You, and a select few others, have really pushed the food blogging community into the main stream. Today, food bloggers are a force to be reckoned with. Job well done.

    Mark

  • Hee-Sun

    Hi Adam,

    This is Hee-Sun, the (starstruck) college student who asked you if you were the Amateur Gourmet at the baggage claim at Sea-Tac airport on Sunday. I also had the most ridiculous time getting home, so I share your frustration at Seattle’s inability to deal with bad weather. But thank you for turning an otherwise hellish journey home into such a surreal and serendipitous experience.

    Anyway, I just want to let you know that I’ll be in contact with you about the potential visit to my school next semester. I apologize if I confused you with the whole “Master’s Tea” thing. I related the story back to my siblings at home and they were horrified that I had a “master” at school. To clarify, at Yale each residential college (like the four houses at Hogwarts, except there are 12 of them) has a “master” who is in charge of the social life of the college and hosts a speaker for a casual “tea” twice a month or so. Students often recommend speakers to the Master and he works out the logistical details. If you’re still confused, don’t worry–I will send you a more detailed email later on.

    Happy Holidays and enjoy your stay in the Pacific Northwest!

    Hee-Sun

  • Anonymous

    Those Italian-Japanese noodles sound intriguing to say the least. I’m lucky we’re not getting snow down here in Baltimore. In fact, Christmas seems to be the warmest part of December these days!

    Anyways, safe travels, Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukkah, Adam!

  • http://baltimoresnacker.blogspot.com John

    Those Italian-Japanese noodles sound intriguing to say the least. I’m lucky we’re not getting snow down here in Baltimore. In fact, Christmas seems to be the warmest part of December these days!

    Anyways, safe travels, Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukkah, Adam!

    (Oops, I tried to post and forgot the name and stuff…)

  • http://rosesandlemonade.blogspot.com Rachelle W

    Oh my goodness! I totally forgot… HAPPY HANUKKAH! : )

  • http://bring-your-appetite.blogspot.com Jessica D

    Ah, how your tale warms this food blogger’s heart! I did the opposite trip–Seattle to Montreal–so I know how insane it was. I managed OK, but my boyfriend got delayed three days. It’s nice to hear that your disaster had a silver lining. Happy Christmasanukkah!

  • adkim

    that’s seredipidous. a christmas to remember.

  • adkim

    that’s seredipidous. a christmas to remember.

  • http://www.eatpalmbeachcounty.com Eat Palm Beach

    Should you ever be snowbound in Palm Beach you are more than welcome to bunk down chez moi!

  • http://kitchengraffiti.blogspot.com/ margaux

    That sounds so wonderful! And it’s amazing that you got to see the inside of Brandon’s restaurant.

  • http://www.myveganplanet.com Oli

    Haha, sounds like a great time was had!

    Feel free to come over our way if you are in England anytime soon, my girlfriend (A vegan chef who writes on http://www.myveganplanet.com ) and I live in York, she is an avid chef and loves to meet others in the trade, especially those who have met her own goal of writing their own book!