If my ears are made of ashes today, that’s because they’ve never burned harder than they did on Tuesday night when Lidia Bastianich–one of my food world heroes–introduced me at the first of two Eataly dinners we’re doing to launch my new cookbook. (The 2nd dinner, on November 9th, still has seats available here.) The whole night was surreal. Before the guests arrived, Ann Bramson, Artisan’s legendary publisher, came by to toast the book with me, Judy (my indefatigable editor) and Molly (my impressive publicist who arranged for this whole dinner, as well as all the dinners coming up). Then came the guests, friends and family, including my beaming parents.
Lizzie Leitzell, my cookbook’s supremely talented snapshot photographer, came by with her camera and took these pictures. I’m so glad that she did.
The night started with Lidia’s introduction. I wish I could tell you what she said; it was so surprisingly flattering, my whole face flushed and I’m still trying to piece together her words in my memory. (My dad took a video and some day I’ll watch it and find out.)
Chef Alex Pilas was on hand to cook and oversee the dishes that he chose to recreate from the book. He started with the salad Alice Waters taught me how to make in her Berkeley kitchen.
As you can see, all of the food–from the salad to Nancy Silverton’s prosciutto, pear & pomegranate seeds to Lidia’s mussels and clams Triestina to Michael White’s garganelli with speck and cream to Marco Canora’s braciola with Naomi Pomeroy’s lentils to Sara Moulton’s apple tart–was gorgeous:
In between courses, I spoke to the crowd and explained each dish, where it came from, how to make it, what I learned making it at home. And when I wasn’t speaking to the group at large, I stopped and talked to everyone at their tables which was a lot of fun.
What’s great is there’s an open kitchen, so you could watch the chefs as they prepared each course. Here’s Alex flipping pasta in a big pan:
And here’s a menu from the evening’s meal with Sara Moulton’s tart on top:
At the end of the night, I signed books for everyone (you get a copy of the book with the cost of dinner; something to keep in mind for those of you eager to get your hands on one early!).
To finally have this book out there is such a thrill, these events are just icing on the cake. But if you’d told me years ago that Lidia Bastianich would be introducing me at a dinner celebrating a cookbook I’d written, I wouldn’t believe you. So I’m pretty much over the moon right now and don’t plan to come back any time soon. In the meantime, sign up to experience similar meals in San Francisco (at Tartine Afterhours on 10/17) and Seattle (at The Walrus and the Carpenter on 10/22, call 206-395-9227) in the next two weeks. Hopefully from Lizzie’s pictures you can see what you’re missing if you don’t come.