The older I get, the more my taste has shifted from the realm of CLEVER to the realm of HEART. In my 20s, I devoured books like Pale Fire and A Confederacy of Dunces; in my 30s, I get more excited when a book moves me to tears than when it makes me chuckle knowingly.
Enter Richard Kramer. A writer and producer of such shows as thirtysomething, My So-Called Life, Once and Again, Queer as Folk, and Tales of the City, he recently revealed himself as a fan of this very food blog. And in our exchange he’d mentioned the novel he’d written, These Things Happen, which I promptly picked up and finished reading this morning before starting my day. It’s a book positively bursting with heart. Every character, every utterance is written with so much love and joy and warmth, it feels like a great, big hug. And the best part is, food plays a major role here: the story concerns a teenager named Wesley, whose dad (Kenny) latently came out as gay, and now lives with his partner, George, who runs a restaurant in New York’s theater district.
There’s focaccia, lasagna, polenta cake, you name it; and what I love so much about the way food figures in here is that it illustrates something that I feel very strongly about: the power food has to nurture, to heal, to comfort, to console. It’s a lovely book written by a lovely person. I really think you’ll enjoy it. (Buy it here.)
Last night, I went to meet a friend for a drink at Laurel Hardware, a restaurant in West Hollywood that has a killer cocktail called The Vig that combines tequila, pineapple, vanilla bean, and green chartreuse. As is my wont, I arrived fifteen minutes early and found myself standing in the entryway where the staff was having a meeting and the chefs in the open kitchen were prepping for the dinner rush. These facts would normally be totally lost on me, but because I’d been reading Molly Wizenberg’s fantastic new memoir, Delancey, I suddenly felt a surge of recognition. “These people are girding themselves for an onslaught,” I told myself, studying the scene with fascination. “In one hour, they’re all going to be elbow deep in the muck.”
Right before Maurice Sendak died, he did a series of interviews (most notably with Stephen Colbert) that revealed him to be a lovable, slightly grouchy, artist of the highest caliber. I’d known his work, of course, from Where The Wild Things Are and, perhaps more obscurely, Really Rosie but I’m embarassed to say I knew nothing about In The Night Kitchen until I read it standing up, recently, at The Strand in New York.
I hate repeating myself on my blog, so if you’ve been reading for me a while, you know that Joe is my favorite coffee shop in New York. The location on Waverly is where I wrote my first book and most of my second; it’s where I’d meet friends to chat about projects or lives, it’s where I first laid eyes on Craig before we started dating. The place positively glows with good energy and the coffee is always top-notch, some might say (and I’d agree with them) the best in town.
Now Jonathan Rubinstein and his sister Gabrielle have collaborated with food writer Judith Choate on “Joe: The Coffee Book,” a charming collection of essays and pictures and how-tos that demystifies the process of making excellent coffee at home. What follows is a Q&A with Jonathan about the book, the process of writing it, and how he stays relevant in a city swarming with new coffee shops.
Flipping through the pages of the new Serious Eats Book, I’m in total awe. It’s the kind of book that could only be written by a team of passionate, ambitious food folk–the kind of people who care very deeply about issues like “What’s the best pizza in the country?” (#1 on their list: Apizza Scholls in Portland, OR) or “What are the various regional burger styles?” (the list includes smashed burgers, steamed cheeseburgers, cheese-stuffed burgers, and so on). Led by the spirited Ed Levine, the Serious Eats team have assembled a book choc full of great advice on where to eat, how to eat and what to eat (including many brilliant recipes developed by the incomparable J. Kenji Lopez-Alt). Now TWO OF YOU lucky Amateur Gourmet readers are going to receive a free copy of the Serious Eats book. To win, simply put your name, location and favorite local haunt (a Serious Eats-worthy destination) in the comments with a one-sentence description that makes me hungry. Make sure to enter a valid e-mail address too so I can notify you if you win (I’ll post the winners here tomorrow morning in this same post). Good luck!
UPDATE: The contest is over! All of your submissions made me hungry, but the two that made me the hungriest were Angela Shepard’s (pork belly sandwich at Butcher in New Orleans) and Broderick’s (baked farm egg in a bath of celery cream at Miller-Union in Atlanta). Congrats to the winners.
The blender arrived in the middle of our conversation.
Kim Severson, of The New York Times, was interviewing me for a story about crowdsourcing recipes (I didn’t have much to contribute but I was excited to chat with Kim for the first time) and in the middle of our lively chat, my doorbell rang.
Today’s the second day of Hanukkah and as much as I wish I could tell you that I’m frying latkes and spinning dreidels and unwrapping Hanukkah gelt in celebration, I’m actually sitting here next to a pile of cookbooks trying to figure what constitutes the Best of 2009. You see, many of my food blogging contemporaries–David, Deb, Eat Me Daily–have already offered up their take on what you should buy for you and yours this holiday season and now it’s my turn to separate the wheat from the chaff or the sour cream from the apple sauce (latke joke!). Are you ready for some hardcore gift-buying ideas? Come along with me.
Several years ago, when I went to Paris, I rode the Metro from my teensy hotel in the 80th arrondissement, to meet a food blogger I admired but had never met, Mr. David Lebovitz. As I came up the stairs (or was it an escalator?) I beheld a vision: there, standing before me, was a smiley man holding what looked to be the world’s largest picnic basket. David toured me around and I made a video, which you can watch here (sorry for the song choice! (what was I thinking??)):