A Tribute to Peter Workman

[Photo via Workman.com]

Regina Schrambling has penned a lovely, loving tribute to Peter Workman who died this weekend at the age of 74. I was really surprised and saddened to hear of his death, especially since my most recent cookbook was very much the result of his extraordinary input. My original idea was for a book called “The Best Recipes of Your Life” where, based on my broccoli post, I would seek out the best mashed potatoes, the best milkshake, etc. When the proposal arrived at Artisan, my agent told me that Peter Workman enjoyed the proposal but wasn’t crazy about the concept. He came up with a different idea: what if I traveled around the country and cooked with great chefs and home cooks, transcribing everything that I learned into a cookbook? Secrets of the Best Chefs was born and throughout the process I would occasionally get input from Peter by way of my editor. All of it was so spot on, I still pinch myself when I think about how lucky I am that I got to do a cookbook under his tutelage. His loss is a great loss to cookbook lovers everywhere.

Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew

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Cooking out of season is a little more acceptable on the west coast, where seasons are peripheral. Yes, it got a little chilly out here in L.A. in January and February; I was wearing long sleeves in March, but life didn’t change the way life changes so dramatically when it gets cold back east.

So why not make beef stew in June? That was my philosophy when I unpacked Amanda Hesser’s mammoth New York Times Cookbook and discovered a recipe by that most fabulously ferocious food writer, Regina Schrambling, for Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew.

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Ordering in from Otto

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As a New York based food blogger, I often make an effort to vary my posts so that those of you not in New York–which, I imagine, is actually the large majority of you–can feel like I’m speaking to you too.

But this post, despite its New York specificity, has what I imagine is universal appeal–mostly because of a chef that I’ve loved and admired for as long as I’ve been interested in cooking. That chef is Mario Batali.

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Breasts are trouble. Legs are easy.

[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Now, I have to confess, when I e-mailed prospective guest bloggers, there was one person I was certain would never say yes. That person is one of the most feared food bloggers alive, a blogger who talks of her own “retractable fangs.” That blogger is, of course, Regina Schrambling of the legendary food industry blog, Gastropoda. (She also writes on Epicurious and Tweets on Twitter.) Lo and behold, not only did Regina say yes, she wrote her guest post with gusto. So I am deeply humbled and honored and excited to announce her contribution. Take it away, Regina!]

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One of the first serious dinner parties my consort and I ever gave was a duck debacle — I picked a ridiculously ambitious recipe from “Cooking With the New American Chefs” involving fried corn cakes and pinot noir sauce, and the two of us managed to put together what Bob said “looks like farmer food.” Tears were involved. Not to mention mangled breasts to the then-crazy tune of 30 dollars.

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Lunch with Regina Schrambling at The New French

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“I think people are afraid of me,” said Regina Schrambling, creator of the web site Gastropoda, a site where she skewers food world personalities with loving names like “The Porcine Pantload,” “The Human Scratch n’ Match,” and “The Drivelist.” (I’m lucky I got away with “The Tyro” and now “The-Not-So-Tyro-Anymore.”) To say that she writes with a poisoned pen would be a profound understatement; her prose is prickly and pointed, she’s merciless in her attack of hypocrisy, idiocy, and corruption in the food world.

Normally, to be polite, I’d say, “No, they’re not afraid of you.” But there, over lunch at The New French in The West Village, I had to concur. “Yes,” I said. “I think people probably are afraid–though didn’t you once refer to yourself as having retractable fangs?”

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