My friend Toby grew up in Berkeley and whenever we see each other, we talk about all of the things we might cook together one day. It’s one of those conversations that happens over and over again but the plans never materialize, so at a certain point somebody has to say, “OK, are we doing this or not?” Which is exactly what I said last time that I saw him, pulling out my calendar (or, more accurately, my iPhone with the iCal app), forcing Toby to nail down a date. That date was last Saturday and Toby, showing off his Berkeley roots, promised to make sourdough bread from scratch. To which I replied: “Well, I guess then I’ll make cioppino!”
For a while, our friend Cris has wanted to cook us dinner. The fact that we didn’t make it happen immediately won’t seem like a big deal until I tell you that Cris is French. Yes, we had the opportunity to have dinner cooked for us by a French person and we didn’t take him up on it until last week when he and his boyfriend Harry had us over to their Echo Park apartment.
Necessity is the mother of invention (its Baby Mama, if you will) and so it was that a few weeks ago I had carrots, onions, celery, and some Arborio rice on hand and because I didn’t feel like food shopping that evening, I set out to make a risotto with just water. I’ve told you about this before; it’s something I saw Lidia do on TV, so you know it’s legit. You just bring a big pot of water to a boil, add salt, and then make risotto like you’d normally make risotto, only using the salted water instead of chicken broth. The key is to finish it with some butter and lots of cheese. It’s good stuff.
But I’m not here to tell you about making risotto with water. I’m here to tell you about what you can do with the leftover risotto the next day.
Here’s how cold it was in New York: on our last morning there, I left a pair of gloves behind for the person I borrowed them from and rode the elevator down to the street with Craig to catch a cab to the airport. Craig had gone to the trouble to get me a cappuccino from our favorite New York coffee shop, Joe, which he handed to me as we stepped outside. The temperature that day, with wind-chill, was close to negative 10 degrees. NEGATIVE TEN. And no cabs were stopping, so there I was with my bare hand holding on to this warm coffee drink and the feeling was so awful–the cold was searing my hand so fiercely–I had to toss the full cup of coffee into a trash bin so I could shove my hand into my pocket. That’s the coldest I’ve ever been.
And yet, before you call me an L.A. traitor, even in the most miserable weather, New York is still my boo. I actually hadn’t been back in over a year, not because I didn’t want to, but because in the whirlwind of Skeleton Twins stuff, it just didn’t happen. Then, for Christmas, Craig presented me with tickets to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch (one of my favorite musicals) on Broadway starring the show’s creator John Cameron Mitchell the day after my birthday in February. “February?” I asked incredulously. “It’ll be fine!” he promised.
A few months ago, I had an idea. “What if I devoted a whole week on my blog to sauces? Just posts about all different kinds of sauces and I enlisted my friends to make some sauces and I also made some sauces and, you know, it was just a whole week of sauces.” So I e-mailed my friends and some of them were like “you’re weird” but others were like, “Oooh, sign me up!” I also e-mailed a few chefs too, to ask for their favorite sauce recipes. And that’s how Sauce Week came together, a week that’s all about that most fundamental, classical part of cooking: sauce. So get your sauce-scraping spoons ready, it’s going to get saucy! Welcome to Sauce Week.
This weekend on the East Coast, many of us prepared for and then endured a hurricane. How badly we endured it depended on a variety of factors; for those of us in the West Village, things weren’t too bad: some downed branches, a few giant puddles here and there. But before it happened and while it was happening, we didn’t really know what to expect. And during that time I did what many others in my position did too: I ate.
It’s not every day that you have a friend go into the food business, which is why I was so excited and exhilarated when my friend Hunter Hanger, the most charming Southerner that I know (when I just called him he answered: “As I live and breathe, if it isn’t Adam Roberts”), was opening up a food joint with his friends Betsy and John. But not just any food joint; a food joint dedicated to CASSEROLES. The inspiration came when Betsy’s mother was having surgery and “a dear friend from Macon” (to use Hunter’s phrasing) brought her a casserole from a casserole shop there. The gesture was so loving and kind that it really stuck with Betsy and when Betsy mentioned it to Hunter, they both realized that “nothing like that exists in Atlanta.”
It’s not every day that your friend wins an Oscar. But on Sunday night, our friend Luke (who went to film school with Craig) won an Oscar for his short film, “God of Love.” (You can watch it on iTunes here.)
For anyone who watched the Oscars, you’ll remember his speech (New York Magazine called it one of the evening’s best moments.) Luke gave me his permission to post the above photo on my blog….