Friday, February 5, 2010

Food Writers' Mixer, Irony, and Apple Pie

Last night's food writers' mixer and book reading was...interesting. And ironic. But more on that later. The Washington Post's Joe Yonan and Jane Black read their contributions ("Deep in the Heart of Texas, We Bread Steak" and "Go Slow, Foodies, It's the Way to Win," respectively) and Tim Carman of Baltimore City Paper read his "How Not to Hire a Chef."

Carman's piece was interesting, not the least because a large part of it was an interview with Michael Babin, one of the four co-owners of The Neighborhood Restaurant Group, local restaurateur powerhouses behind Tallulah, EatBar, Rustico, Buzz, Evening Star, and Churchkey. I worked for NRG at Buzz for about six months, and Babin was a delight to work for-extremely polite and considerate of all of his employees. We ended up at Churchkey after the reading and I had a tasty Allagash White and some charcuterie and pate. Incidentally being the one person who really likes liver means I had most of the pate to myself, which was great, although no one would try to fried sweetbreads with me and I knew I couldn't eat them all myself. Next time!

As for chicken-fried steak, well, I lived in Texas for a while and have only had a chicken fried steak once, and that was in Arlington. (It was gross.) Although anyone who knows me knows that a breaded steak would seem like something I'd be in to, the weird language barrier between my accented English and Texas-ese meant that I thought chicken fried steak was somehow, I don't know, fried in chicken as opposed to being fried like chicken. I had images of a steak with chicken somehow adhered to it. I regret never trying chicken fried steak in Texas and wish someone had pointed out that it is in fact akin to schnitzel, which is something I understood.

So! I plan to try a chicken fried steak at the next opportunity. Maybe I'll make one.

Jane Black's piece on sustainability and food policy was delightfully ironic when contrasted with the spread of cupcakes, cakes, cookies, and a particularly awful bright pink punch-type concoction thoughtfully provided by Giant. The cakes weren't particularly good (gritty overly sweet buttercream, a chocolate cake still frozen in the middle) but I don't blame the Post because we all know they're broke.

Food trends of the future (according to the speakers): small plates, niche markets for food writing and recipe books, underground supper clubs, and food blogs. Lots of food blogs.

Is this a food blog? No. But a lot of what I do revolves around food.

Since we here on the East Coast are hunkering down for Snowpacalypse (or Snowmageddon, whichever you prefer) I thought I'd put together something delicious and filling to eat before I had to resort to devouring other people in the barren wasteland that I am told is soon to materialize. So, apple pie!

Trying out a new crust recipe, courtesy of Cook's Illustrated. Yes, that is vodka. Normally I would put a link to the recipe up, but Cook's puts a lot of time and money into testing their recipes, and if you only get one cooking magazine, make it Cook's. Or register for their website. I bought their most recent baking cookbook and have been plowing through the recipes, all with great success.

Cooking down the apples.

A raw pie looks out at the falling snow and contemplates its short, delicious life.

The final product.

It's still cooling so I haven't had a chance to cut it yet, but I'll report back after I eat about half of it. Probably in one sitting.

Since we're apparently not going to be able to go anywhere this weekend, I've laid in a stock of books: John Wray's Lowboy, T.C. Boyle's The Women, and Chris Cleave's Little Bee. Also on the horizon: curried lamb, fajitas, and probably some Discovery Channel.

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