I wrote about Roberta’s - the restaurant and the cookbook - for this month’s issue of Bookslut:

I was in New York City for a few days after Christmas and when we decided to go out for pizza, we went to Roberta’s. After all, the introduction to the book says, “To experience Roberta’s, you have to visit it.” The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but it was just two of us and I innocently assumed we would be able to at least slip in at the bar. I expected a wait, but when we were told it was two and a half hours, I wavered. From our vantage point we could see how the shoutiness of the place could be fun. It smelled good and it was warm, and it was cold outside. But we were hungry and waiting two and a half hours for pizza is, well, ridiculous. We ordered pizzas to go instead.

I wrote about Roberta’s - the restaurant and the cookbook - for this month’s issue of Bookslut:

I was in New York City for a few days after Christmas and when we decided to go out for pizza, we went to Roberta’s. After all, the introduction to the book says, “To experience Roberta’s, you have to visit it.” The restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but it was just two of us and I innocently assumed we would be able to at least slip in at the bar. I expected a wait, but when we were told it was two and a half hours, I wavered. From our vantage point we could see how the shoutiness of the place could be fun. It smelled good and it was warm, and it was cold outside. But we were hungry and waiting two and a half hours for pizza is, well, ridiculous. We ordered pizzas to go instead.

Tags: Bookslut

Some good things consumed in 2013: homemade cakes, summertime picnics, peach milkshakes, crabs on the beach, eggs and ripe pears at my writing desk on the Toronto Island, a Southern feast at Christmas, champagne and chips.

The November Bookslut column is up. I wrote about The Modern Art Cookbook and Modern Art Desserts:

The Lichtenstein Cake seemed like a good place for me to start — more visually unique than the Thiebaud cakes, but still manageable. It’s a stark, four-layer red and white cake, with the top dotted with those pop art Ben-Day printing dots found in Lichtenstein’s work. Freeman is open with her wariness of the ubiquitous red velvet. “Come on, just admit it!” she says to it just being an excuse to eat something bright red. (Busted.) The color, though, fit nicely with Lichtenstein’s primary color scheme, so she gave in. The recipe for red velvet is better than ones I’ve made in the past, and the point where you add drops of food coloring to the batter and watch it swirl together in the bowl of the stand mixer is a thing of beauty in itself. Unfortunately my finished product looked nothing like the clean lines in the book, but it tasted good, at least.

That’s the cake I made, closeup so you can’t really tell how ugly it was. I’m also working on other essays for this site, but they just haven’t been quite ready for posting yet. Getting there.

The November Bookslut column is up. I wrote about The Modern Art Cookbook and Modern Art Desserts:

The Lichtenstein Cake seemed like a good place for me to start — more visually unique than the Thiebaud cakes, but still manageable. It’s a stark, four-layer red and white cake, with the top dotted with those pop art Ben-Day printing dots found in Lichtenstein’s work. Freeman is open with her wariness of the ubiquitous red velvet. “Come on, just admit it!” she says to it just being an excuse to eat something bright red. (Busted.) The color, though, fit nicely with Lichtenstein’s primary color scheme, so she gave in. The recipe for red velvet is better than ones I’ve made in the past, and the point where you add drops of food coloring to the batter and watch it swirl together in the bowl of the stand mixer is a thing of beauty in itself. Unfortunately my finished product looked nothing like the clean lines in the book, but it tasted good, at least.

That’s the cake I made, closeup so you can’t really tell how ugly it was. I’m also working on other essays for this site, but they just haven’t been quite ready for posting yet. Getting there.

Tags: Bookslut


Around the time I found The Book of Tea, I’d been thinking about drinking. Mostly how I didn’t think about it. It seemed at odds with the way I think about food, which is often, obsessively. This line in one of Elizabeth Ellen’s stories in Fast Machine described how I felt: “She drank what she liked to drink and then she drank what she didn’t like to drink in addition.” No descriptions, no adjectives, just verbs. With food, it’s easy to form opinions and preferences. Teasing the subtlety of flavors in drinks, particularly alcoholic ones, is more difficult.

October Bookslut column is up. I wrote about drinking.

Around the time I found The Book of Tea, I’d been thinking about drinking. Mostly how I didn’t think about it. It seemed at odds with the way I think about food, which is often, obsessively. This line in one of Elizabeth Ellen’s stories in Fast Machine described how I felt: “She drank what she liked to drink and then she drank what she didn’t like to drink in addition.” No descriptions, no adjectives, just verbs. With food, it’s easy to form opinions and preferences. Teasing the subtlety of flavors in drinks, particularly alcoholic ones, is more difficult.

October Bookslut column is up. I wrote about drinking.

Tags: bookslut

One more summer day.

One more summer day.

The Last Outdoor Meal of Summer 2013

Maybe the last outdoor meal of the summer was last night. A leafy pergola, candles stuck in beer bottles, mosquitoes buzzing around. Halibut that just barely survived the drive from northern B.C. to southern Ontario, fried, with potatoes from a Mennonite farmer, perfectly spicy homemade ketchup, tangy apple cider coleslaw and some bread dotted with Caraway seeds to start. Paper plates, small glasses with different types of beer to drink. The threatening rain started to fall just when desert came out. Retreated inside, a little dazed by the sudden light, drank the strangest jam-y strawberry/rhubarb beer, the dog sleeping under the table by our feet.

On The Adobo Road

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Some news! I’ve started reviewing cookbooks and food literature on Bookslut (you can call me Cookbookslut, if you please!). My first column was about Filipino food and centered around Marvin Gapultos' The Adobo Road Cookbook. I had fun cooking from the book, writing about it, and I’m looking forward to putting together more of these columns in the future.

Tags: bookslut

Cake Making

Soraya and I like to talk about cake. Last year while driving home from a long weekend roadtrip in Detroit, one of the first things I did was call to tell her about a regional cake I’d never heard of: Bumpy Cake. I knew she would be just as interested in it as I was. Bumpy Cake is fairly simple – plain chocolate baked into a rectangle, striped with vanilla buttercream lines and then coated in fudge. The buttercream lines give the cake its bumps. Ta da. I’d thought about making her a Bumpy Cake for her birthday, but somehow didn’t get around to it, although she did make me a cake for mine – a classic vanilla cake iced in chocolate. It was delicious, and even more so because there’s something about having a cake baked just for you that makes it even sweeter. But we talked about baking something more complex together, not so much for the baking part, but for the eating part. The thing is, as much as I enjoy baking, I’m very much a one-bowl kind of baker. If we were going to attempt something complex, we would have to bring someone else in.

Emily is one of the funnest people I know and definitely the most hardcore baker. She churns out deserts like it’s no big thing . Recently for a friend’s baby shower, she baked a series of deserts around the theme of children’s books – cupcakes that formed the Hungry Caterpillar, shortbread cookies with EAT ME stamped on them a la Alice in Wonderland, little Horton Hears a Who-pie pies. We had talked about baking something together for years and had somehow never gotten around to it.

A few weeks ago, despite the fact that the city was in the throes of a heat wave, I’d decided the complex cake baking moment had arrived. I emailed both Soraya and Emily and asked if they wanted to attempt making a Momofuku Milk Bar cake. They wrote back almost immediately and the game was on.

Momofuku opened a Noodle Bar in Toronto last fall. I’ve been twice, and while I can’t say I had the best ramen ever, I don’t think I know what qualifies as the best ramen ever. I enjoyed it enough, the pork buns were amazing, the beer was overpriced and on my first visit, after sampling a few dishes between two of us, we dropped $70 for a meal that lasted about 30 minutes. Was it worth it? I’m not sure, but at a certain point you’re paying for a brand, and I’m fascinated by how David Chang has branded Momofuku so well. They do the high/low thing perfectly; they are McSweeney’s level cool with Lucky Peach; they are David Simon level cool with David Chang’s role on Treme. And if you don’t care so much about the savoury stuff, you have Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar. There’s a kind of stoner genius to the Milk Bar deserts – a consistent salty/sweet crunchy/smooth dichotomy, the insistence on certain synthetic ingredients to replicate very specific flavor profiles, a good dose of nostalgia.  

Toronto didn’t have a Milk Bar, which is why I figured we should make something ourselves, although the day we chose to bake our cake one coincidentally opened here in town. We took it as a good omen and proceeded with our baking date. We were going to make the Birthday Cake.

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Tags: essay

theparisreview:

“A man goes into a typical greasy-spoon restaurant in a railroad station and sits at a table. The waitress asks what he wants and he answers, ‘Two eggs sunny side up and a kind word.’ After a while the waitress brings the eggs, puts them down and asks, ‘Is there anything else?’ ‘How about that kind word?’ he asks. And she answers, ‘Don’t eat those eggs.’”
Saul Bellow, on cooking (via)

theparisreview:

“A man goes into a typical greasy-spoon restaurant in a railroad station and sits at a table. The waitress asks what he wants and he answers, ‘Two eggs sunny side up and a kind word.’ After a while the waitress brings the eggs, puts them down and asks, ‘Is there anything else?’ ‘How about that kind word?’ he asks. And she answers, ‘Don’t eat those eggs.’”

Saul Bellow, on cooking (via)

theparisreview:

The butcher asks me what I am cooking today.This is part of our ritual.His fingers raw from the slaughterhouse,he hands me white packages, appendages sawed off,with the heft or weight of a sacrament.There is nothing we would not killwith our appetities.
—Lise Goett, from “Antediluvian.”Art Credit Jennifer Packer.

theparisreview:

The butcher asks me what I am cooking today.
This is part of our ritual.
His fingers raw from the slaughterhouse,
he hands me white packages, appendages sawed off,
with the heft or weight of a sacrament.
There is nothing we would not kill
with our appetities.

Lise Goett, from “Antediluvian.”
Art Credit Jennifer Packer.