Eric Ripert. Ethan Stowell. Kim Ricketts. Me?

Having the opportunity to take in greatness doesn’t happen too often. But when it opens itself up to you, you have to take it. Thus began my food adventure for a dinner by Ethan Stowell for Eric Ripert. The occasion was to celebrate Chef Ripert’s recent book, On The Line, but it could also be about celebrating food.

One of the things I love about blogging is sharing my experiences. What is blogging but a diary that the world could read? Mine just happens to be about food and wine. That’s why I have to share this great event that I was fortunate enough to be a part of. Because isn’t a great meal about sharing?

First off much credit goes to Kim Ricketts, and her friends Judy and Kirsten. Kim is awesome, she hosts these really cool book events all over the place. We conversed at the FAT event last month and talked about how great the Eric Ripert event will be. She got the thing rolling and was kind enough to have me join them at their table. Always an honor to be a VIP, and I was thankful for it.

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Revisiting the new Elliott Bay Café

Pioneer Square has an embarrassment of riches in the lunch department. We’ve covered a bunch and now we have a new entry that has the potential to be the best in the area. It’s the Elliott Bay Café; an old standby that has undergone a recent refreshing. We can thank Tamara Murphy for this rebirth. The Elliott Bay Book Co. is already a destination, but with a great cafe it can be a local institution.

I knew that Chef Murphy would take over the café but it wasn’t until Nancy Leson’s article that I realized that the cafe was open and running. I made the trek for lunch and after reveling in that experience, I’m sure I’ll go again.

The Elliott Bay Café is famous without most locals even knowing it. Word off the street is that it served as inspiration for the coffee shop on Frasier. Cool huh? The updates that Tamara and team have made are for the better. The lighting is warmer, the walls have been refreshed, and the beautiful textures of the wood – the EBC now feels like a place that you can spend some time in. It’s part of a bookstore, of course you’ll want to linger! Now you can eat some good food during your time there.

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Cool wine book: Red, White and Drunk All Over

Yup, that’s the title of this really fun wine book by Natalie MacLean. Red, White and Drunk All Over was one of the most fun informational food and wine books that I’ve read in the past few years. That’s why I think it’s another cool book for you. Or for someone as a gift. Even if you’re not into wine, you’ll be engrossed with Natalie, her narrative and how she grew and learned as a wino and a writer. It’s like reading a magazine in it’s brevity and flow.

First off, this is a great wine reference book. What’s really cool is that within its information is a great story. Nat shares her experience as a wine writer, spending time in places like Napa Valley, Burgundy, and Champagne, but she molds her perspectives into a reference and an informational slant. Tough thing to do without feeling preachy, but Nat’s style of prose prevents it from being stiff.

That’s the biggest thing that I love about the book. Nat takes a big object like wine that can be pretty intimidating and makes it approachable. Perfect for newcomers. Want to learn about food pairing. She’s on it. Glassware research? Check. Burgundy? She’s got you covered. Hosting a party? Holla. Along the way it’s dotted with fun little anecdotes. Did you know that toast comes from ancient Rome when before meals, soldiers would dip charred bread into the wine? Thus, toasting before a meal began.

It’s a quick read too. You could breeze through it or treat it like a textbook and keep notes. Isn’t that the great thing about really good books? That you’ll take something with you that resonates long after you put the book down.

Revel and read Nat’s book. Her website has all sorts of good info and she has a free newsletter; Nat Decants. The lady does have a way with words.

Red, White and Drunk All Over is one of those books that you’ll find yourself bringing up in conversation. Read it for yourself or give it to a wine-loving friend or to someone who wants to take the next step to wine geekhood. Cheers to that.

Palace Ballroom Cookbook Bonanza!

Short notice, but the good food folks at Tom Douglas Restaurants are hosting this really cool sounding event on Monday night, Dec. 1st, at the Palace Ballroom. It’s called the Ultimate Holiday Cookbook Social, and it sounds like a blast.

There will be a ton of chefs and authors there to sign books and dish up some of their specialties. Holla to the fact that we have so many awesome local chefs here in Seattle! And it’s $20 bucks to get in! Some of the chefs/authors on the docket are Thierry Rautureau of Rover’s, Leslie Mackie of Macrina Bakery, Fran Bigelow of Fran’s Chocolates, and Tom will be there too. There are a gaggle of others so make sure to check out the roster.

The chefs and authors will be autographing their books too. Should be a fun event and a good chance to cross off some holiday gifts off of the list. You’ll need to RSVP, so please email christinal@tomdouglas.com. And I promise this will be the last Tom Douglas post for awhile; this event was too cool not to mention.

Photo from Nancy Leson’s All You Can Eat blog

Cool Food Book: Fat

 

Here is another very cool food book that deserves some attention. It caught my eye with the title – Fat. Yup, it’s a book about cooking with fat and it is as great as it sounds.

Discovered this book from an event that the awesome Kim Ricketts was hosting. The author is Jennifer McLagan; her first book was called Bones and this book focuses on the ultimate flavor instigator, fat. The book’s full title is Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes. But just calling it Fat is pretty rad.

Chef McLagan uses scientific research to show that fat is beneficial and historical evidence to highlight that fat is important culturally. Plus its delicious. Raise your hand if the idea of bone marrow rice pudding gets you giddy. She was fun to listen to her talk about her viewpoints on food and fat; how fat was once considered good. Fat paycheck. Fat of the land. But the tide has turned in the last 30 years and now we’re more mindful than ever in our relationship with fat.

Her goal now is to debunk that thought and to highlight how fat is beneficial to us – that the push towards nonfat moved us towards toward refined carbs and things like high fructose corn syrup. But she isn’t necessarily a crusader, mostly she just wants to highlight how delightful and pleasurable fat can make food.

The book is broken down by butter, pork fat, poultry fat, and beef fat. And it’s littered with fun anecdotal stories and enough research to justify cooking with fat. Some of the recipes are fun to just read the titles. Here is the roll call for some that just sound delightful without even knowing the ingredients;

  • Brown Butter Ice Cream
  • Slow-Roasted Pork Belly with Fennel and Rosemary
  • Bacon Fat Spice Cookie
  • Foie Gras Butter
  • Bacon Baklava

I could go on, but I really do love this book. It’s probably my favorite food book of the year.

Give this book as a gift for your food friends that love the glory of bacon or the benefit of marbling or would embrace roasted bone marrow with open arms. You know, that friend that would gladly indulge in Bacon Ice Cream. The title alone will get the conversation started, but the content will keep the conversation going.

Cool food book: The Devil’s Food Dictionary

In Nancy Leson’s awesome food blog, she wrote about this really interesting book: The Devil’s Food Dictionary by Barry Foy. The premise of the book is very cool; a cheeky look at the world of food. It’s been written about a bit in the blog world, and all seem to tout it’s hilarity. I’m going out to grab a copy – and it’s almost gift-giving season, maybe a good idea for that food nerd in your life.