We asked her a couple of questions:
WHY A BLOG?
I knew I wanted to be a food writer back when I started in 2007, but I wasn’t getting any traction. I was just out of college, and trying to establish myself, but it’s hard, and rightly so, to be trusted or taken seriously when you don’t have any experience. You need your big break.
The phenomenal thing about blogging is, you can give that big break to yourself. And thanks to a suggestion from my now-fiancé, who set me up with my first Blogger account, here I am. But while that was my motivation five years ago, what I get from blogging now is that immediate, instant connection with people, far from you geographically, who are so similar to you in interests and passions. My friends can only listen to so much about pot au feu. But the people who read my blog? They get it, and we get each other, and that’s a great thing.
Black and Bleu (pepper-crusted rare seared steak with Roquefort)
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR DAILY INSPIRATION FROM?
My appetite. I’m always hungry. That, plus, now that I’ve moved to London (I’m from New York City), I live so far away from my family and all the French food on which I was raised. I think it’s the missing of my mom’s home cooking that inspires me to putter around my (luckily) lovely little kitchen after work and try to remember what home tastes like.
Broiled Scallops Persillade (ten-minute broiled scallops with garlic, parsley, and butter)
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF FOOD BLOGGERS?
I think the future of food blogging is a healthy one. Food has become such a cool, integral part of the zeitgeist, and there really are as many angles as there are mouths and stomachs. I think the secret to a successful food blog is gluttony. Photos, recipes, and stories that make you want more. I have found that if you post food that you really want to eat and make and share, others will want to eat, make, and share it too. Food is the common language, and blogging is the common way to communicate. They go perfectly together. Peanut butter and jelly, as we say in America.
BLOGS YOU LOVE?
My favorite blog at the moment isn’t a food blog. It’s Atlantic-Pacific, a fashion blog run by this amazing girl who mixes reasonable, everyday J.Crew finds with Celine handbags. If she wears it, I tend to buy it. In the food space, I love the disarming humor of The Amateur Gourmet (the author lived around the corner from me growing up), the beauty and Frenchness of La Tartine Gourmande, and the kind of voyeurism of reading about David Liebovitz in France. I love the stylish food videos on Kitchy Kitchen. And, of course, Serious Eats, for which I write the two columns: ‘French in a Flash’ and ‘Dinner for Two’.
Coconutty Mussels with Ginger, Lemongrass, Chili, and Cilantro on Rice Noodles
YOUR FAVOURITE FOODS?
a) French: Cassoulet. Onion Soup Gratinée. Really rustic macaroons flavoured with orange flour. Olives. Huge pots of creamy moules. Caviar d’Aubergine, which is a smoky eggplant dip. And vegetables: the way the French do vegetables should be inspiration to us all. Celeriac. Endive. Haricots verts. Humble heroes of French cuisine. And, of course, the cheese.
b) Other: I love lobster: simply steamed Maine lobsters. Lemon sorbet is my favourite dessert. Artichokes, in any incarnation. Salt and vinegar potato chips. New York street corner hot dogs. Any pasta including squid ink. So salty! And pizza. I can’t live without it.
Kerry by the Seine in Paris.
TOP FOOD DESTINATIONS?
France is, not surprisingly, my top food destination, and even trying to pick a particular place is impossible. I love the hard apple cider and mussels in Normandy, the cassoulet near Toulouse, the zucchini flour beignets and seafood in Provence, and absolutely everything in Paris. I would say the center of my food world is Le Comptoir, at the Carrefour Odéon in Paris. It’s my favorite restaurant. Get their Salade Niçoise à Ma Façon. You won’t regret it! But also, outside of France, my hometown of New York City. You can turn the corner, and eat like you’re on the other side of the world. Only, probably, better.
YOUR FAVOURITE COOK BOOKS/ BLOGS?
I love two kinds of cookbooks: beautifully shot, beautifully written books with simple, fast, real-life recipes, and encyclopedic French tomes. In the first category, Nigella Lawson. She writes, and I taste it immediately in my imagination. Her Rocky Road Crunch Bars have become a favourite at my office. And in French cookbooks, my greatest treasure is a little self-published book of Provençal recipes I bought off an herbes de Provence farmer in Lourmarin. All the neighbouring food producers had gotten together and written this little book of traditional Provençal recipes, like caviar d’aubergines and sauce mistral. It’s a trove! But in terms of books readily available, I love Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris for its unedited awe of all things French and beautiful.
LATEST FOOD OBSESSION?
I’m out-and-out obsessed with Cassoulet. It’s this salt-of-the-earth baked casserole of white beans, garlicky sausage, duck or pork confit, and pork fat. It may sound unglamorous, but it is the most primaly gorgeous thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. I spent a month last summer in a town on the outskirts of Toulouse, and even though it was July, I ate cassoulet almost every night. I love its simple heartiness. It’s real food. Lately, I’ve been importing French cassoulet in a can and eating it for dinner. That’s how much I love it. Here’s my recipe for shortcut cassoulet.
YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT?
Mint! It adds an element of fresh surprise to all things savoury. It tones down all things sweet. And, because my grandmother is from Morocco, I grew up drinking fresh mint tea like water. I put fresh mint in almost everything. I even have mint soap and candles around my apartment. It’s great stuff.
‘IN MY NEXT LIFE I’D LIKE TO COME BACK AS…’
A mouse in a cheese shop!