"Perhaps the most impressive of all the cookbook blogs are the three devoted to the 2004 edition of Gourmet magazine's "The Gourmet Cookbook" -- all 5¼ pounds and 1,300-odd recipes of it. Befitting this culinary Everest, all three writers are overachievers in their professional lives."

--Lee Gomes, The Wall Street Journal, May 28, 2008
"I should have told you before how much I've been enjoying reading your thoughts. You seem like such a great cook."

--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gourmet Bloggers Meet in Three-Dimensional Space! And Have a Tapenade Smackdown!

You know, there are hobbyists and then, there are hobbyists. Most people who have a passion about something--knitting, cars, birdwatching, whatever--have a group out there somewhere of friends who are similarly obsessed.

But this Gourmet cook-through blog project is pretty darn specialized, folks. Four. There are four of us embarked upon this nutty voyage. And when there are only four you get excited about the chance to meet one of your fellow voyagers. Excited enough to drive an hour and a half, food processor tucked under your arm, to participate in a lunchtime this-is-my-hobby-and-here's-a-fellow-hobbyist presentation + Ultimate Tapenade Smackdown!

My new three-dimensional friend? Adam, from Gourmet, all the way!

Adam works in Manchester, NH--not far from his Massachusetts digs (so he goes against the rush hour traffic--such a smart fellow) and let me just pause right here to show you a picture (from 10 floors up) of Elm St., which is the main downtown street in Manchester.

Manchester is a happening little city! Restaurants thick on the ground--it kind of has a university town vibe. I definitely plan on visiting again to do some serious exploring. And writers, here's a little anecdote from which you can take heart--I went to stop at a Barnes & Noble on the way out of town and I couldn't find a parking space. Once I got inside, the place was packed--this was a Friday, mid-afternoon--and it's not because there was a Starbucks inside either. They were browsing the shelves. Maybe it's because everybody's unemployed, I don't know, but I was happy to see the action.

But getting back to our lunchtime adventure, check this out!

Adam put together a powerpoint presentation!

It was great--he defined "blogging", then "cook-through blogging"...talked about the first cookthrough blogger (of Julie/Julia fame) and also quite a bit about Carol of Alinea at Home fame, who is making things that I'm pretty sure I couldn't get my bookgroup to eat no matter how much they love me.

And then...the tapenade. Adam picked out two tapenade recipes because we were in a conference room (no stove, no nothing...except a few outlets) and with the food processors we could whiz those suckers up with little to no fuss.

Now, I say little or no fuss, but I must pause to mention my own personal smackdown with my food processor, which is to say I COULD NOT GET the lid off and spent at least a few minutes grunting (and cursing?) while I tried. The food processor won. Well, actually Adam won because HE got it off, while gracefully transitioning me from shooting dagger-like looks of hatred at my aging food processor to telling the amused (I hope) crowd what my favorite recipe so far is (Grapefruit and Coconut Angel Pie).

Here is a picture of the graceful Adam preparing the Tapenade:

This guy could be in a test kitchen show on tv. Seriously. Unflappable. By the way, the first recipe used black olives, which were whizzed up with garlic cloves, capers, and olive oil. Our observation about this one is that it seemed a little loose in the oil department--if you make this yourself add the oil slowly and stop when it looks right to you.

The second one, Green Olive and Almond Tapenade, was just as simple--green olives, parsley, toasted almonds, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Here's a picture of the two:

The assembled lunch-goers preferred the Green Olive and Almond Tapenade, but I have to say I was equally impressed with both. The capers add an interesting, earthy flavor to the black tapenade, and the almonds do the same for the green olive version. I'd make both again.

The other thing I'd do again? Cook with Adam! He's SO NICE, and he gave me a bottle of Madagascar Vanilla Extract for coming up, and when I asked him if he'd ever consider a career in cooking he mentioned the idea of a cookbook bookstore with a test kitchen in the back where you could hold cooking classes. Doesn't that seem like a brilliant idea? I think so too. I can't wait to meet his family and we'll do something fun like whip up some Gourmet baby food. :-)

(EDIT: stop the presses, there's ANOTHER Gourmet blogger--Annie Gustely of Bon Appetit to you too! Why is her blog named after Bon Appetit? Because she's decided to cook through BOTH cookbooks, to which all I can say is good luck, sistah--in three years I've only done 572 (Adam, I finally counted!) so you'll be cooking on your deathbed, most likely. But we'll be cheering you on. :-)

1 comment:

Georgia said...

I <3 that one of the stories "you might like" is about our cake baking adventure.