This is how I ended my blog a year ago, when I wrote about how Suvir Saran’s
recipes and encouragement had changed my life and awakened and educated my
palate. And I was right—2012 was a
year of great culinary adventure and excitement.
The flavors Iliana De La Vega shares at her "humble" food truck in Austin, TX, are far from HUMBLE. There is NOTHING Humble or modest about what Iliana does. I say that in a good way. Her food has a personality that SHINES. A taste that SINGS Clearly, with HIGH Notes, deep LOW gut-pleasing tastes and pleasurable middle, side and any and all notes, flavors and sensations that come together bringing forth a culinary discovery, that speaks of a kitchen alchemy that needs to be savored, shared, celebrated and perpetuated. The only thing Humble about the experience Iliana shared with me last night, was perhaps the concept of savoring Haute cuisine around a food truck.
Yvan Lemoine came into my life as a gift from Michael and Ariane Batterberry of Food Arts magazine. Michael had brought Yvan to the Food Arts Magazine and Culinary Institute of America joint conference on Pastry Arts. It has been several years since, and Yvan had been an indelible mark on my life. Now, through his book, Food Fest 365! Yvan has left an amazing mark on all our lives. We only need be hungry, able to cook and share, and if that is so, Yvan will enrich our world with foods that are sweet, savory, spicy and everything in-between.
The Brussels Sprouts at Butcher, the casual spot by Donald Link in the Warehouse District in New Orleans, were so delicious that I ordered a second serving after I arrived at our table, having answered a call from John Currence. John my dear man is the other Southern Food God completing the Trifecta with Donald Link & Susan Spicer as far as DEEEEEEP South chefs go. Butcher is a sibling to Cochon. It is also easy to be at. Has a wonderful energy. Of course Charlie saw the operation and wondered how things would change if the chefs had Korin knives to use. I ate the Mac 'n' Cheese so quickly that I had none left by the time I felt inspired to use the iPhone to photograph. Charlie of course missed Gael Greene's favorite Mac & Cheese from American Masala that I make and gave me not-so-discreet hints about making it soon after our return to NYC. LOVE the energy, love the concept, and love the simple and honest feel. Also loved the very mixed customer base it was serving. Heaven to my ecumenical and secular mindset. Donald Link was in the kitchen, at least chatting and leading, and I got to say hello to him. Though neither one of us knew the other. Our lunchmate identified him for me. I had to say hello. He seems rather modest, kind and decent. It was stamped on his face. That alone makes him a man I would respect for long years.
The last few days have been a whirlwind of cooking, cleaning, styling and shooting. As Ben Fink photographs the next book, my gal pal Sal and I have been cleaning, sorting, planning and working till our feet give up. Each night the bed has been the most welcome setting for our tired soles. And this morning we found ourselves the recipients of the kindness of others. FedEX delivered a box of syrups from Torani and my tired brain concocted the above drink. What an amazing elixir it has been. I had to photograph it. And share it with all.
This photo is taken from the internet. I would love to give credit but the photograph had none. I know Michael would appreciate me being concerned about this detail. A month has passed since Michael passed, and yet, Michael lives and lives fully and wholly in the hearts, minds, work and passion of those whose lives he touched. Michael, you are not present with us in the form you were before, but many of us still celebrate you daily and perhaps even more often than that - through our work, our lives and in ways people that never knew you may never know. Ariane and you led exemplary lives that magically changed the lives of many. Thanks for being you and thanks for having given me all you did. May your legacy enrich many as you did in your own lifetime.
The days adventures began with a bowl of cereal and some Chocolate Milk from Battenkill Valley Creamery. It wasn't exactly yesterday's life-changing meal, but sometimes even professional chefs get lazy. We ended up in Lake George by late afternoon (look above), and those adventures shall be shared in next post.