On the road to Durham
A week ago I listened close to my gut instinct and took in its constant scream of, “Science ties me up in knots, get me out of here!” I took three days off lab, rearranged and rebooked travel plans and attended a food blogging event in Durham, North Carolina, organized by the wonderful folks at BlogTogether. A food blogging event alone would have been enough to send my instincts into convulsions but with Michael Ruhlman as the guest of honor/speaker/author/blogger idol, I had no hope of resisting.
The first part of the event was a book reading at the Regulator Bookshop. Michael Ruhlman read an excerpt from his book, talked about writing books and blogs, the direction of American cuisine, cooking, eating and generally enjoying life to its fullest. He then signed books for a line of eager blogger worshippers such as myself, taking time to chat with every one of them.
When my turn came I was awkward and tongue tied, due no doubt to stress and science (I blame everything on science these days). Happily, Bora covered by saying that I am shy. Thank you! We bloggers need to stick together. [As an aside, I may be a great many things but shy I am not. Inarticulate and unsociable at times, yes. Shy? Not so much.] I did manage to squawk out a bit about my own blog and food writing, which Michael sat through with all his composure and obscene patience.
The next day was spent in anticipation of dinner at Piedmont. Chefs Drew Brown and Andy Magowan based practically the entire dinner on one heirloom pig that was raised on a local farm. I don’t know if it was the knowledge that all the ingredients save for the olive oil were born and raised in locally or that the execution of the dishes was flawless, but the food was rich, alive, fresh, simple, and cared for. In other words, it was great.
Housemade charcuterie and local cheeses: pate, lomo, rillette, head cheese, new moon, chevre camembert and accompaniments
Le Colture Fagher Prosecco
White sweet potato puree with pancetta
Pierre Henri Chardonnay 2006
Arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, pickled oak-grown shiitakes and herbs (basil, tarragon, fennel fronds and dill were all I could pick out)
Pork loin with butternut squash polenta, braised chard and jus
La Gironnere Cotes do Bordeaux 2003
Scuppernong* granita with moscato d’asti, cookies
Michael took a look at my blog and was kind enough to give me his opinion on how I can improve. I have to be more me, he said, have to give the reader a better sense of my voice minus the snarky, to which I am massively prone. Good idea? Yes. Easy to execute? Nope. I’ll be working on it, over the next 20 years or so.
Pictures from the dinner here, courtesy of Anton Zuiker.
*Don’t know what scuppernong is? I didn’t either. It’s a large grape with a thick skin that is grown in NC and is used to make a sweet wine. The granita was pale green, smooth, and almost creamy. The taste came forward in stages – sweet at first, perfumey and floral last.
P.S. Impressions? Michael Ruhlman is a pretty neat (and tall!) guy - well-spoken, attentive, with a barely concealed edge (always the best part of a person) which I unintentionally coaxed out at dinner. I have a tendency to do that. That’s another bit of me that may need to be kept in check.
Monday, October 01, 2007
On the road to Durham