Claire Saffitz terrifies me
Read a great profile of her journey as a cookbook author and then scroll to the bottom for video from a French cheese stretching competition.
This week’s newsletter is a reprint of my most recent newsletter for TASTE (plus some Snack Cart additions), where I’m part of a rotating cast of newsletter writers. To get my newest stuff as soon as it’s out, subscribe to TASTE.
While all the members of the Bon Appétit Expanded Video Universe were impressive, Claire Saffitz was one of the most intimidating. Her cheerful attitude and terrifying competence over a realm so many people (mostly me) find daunting—baking—made her an early standout and carried her through the launch of her 2020 book, Dessert Person. This week, Aliza Abarbanel drops a long profile of Saffitz in the run-up to the launch of her next book, What’s for Dessert.
As Saffitz prepares for the hoopla around a publicity tour, Saffitz reflects on how this book channels her considerable technical expertise into creating more approachable recipes that don’t turn up their nose at shortcuts or store-bought ingredients. Very rarely does a profile capture so well a writer’s evolution. This is a great one, and the book promises to turn even more of us into dessert people.
If you only want my writing, you should stay subscribe to Snack Cart! Or subscribe if you don’t. Now every-other-weekly-ish!
Even though we are all trying to be more environmentally friendly, nothing really compares to the Ziploc bag. I loved learning the history of this kitchen game changer and loved even more learning that there are compostable ones.
Jaya Saxena digs into the human toll behind secret menus and TikTok hacks. While fast food apps make it possible to game the system, there are real people struggling to put together a 14-ingredient, 12-step order while other customers scream for their iced coffee. There has only been one truly good menu hack in history, and we just passed its 15th birthday.
How did IPAs, once the marker of craft beer, become a punch line?
Deanna Pan, writing in the Boston Globe magazine, does a deep dive into the Kowloon, a multistory Chinese restaurant and local landmark just north of Boston. Pan gets into the history behind the place and how one family’s vision (and insane amount of hard work) built it into the empire it is today. This is a great read, even if you didn’t grow up in Boston.
There has been a LOT of celebrity drama related to food in the past few weeks. If you haven’t heard about what’s happening with James Corden and New York restaurant Balthazar, or Olivia Wilde’s salad dressing, God bless. If you want to catch up, Bon Appétit has rounded up those stories and other food memes.
You don’t need to be an Anglophile to be obsessed with pubs. Vittles, the indispensable British food newsletter, has written up a guide to 100 of the best ones. I’ve saved it in my bookmarks for my next trip to London, but even if you aren’t planning to travel, it’s worth reading the opening essay about what makes a great pub.
My sister Hope explains a wine meme
Italy has 20 wine regions that are home to around 350 commerically produced grape varietals. Some people say there are more than 2,000 native varieties. Each grape and region has super specific rules about aging and yields and harvest dates and blends and and and… it’s a lot. When confronted with a deeply Italian wine list I give up and ask the waiter or sommelier what they like.
I’ve started to incorporate a side of greens into my weeknight cooking. It feels vaguely fancy (“Oooh, a second dish!”) while also being easy, healthy, and affordable. Leftovers easily stretch into omelets, soups, or frittatas (frittati?). This Ottolenghi recipe for a side of greens with crispy garlic is on the complicated end of the scale for a side dish, but it sounds delicious.
Jennifer Fergesen, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, details the rise in Filipino vinegars. While many recipes are simplified for American cooks, a lot of the punch of Filipino food comes from specialized and pungent vinegars that are only now becoming available in the United States. Time to start stocking up.
Making gnocchi terrifies me, but Matt breaks it down in a way that seems . . . almost doable? It also seems like a great dish to practice. Buy a big sack of potatoes, and spend an afternoon making batches until you’ve got the knack of it (just toss the ones that don’t work in the trash). It’s the same method Julia Child recommended for learning how to cook omelets.
Much like making your own salad dressing, making your own salsa is a shockingly easy thing to do that is both delicious and deeply impresses guests. Scott Hocker shares a recipe for a simple salsa with only five ingredients that goes with just about anything.
Watch, Stream, Listen
This week on the TASTE Podcast, Matt catches up with cookbook author and Little House on the Prairie fan Molly Yeh. Will Molly star in a future Hallmark Channel movie?
Kaitlin and Sarah Leung join in the studio to talk about their long-running online food blog The Woks of Life, and new cookbook. For anybody who has ever held a wok over high heat, The Woks of Life has been a steady hand helping you along the way.
If you aren’t subscribing to the TASTE Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Amazon, you are missing out. Recent episodes include Los Angeles icon and baker Hannah Ziskin and author George Saunders.
Copyranter has a roundup of some amazing French KFC commercials. You’ll need sound on for these.
I’ve been sending all my food friends videos from the @sandwichesofhistory account for the past month or two. The short videos of a cheerful guy making and reviewing sandwiches are a delight in my daily content diet. So I was thrilled when I saw that Jordan Michelman interviewed Barry Enderwick, the man behind the account.
If it feels like more and more people have food allergies, it’s because they do! Vox’s Unexplainable podcast examines what’s behind the rise in food allergies and some of the modern thinking on how to treat—or even cure—them.
A short video from some kind of French cheese-stretching competition will brighten your day.
Big Talk, hosted by Jason Diamond, is here.
Out of Context J. Gold of the Week
Rio, the birthplace of the thing bikini, samba, and the phenomenon of seventy-year-old women in midriff-baring sarongs, is also home to the Saturday-afternoon feijoada, a pork-and-bean stew heavy enough to make Toulousian cassoulet seem like spa cuisine. - Link