Get to Know Us: Caroline Russock, Cook the Book Columnist
Name: Caroline Russock
Occupation: Serious Eats columnist, Cook the Book / Bake the Book
Guilty pleasures? Right now I'd have to say Girl Scout cookies, namely Thin Mints and Samoas or Caramel DeLites or whatever they're called now. I recently bought enough boxes to stock my freezer survivalist-style.
Describe your perfect meal. Managing the Cook the Book feature means that I put in some serious time in the kitchen, so for me the perfect meal is cooked by someone else. Everyone approaches cooking so differently and in a way people's personalities emerge through the food that they prepare. It might sound a little shrink-y but I find it fascinating.
What food won't you eat? Only one: Cereal, I hate it, seriously. There's something sad and squishy about a bowl of milk with a bunch of stuff floating around in it. (Shivers.)
Favorite food person? I subscribe to Vogue exclusively for Jeffery Steingarten, but yeah, the clothes are nice too. I'm also a big fan of Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer of Canal House Cooking. The idyllic life that they've created for themselves through their cookbooks makes me pretty happy and maybe just a little envious.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? Oh, you know eating oysters at the age of five just like all of the other little kids. Entertaining myself with baking projects when I had the day off from elementary school. Experiencing the glory of a fancy French cheese cart at age 12.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? Eyes tend to glaze over when I start rambling about cookbooks but my friends and family reap the benefits of my food obsessions by way of many, many recipe testing dinner parties.
Favorite food sites or blogs (besides SE)? Since moving to Philadelphia from New York I'm a big fan of Philadelphia City Paper's Meal Ticket for breaking news on the local scene, and there's plenty. The Amateur Gourmet is another favorite—reading about Adam's move to L.A. makes me want to jump on a plane. I've been vicariously living in New York by way of SE sweets maven Kathy YL Chan's blog. I'm not sure how she gets to eat out so often but she is doing it right. And for wine, it's Alice Feiring's alicefeiring.com, naturally.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? I hate to admit it but with the inordinate amount of time I spend perusing restaurant blogs, choosing where to eat is never really an issue. When it comes to more out-of-the-way, Roadfood-style spots, my buddy Hawk "Hot Dog" Krall is always good for a few surprises.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? I love a late lunch, the kind eaten in the lull between lunch and dinner, preferably at the bar at Gramercy Tavern. There's nothing about that place that isn't perfect, from the wine list and menus to the gorgeous flower arrangements. Even the bathrooms are stunning.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? Vetting the recipes for each week's Cook the Book and Bake the Book means that I'm pretty much constantly in the kitchen, either that or at the grocery store stocking up. Best dish? My fried chicken is awesome if I do say so myself and recently I've perfected a fairly authentic soon dubu.
If you woke up tomorrow as a food, what would it be? While there's no solid reasoning behind it, there's something about Jean-George's Swiss Chard Braised in Shiitake Butter topped with a poached egg that seems as though it might just be me in food form.