This week we're cooking from the new book New York a la Cart by Serious Eats contributors Alexandra Penfold and Siobhan Wallace. It's a delightful collection of recipes and stories from many of the most popular food carts and trucks around New York City. Get to know both authors—first Alexandra and then Siobhan—in our interview with them below.
Guilty pleasures? The corner slice of a grocery store sheet cake. Mmmm...frosting roses.
Describe your perfect meal. Any meal that involves family and friends (and discussing our next great meal). Oh, and cheese, there should be some fabulous cheese.
What food won't you eat? Offal. I hear it can be delicious, but sorry, it's not happening.
Favorite food person? My mom.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? At age four I scaled a kitchen counter to make myself a peanut butter sandwich one night when my mom was visiting a neighbor and my dad was busy trying to do some work before starting dinner. Even at that young age, I remember the sense of pride at having made something to eat for myself.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? I was born into a food-loving family and was fortunate to marry into one as well so I'm surrounded by enablers. Seriously, it's wonderful to have so many good friends and family who love making food and talking about food as much as I do.
Favorite food sites or blogs? Serious Eats, Midtown Lunch, Eater, GrubStreet...you know the drill.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? I'm always collecting ideas for places I want to try. Siobhan is constantly scouting out great new places for assignments, so I'll check with her if I need a good tip or help choosing.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? I'm a big brunch person. I love the way brunch dishes combine savory and sweet. Lately I've been making more brunches at home, but when we do go out our go-to spots are Shopsins and Mimi's Hummus. Or we'll pick up some awesome breakfast sandwiches on the go from Brancaccio's Food Shop.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I cook all the time! I'm Italian and I make a mean red sauce. For savory foods, my go-to dishes tend to be pan-Mediterranean. I love baking because it's much easier to share and for me there's nothing more delightful that perking up someone's day with a cookie or treat. Lately I've been really into making doughnuts. You can't go wrong with a nice fluffy Potato Doughnut.
Guilty pleasures? Lately, Mega Stuff Oreos and regular Fritos. I've been known to pick up the 99-cent macaroni and cheese from Trader Joe's. Dirty Chinese delivery also makes regular appearances in my apartment during stressful times.
Describe your perfect meal. The older I get, the more it becomes about who I'm eating with over what I'm eating. Anytime I'm with great friends and there's bourbon, it's pretty perfect. That said, there would have to be sausage involved.
What food won't you eat? Black licorice makes me violently ill. So there's that.
Favorite food person? It's a toss up between Nigella and Hilah.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? When I realized there were kindred souls also really excited about their next meal and spending hours researching new recipes to try.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? My family, and a few longtime friends, found it hilarious and silly for a while. Until I got a book deal. Then they took it seriously.
Favorite food sites or blogs? My own, obviously.
Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? My good friends Pam, Donny, Clay, Dave, and, when he's in town, Tim. They all tend to eat out way more than I do and one of them will steer me in the right direction.
What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? Breakfast! I can eat "breakfast" for every meal. I usually just get it in my kitchen since brunch in New York is often too much of a scene for me.
Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I've been cooking and baking a lot recently, after taking a post-book hiatus. It's hitting that time of year when I start getting requests for my pulled pork, as well as watermelon and/or strawberry pie. I will often oblige.