Welcome to "A Day in the Life," our new behind-the-scenes series exploring what SE staffers are working on, and, of course, eating. First up: Managing Editor Jamie Feldmar.
Monday, Oct 28, 2013
10 a.m. Arrive at the office with a shopping bag full of leftovers from Chayhana Salom, an Uzbek restaurant in Sheepshead Bay I'll be writing about soon. Also in the bag: Fage Greek yogurt (2%) for breakfast, and Tupperware containers of some roasted vegetables I made at home. My goal is to eat the food I cooked for myself, which sounds like no big deal but proves quite a challenge—between Kenji cooking in the office and the random edible deliveries we get all day, a lot of unforseen snacks cross my path.
10:30 a.m. Spend some time editing upcoming stories: a behind-the-scenes tour of the Grafton Cheese Village in Vermont, which contains the excellent line "cheddar is a verb;" and our next installment of Foraged Flavor, which focuses this month on wild hickories. Editing involves both line editing and paying attention to the overall arc and tone of the story. Sometimes there are extraneous phrases that don't add anything to the narrative and wind up getting cut, and sometimes the writer doesn't include enough information, so I ask them to flesh the story out more. Sometimes I edit the photos, too, or ask Robyn to take a look and work her magic.
11:30 a.m. Thanksgiving is obviously a very busy time of year for a food blog. After cooking at home all weekend, Kenji arrives with the results of his latest Thanksgiving recipe tests, which include an insanely moist turkey "porchetta" that's been cured, sous-vided, and deep-fried; and haricots vert studded with tender onions and mushrooms. An email is sent around the office: "Please come eat!" We do as we are told. (Recipes to come!)
12:00 p.m. Kenji starts cooking for today's taste-test on anchovy paste (a follow-up to our anchovy fillet test from a few weeks ago). The scent of fish infiltrates my desk area, which is mere feet from the stovetop.
12:04 p.m. Someone (me?) decides it is also a good time to break out the Uzbek leftovers, which include a raisin-studded plov, grilled lamb kebabs, mashed eggplant salad, and a delicious poppy seed-crowned bread. This will go well with the anchovies.
12:30 p.m. The taste-test begins. We're trying three kinds of puttanesca sauce over spaghetti and three kinds of Caesar dressing with romaine lettuce. The way taste-tests work is that everyone tries everything in a different order and gives ranks and notes on a scorecard. We're not really supposed to voice our opinions while the tests are going on in order to avoid influencing anyone else's results, but one of the puttanescas was so off-putting that I involuntarily blurt out "No! Why is this happening?!" I decide to wash down the gross puttanesca with...more Caesar. And some plov.
1:30 p.m. Start a flurry of emails across the editorial staff to brainstorm some potential new stories. There is a lot of excitement about a possible lowbrow snack review column, which is essentially dedicated to "all of the snacks your mom wouldn't let you eat as a kid." Stay tuned for the first installment of that one, penned by our Overlord Ed, who has some strong feelings about Cheeze-Its.
3 p.m. Put together the weekly newsletter (sign up here!), respond to some pitch emails, remind our contributors to file their monthly invoices. Pretty exciting stuff. Sift through some notes about Thanksgiving stories we have in the works. I have a few longer-term stories I'm working on in my "downtime," like a comprehensive guide to Burmese cuisine, but there's always a balancing act between those open-ended stories and the ones that are more time-sensitive or newsworthy. With the holidays approaching, a lot of my energy is going in to organizing seasonal posts, from both our editors and contributors across the country.
5 p.m. I go on a chocolate rampage. Shamelessly ask Robyn if she has any more Norwegian candy I can plunder, and end up inhaling two mini crème-filled milk chocolate bar things called Milkinis.
5:27 p.m. If only I had been more patient in my chocolate craving: a big bag of chocolate-covered pretzel samples arrives at the office, which I immediately tear into, Milkinis be damned.
6:30 p.m Ed and I walk over to the Pok Pok Cookbook release party at Danny Bowein's new Mexican restaurant Mission Cantina, which isn't technically open yet, so it's still pretty bare-bones in there. The cookbook is beautiful, with so much information jam-packed onto every page, and Andy Ricker's personal journey from housepainter to student of Thai cooking detailed over time. I'm excited to feature it on Cook the Book next week. The snacks at the party, however, are distinctly not Thai (not that I'm complaining). I eat a few tacos and a majestic creation called "chicken wing nachos," in which chips are traded out for, well, wings.
8:30 p.m. Meet a friend for dinner in Brooklyn at River Styx, a new restaurant in Greenpoint with a wood-burning oven and cheeky Italian-ish dishes with names like "anchovies that have been sitting by a warm fire." I'd be lying if I said I was hungry after my massive day of eating, but hey, it's business. Vow to only eat the roasted vegetables I neglected today tomorrow.