If you're not familiar with Deb's food blog, Smitten Kitchen, you're missing out on an excellent source of recipes, encompassing all kinds of cuisines from chicken empanadas to Vietnamese roast pork to gâteau de crêpes. Even if you hadn't been planning to cook something, the desire will inevitably kick in after staring at her vibrant photographs that smack your face right into the belly of a dish. Get to know Deb in this week's Meet & Eat.
Location: New York City
Favorite comfort food? French toast flooded with Vermont maple syrup for breakfast, or my homemade pizza margarita.
Guilty pleasures? I cannot resist the siren call of a salty, chip-like snack when I have a sandwich for lunch, but I get sticker shock from the calorie counts on the bags of most of them. Thus, I keep a box of 100-calorie pack Ritz in my desk. I don't want to know what's in them. You're the only one I've told.
Describe your perfect meal. The artichoke salad at Le Singe Vert on 7th Avenue with a glass (fine, two) of white Burgundy, followed by their chocolate pot de crème. Oh, and I hope my husband doesn't mind if I steal a couple of his mussels and fries, because I'm going to anyway.
What food won't you eat? I hate chicken breast cutlets. I liken them to pressed sawdust. This is not a popular opinion, so I try not to bring it up too often lest the Cutlet Cult come after me again.
What's an unexplored food you'd like to try? I know this sounds pretty basic, but would you believe I have never had a madeleine before? I mean, I see them everywhere, but I didn't want to my first impression of them to come out of a Starbucks cellophane wrapper, so I've waited. I nabbed my mother's madeleine pan a few months ago, and hope to make some today.
Favorite food person? I really love Julia Child. I know, I know, who doesn't? But I love the fact that she was such a imperfect, unpretentious person who believed in the power of quality, carefully prepared food. Nothing was too much of a task, and no amount of testing was too much to get a recipe right, and that's why we all still gather around her books today, when shelves and the web are swimming with recipes, but so many of them disappoint.
When did you first realize you were a serious eater? I went to school in DC and we used to drive out to Arlington all the time to hit IHOP, because unlike anything else in DC at the time, it was open 24 hours a day and therefore fit our collegiate schedules perfectly. The thing is, I actually hated IHOP's pancakes because they're so obviously made from an artificial ingredient-laden mix and growing up my mom always had always pancakes from scratch, so I'd just get eggs or French toast instead. My friends would call me "The Pancake Snob." It's still my mom's favorite story—she's so proud.
What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? I think they're amused, but mostly they're well-fed. It's hard to complain when your mouth is full of my last round of "oh, I saw this recipe for a blah blah butter, flour, eggs and I just had to make it." They also tease me because I always follow up with "It was really easy! You just this and than and ten more things you should really try it!" "That's great, Deb, but it's just not going to happen, you know?"
Favorite food sites or blogs? I couldn't choose. (I'm such a politician, aren't I? Who's got a baby for me to kiss?!) Basically, I have 100 RSS feeds in the "grub" folder of my Google Reader, and I tend to obsess over a new one each week. Currently, I'm taking a beautiful trip through Lobstersquad's archives.