June 10, 2020
Dear Book Lovers,
Happy Guest Writer Wednesday! I am delighted to introduce you to today’s Foodie Guest…Nikki Marie. Nikki is the creator of the popular food blog, Chasing The Seasons and the author of the delicious and ever so stunning cookbook, Simple, Elegant Pasta Dinners (Page Street Publishing). Nikki lives in Northern New Jersey (fellow Jersey Girl) where the seasons are fabulous and the farms are abundant. Not only does Nikki develop all of her recipes, but she also styles and photographs all of her pictures for her blog (beyond impressive). I am giving you fair warning…Nikki’s passion for food is infectious. She loves celebrating her love of family and friends with incredible meals. She is a huge supporter of local agriculture and cooking with the freshest and cleanest ingredients possible. Nikki is no stranger in the press either. She has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Pittsburgh Post -Gazette, The Washington Post, Manhattan Book Review and Crate & Barrel...just to name a few. Nikki is a big fan of properly French-pressed coffee, 1940’s style and music, a good book that she can’t put down, period dramas, rainy days, history, and October. Last but not least, her literary crush is none other than the charming Mr. Darcy! I hope you enjoy Nikki’s letter to Mr. H. It is a delicious one!
P.S. If you are looking for a seasonal cocktail that will knock your socks off, check out Nikki’s Strawberry Bourbon Smash. 🍓🍓🍓
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
While the world reveres you for your writing, many of us appreciate your insatiable appetite for good food, too. The way you indelibly wove food and drink into your storylines, it was once written that to read you, is to have a seat at your table.
Much in the way that your father influenced your culinary taste and appreciation, for me, it was my grandmother. By way of example, I was introduced to the Italian ideology to allow the seasons to direct the meal. I learned that food is more than a source of nourishment – it is part of our story and another way in which we can express our love, from the inside out.
I think you would agree with me then, if I told you that a good cookbook needs to be something larger than a collection of ingredients and methods. It needs to have a voice. Like a good novel, it must pull me in and course me onto a journey. A journey that I can trust will always end at the table.
While there are many cookbooks I love for this reason, I find I linger the most inside the pages of Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France.
With each turn of the page, I traverse through the seasons of Médoc. By way of an artichoke soufflé or roasted asparagus with chervil, I browse the open-air markets in spring. In summer, the market is abundant, and I am taken first by the succulent cherries. I will savor them in a cherry clafoutis I can bake from scratch with hints of orange flower water. The peaches are ripe and plump, and I know that chilled peaches simmered in white wine will be divine on a steamy August evening.
In autumn, I find myself in the windy fields, walking across the twisted vines with a pumpkin propped on my hip. The aroma of chimney smoke hangs heavy in the air. Back at the chateau, I pull up a chair in the flickering glow of dinner’s candlelight. The pumpkin has roasted slowly into a fragrantly rich soup. Mimi presents us with a piping hot dish of potatoes a la Lyonnaise which she refers to as “the little black dress” of side dishes. A local Bordeaux is set down to breathe. The night’s feast crackles in the old kitchen fireplace, and conversation erupts about how roasting over dried grapevines creates a palatable distinction.
I am there with every page I turn.
The recipes and notes read like passages from a memoir, or perhaps love letters to France. I think it will remind you of a time when you once lived and loved there.
Life in Médoc is amplified, and I am left bewitched and inspired in my own kitchen.
Let us uncork the Bordeaux, Mr. Hemingway, and meet me in A Kitchen in France.
P.S. Remember how you fell under the spell of Italy’s lore during World War I? How in A Farewell to Arms, Italy itself, was a character? Well, I have taken our beloved Italian ingredient, pasta, and created 75 seasonally inspired sauces, in my cookbook, Simple, Elegant Pasta Dinners. I hope you will find it full of satisfying inspiration.
As always, stop by to see me anytime at chasingtheseasons.com.