On Links.

I’ve just re-organized my column of links and wanted to take you on a quick tour of my most-visited food-, book- and travel-focused sites.

A note: Coincidentally, alphabetically, the one Armenian-ish blog I read follows the one Filipino-ish blog I read.  Fate?  Or my genetics translated into the Internet?

30 Bucks a Week
Two Brooklynites spend $15 each on their week’s worth of groceries.  Then they write about it.

101 Cookbooks
Heidi Swanson collects cookbooks and recipes.  She also takes great photographs.

Alinea at Home
Carol Blymire is cooking every recipe in the Alinea Cookbook.

Burnt Lumpia
Marvin cooks Filipino food.

Cave Cibum
Fellow Armenian Pam eats out and cooks a lot.

Chocolate + Zucchini
Parisian Clotilde Dusoulier writes in French and English about recipes, cookbooks, idioms and kitchen tools.

Cooked Books
Rebecca Federman has what just might be one of the coolest-sounding jobs ever: culinary librarian at the New York Public Library.

CoverSpy
What New Yorkers are really reading.

David Lebovitz
The observant and funny cookbook author writes about life in Paris and what he eats there.

Diner’s Journal
New York Times
‘s one-stop combination of its three dining blogs.

Formaggio Kitchen’s Cheese Blog
This is pretty self-explanatory.

Frommer’s
Arthur Frommer talks (writes?) travel.

Fucshia Dunlop
The memoirist/cookbook author’s blog.

Grub Street Boston
New York Magazine ‘s up-to-date info on the Boston dining scene.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
A great source for recipes + cooking techniques.

In the Kitchen + on the Road with Dorie
The often-adorable and always informative Dorie Greenspan splits her time between Paris and the East Coast. Oh, she also bakes. A lot.

In Transit
Another New York Times blog. This one’s about travel.

the kitchn
Apartment Therapy‘s site for people who love cooking and don’t mind making a mess whilst making dinner.

Lois Lowry
I want to be just like her when I grow up. In the meantime, I’ll just read her books and blog.

Lottie + Doof
A pretty food blog with a funny name.

Michael Ruhlman
The author of The Making of a Chef + Ratio cooks too.

The Millions
One of the best book-centric sites out there.

The New Vegetarian
Yotam Ottolenghi ‘s weekly column for the Guardian.

Nigel Slater
Recipes and writing from one of my favorite authors of food-related books.

One Minute Book Reviews
Also pretty self-explanatory.

Orangette
Molly Wizenberg lives and writes in Seattle.

Paper Cuts
The editors of The New York Times Book Review blog too.

The Prognosticators
My friends Beth + Bob moved to Prague; these are pictures of their travels.

Reading is My Superpower
Annie Frisbie reads faster than I do. She blogs more often too.

Scanwiches
Sandwiches might be my favorite.

Smitten Kitchen
Good things come from small kitchens.

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I’ve Got a New Cookbook in My Clutches…

…and I loves it.

The cookbook in question is Nigel Slater‘s The Kitchen Diaries, and it comes highly recommended to all of you, particularly if you’re on a voyeuristic food diary kick like me.  The book’s subtitle explains it all: A Year in the Kitchen with Nigel Slater;  that’s right, it’s pretty much a year-long food diary, so it’s basically my dream cookbook — with Mr. Slater’s excellent writing acting as amuse bouche.

I had first read Mr. Slater’s words in Toast, his creatively-structured memoir; each stage in his childhood, adolescence and adult life is characterized by what he was eating at the time, whether it was bread-and-butter pudding, jam tarts or — yes — toast.  In The Kitchen Diaries, Mr. Slater does something similar but instead of telling the story of his life in food, he chronicles his year, right down to a day in March where he “[fails] to notice there is bugger all to eat in the house.  At seven thirty [he dashes] to the corner shop, returning with a can of baked beans, a bag of frozen fries and some beers.”

That’s right: Mr. Slater does not lie.  Who hasn’t been faced with that?  Of course,  Mr. Slater also has  days where he cobbles together meals with what he’s cleaned out of his pantry (white bean and tarragon soup on May 9), the bounty he plucks from his garden (July 15th’s zucchini cakes with dill and feta), and what he’s toted home from the Marylebone farmer’s market (celeriac and walnut remoulade, and a coffee and walnut cake on November 28).

Regardless of what he’s cooking in his lovely-sounding kitchen — “…the doors to the small, narrow kitchen opened out on to the garden… I cook with the doors open on even the wettest day. The smell of spring rain as I chop and stir brings with it a gentle freshness and energy” — it’s Mr. Slater’s superb writing that makes The Kitchen Diaries read as exactly that: a highly personal journal that happens to focus on food.  I can’t even dream of one day possessing such skills myself, though I know I can turn to this (cook)book for inspiration.

But forget about what I think, and read what the writer himself has to say*:

It is always difficult for an author to name a favourite book from their own backlist, but when I am asked I invariably choose The Kitchen Diaries… an account of more or less everything I cooked in the course of a year, presented as an illustrated diary… Some say it is  worth the price simply for the brownie and the double ginger cake recipes, both of which seem to have gathered something of a following. I rather like the pork and lemon meatballs myself (April 20th).

I’ve got a few recipes bookmarked to try, and once I do I’ll be giving you an update.

* from nigelslater.com

Intro.

Hello, and welcome to my blog. This isn’t my maiden voyage into the blogosphere (really, is there a more ridiculous word out there than this?) but it is my first solo go of it. I’ve decided to blog because I like writing and I’m trying to get back into the writerly swing of things, which is truly difficult, I think, if you’re neither in school nor on a deadline. These both apply to me.

Anyway, I think the key to this whole blog-writing thing is to narrow your focus, which is why I’m going with three things I like to do the most — eat, read and travel. The first two happen to also be the things I do the most, aside from involuntary actions such as breathing and pumping my blood to my heart and etc, so I figure it will be (or should be) easy for me to keep up-to-date.

For example, this year I’ve already read The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion; the unabridged Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy; Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl; The Best Food Writing 2004 and The Best Food Writing 2005, both edited by Holly Hughes; Loverboy by Victoria Redel; The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs; A Genius in the Family: An Intimate Biography of Jacqueline du Pré by Hilary and Piers du Pré; and Toast by Nigel Slater. I’m also doing something I hate to do, and that’s read two books at once. I’ll let you know more about them (such as titles and authors) once I’m done.

I didn’t think my dining out experiences for 2008 would be nearly as long as my book list thus far, but that was before I went through my calendar and tallied it all up: Evoo, Gargoyles on the Square, The Paramount, Addis Red Sea, The Blue Room, Zöe’s, Strawberry Place, Peter Luger, Tavern in the Square, and The Barking Crab. To think, that list doesn’t even include the lunches we have brought in once a week at work.

However, I can say with absolute certainty that my travels for 2008 aren’t nearly as extensive; all I’ve done is visit my parents in New York, and I don’t even know if that should count. Regardless… Travel is something I love to do, and often. And the next time I do, I’ll write about it.

Basically, that’s what this blog boils down to — eating, reading and traveling. Writing too, I suppose, so maybe I’ll write about that as well. We’ll see.

Happy eating/reading/traveling/possibly writing…!