The Breukelen Life

The Breukelen Life

Food, Yoga and Travel in Brooklyn

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A hot Friday night with Old People in Midtown East

February 5, 2011

Last minute, I bought a ticket to go to “Edible Conversations” with Amanda Hesser at the Roger Smith Hotel. I was super excited because I’ve developed quite the girl crush on Hesser through her food blog on Food52. More and more I come across articles about her, about her twins growing up while she was working on the Essential New York Times cookbook, and about her red Swingline stapler. She seems like such a lovely person – I didn’t want to miss the chance to see her in person.

I assumed that this “Conversation” would be a traditional style lecture with a more than normal amount of questions from the audience. The ticket promised “tastes” of recipes from the new book as well as cocktails and a copy of the book. I thought this seemed like the best deal ever.

Needless to say, last night, I was a bit weirded out when I walked into a tiny breakout room at the Roger Smith that was set up for dinner.

“Hmmmmm maybe I should have brought someone….”

First, let me just say that the Roger Smith is a very strange hotel for 49th and Lex. It doesn’t look like it’s been renovated since the early 60s’ or 70s’. There was lots of wood downstairs. I really should have paid more attention because it was a site to see. All I can really remember is the upstairs and the bright red carpet that should be out in front of a club. And the art. The art was interesting. It was like they told the “young chef who is trying to make a name for himself” to pick out all the art for room we were in. It was kind of good.


There were tables set up and everyone was old. Older? No definitely old. There were a few young people who came in, alone, right after me, shocked as I was, and had to squeeze in at tables. After I finished my first cocktail, ate my spiced almonds, pimento cheese and caramelized bacon, I managed to get acquainted with my table mates. And I learned that over half of them did not cook.

“Everything we make at home severely pales in comparison to what we get out at a restaurant.”

Or they didn’t really realize what was going on.

“Is this the same thing as the Craig Claiborn book?”

Or they didn’t care.

“Does she do diet food?”

Yikes, what a crowd.

The first course of Oyster chowder managed to distract my table a bit. I chatted with my Upper East table mates about Brooklyn, wine, and work. I think all the bacon in the soup really got the conversation moving.

During the second course of salmon baked in foil, I had a lengthy conversation with the man to my left about Long Island wines while the “diet” woman to my right complained about the lack of salt.  This is also when Amanda came around to sign our books and I was able to confess my love for Food52 and tell her what my friends and I cook from the site. (More to come on this later.) She seemed genuinely happy and pleased that I used Food52 and that just tickled me pink. Seriously.

The third course was a short rib braised in coffee and chili with cheese polenta. (Yes THIRD COURSE – did I tell you this ticket was $45??) The short rib was incredible.  I had to stop myself from licking the plate and by then I stopped paying attention to my table mates completely.

Dessert. Well I don’t remember what dessert was. I know, already such a bad blogger! I couldn’t help it, I was so infatuated with the ice cream on top. I haven’t had ice cream in over a month and just seeing it on my plate was enough to make me swoon.

The courses were peppered with conversation from the host and Amanda discussing the book and guests asking questions like “What’s going to be the new hot salt” (Himalayan) and “Did you make everything in the book?” (yes) It was lively, fun and probably one of the best things I’ve been to in awhile…even with all the old people. The Edible Conversation is ongoing through June 6th. Check it out here. Here’s also some thoughts from Food & Wine on the series. Highly recommended!


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Wow, sounds kind of weird and wonderful. Has Amanda Hesser written some food memoirs or am I making that up?


February 5, 2011

She has. Two I think. The Cook and the Gardner and another one. Thanks for tweeting about my new blog home 🙂


February 5, 2011

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