Sunday, October 23, 2011

8 Things to Love About and Learn From Melissa Clark (aka A Good Appetite)

A few Fridays ago I had the pleasure of attending Melissa Clark's pre-release book party at The Brooklyn Kitchen for her brand new cookbook Cook This Now. Melissa has written tons of cookbooks, many with highly-regarded chefs and television celebrities, but this is one that is all hers (In The Kitchen With A Good Appetite is on my Christmas List). The book is a fresh journey through the 12 months of the year, emphasizing the great local produce the seasons provide. Her year begins just where mine does - January (my birthday is January 1st so its the start of my year in every way possible). Some people might think this is an odd time to start a cookbook based on the seasons, thinking March or April when the growing season begins would be a wiser time (as Animal, Vegetable, Miracle does), but Melissa introduces us to Cook This Now with farmer's stomping their feet at the cold January farmer's market. She tells us the winter market is for the "hard core," then makes a spot on comparison of the winter market to a "small town," populated by people you get familiar with and learn their quirks, versus the "big city" of the summer market when everyone is hustling and bustling with little time for small talk. Its a great way to start. Clark beautifully shows the bounty of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. 

It is rather recently that I came to be such a great fan of Melissa Clark. Her name is one I've heard plenty in the past few years, previously always tied with The New York Times. Now she stands entirely on her own for me. After making her fast, fresh ratatouille for the Slow Food $5 Challenge I was hooked. She has great kitchen tips, mouth-watering recipes and when you read her writing it feels like she is talking to you as a friend. 

All that being said, I want to share 8 things to love about and learn from Melissa. Her book party at The Brooklyn Kitchen/The Meat Hook was an impromptu cooking class and chat with the attendees. I came away from the evening ready to wake up and head to the Union Square Greenmarket the next morning and get in the kitchen right after. May she inspire you as much as she inspires me. 

1) Learn: A gorgeous cookbook doesn't need to be filled with glossy pages with a photo for every recipe. Cook This Now is lovely; the pages are a natural pale color (not bleach white), the font is fun and expressive, and the two sections of photos are breath-taking. This isn't an extra-heavy $40-50 cookbook and I love it even more for these facts. 

2) Love: The Recipes section of Gilt Taste because it is replete with Melissa's recipe that use Gilt Taste's amazing products. Check it out, especially that Honey Roasted Duck.
(While you're there be sure to read Jonathan Dixon's piece Miles Davis' Chili)