I belong to a pretty fabulous book club, filled with smart and interesting women. All of us have busy lives- many of which require considerable reading for our work- reading that as a rule is solitary, and doesn’t stretch us outside of a “brain comfort zone.” And so every other month, we meet to discuss a book selection. There are no rules about the types of books we choose- we all just have to agree that we would like to read it. Recently, we began designing our evenings to stimulates both our minds and our palates. These book discussion/food tastings have proven to be quite harmonious. Tasting food our characters or subjects might have tasted has helped the books come to life in an even more visceral way. Plus, we all love to eat- so any excuse will do.
“Tasting” is just a fancy name for the classic “potluck.” tasting is a less expensive — and potentially more exciting — way to entertain. It is easy to divide up courses/costs so that no one person is burdened with the responsibility.
How it Works
- Start with your chosen book and then choose foods thematically linked to that book (this could be fluid: southern cuisine to accompany a Flannery O’Connor book- or specific: recreating the recipes printed in Like Water for Chocolate).
- Choose variations of the “same” item to taste subtle differences among them (ie three different types of oysters, or different types of cheese,
- Gather and print a list of adjectives used to describe taste and texture to help spark conversation (“crisp,”briny” “sweet”). Very often, you can gather these adjectives from manufacturer websites or simply by Googling your query (“words used to describe chocolate”)
- At each course, guests take turns describing what they taste – and together enjoy discussions comparing and contrasting what they consume.
This is how my friends and I tasted The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It by Tilar J. Mazzeo Each course lent itself to lively discussions of taste, which only made of book discussion more engaging.
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Champagne
Roederer Estate Brut
Abbaye de Belloc
(available at Fromage Fine Foods and Coffee (Old Saybrook, CT); The Cheese Shop of Centerbrook (Centerbrook, CT); Atlantic Seafood Market (Old Saybrook, CT); and The Cooking Company (Haddam and Killingworth, CT)
and Les Trois Petits Cochons Pâté Paysan served on toast with tiny slices of cornichons.
And finally, the dessert- and assortment of Chocolove Chocolate bars in the following percentages:
Podcast: Play in new window
I had a great food talk this morning with Shelley Sindland, who guest hosted The Talk of Connecticut on WDRC-AM. Here is information about the topics we discussed- enjoy!
This is one of the last weekends to pick your own Native Strawberries, pumpkins and gourds at
Deeply Rooted Farms
91 Terryville Rd
Deeply Rooted Farms on Facebook
Read my interview with farmer Jon Sederquist in the August/September 2013 issue of Saveur
You will find links to all apple picking in Connecticut at www.pickyourown.org/CT.htm including such favorites as:
Bishop’s Orchard (Guilford)
Lyman Orchards (Middlefield)
Scott’s Farms (Deep River)
Belltown Hill Orchards (South Glastonbury)
Rose Orchards (North Branford)
Pick your own- or buy pre-picked bags of Heirloom Apples at
18th Century Purity Farm At The Hall Homestead
156 Plainfield Pike Road
Plainfield, CT 06354
18th Century Purity Farm on Facebook
Farmers: Paul and JoAnn Desrochers
Some of my favorite of the 88 varieties grown there include: Winter Banana,Hidden Rose,Westfield Seek-No-Further, Esopus Spitzenburg and Calville Blanc D’Hiver. I wrote this about the farm two years ago.
Visit the scenic farm stand at Maple Bank Farm where in addition to bags of heirloom apples (40 varieties),you’ll find pumpkins, gourds, squash, mums and jams.
Maple Bank Farm
57 Church St., Rt. 317
Maple Bank Farm on Facebook
Farmers: Cathy and Howard Bronson
One of my favorite cookbooks ever: The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Yankee Magazine Lifestyle Editor Amy Traverso
This must-have cookbook includes a guide detailing the use, origin, season and taste of 59 varieties of apples as well as apple history and cooking methods and one hundred mouth watering recipes.
HUNGER RELIEF IN CT
In Connecticut, nearly one child in five under age 18 is hungry or food insecure*
The recent Government shutdown has affected federally-funded HeadStart programs (Read Linda Conner Lambeck’s moving story in this week’s CT Post about a boy who is “one of the 1,000 Head Start students at 13 Bridgeport sites left without a school program and the two meals a day served there.”). Now is a perfect time to donate fresh fruit to people in need. The CT Food Bank accepts fresh donations- please be sure to call ahead.
Another excellent resource for fresh food donations: Ample Harvest
Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen in New Haven does incredible work for the community – please check out their website and consider a donation off food, money or time.
If you read Foodie Fatale regularly, you’ll know I love my seafood. Linguine and Clams tops my list as a simple way to enjoy fresh succulent clams. I’ve experimented with different preparations and recently discovered one that I particularly enjoy. Before I share, I want to be completely honest: I know it is highly transgressive to mix cheese and seafood. It is in fact an Italian sin. But I am hoping you will forgive me this one time.
This is what I did: I combined my classic linguine and clams with freshly prepared pesto, made from the last of my summer basil. Although the cheese is in the pesto, not sprinkled on top of the plate, I fear it is nonetheless immoral. Perhaps you can try the recipe and let me know if the transgression is worth the resulting pleasure. For me, it is.
Foodie Fatale’s Linguine With Clams And Pesto
Serves 4 to 6
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
4 dozen little neck clams, cleaned
6-8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Hot pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup fresh pesto (I prefer Silver Palate version)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 lb. linguine
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat
Add garlic and pinch of hot pepper flakes.
Sauté over medium-low heat approximately 5 minutes, until garlic is fragrant
Add white wine and simmer over medium high heat for 2 minutes.
Add lemon juice, clams, 1/3 cup parsley, oregano and lemon zest.
Cover and cook on high 3 to 5 minutes or until shells open (remove any clams that do not open).
Season with salt and pepper.
Drain linguine and toss with the sauce and pesto in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley and serve.