Friday, January 31, 2014


There is this line, from an Anis Mojgani poem that I love. 
He says in his magnet poet voice, "I fallen in love, six, seven, eight, nine times Quentin!" 

Some days, I feel like "I fallen in love six, seven, eight, nine times Quentin!" 
Frequently I do not feel this way at all. 
But if I am having an I-fallen-in-love-nine-times-Quentin-kind-of-day, I will tell you about James. 

Because everything I learned about falling in love, I learned from James. 

It was early summer, and I was in New York City, and I was often alone. 
And I was having a TIME. 
My nights were like disco balls and everything was messy and perfect. 

And one day, when the messy perfection was making me cry because everything was so wild and beautiful, I walked into this cafe in the West Village. Because it had free wifi. 
And James was there. 
He took my order, and asked me what I wanted to eat and what I wanted to drink. 

And before I even knew it, I was telling him about all the mess, and all the magic. 

And he just

I loved his calm, post-law-school-why-am-I-a-waiter-why-is-this-crazy-girl-talking-to-me-demeanor. 
I loved that he never carded me. 
I loved that he was very kind and slightly bored with life. 
He was perfect.

And I had told him so many sort-of-secrets, that once a week, for the rest of my time there, I went back to the cafe and gave him melodramatic updates about the state of things over bowls of spaghetti bolognese. 

And he just 

Once, he gave me a free plate of pasta. 

That was when I knew our love was true. 

So eventually I left New York and James for Texas, and so I found H., who gave me bowls of french fries and told me what to order when I came into his restaurant in tears or happy or crazy. 
And now, here in Paris, I've got this beautiful thing going with this wonderful server, whose name I do not know, at a cafe I also do not know the name of. 
But he has my order memorized and told me about this great beer called "Delirium" which is served in a glass with pink elephants on it. 
And the fact that he smiles back-- in a city that does not smile--oh love, it is enough. 
And every time I come back, for my same drink and same meal, he simultaneously takes care of me and leaves me alone. 
And he doesn't look at me askance when I ask for a second beer at 2pm. 
He is perfect. 

Somehow, having just one person, in a city of strangers, who seemingly cares that I drink the correct beer, or who gives me the plate of pasta for free, or who doesn't mind if I say too much or too little-- I don't know. 

It feels like the opposite of being lonely. 

Which is, in essence, what love is. 

"I fallen in love six, seven, eight, nine times Quentin!" 

I love you. 
More soon. 


Monday, January 20, 2014

eating alone

I remember one night when I worked in the restaurant very clearly. 
There was a girl. She couldn't have been much older than me, but she came in by herself, and she was dressed up, but she wanted a table, in the dining room, for one. 
I don't think she ordered wine, but I remember she got a salad. 
A salad and something else. 
And she sat down and pulled out a journal and began to write in loopy cursive. 
It was heart wrenching and sweet and pathetic all at the same time. 
Because it was exactly the sort of thing you do after someone tells you that they don't love you anymore, or that they never loved you to begin with, or that they love someone who is not you. 
I mean, after that, what is there to do but go distract your ache in fine dining establishments with a knife in one hand and a pen in the other? 

Her waiter bitched about her slowness and her diary for the majority of the night. 

In retrospect, all the servers detested them: the single ladies who wanted to linger and write or read books over meals eaten alone in the crowded, noisy restaurant, where ZZ Top often sat in the bar and couples frequently got engaged at table 67. 

And so these women were almost always sat at bad tables, and their servers belittled them endlessly, mostly for not drinking enough and eating too slowly. 
But I sympathized with that girl. 
Because in America, to go out and look nice and eat at an expensive restaurant alone, walks the tender line of bravery and cultural faux-pas. 
In the States, eating alone brings to mind second-grade cafeteria rejection. 
You aren't ever supposed to eat alone. 

Paris has been difficult for me. I do not lie to you. 
The sun does not shine as much as I am used to, there is a language barrier, I battle a little bit with loneliness, but even more with shyness, an emotion I rarely feel. 
Yet eating alone here, which I have done a great deal of, is great. 
Wonderful, even. 
No one blinks an eye.
Which is nice and makes me feel good. 

So I've been drinking a lot of beer and some wine and eating a lot of croque Madame and I had one really phenomenal oyster with a squeeze of lemon that I bought for three euros on the sidewalk. 
The romance of that oyster will never die. 
And that is what makes Paris great. 
Because every moveable feast Hemingway ever wrote about, becomes, for a few sharp moments, reality. 

So Paris has been difficult, but whenever I sit down at the table alone, I think of that girl, and I'm happy that I both am and am not her, and I think about the promise of random everyday magic, like the oyster eaten on the sidewalk. 
And so I feel thankful and so grateful. 
For everything. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Almost Fudge Gateau

Dear one,

I'm in France, and I just drank a beer, and ate a crepe. 
Everything, intrinsically, by default of simply being, is beautiful.
I'm in Paris for several weeks, and am then cruising around Europe, for the next few months. 
Mostly alone. 
I'd be out of my mind excited, if I weren't so terrified. 
Doing what you want and being autonomous, it's amazing and necessary. 

And fucking scary. 

I've been spending a lot of time in my head and walking and looking at people.
I feel very quiet. 

Something I want to address: 

We are all aware, that this being a "food blog" is mainly a shameless charade that allows me to write about myself and growing up and love, etc. 
Because, somehow, this tiny space went from windy exposition about cake, to much windier exposition about things like feelings.
And I want to acknowledge this, only because, I'm going to be traveling, and I don't know if I can always promise you recipes, or that stories will tie back to the table, or that the state of things can be summed up in a few words that conclude with a flavor.
 I don't know if I can promise that.

However, I do promise to be hungry, if only for you. 
I promise that I will write you more, and soon. 

This is a cake I baked right before I left Austin. It's mostly chocolate and eggs. It is, apparently, a very French cake.

And finally, because it is long overdue, I want to thank you, you strangers who find me here again and again. The surprise, that anyone cares to return to this URL, it humbles me. 
Whoever you are, you're magic. 
And for my beloved family and for my tribe of beautiful people, thank you for all the hand holding and letter writing and sweet mornings and afternoons and nights and tequila and twinkling light.  
There are not words enough in this language to convey my gratitude. 

I love you. 

You make me feel fearless. 


Almost Fudge Gateau

from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

5 large eggs
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unslated butter, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons coffee or water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

For Glaze (optional) 
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Center a rack in th eoven and preheat to 350 degrees F. 
Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the plan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or on a silicone mat. 
Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a mixer bowl or other large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. 
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar, butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may still be grainy, and that’s fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let the mixture sit for 3 minutes. 
Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour. 
Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer, or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they hold firm but glossy peaks. using the spatula, stir about one quarter of teh beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter. 
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you’ll think it’s done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn’t shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should come out just slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes. 
Run a blunt knife gently around the edges of the cake and remove teh sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temperature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink. 

To make OPTIONAL glaze:
First, turn the cooled cake over onto another rack so you’ll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper to catch any drips. 
Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. 
Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water or in a microwave oven-- cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup. Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula. Don’t worry if the glaze drips unevenly down the sides of the cake-- it will just add to its charms. (Sidenote: This is why I love Dorie. She’s all about the charms of cake related imperfection.) Allow the glaze to set at room temperature, or if you’re impatient, slip the cake into the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. If the glaze dulls in the fridge, just give it a little gentle heat from a hairdryer.