Times Online ranked Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette as the best food blog in the world, and for good reason too.
After quitting her Ph.D. in cultural anthropology, Wizenberg, with a great passion for food and writing, decided to launch her now famous food blog. Orangette led to a monthly column in Bon Appétit, a book and a husband (more details on this fairy tale below).
Orangette is a food lover’s heaven; there are pretty pictures, excellent recipes and furthermore, there are always little personal anecdotes that accompany each post, adding that endearing piece to the puzzle most blogs are lacking. You get a sense that each dish is made or created or inspired by love, and if love isn’t the most important ingredient in every meal, then what is? To sum it up, Orangette tastes, feels, smells, reads like a home-cooked meal – pun intended.
· What sparked your love for food?
It comes from my family, without a doubt. My father was an avid cook, and my mother is a great cook and baker, and every night, we sat down around the table and ate dinner together. I didn’t think much of it then, but that ritual, as simple as it was, set me on this path. Food was how we spent time together. It was how we played together. It was important, always. My parents introduced me early on to a lot of great stuff, like lobster, and crab, and chocolate malts, and homemade vinaigrette. I owe them quite a debt for that.
· Tell us about your Seattle-based restaurant, Delancey.
I should start by saying that it’s very much a joint effort! The restaurant belongs to both me and my husband, Brandon. Actually, to get right to the nitty-gritties, it’s his baby; I was just the midwife, and now I’m sort of the nanny. Delancey is a Brooklyn-style wood-fired pizzeria, and it’s named for a street (and a subway stop) in New York, where Brandon used to live. It’s fairly small – 35 seats – and is in a sweet little single-story building on quiet street in Ballard, our neighbourhood. We did almost all of the construction ourselves, with the exception of electrical and plumbing, and we opened last August. I worked in the kitchen, on the pantry station, from August to December, but it was too difficult to do that and keep up with my writing work, so my role there is now more strictly managerial. Brandon, though, is there every single night, manning the oven. To say that I’m proud of him is the understatement of the decade.
· What is your column in Bon Appétit about?
My column is called “Cooking Life,” and that’s essentially what it’s about: the place where food and everyday life intersect. I love food, but I’m not interested in writing about it in a vacuum. I’m interested in the moments, the feelings, the stories that come with food: the conversations around a table; the memories a recipe can evoke; what food can show us about who we are, where we come from, and what we care about. I write about home cooking, mainly – every column comes with a recipe – but most of all, it’s important to me to tell a good story.
Yep, Brandon was one of my readers! He was pointed toward my blog by his friend Meredith, and he read it for a bit and then sent me an e-mail. I think it was April 3, 2005. The letter was very sweet and playful: basically, he complimented me on my site, and then he invited me on a sort of hypothetical date. (I was living in Seattle, and he was in New York, so a real date seemed pretty impossible.) For some reason, it didn’t seem sketchy or weird to me, or not as sketchy and weird as it probably sounds, and I wrote back. We started writing back and forth every day or so, and I don’t know. I just had a good feeling about him. We met in Seattle three weeks later, and that was that. We started flying back and forth across the country to see each other as often as we could, and we got engaged about eleven months later. He moved to Seattle, and we got married on July 29, 2007.
· Biggest cooking disaster?
Oh man. That’s painful. I once managed to both overcook and undercook the same pork loin. I was following a recipe that called for searing it and then roasting it in the oven – pretty simple, but I botched it like a champ. When I seared it, I accidentally blackened about half of it – literally, it was bubbly and charred – and then when it was roasting, I inserted the meat thermometer incorrectly and wound up pulling it out of the oven when it was still almost raw inside. I didn’t know anything was wrong until cut into it, about 20 minutes later. I cried.
· Describe your typical day.
My days are always a little different, and they’re not that interesting, I’m sorry to say. I started to make a list for you of what I do each day, and I nearly dozed off halfway through. But here are the high points:
- Eating homemade granola for breakfast
- Taking care of odds and ends at Delancey (this part of the day always takes longer than I expect it to, but I usually like it)
- Taking a walk with our dog Jack, who is awesome
- Going head-to-head with my e-mail inbox, and losing
- Writing something
- Eating some form of chocolate
- Hanging out and unwinding with Brandon when he gets home from Delancey
· Most significant childhood food memory?
There are a lot of them: the flavor of the tuna salad my mother would make and send to school with me in little orange Tupperware containers; fish and chips and hush puppies at a fast food place with my dad; my dad’s vinaigrette and his omelettes; my mother’s meatloaf; vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s syrup.
2. Occupation: Writer, mostly about food
3. Valentine’s Day-inspired dishes: I’ve never made a big fuss about Valentine’s Day, but I do think there should always be Champagne. For sure.
4. Biggest culinary influence: My mom and dad, and my husband.
5. If I were on Iron Chef, I’d challenge: Mario Batali, because I appreciate the fact that, at heart, the guy clearly loves food. I like that about him.
6. I get recipe ideas from: magazines, cookbooks, friends, family.
7. (Set the mood) – when I cook, I: crank up the music really loud. There’s usually also dancing involved. And if I’m alone, I’ll sing, too. But only if I’m alone.
8. Best meal I ever had: I can’t answer that! There’s no single meal, really. I’d have to name about a million little moments from a million different meals. I’m not a “best ever” kind of person. I don’t like keeping score.
9. Favourite cuisine: it’s a tie between Italian, French, Californian (if that counts), and old-fashioned Americana
10. The best part of my job is: setting my own hours. However, that’s also the worst part.
11. Comfort food: peanut butter and jelly, ice cream, pasta with butter and Parmesan
12. Person I would love to have dinner with is: my husband and we would eat fried green chiles, sautéed cèpes, roasted chicken, and duck-fat French fries, cooked by Jean-Pierre Xiradakis, chef-owner of La Tupina, in Bordeaux.
13. Kitchen appliance I can’t live without: my Dutch oven.
14. I love cooking/being cooked for because: I rarely feel more cared for, or more taken care of, than when someone makes food for me.
15. Favourite meal of the day: dinner.
16. If I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, I’d be: not a clue. Maybe working as a book publicist? That was my previous job.
17. I’m on a desert island and can only bring one starter, one main course and one desert dish. My picks are: that meal from La Tupina (above), with a slice of yellow cake with chocolate frosting for dessert.
18. Must-have ingredients/pantry essentials: flour, eggs, sugar.
19. My 5-year plan is: to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
20. I have a crush on: Daniel Day Lewis. I’ve had the hots for him forever.
21. Local grocer or supermarket, and why? I buy my produce at the local farmers’ market and use a neighbourhood grocery store for the rest. I like to buy local as much as I can, and I love getting to know the people who grow my food.
22. When I want to eat healthy, I cook: some sort of pureed vegetable soup. Or anything involving kale.
23. Junk-food of choice: sour gummies. Or anything sour, or sour-ish, really. I tend to gravitate toward things that make your tongue feel awful.
24. Could you share some advice for budding food writers? Write what you want to read.
Visit Molly Wizenberg’s blog at: http://orangette.blogspot.com/
Check out her book, The Homemade Life:
Image credit: book