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Checking in…

I was having dinner with my friends a few nights ago, and one of them asked how the blog was doing.

“The blog has been very, very quiet,” I said. “In fact, I don’t even remember when my last post was!”

I have to be honest and say that I didn’t even remember what my blog looked like until I checked today. That’s how long it’s been. This blog- which I keep wanting to come back to- has been put on the back burner, slowly and sadly gathering dust. The past few months have been a whirlwind for sure: I got married, I finished culinary school, and I started a new job that was meant to last just three months. Now, those three months have been extended to a year.

Where have I been? Those of you following me on Instagram might have a clue.

In April, I joined the team at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. This opportunity is something I have been working toward for a long time; a few years ago, my boyfriend at the time (now husband) introduced me to Chef Dan Barber’s work. On our first date, he asked if I’d ever seen Chef Dan’s TED talk, How I Fell In Love With A Fish.” I hadn’t, and he insisted that I watch the video, along with Chef Dan’s other talk, A Foie Gras Parable,” when I got home.

At the time, I had no clue who Dan Barber was. When he published The Third Plate a few years later, it was, once again, my husband who brought it to my attention. I read the book with much enthusiasm, and it very much changed the way I thought about food and agriculture. Shortly after, Chef’s Table was released on Netflix, and Chef Dan had been featured in its first season. I decided that if I was going to cook, it had to be at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. There are very few chefs who inspire conversation around food, farming, and policy the way Dan Barber has, and for that reason, I think Blue Hill at Stone Barns is the most important restaurant in America, if not the world.

The hours are long and the work is hard, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so sleep deprived. Also, my diet right now is probably 50% coffee, 25% toast, and 25% granola. But there aren’t words capable of expressing just how grateful, honoured, and humbled I am. Every day, I get to share both the kitchen and fields with some of the most curious, passionate, and hard-working people I’ve met. I hope to write about some of these experiences soon.

I highly doubt there are still readers who visit after such a long period of silence, but that’s my check-in, if anyone is wondering. There won’t be recipes for a while, but I do miss writing, so it won’t be radio silence around here.

Until next time,

Genevieve

Cosmé

I don’t write restaurant reviews, for several reasons.

  1. I am not Pete Wells, Jonathan Gold, or Ruth Reichl, although I wish I could be.
  2. I don’t possess the skills or the patience required for such a task.
  3. My budget for eating out does not include eating at the same restaurant for as many times as necessary until I can determine how I truly feel about the meal.
  4. Disguises, while fun, would probably be exhausting after a while. It is, however, fun to imagine a photo of myself hanging up in a restaurant kitchen. You know, just to keep the staff terrified.

No, I don’t write reviews. But I will always, always tell you where I’ve had an exceptional meal and think you would, too. It would be a shame to keep that information to myself.

When I first moved to New York City at the end of October, I was focused on settling into my new home and adjusting to culinary school. Eating out and trying new things weren’t a priority for me, so when 2017 rolled around, I decided it was time for me to explore the city more and finally satiate my culinary curiosities.broccoli tamal, goat ricotta, arugula at cosme nyc

seared brussel sprouts, mole verde, pine nut, kale at cosme nyc

The meal that stands out the most in my recent memory was dinner at Cosmé, Enrique Olvera’s restaurant in the Flatiron district. A little background info: Cosmé earned three stars from Pete Wells in the New York Times, was number one in his roundup of Top New York Restaurants of 2015, and made it onto the World’s 50 Best Restaurants at #16. Perhaps most impressive is Daniela Soto-Innes, the Chef de Cuisine at Cosmé, who won the Rising Star Chef Award from the James Beard Foundation last year when she was only 25. Her mantra? “Go faster; never have a dirty towel or apron on you; and never say no.”

My friends and I managed to snag a reservation for Superbowl Sunday, and we gorged ourselves on food that was clean, contemporary, and different. The food is “ostensibly simple but profoundly complex,” and certainly distinguishes itself from what people typically think Mexican food is. Olvera’s food reminds me that there is more to Mexican cuisine than guacamole and burritos, and it is difficult- if not impossible- to know what ‘Mexican food’ is when, as Olvera says, “Mexico is so large and there are so many regions that not even Mexicans know it well.”

ayacote bean salad, market greens, charred cucumber vinaigrette at cosme nyc


My favourite dish on the menu: mole verde with seared brussel sprouts, pine nuts, and kale.

Enrique Olvera, on his food: “I say it’s a personal interpretation of Mexican food: some dishes are very traditional, some are more contemporary. The mole might be like a traditional recipe, but we try to do things that are authentic- things that we do ourselves, that nobody else does. It’s not how grandma used to do it. It’s not a deconstruction of what grandma did. It’s not molecular. It’s something that is very organic, very authentic. We try to be honest because we think that flavour is the most important thing in a dish… We like things that are interesting and fun to your palate. I think a restaurant should always be evolving. [It] should never be static.”

Food writer Tamar Adler on Cosme and Enrique Olvera: “What distinguishes Cosme from all- and from Rosa Mexicano and Dos Caminos in New York, or Frontera Grill and Topolobampo in Chicago, which lean toward fusion cuisine served by waiters obliged to make guacamole tableside- is Enrique’s culinary credibility. Enrique isn’t ‘inspired by’ Mexican food. It is his soil and his roots.”

tlayuda, black beans, chorizo, avocado, stracciatella, salsa borracha at cosme nyc

 

What I’m Reading: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Last year, I made a goal to finish fifty books by the end of 2016. I love to read, but it is usually one of the first things that goes onto the back burner when life gets busy, and there’s nothing like a good challenge to push me through. At the beginning of this year, I made the same goal: fifty books by the end of 2017.

So, here’s my first book of 2017: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Oh, Roxane Gay. I have an unending, burning love for her.

A few years ago, when I was visiting St. Louis, my mother-in-law invited me to a reading and book signing with her friends. I’d never heard of the author, but the premise of the book sounded interesting: an essay collection examining the idea that feminism isn’t always perfect, but it doesn’t have to be in order to effect change. The author turned out to be Roxane Gay, who was on her book tour promoting Bad Feminist. Within minutes of hearing her speak, I was a fan. When I heard she was publishing another book—this time a collection of fictional short stories—I started counting down the days until its release on January 3, 2017. Difficult Women came out just in time for it to become my first book of 2017.

The stories in Difficult Women are dark. They’re about the hardships many women face each day, be it loneliness, grief, longing, and, in more than one story, violence. As noted by The L.A. Times, “It is a book about the violence done to women and the violence of being a woman.” Her writing is sharp and the characters are complex. The stories touched me deeply; it felt like I knew each of the characters Gay introduced to her readers, and it made reading the book an intimate experience. The stories are quirky and reminded me ever so slightly of The First Bad Man by Miranda July.

My favourite line from Difficult Women: “She was smart enough to want more but tired enough to accept the way things were.”

On women being “difficult”: “I think women are sometimes termed ‘difficult’ when we want too much, when we ask for too much, when we think too highly of ourselves, or have any kind of standards… I wanted to play with this idea that women are difficult, when in reality it’s generally the people around them who are the difficult ones.”

On diversity, whiteness, and representation: “Diversity in literature is, in part, about representation– who is telling the stories and who stories are told about. People of colour are not under any kidn of obligation beyond working hard, doing their best, and learning from their mistakes. It is deeply unfair to task writers of colour with unique responsibilities that we don’t assign to all writers. As for the race of my characters, why do you think their race isn’t easily discernible? Probably because you assume, like most people, that whiteness is the default. Let me be clear- whiteness is not the default in my fiction.”

On being labeled as a difficult woman: “If having a personality and having opinions makes me difficult, then yes, I am very difficult.”

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay