I’m always intrigued by those “experimental” food blogs where authors decide to cook every single dish in their chosen cookbooks and document their endeavors on a blog. Perhaps the most famous is Julie Powell’s “Julie and Julia,” that pioneered this new genre by recreating all dished featured in Julia Child’s much loved “The Art of French Cooking” in one year. She actually completed all 536 recipes in mere 365 days, and her blog-turned-book is now made into a movie. My favorite is Carol Blymire’s “French Laundry at Home,” where she brought Thomas Keller’s famous Napa Valley restaurant to her Maryland kitchen. Carol’s blog is so impressive because she actually gave a visual step-by-step, which makes a wonderful online reference for anyone using this cookbook. I’m so envious that she got to experience Keller’s artistic creations night after night, although I’m sure it wasn’t without some serious commitment and hard work.
I will admit that the idea of doing something daring like this has crossed my mind in the past, but, despite all the wonderful varieties of cookbooks that are available in bookstores today, I have not encountered the one that truly convinced me that investing so much of my time and energy (and money) to recreate its highly intricate dishes is ①a good (or sane) idea and ② is worth it. If I were to ever dive into this, I thought, the cookbook would have to be something truly unique, with accessible ingredients (I will not go searching for a pig’s head, I’m sorry!), and displays passion, warmth and love that are essential in home cooking. And more importantly, it needed to be intriguing enough to keep me motivated through the entire course of the process (which will, most likely, take years to complete). I have casually noodled with the idea but NEVER, EVER expected to find a cookbook that fit all the qualifications – until I met The Paley’s Place Cookbook.
Paley’s Place in Portland, Oregon, is, as I’ve said before on this blog), one of my all-time favorite restaurants in the world. The food here is amazing and not only do they blow my culinary mind, they make me truly happy. I’ve always regretted not living in Portland to experience Paley’s more frequently, but with this challenge, I can have Paley’s close to me at all times!
Okay, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that I’m going to recreate EVERY SINGLE item in the cookbook. I’m also not saying that I’m going to do this in a set timeframe. What I’m saying is that I have made a commitment to make as many menus from The Paley’s Place Cookbook and talk about it here on this blog (I created a category called, “Paley’s at My Place.”) 🙂 ! Maybe I’ll cook every weekend and see how it goes. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m really excited about my new gastronomic adventure.
With that, I’ll leave you with some pictures from my last Paley’s outing with Maya in January. As always, I had a wonderfully delicious time there with my best friend (and many, many vodka martinis). These visuals should explain why I’m so smitten by the masterful dishes Vitaly Paley creates in the Victorian house kitchen! And big thanks to Kimberly Paley for her hospitality and complimentary cocktails to go with these amazing dishes 🙂
A complimentary appetizer
Escargot à la Bordelaise, Roast Marrow Bones & Garlic ($18) … it was Maya’s idea to orders snails, really, but they were actually pretty tasty (tasted a little like oysters).
Winter Vegetable & Heirloom Bean Cassoulet ($18). The best cassoulet EVER.
Bacon, Prune & Chestnut-Stuffed Quail, Chestnut Spïtzle & Mushrooms (Half order $15).
Fish of the Day: Sturgeon
Olive Oil Cake
Chocolate Steamed Pudding Cake, Cardamom-Poached Pear & Chantilly Cream ($8).
204 NW 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97209