Friday, June 08, 2007

The Interview. One enjoyable meme I've been reading on others blogs is an interview by a fellow blogger with answers written in a blog post. When my friend Elle at Feeding My Enthusiasms answered her five questions, well I decided to volunteer for it too. And Elle and I have become friends off-line too, so it seemed logical that she might come up with some more interesting questions out of our friendship, and I was right!

The five questions (and the answers!):

1. What inspired you to blog about restaurants?

As with most things in life, it was a combination of circumstances all rolling up into my actually doing it.

First, my friend Daniel, encouraged me to start a blog. He said a novel could be written out of my pantry. It didn't start as an exclusively food blog, but then Sam found my blog and mentioned it as a Marin food blog, so then I got serious. Thanks Sam! Now I have made over 500 posts here, and am having a great time. This is really my creative space to focus on what is beautiful every day, no matter what chaos is happening around me. It needn't be food, but it is so easy to use food as an observation point since we all - except those rare breatharians - have to eat each day. It is perhaps also my way of saying grace, as the beginning step of thankfulness is to recognize the abundance in your life. Mine is 99% wonderful, and the other 1% passes in time.

2. What are your five favorite cookbooks and why?

  • Better Homes & Gardens (edition published in the 1960s) - This was my Mom's favorite, and I cut my teeth on cooking from this one. The basics were all inside, along with some illustrations. It's been updated and is still in print in double-digit edition.
  • Sunset Magazine -- Recipe Annuals - My good friend Aleta and her husband Mark have given me a gift subscription to this magazine for my birthday each year ever since I left home (Seattle area). This one is a joy and always brimming with good ideas that actually work.
  • 1,000 Idees de Decors - Full of photos and step by step instructions this is a food artist's dream. Not that I make so many out of it, but it inspires my creativity.
  • New Food of Life, Najmieh Batmanglij - My friend Linda gave me this as a gift, and it is one of my favorites, although I've only made one recipe out of it. It is much more than a recipe book, it is a journey through Persian culture, through its cuisine.
  • Cookwise, Shirley O. Corriher - This contributes the why of how recipes work. Going through the science behind various techniques and dishes helps your confidence in cooking things that are not in your usual scope. It reminded me of standing by my mother in the kitchen, as she told me similar things about the whys behind various dishes, and how specific ingredients or ordering of ingredients makes a difference.

3. What influence has Asia had on your life and food choices and why?

Well I started life enjoying the tastes of Japan through my sister-in-law Taeko. My brother, Jim, was 20 years my senior, which explains the age differences in the photo above where I'm with my mother and sister-in-law. Taeko spoke to me in Japanese every day, so when I was that age, I spoke Japanese as well as I did English. She carried me on her back, under her coat in traditional Japanese style when we went out for a walk. Later, when I was in high school the opportunity arose to go to Japan as an exchange student. I lived with a wonderful family in Hiroshima. My host mother Midori and grandmother there taught me about Japanese cooking and cuisine. I spent another year in Hokkaido with a very active and outgoing family when I attended Komazawa University. Naturally, these experiences influenced my palate, and my life. I also joined a Japanese corporation and worked there for over 20 years. I am in contact with both my families and my former colleagues in Japan, so I've had a lot of deep influences from Japan. I came away from living there with a much broader appreciation and adventurousness in tastes.

4. If you could only choose two restaurants to eat in and then they were no longer in the restaurant business, which two and why?

Tiberio's in Washington, D.C. and Adriatica in Seattle are the two that immediately come to mind. Tiberio's was my favorite restaurant. It has a sister restaurant - Tragara in Bethesda, but I heard that Tiberio's closed some years ago - it was in the heart of Washington, D.C. I went there so many times for business, and when my personal special guests would come to town I would also take them there. The owner used to greet me at the door, and give me those big European kisses on both cheeks, and send me home with at least one long stemmed rose, and sometimes an armful out of his never-ending supply in a huge crystal vase at the entrance.

Linguine con vongole

This place spoiled me for linguine con vongole anywhere else. I have been in search of the perfect linguine con vongole ever since. I once found a very close rendition, but still not quite as good, in an Italian restaurant in New York City. I also spent MONTHS trying to perfect the recipe at home when I moved from the DC area back to Seattle. Seattle has marvelously fresh clams at the market, so I had great fresh ingredients, and I'm pleased to report, I finally got it right.

And Adriatica was a dream of a restaurant on a hill on the west side of Lake Union in Seattle. I lived on Capitol Hill just east of Lake Union, so it was a quick trip around the lake to get there for sunset on their outside deck, in a darling A-framed building. It had a clear and enchanting view of the lake. I loved their onion stuffed with angel hair and bacon, with a balsamic vinegar reduction. That with a glass of Kisler Dutton Ranch Chardonnay and I was totally blissed out. I heard it finally closed after a struggle when a building was erected across the street, blocking the fabulous view that was there for years.

5. What is your favorite feature about your newest camera and why did you choose that camera?

10.1 megapixels! Also that it gives me more flexibility in low light. My Canon Rebel XTi was recommended by a professional photographer friend, Michael.

Do you want to be interviewed?

Here are some directions:

1. Leave a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. Beware, I may ask personal questions! Please make sure I have your email address.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


Kalyn Denny said...

Anna, very fun learning more about you. It sounds like you've had a very interesting life! I didn't realize you had that much Asian influence, but I should have been able to tell from the restaurant writings. Always so informed.

Elle said...

Great interview. You are a truly fascinating person. So, do you make that clam dish these days? It sounds wonderful!
just back from Seattle. They had lots of fresh mussels in the market, but we didn't cook at all this time out.
Hope to see you in July!

Anna Haight said...

No Elle, I haven't found fresh manila clams around here... so no linguine con vongole these days. But if I ever see some...