I am on day four of my culinary arts program and not too surprisingly, I’m having the time of my life! The last few months have been spent in careful preparation for my start at The Institute of Culinary Education, and among the preparations was readying for the launch of my latest project, DICED: The Official Blog of the Institute of Culinary Education.
As managing editor, I have been busy organizing editorial calendars and getting familiar with the school’s endless offerings for both career and recreational programs. In addition to blogging about all of the exciting events taking place at ICE and around New York City’s food scene, I’ll also be chronicling my firsthand experience as a student in ICE’s Culinary Arts Program. This “behind the scenes” feature is aimed at providing an honest, first person perspective of life as a culinary student. So check out DICED for more information and stay tuned to Just a Taste for all the latest in food news and culinary trends.
“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a ‘What the hell?’ attitude.” – Julia Child
I am ecstatic to celebrate the official one year mark of the launch of Just a Taste. It’s amazing how much can change in a year, so I wanted to update you all on some exciting news about what’s in store for the site and where I’m headed next.
A year ago this month I was setting out to explore the beat I was assigned to cover while in journalism grad school here in New York City. I will never forget riding the 4 train for the first time and getting off on Hunts Point Avenue in the south Bronx.
My fridge is stocked with endless sorts of meats and cheeses. The pantry is loaded with my favorite childhood snacks. The counter is overflowing with fresh fruit and homemade funfetti cake. Yep, my mom Noni must be visiting. I came home today to one of the most amazing spreads of sweet and savory tastes. It was a picnic at skyscraper heights that featured my favorite flavors from across the city.
We began with Hungarian salami (an homage to my dad’s roots) and slices of smoked Gouda, the leftovers to be made into tomorrow night’s grilled cheese. We paired the finger-friendly bites with two types of olives marinated in oil, garlic and fresh parsley. But the savory tastes wouldn’t have been complete without my favorite carb – an Epi French Baguette from none other than Amy’s Bread.
Last night my friend Dan invited me to the first ever Manhattan Cocktail Classic held at the New York Public Library. The event celebrated the “history, contemporary culture, and artful craft of the cocktail” by featuring some of the city’s best mixologists, cocktail historians and libation lovers.
We strolled the halls of one of New York’s most famous buildings, sipping on shaken and stirred concoctions whipped up by top wine and spirit aficionados. Stops at any of the six bars included classic takes on the Cosmopolitan (with a fiery citrus twist) and creative riffs on liquid favorites like the Morehouse Mollifier, a mix of vodka, Grand Marnier, fresh lime juice and a spritz of orange blossom water.
Endless cocktails were accompanied by hallway-length buffet tables piled high with smoked pork, vegetable confit and shredded duck. We nibbled on finger-friendly favorites that included our pick of creamy sheep and goat milk cheeses served on toasted crostini and a raw bar lined with ice-cold oysters.
I’m not the type of person who turns to food for comfort, so I’ll spare you the Star Jones “food never judged me” speech. But this pizza was undeniably the result of a much needed emotional release. To me, that’s the beauty of cooking – it’s a welcome distraction in my mind, allowing me to get lost in the process of perfectly preparing each ingredient and then photographing the final product until it turns into art.
I adapted this recipe from a recent feature in Cuisine at Home, tweaking the flavors and simplifying the technique in my attempt to transform traditional pizza into gourmet pie perfection. And let’s just say that for the first time in a while, I have been left (almost) speechless.
I asked my mom as she took a second bite, “How do I even describe this?” Her response was one word, “Perfect.” There really is no other way to explain how the creamy garlic flavor of the hummus is magnified while roasting on top of a homemade crust that matches doughy texture with every crunchy bite. Caramelized onions offer peaks of sharp flavor, baked into layer after layer of melted provolone and tangy Parmesan.
So while I’m not exactly speechless, I am convinced that this pizza will forever remind me of a slice of comfort, and that alone makes it one for the cookbook.