Book club gets a whole new meaning with a culinary bent.
When my New York City plans finally started to come together last fall, the first thing I began working up with my two best friends, and former LA roommates, Ashley Quinn and Katzie Guy-Hamilton, was a food-focused book club. Food had long been a joining theme in our friendships—Quinn and I had explored many Philadelphia restaurants during college and I went through Spago’s pastry boot camp with Guy-Hamilton—so there really were no two better ladies to begin a literary fest with.
Fast-forward five months and as I’m finally starting to settle into my skin here (between trips to Morocco, Boston, Atlanta and Hawaii), we began rEATers, our force de literary culinare. An e-vite announced our intent to a mix-up of chefs, writers, creatives, and a few friends who just happen to love food and also enjoy a good page turner—that rEATers (yes we named our little club) would gather in February for a discussion of Gabrielle Hamilton’s wildly enjoyable Blood, Bones & Butter.
Told in Hamilton’s remarkable storyteller voice (thanks in part to her creative writing MFA), the book is equal parts behind-the-scenes kitchen tale, romance, and story of a tough woman growing up. It’s at times brutally honest, connecting the reader with Hamilton in the way only the best memoirs do. Peppered with just enough larger-than-life culinary scenes (making pasta in Italy with Hamilton’s mother-in-law, eating across Europe’s hostels) the book is Kitchen Confidential for women, an inspirational read that both food-lovers and the non-kitchen-obsessed alike will enjoy.
And in the spirit of Hamilton, Prune and the restaurant’s absolutely addictive Bloody Marys, along with some inspiration from the New York Times’ recent Modernist dinner party, I put together these Bloody Mary-infused celery sticks and drinks for our first meeting. Even at 8pm, the Bloody Marys were a big hit, and our energetic conversation showed promise for a year full of good reads and enjoyable rEATers meetings to come.
Although Quinn had to miss out on the February festivities due to a move, she’s excited to attend in March, when the group will delve into Year in Provence. I’ve already read this one—admittedly I’ve read many of the books on our possibilities list—but Peter Mayle’s tome is so good that I can’t wait to start re-reading it. I’m not sure what the future of rEATers will bring, but I’ll keep you posted about the books we read, and the food we cook up along the way. And I’d love to hear any of your food book suggestions to add to our list!
No matter the hour, these spicy Bloody Marys make it a happy one!
Bloody Mary-Infused Celery Sticks, adapted from New York Times
Serves 6 to 8 people
6 ounces vodka, chilled
12 ounces tomato juice
4 lemons, juiced
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
9 drops chili sauce
½ tablespoon horseradish
Fresh-cracked black pepper
1 bunch celery stalks, reserving celery leaves for garnish
1 siphon and chargers
1. Combine the vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire, chili sauce, and horseradish and season with salt and pepper.
2. Wash the celery stalks. Use a pairing knife to trim the ends and cut the celery in half, then peel back the center rib from each piece.
3. Fill the siphon snuggly with the celery and cover the celery sticks with the tomato liquid. Put the lid on the siphon and reserve the remaining tomato mixture.
4. Carefully charge the siphon twice. Squeeze the entirety of the liquid out of the siphon into a container, and then carefully remove the lid. Remove the infused-celery and repeat with the remaining celery. (You can re-use the liquid.)
5. Place 1 to 3 pieces of celery in each glass, top with the Bloody Mary mixture, and garnish with the celery leaves. Enjoy!