Being obsessed with food, I read food blogs long before I had the idea to start my own. The first blog I remember reading and falling in love with was Luisa Weiss's The Wednesday Chef. And now, several years later, it is still one of my favorite places on the web. Luisa, a New York-based cookbook editor, consistently uncovers great recipes from newspapers, cookbooks, and her family in Italy and Berlin. But cooking inspiration is only part of what makes her site special. Luisa can turn a subject as mundane as pancakes into the most gorgeous prose. And I'm not alone in my opinion. This year, The Wednesday Chef ranked third on the Times of London's list of the world's 50 best food blogs. Highly deserved praise for a highly talented writer. Thanks for always inspiring us, Luisa.
1. Name, occupation, and city
Luisa Weiss, cookbook editor, New York City
2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?
I had six friends over for an Easter brunch in the spring and made an artichoke-ricotta torte with a recipe from my Sicilian uncle, an arugula-fennel salad, and a cornmeal cake with cherries in syrup from my mother's trees in Italy.
3. What is the best menu you've ever made for company?
Actually, it was one of the first meals I made after starting my blog. I had some girlfriends over for dinner and I made an herbed pork loin (from Barbara Kafka's wonderful cookbook on roasting), roasted zucchini tossed with mint and feta from a recipe Melissa Clark had published in The New York Times, and a savory plum compote that I served with the pork.
4. What's your preference: wine, beer, cocktails?
For a dinner party, wine. For drinking on my own, beer. Cocktails are generally too sweet or too strong for my taste.
5. What's your favorite dinner party soundtrack?
It really depends on the meal and on the season. I love very old jazz standards as well as trip hop like Bonobo or Thievery Corporation.
6. Some friends are coming over for a last-minute dinner tomorrow night. What do you make?
If there's a day's notice, does that count as "last-minute"? [Ed: hmm, good point.] Either I'll make spaghetti with a cherry-tomato sauce spiked with hot chile flakes, garlic and good olive oil, all of which is usually lying around my kitchen anyway, or I'll roast a chicken and some cubed potatoes with rosemary. To follow, a nice salad is easy and quick (I like soft lettuces, a few herbs and farmer's market tomatoes in the summer or in winter thinly sliced fennel, orange slices and toasted walnuts) and a good vinaigrette always impresses guests.
7. Do you usually cook everything yourself, or do you have help?
I usually make everything myself, I'm kind of an alpha cook that way. Honestly, I like being alone in the kitchen. It's my meditative time.
8. Do you ever buy store-bought food, or is everything on your table made from scratch?
I buy bread for dinner parties since baking bread on top of making dinner party food is a surefire way to have a kitchen meltdown. And I've bought pre-made puff pastry without any shame (and a pie crust once, too, though that was just laziness). Other than that, I make everything myself. Well, except for the cheese.
9. What do you like to serve for dessert?
I love to bake, so if I'm feeling really ambitious on top of making dinner, I'll bake a cake or a fruit tart. But I'm also fine with buying a pint or two of premium vanilla ice cream and serving it with fresh berries. Or I skip dessert entirely and just serve cheese at the end of the meal.
10. If you could invite anyone over for dinner (living or dead), who would it be?
Barack, Michelle, Malia and Sasha Obama. I'd love to make them dinner and just sit around talking for a while. I'm kind of in love with the four of them.
[Photo: Courtesy of Luisa Weiss]