Monday, June 21, 2010

what's for dinner, cathy erway?

Cathy Erway is one busy lady. While she is best known as the author of The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove and the blog Not Eating Out in New York, she also runs a supper club, hosts a weekly radio show, and tends to a rooftop farm at Sixpoint Craft Ales in Brooklyn. Through her new blog Lunch at Sixpoint, she will document the growing process as well as the lunches she makes for the brewery staff, using ingredients from the farm. Here, Cathy discusses her love of breakfast-for-dinner, the pleasure of homemade mayo, and what makes a good dinner party host.

1. Name, occupation, and city
Cathy Erway, writer/blogger, Brooklyn

2. When was the last time you threw a dinner party, and who was invited?
I threw a potluck not too long ago at my apartment. It was a smattering of friends, some whom I hadn't seen in a long time, and others I do practically every day. It's always fun to mix people whom you think would get along, or should meet one another in a room. That, I think, is one of the keys to being a good dinner party host. 

3. What is the best menu you've ever made for company?
I have no idea, there's been too many! But since it's still fresh, maybe a holiday dinner party for 25 people in Brooklyn. Main course was a ham from my friend's farm in Vermont, stabbed with cloves and the whole nine yards. Sides included beet and citrus salad, crunchy savoy cabbage salad with nuts and lemon, and I made four types of ice cream for dessert -- peppermint, molasses, orange-spice and honey malt barley (it was a company dinner party for Sixpoint). 

4. What's your preference: wine, beer, cocktails?
I like them all! And lately, kombucha. 

5. What's your favorite dinner party soundtrack?
Maybe a little bit of finger-snapping, jazzy Nina Simone to get started, then move onto Jobim/Gilberto sambas during the dinner, or something else subdued and comforting. Then afterwards, crank it up with anything and everything you want to blast! Lately, for me that would be Purple Rain.

6. Some friends are coming over for a last-minute dinner. What do you make?
It definitely depends on what's in my fridge already. Usually, there's bunches of vegetables, eggs, and bits and pieces of leftover things. So I might go with making breakfast at night -- an omelet. Or serving some fried rice or noodles with all sorts of vegetables and eggs. There's always unopened jars of things that I've pickled, so that always works well for appetizers.

7. Do you usually cook everything yourself, or do you have help?
I have help when cooking for large events, which I find myself entwined in a lot -- at supper club dinners, etc. It's fun finding a method to the madness of serving a lot of people together, as fast as possible. But for everyday situations, I'm a solo cook.

8. Do you ever buy store-bought food, or is everything on your table made from scratch? 
I simply find it easier, more economical, and often, better, to make the most food from scratch. For instance, mayonnaise is really quick to make, and you can also give it a splash of really good olive oil for a twist. But there are always some things that are going to be much better, and much more fun, when bought from a master, like artisanal cheese, or really great bread.

9. What do you like to serve for dessert? 
I'm not huge on desserts, so lately it's been just really good fresh fruit, whatever's in season. I had a bowl of the sweetest cherries from the Greenmarket the other night and thought, "now why mess with such a good thing?" 

10. If you could invite anyone over for dinner (living or dead), who would it be? 
MFK Fisher, please. I would love to get her drunk on whiskey sodas and hear all her saucy stories, in person.
[Photo: courtesy of Cathy Erway]


Tanja @ Postmodern Hostess said...

Thanks for this interview. I always love getting different perspectives on throwing a dinner party, whether small and casual or big and more formal.

Lisa said...

Thanks for reading, Tanja.

Daniel said...

Read this quickly at first and didn't realize Purple Rain was for after dinner. Whew. Could you imagine trying to slice a ham to Darling Nikki?


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