Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Best Food Blog? Sacramento Is The Source

Jonathan Gold is the only journalist in the country to ever win a Pulitizer Prize for restaurant criticism. But like a lot of restaurant critics, when he isn't out eating he's in the kitchen cooking. So when he listed his 10 favorite cookbooks in his blog for the LA Weekly a few weeks ago, I read it eagerly to see if our tastes might overlap. In several of his choices, they did. For inspiration and guidance, I also look to "The Breakfast Book" by Marion Cunningham, "Authentic Mexican" by Rick and Deena Bayless, "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman and "Chez Panisse Cooking" by Paul Bertolli and Alice Waters. But where he favors Paula Wolfert ("The Cooking of Southwest France") and Richard Olney ("Simple French Cooking") for the bright and uplifting dishes of Provence, I gravitate to Gerald Hirigoyen ("Bistro") and Georgeanne Brennan ("Potager").

For a fleeting moment, I wandered why Gold didn't include any food blogs in his roundup, then I remembered that his posting was headlined "Cooking with the Critic, or The Top 10 Most Battered Cookbooks in Jonathan Gold's Kitchen." I can only assume, and hope, that in some future posting he will list the 10 food websites he consults most often. Then again, maybe he doesn't go online in search of recipes. Maybe he's strictly Old School, a cook who prefers the sensation of turning pages - and the memories to be stirred by those pages when they are stained by splatters of sauce that landed on the page as he was preparing dishes for a particularly memorable dinner party. I'm in that camp, too, but there are times, especially when on an extended stay in Mexico, when I've left all but the Bayless book at home, that I turn to the Internet for something to get me off the hook when I've just returned from the market with a hunk of pork tenderloin or a bag of beets for which I had no plan.

Elise Bauer, founder of Simply Recipes
In that case, my default setting on the Internet is Simply Recipes. I go there, punch the fresh ingredient into the search space, hit enter and wait a nano-second for half a dozen or so helpful recipes to pop up. Neither the search nor the resulting recipe ever has let me down. Lots of other people apparently have discovered Simply Recipes, including longtime food authority Colman Andrews, founding editor of Saveur magazine and now editorial director of The Daily Meal, itself a food website. To stir up some media attention, The Daily Meal just released a list of what it considers the top 25 food blogs. Right there at the top of the list, in the coveted No. 1 spot, is Simply Recipes. What makes this recognition all the sweeter is that Simply Recipes is a Sacramento-based food blog. Elise Bauer started Simply Recipes about seven years ago, with an enthusiastic assist from her parents, in whose Carmichael kitchen many of the recipes posted on the site first were developed, tested and perfected. Since then, she's added several equally eager contributors to her recipe retinue, including such high-profile and prolific Sacramento food bloggers as Garrett McCord and Hank Shaw. At any rate, Simply Recipes is a timely, lively and attractive recipe site, packed with recipes sure to rescue the home cook who couldn't pass up those attractive bunches of mustard greens at the farmers market. I suspect Jonathan Gold would agree, and won't be surprised to find Simply Recipes among his top 10 food blogs should he post such a list.


  1. Those bloggers have some very informative and interesting topics on food. Garrett especially has a fun writing style.

  2. Hi Mike,
    How did I miss this? A belated thank you for the shout-out. You should stop by sometime when Hank is here cooking. Would love to pick your brain about Mexican food now that you've had more of the real thing. :-)