We got a chance this weekend to chat by phone with chef and author Blood, Bones and Butter. She'd just touched down in Louisville, Kentucky, in the middle of both the country and her book tour for the recently released paperback version of the book. This Thursday she'll be in Tempe at Changing Hands Bookstore (our Chow Bella Book Club partner) at 7 p.m. for a signing and talk.
This isn't the first time that Hamilton has visited the Valley. She was a guest at the wedding of her good friend chef Suzanne Goin (of Los Angeles' Lucques, Hungry Cat and A.O.C.) at Chris Bianco's Pizzeria Bianco.
She's been enjoying the downtime that traveling affords her between book tour stops. It's allowed her to read, something she doesn't get too much time for in her regular life. She "reads the classics and the canon - anyone who has won a Pulitzer." She does think there's "some crazy talent" right now, too. She listed many, including Michael Cunningham, Jonathan Franzen, and Russell Banks.
We tried not to gush too much about our affection for Hamilton's book and her talent for diction. She agreed that she's been "given language" and is "very attracted to words."
We asked if her writing has influenced her cooking. She explained that writing and cooking have been "lovely antidotes to each other. It's nice to get on the line after trying to get the words on the page. It's "nice to be in company of others." It's "nice to go write after a week of 18 hour days and thinking, "did I order enough parsley?" and just "let your mind attach to target questions." They "work in balance."
She injected her expertise in hospitality into the project. She wanted to "take care of the reader like at the restaurant" being "conscious of people's time and money."
She's been working on BB&B since she pitched it in 2005, just a handful of years after opening her instantly popular casual restaurant Prune in NYC featuring lesser cuts of meat and classic European food with Mediterranean influences. The menu there hasn't strayed much since she first opened in 1999. "I decided to cook Mediterranean classic" and "not following a trend." She thinks it might have even been "bucking trend at the time." She's "remaining true to the canon, the basics of good cooking and have "never veered off." She's had urges to use Asian ingredients but that's not really what her restaurant is about. It's European with Mediterranean influences. She'd like to "try to stay universally edible." "Classic lasts forever," she explains. Lemongrass inspirations get saved family meal.
She tells us that some people on this tour apologize for the cuisine in their small towns, explaining that they can't compare to New York City. But Hamilton insists she is happy to get out of Manhattan and has enjoyed meeting people and visiting towns that are very much not like New York City. "I want to experience all of it," she says.
We hope she'll share word Thursday night of where she's dined in metro Phoenix.