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Food makes life sublime.
And writing about it allows us to share that experience.
❑ Foodie delights: At the Dinner Table
❑ A tarte tartin recipe
My best memories are wrapped up in food. Barefoot summer picnics that start at lunchtime and end after dinner. Oysters at Borough Market when the sun is high in the sky. Sand covered from an ocean swim, eating a plate of pineapple fried rice in Koh Samui. Drinking rosé wine at dusk in Naxos, my shoulders pink like the wine from a day in the sun.
Food makes life sublime and writing about it allows us to share that experience. The sweet spot between food, memories, and nostalgia is what food writing always seeks to explore. Every dish is an opportunity to create new memories and experiences.
There is a playful hopefulness to writing about food. And for that reason, food writing has been a vice for many of us attempting to claw our way through the pandemic. I know it’s not just me: you guys seem to love newsletters that feature recipes and food writing. Like the time I interviewed the team at Curry Cats, or when I wrote about the joy (and ease) of making preserved lemons.
One of my goals for Sprout in 2022 is to continue to build a community through meaningful words and engaging experiences. Part of this vision is to offer events alongside weekly newsletters and online courses.
When I started brainstorming what kind of events to include in the lineup, a food writing panel was one of the first ideas that came to mind. I wanted to collaborate with professional food writers to share their work and brilliance in a way that could inspire others and spur future food writers into getting words on a page.
With that said, I am pleased to announce the first event of 2022 is At The Dinner Table
At The Dinner Table is intended to be a panel where food writers and editors chat about their careers, professional challenges (eat first, write later?!) and the joys of food writing.
Joining the panel are food writers Margaux Vialleron, Cat Sarsfield, and food editor Rhia Cook.
The conversation will trace:
The writing process: from the first bite to the final draft
Finding your creative flow in the kitchen and the writers desk
Where to source ideas and inspiration
How to evolve and grow as a writer in the food realm
Where: The panel will take place on Zoom
When: 16 March at 7pm UK time
Tickets include a recording of the event that will be available for 24-hours after the panel.
Cost: Three ticket tiers are available: £5/£10/Pay what you can
About the panel
Rhia Cook is the Founder and Editor of Potluck Zine, a magazine that publishes emerging creatives and passionate home cooks' stories of cooking, eating, and sharing food. I discovered Potluck on Instagram and ordered editions last year. They now live, well-thumbed, on my bookshelf.
Each zine edition shares an incredible breadth of writing from writers across the globe who share the same enthusiasm for food. The Potluck Zine model supports writers, illustrators and charities by paying creatives for their work and donating a portion of each zines’ profits to a charitable organisation of choice. I am so excited to have Rhia join the panel to talk about her personal food writing journey with anecdotes from her experience in establishing Potluck Zine and the vision she has for it.
Cat Sarsfield is a food writer, content strategist and unmeasured cook. Cat works on food-focused projects like writing the Hoste newsletter, penning weekly comms for Desmond & Dempsey and writing about London's best pasta restaurants for The Modern House.
As a newsletter writer, I make it my business to be a newsletter reader, too. Cat also writes her own newsletter, Since No One Asked. It is one of my favourite weekly food newsletters. Cat describes it as ‘a weekly-ish dispatch of food nostalgia, recipe-not-recipes and culinary recommendations.’
Cat writes about food with clarity and a strong voice. She also includes recipes each week. Her voice (and the yummy food she cooks) never fails to inspire me and make me think ‘maybe I could have a go at cooking that, too’.
Margaux Vialleron is a writer and one of two co-hosts of the book club and culinary community The Salmon Pink Kitchen. The concept is inspired: a monthly book club hosted alongside a dinner based on the book. Margaux’s debut novel, The Yellow Kitchen, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2022.
I came across The Salmon Pink Kitchen on Instagram. I read Margaux’s work online and found her writing to be lyrical and creative. I cannot wait to read her book and am thrilled to have her join the panel to speak about her personal food writing journey.
If any (or all!) of this sounds interesting to you, I hope you will come along on 16 March to join the conversation and be inspired by writers who make us hungry with their words.
To inspire (or consolidate) your relationship with cooking, I am closing this newsletter off with a visit from the archives. Tarte tartin (like any dessert that can be served with cream) is much adored in my cooking repertoire. 🍎 Find a podcast that grips you and while time away with this stellar treat.
Disclaimer: It is easier to make than you think.
Recipe: Tarte Tartin
My sister inherited my father's green thumb. She grows fruits, vegetables, and flowers at her home in Orange NSW. Last year, Orange had an abundance of apples. What to do?! She generously filled a laundry basket with fruit and gifted it to my mother, who in turn decided to make tarte tartin. A bold and adventurous choice. Making the perfect tarte tartin became somewhat of an obsession for her. She has since made 5 and has notes on each.
Inspired by my mother's tenacity, I used her notes to try making a tarte of my own in dreary locked-down London. This recipe serves 6 and makes an excellent doorstep gift for very, very lucky friends.
You will need
85g of butter
85g of granulated sugar
1.4kg dessert apples
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Puff or shortcrust pastry to cover a 25cm skillet or baking tin. Ambitious cooks can make this themselves. On this occasion, I chose the easy route and used store-bought pastry.
Pre-heat the over to 190 degrees celsius.
If you are making your own pastry, now is the time to make it and refrigerate it while you prepare the rest.
Melt the butter in your skillet* then add the sugar. When the combination begins to brown, remove from the heat.
Peel, core, and quarter your apples. Ideally, listen to a podcast while doing so.
Once the apples are peeled, arrange them round-side down over the melted butter and sugar, filling the base of the skillet (or tin). Zest this layer with lemon.
Chop remaining apples into smaller pieces and fill any remaining gaps of the base layer. Heap what leftover apples you have on top, to create a second layer.
Return the skillet to medium heat and cook until the sugar is a deep caramel hue and the apples begin to brown, which should take between 15-20 minutes.
Lay your pastry on top of the apples and press lightly to keep it in place, taking care not to burn yourself in the process.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
Allow to cool for no more than five minutes. Everything has been leading up to this point. Place a plate on top of your skillet or tin and flip your tarte over — voilá!
Serve with your vice of choice and enjoy it with a vibrant image of orchards and sunshine in the back of your mind.
*If you do not have a skillet, continue with a regular frying pan. Transition the butter and sugar mixture to a baking tin when your butter and sugar have caramelized. Then, arrange the apples and cover with the pastry. Bake in the oven, preferably on a hot baking sheet.
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