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Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage


Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage Cover

ISBN13: 9781451655094
ISBN10: 1451655096
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Delancey andlt;link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="../styles/9781451655124.css"andgt; andlt;h2 andgt;andlt;a id="ch01"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;andlt;a id="page_7"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;1andlt;/h2andgt; andlt;BRandgt;If you want to get Brandonand#8217;s family talking, you need only ask about his childhood tantrums, aaannnnnnnd theyand#8217;re off! Their descriptions are sufficiently vivid that youand#8217;d think heand#8217;d had a screaming meltdown in the family car last week. But if you ask Brandon about his tantrums, heand#8217;ll tell you that he was constantly hungry, and that low blood sugar will bring out the wailing, shrieking lunatic in anyone. When he was eight or nine, he taught himself to cope by cooking. And his parents, who werenand#8217;t especially interested in cooking, rewarded his initiative, because in the Pettit household of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, whoever cooked dinner didnand#8217;t have to do the cleanup afterward.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;a id="page_8"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;Anyway, while most of his peers were off wrestling in the yard, breaking things, or lighting household pets on fire, Brandon got a lot of positive attention for cooking. His uncle Tom offered to teach him how to make a few dishes, and so did his motherand#8217;s friend Ellen. His best friend Steveand#8217;s mother, Laura, taught him how to make penne alla vodka when he was in middle school. Afterward, before he went home, she dumped out a small Poland Spring water bottle, refilled it with vodka, and gave it to him so that he could make the recipe for his parents. His mother found it in his backpack later that night, and you know how that story goes.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Meanwhile, I grew up 1,500 miles to the west, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the only child in a family so preoccupied with cooking and eating that we would regularly spend dinner discussing what we might eat the following night. My parents met in Baltimore and courted over oysters and pan-fried shad roe, and though they had lived in the land of waving wheat and chicken-fried steak since a few years before I was born, they took pleasure in introducing me to lobster, croissants, and Dover sole. My father was a radiation oncologist, and he worked full-time until he was nearly seventy, but most evenings, after pouring himself a Scotch and thumbing absentmindedly through the mail, he made dinner. It wasnand#8217;t necessarily fancyand#8212;there were hamburgers and salad and cans of baked beans, and his macaroni and cheese involved a brick of Velveetaand#8212;but the kitchen was where he went to relax, to unwind from a day of seeing patients. He was a good cook. My mother is also a good cook, a very good cook, but I think of her mostly as a baker. She made brownies and crisps and birthday cakes, and in our neighborhood she became something andlt;a id="page_9"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;of a legend for the elaborate cookies and candies she made each Christmas. Food was how the three of us spent time together. Cooking and eating gave our days their rhythm and consistency, and the kitchen was where everything happened. As a baby, I played on the floor with pots and spoons while my mother cooked. The three of us sat down to dinner at the kitchen table nearly every night (except Thursdays, when my parents went out and left me with a Stoufferand#8217;s Turkey Tetrazzini and Julia Beal, the elderly babysitter, who always arrived with a floral-patterned plastic bonnet tied under her chin), and we kept up the habit (minus Stoufferand#8217;s and Mrs. Beal, after a certain point) until I went to college.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;I started cooking with my parents when I was in high school. I was not what you would call a difficult teen: Friday night might find me baking a cake or holed up in my bedroom with my notebook of poems. If I felt like doing something really exciting, I might invite some friends over and make a rhubarb cobbler. When I was seventeen, Food Network came into existence, and then I spent hour after hour watching cooking shows, which fueled even more baking and a poem about immersing myself in a vat of Marshmallow Fluff.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Brandonand#8217;s teenage years were a little more interestingand#8212;he regularly handed in his homework lateand#8212;but he too watched a lot of cooking shows. This was back in the golden age when you could actually learn something from Food Networkand#8212;when David Rosengartenand#8217;s brilliant Taste was still on the air and Emeril Lagasseand#8217;s show was taped on a modest set without a studio audience, live musicians, or abuse of the word bam. Brandon learned about extra virgin olive oil on Molto Mario and balsamic vinegar on Essence of Emeril and begged andlt;a id="page_10"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;his parents to add them to the grocery list. He once watched a show about soups during which the host reeled off a number of tricks for adding flavor and body: add a Parmigiano-Reggiano rind or a bouquet garni, for example, or drop in a potato, toss in some dried mushrooms, or simmer a teabag in the stock. Armed with this information, he decided to combine all of the tricks in a single soup, surely the greatest soup the world would ever know. The result, he reports, was very flavorful, like runoff from a large-scale mining operation.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Growing up, Brandon had four favorite pizza places: Posa Posa, Martioand#8217;s, and Michaelangeloand#8217;s, all in Nanuet, New York; and Kinchleyand#8217;s, in Ramsey, New Jersey. Of course, every kid on earth loves pizza, and a lot of them probably have four favorite pizza joints. But I know of few eight-year-olds who want to interview the pizzaiolo. Brandon took dance classes as a kid, and the ballet studio was conveniently located a few doors down from Michaelangeloand#8217;s. After class, he would pummel the owner with questions. Whatand#8217;s in the dough? What do you put in the sauce? Why do you grate the mozzarella for the cheese pizza, instead of slicing it? In exchange for answers and free slices, he agreed to put coupons under the windshield wipers of cars in the parking lot out front.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;But if it were all really that straightforward, if Brandon and I had both homed in on food from the get-go, and if he had known that he would be a chef and I had known that I would someday own a restaurant with my chef husband, this would be a boring story, and I would not be telling it.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Maybe even more than he loved to cook, Brandon loved to dance. His mother, wanting to expose her son to a little bit of everything, started him in dance classes as a very young kid, andlt;a id="page_11"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;and by the time he was a preteen, he was on track to someday join a touring company. Down the line, heand#8217;d decided, he would be a choreographer. Choreography and cooking pushed the same buttons in him: they were both about making things, about taking a series of separate elements and assembling them in a particular sequence to make something appealing and new. As a middle schooler, he took upwards of eight hours of dance classes a week, and sometimes, depending on the season, he took as many as twenty. When he was twelve, he got into a prestigious summer program at the Pennsylvania Ballet school. Each afternoon, when he was supposed to be resting, he sneaked into the classes for older teens, where he got to partner with female dancers. This was the big time. One day, while doing some sort of move that youand#8217;re not supposed to do when youand#8217;re twelve, he fractured one of the vertebrae in his lower back. The upshot was that he couldnand#8217;t dance for the better part of a year, and as further punishment, he had to wear a plastic torso brace that made him look like Tom Hanksand#8217;s deranged secretary in Splash, the one who wore her bra over her clothes.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;He couldnand#8217;t do anything that required much mobility, but he could still cook. He could also practice the saxophone. In addition to dance, heand#8217;d taken music lessonsand#8212;piano and saxophoneand#8212;since he was a kid. Now, while sidelined from ballet, he began to practice for hours a day. After school, heand#8217;d go down to the basement, put on Pink Floydand#8217;s and#8220;Money,and#8221; and play along, over and over, with the sax solo that starts at 2:04. Or heand#8217;d go to Tower Records and fish around in the discount bin for classic Rand#38;B and blues CDs, Charlie Parker or T-Bone Walker, and then heand#8217;d play along to those too. He sometimes andlt;a id="page_12"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;went to the ballet studio to watch a class, to try to keep his head in it, but he began to notice that, maybe more than the physical movement itself, what he liked about dance was the music. Music was underneath all of it.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;By the time he started thinking about college, he was spending most of his non-school hours playing the saxophone, and when he wasnand#8217;t playing the saxophone, he was cooking. He thought about going to culinary school instead of college, but heand#8217;d been a vegetarian since birthand#8212;his parents, siblings, and most of his extended family are vegetarianand#8212;and while he didnand#8217;t want to cook meat, he also wasnand#8217;t interested in seeking out a specialized vegetarian culinary school, which seemed limiting in the long run. Anyway, he would always cook, he reasoned, whether or not he was a trained chef. He would always need to eat. But if he wanted to keep at his music, and if he wanted to go somewhere with it, he would need formal training. So he decided to try for a conservatory slot in saxophone, upping his practice schedule from a couple of hours a day to three or four. Thereand#8217;s a video taken around that time, at his high schooland#8217;s Battle of the Bands. I wish you could see it. Brandon is seventeen, singing lead and straddling the sax in a band called and#8220;Ummmand#160;.and#160;.and#160;.and#160;,and#8221; and heand#8217;s deep in his Jim Morrison phase, with dark sunglasses, long curly brown hair, and his shirt unbuttoned to the navel, for which he would later get detention.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;The following year, he moved to Ohio as a freshman at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. He declared a major in saxophone performance, but the urge to make somethingand#8212;not just memorize and perform a piece of music that someone else had madeand#8212;was still there, and in his second year, he added andlt;a id="page_13"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;a minor in music composition. After graduation, he moved to New York to work on a masterand#8217;s at Brooklyn College Conservatory, sharing an apartment in Manhattan with a violinist and an opera singer. Meanwhile, I had left Oklahoma City and headed west to Stanford, where I studied human biology and French and was frequently asleep in my dorm room bunk bed by ten oand#8217;clock, though I did flirt with rebellion by cutting my hair short, dyeing it calico, and stealing pre-portioned balls of Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough from the freezer of my dining hall. When I graduated, I spent a year teaching English in France before moving to Seattle in 2002 to start graduate school in anthropology at the University of Washington.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Brandon and I met in 2005, when a friend of his suggested that he read Orangette, the food blog that I had started the previous summer. He did, and then he sent an e-mail to pass on a few choice compliments that evidently were very effective. He described himself as and#8220;a musician (composer) getting my masterand#8217;s part-time in NYC, while being a full-time food snob / philosopher / chef.and#8221; Letand#8217;s ignore the snob / philosopher part; he was only twenty-three, so he gets a pass. But the chef part! He was referring, I would learn, to his part-time job as a cooking-and-grocery-shopping go-fer for a wealthy uncle, and to the fact that he liked to have friends over to dinner. But, people: I should have seen it. This man was not going to be a composer. By the second letter, he was describing the smell of flaming Calvados on crand#234;pes, and to explain what type of music he wrote, he offered this:andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;I guess itand#8217;s considered classical. I usually write for choirs or orchestras or chamber groups, although sometimes I use electronics or make sound sculptures or installations. For a food analogy: I wonand#8217;t make salads with raw chicken, lychee, pork rinds, and lemon zest with a motor oil, goat cheese, and olive oil dressing, just because no one has done it before. I try to make and#8220;dishesand#8221; that taste like nothing else, and taste good. Being a composer is really no different from being a chef or a choreographer.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;a id="page_14"andgt;andlt;/aandgt;I should have seen it, but I didnand#8217;t. And until a few months after we were married, I donand#8217;t think he did, either.

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penelopehscott, April 22, 2015 (view all comments by penelopehscott)
This was a really enjoyable read. I looked forward to it every night. Sadly, it only took me a few nights to finish it though! My favorite parts were hearing about the intricacies of setting up your own restaurant. Some of the recipes sounded pretty good too.
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kyenne, September 20, 2014 (view all comments by kyenne)
I read "A Homemade Life" last year, so I was happy to check out "Delancey". It's a lovely, wonderful book that kept me company each night before I fell asleep for a couple of weeks The author creates an inviting intimacy, the kind of 'pull up a chair and eat in the kitchen' attitude that Molly and her husband sought to create in their Seattle restaurant. It works. I felt nourished and surrounded by people I would want to hang out with, their quirks and struggles intact. The recipes that close out many chapters are deceptively simple to make, and enticing to eat. And I laughed out loud. The greatest compliment I can offer is it reminds me of Laurie Colwin's "Home Cooking" - a much-stained copy holds a place of honor in my kitchen. For anyone reading this who listens to "Sound Opinions", this is a "buy" - I read it from the library and can't wait to purchase the paperback.
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Product Details

Wizenberg, Molly
Simon & Schuster
Biography - General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
212.725 x 139.7 mm

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Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage Used Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Simon and Schuster - English 9781451655094 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Wizenberg, Seattle food blogger and author of The Homemade Life, delineates the courageous — or hare-brained — impulse by her new husband, Brandon, to start a pizzeria, which they would name Delancey, in the up-and-coming Seattle neighborhood of Ballard during the chill of the 2009 recession. Brandon, who hails from New Jersey, was a grad student in music at the University of Washington with ample talents and restless energy for building (violins, boats) and also cooking. His favorite New York pizzeria, Di Fara, proved his inspiration to try his hand at creating an enterprise from scratch, and when his partner bailed out on him, the author, now his wife, stepped in, but reluctantly. Wizenberg had just published her first memoir and wanted to concentrate on writing; yet the demands of a fledgling restaurant proved irresistible and all-consuming, including the 'one million steps between signing a commercial lease and opening the door to the public.' Wizenberg's narrative is rich in such details, from the finding of financial backing, the construction of their small space in Ballard, the design by a Bay-area cousin, installation of the all-important wood-burning pizza oven, to the hiring of several servers — not to mention the tiny details the author obsessed about in the preparation and plating of salads and vegetables, which was her lamentable station. Her fun and engaging narrative encompasses recipes, an odd assortment of the familiar (meatloaf) and the earnest (ricotta), undergirding overall what is an industrious, youthful effort at keeping marital harmony." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "A crave-worthy memoir that is part love story, part restaurant industry tale. Scrumptious."
"Review" by , "When I sit down with Molly Wizenberg's writing, it feels as though she's just across the counter, coffee cup in hand, sharing an intimate truth....Inspiring, entertaining and informative, [Delancey] is a satisfying read."
"Review" by , "Charming...humorous, intimate, and honest."
"Review" by , "Entertaining and wondering and plainspoken...full of the hard work and trial and error of emerging into adulthood."
"Synopsis" by , In this funny, frank, and tender new memoir, the author of the New York Times bestseller A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette recounts how opening a restaurant sparked the first crisis of her young marriage.

When Molly Wizenberg married Brandon Pettit, he was a trained composer with a handful of offbeat interests: espresso machines, wooden boats, violin-building, and ice cream-making. So when Brandon decided to open a pizza restaurant, Molly was supportive — not because she wanted him to do it, but because the idea was so far-fetched that she didn't think he would. Before she knew it, he'd signed a lease on a space. The restaurant, Delancey, was going to be a reality, and all of Molly's assumptions about her marriage were about to change.

Together they built Delancey: gutting and renovating the space on a cobbled-together budget, developing a menu, hiring staff, and passing inspections. Delancey became a success, and Molly tried to convince herself that she was happy in their new life until — in the heat and pressure of the restaurant kitchen — she realized that she hadn't been honest with herself or Brandon.

With evocative photos by Molly and twenty new recipes for the kind of simple, delicious food that chefs eat at home, Delancey is a moving and honest account of two young people learning to give in and let go in order to grow together.

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