Thursday, May 19, 2011

Gabrielle Hamilton: I Read Her Book & Ate Her Food

Who's Gabrielle Hamilton? She's a chef and the owner of Prune, a small restaurant in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. I'd heard of Prune for years, but I hadn't had a chance to venture out to her restaurant. I knew that it was known as being a small, unpretentious spot for eating simple but well-made dishes. She's also one of a small group of female chefs to really get major acclaim and attention in a very crowded and competitive NYC dining scene that seems to favor men (just my observation).

Then she came out with her memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter. I've started to read a lot of culinary writing in the past year, so I figured that a Kindle sample wouldn't be too much of a sacrifice on my part. I couldn't stop reading the sample. She roped me about page 5 (or whatever percentage that is in Kindle terms). Let me start out by saying that this woman can WRITE...well...very well. She does have a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), so I shouldn't be surprised. Hamilton's life story and the way food has weaved itself into how she views her past is only aided by her wonderful way she uses words.

In this TV clip, she talks about how she feels about being a chef and her own writing on the Charlie Rose show. Plus, I think GH, Charlie Rose and I feel the same way about cleaning. :)

I'll be honest though. Gabrielle Hamilton is complicated. While I'm not sure I would have made some of the decisions she did in her life, I relish her honesty and rawness. I'm inspired and by the fact that she was an untrained chef with little money and name recognition, and she opened a successful restaurant that's still open today. Gabrielle Hamilton is upfront about who she is and seems to be able to easily share the icky and the beautiful aspects of her and her personality with us. I think she welcomes our judgment, for lack of a better word, and doesn't really care. I respect that in people (especially women).

I guess the best example of her openness is her discussion of her marriage. Without giving anything away, I can say as someone who has been doing this marriage thing :) for a little under two years that it's hard. I feel like I've gotten a wonderful life partner and friend in Husband J. I can only imagine how much harder marriage can be when you don' t feel that you get what you need from your partner.

After finishing the book, I felt like I just had to go to Prune. Here's a look at my lunch there:

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are just not regular old deviled eggs at Prune. There was so much horseradish-esque kick with herbs and spices and perfectly smooth eggs. Gabrielle Hamilton agrees with most chefs that a true mark of culinary skill is what you can do with an egg. If that's so, this is genius.

Skate Wing with Lemon Caper Sauce & Artichoke Barigoule
"Barigoule is a Provencal dish that is braised artichokes in a warm, tangy white wine broth"
Food & Wine Magazine

Gabrielle Hamilton's all about keeping it simple and delicious, and this dish is. There's nothing much to it, and I think that's the point. Although I suspect it's hard not to like anything with capers and butter.

Feel free to check out Gabrielle Hamilton's book, Blood, Bones and Butter, or her restaurant. I think you'll enjoy the quality and authenticity of both.

54 East 1st Street (between 1st & 2nd Avenue)
New York, NY


BigAppleNosh said...

Yum, great photos and the book sounds intriguing!

melinda said...

I LOVE deviled eggs and rarely make them for myself, so I would have been a happy girl right there. Thanks for the introduction to a new food writer - I've been wanting to add a few to my list!

Mrs. Hot Cocoa said...

After reading the NYT article on GH, I totally want to try out her cuisine. So jealous!


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