Do you ever wake up in the morning and think, “Woah. This is my life?” I’ve had that thought more than once. There’ve been occasions, I’ll admit, when it was punctuated with an “ugh.” Monday, though, the same thought was followed by a mental “Yippee!” as I contemplated some recent fun times with friends,the fact that I will soon be attending fermentation workshops with my microbial hero, Sandor Katz, and the unbelievable day that lay ahead.
The main source for my excitement on Monday was the fact that Ruth Reichl would be doing a reading from her new novel, Delicious! at the Free Library, that I would be at that reading and then I WOULD BE HAVING DINNER WITH RUTH REICHL. THE Ruth Reichl. The author of memoirs I love, New York Times restaurant reviews that rocked and the final editor-in-chief of my beloved Gourmet. I was more excited than nervous, although my nerves were definitely present and hopping. My friend Alexis Siemons, the tea expert and fearless genius, had the brainstorm and courage to invite Ms. Reichl to dine with a few of us Philly food types a while earlier when she heard that Reichl would be in town promoting her new book and first novel, Delicious!.
We all lucked out big time when she said she would.
If you’re curious, she was delightful; kind and curious! Though she must have been exhausted from a long book tour, Ms. Reichl came to a late dinner with us and even signed our books. She shared her thoughts on the fine cuisine, told us about her son, her thoughts on the restaurant industry and the treatment of farm workers, and answered all of our questions. I was intimidated and possibly (probably) a babbling idiot (my M.O. with respected celebrities), but still so glad to have met this icon for whom I have so much respect.
Back to that dinner: when Reichl agreed to break bread with us, ten ladies in all, Alexis knew just who to call. She contacted Chef Eli Kulp of Fork Restaurant (and two of my other very favorite Philly restaurants High Street on Market and a.kitchen and a.bar) and he offered to make a special menu to celebrate the occasion. Man alive. I don’t think that “special” quite covers this menu. It was an epic feast that spanned hours and included a variety of fabulous ferments. The menu was a brilliant and an appropriately “delicious” homage to Philadelphia, Chef Kulp’s adopted city. Menu and photos are below!