Why do you call your blog Kitchen Fiddler?
I wanted a blog title that would incorporate two of my great joys in life: music and cooking. I’ve been fiddling around in the kitchen for decades, nearly as long as I’ve been playing the violin. But unlike my musical studies, which were formal and incredibly extensive, I’m very much self-taught in the kitchen, always improvising with new flavors and ideas.
Who takes your photos? What kind of camera do you use?
I do. I come from a family of photographers, so it was always my job to remember the stories and events while the photo documentation was left to others in the family. But in 2007 I received a new camera for my birthday and quickly discovered that I really enjoyed taking photos, especially close-ups of friends and beautiful plates of food. I’ve taken all the photos on Kitchen Fiddler (up through March 2013) using that same Canon PowerShot! I am grateful for that little camera, which definitely kindled my enthusiasm for photography, but I’m realizing its limits and am exploring new possibilities with more sophisticated cameras. I’ll keep you posted.
What kitchen items can’t you live without?
The MVPs in my kitchen are my Microplane zester and my 8-inch Henckel Pro chef's knife, as well as my collection of heatproof spatulas from Williams-Sonoma. My All-Clad stainless steel saucepans and non-stick skillets get a major workout too. I had sticker shock when I first bought them years ago, but they were worth every single penny.
I have a huge collection of different olive oils and salts (fourteen different kinds of salt at last count!), but I’m partial to Maldon flaky salt and Frantoia olive oil for drizzling on top of salads or pasta dishes. Saffron makes me swoon, as do Thai green curries, fresh basil pesto, and anything with white truffles in it. I’m addicted to Valrhona chocolate, which I buy in bulk during CocoaRoar seasons, and their velvety cocoa powder has completely transformed the quality of my baking. And did I mention that I love sparkling wine of all varieties? Champagne, prosecco, cava, you name it—if it has bubbles, I’m totally there.
CocoaRoar is my home-operated chocolate truffle business. I’m totally self-taught, fueled by an obsession with high-quality chocolate and flavor combinations that will make your taste buds roar with delight. You can read more about it here.
Your blog description includes the phrase “stories of culinary time travel”. What does that mean exactly?
I have a very unusual memory called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, and I am the 5th person in the world to be officially designated as having this. (You can find out more about it here.) For many people, certain tastes conjure up memory---but for me it’s often the opposite as the memory itself triggers a specific craving. A number of Kitchen Fiddler posts are prompted by memories of culinary experiences that happened on that specific day in a previous year.