Monday, November 22, 2010

The authors of "Bite Me" take a bite out of Santa Monica with The Great American Bakery Hunt

Last week, the authors of "Bite Me", also known as the saucy sisters, joined The Great American Bakery Hunt for lunch in Santa Monica.  After a morning preparing the last touches of their cooking demo, Lisa Gnat and Julie Albert took a break from a busy day of bringing the flavorful pages of their cookbook to life in LA. 

If you visit the "Bite Me" website, you will notice the sisters described as Lisa "whisk girl" Gnat (the chef) and Julie "ink-slinger" Albert (the writer).  But beyond their technical backgrounds, it's undeniable that both sisters bring a sense of carefree fun, humor, and wit to the table.  When I met Julie and Lisa, it was no surprise that just like their cookbook, the sisters were full of life and food-related witticisms.  

In "Bite Me," clever pop culture references peppered throughout the pages combine with music playlists to rock out to while cooking.  This gives readers the opportunity to question conventional cooking habits, for example: who says you can't air guitar while in an apron? While I adore cookbooks of all sorts, this is a unique question that not many in the food writing genre would stir up.  Fresh and original, Lisa and Julie are like the Chuck Klosterman of the food world, giving you nibbles of pop culture and morsels of music to snack on even as you focus on the main recipe.   

Best of all, with featured quotes ranging from TV-series How I Met Your Mother lines to Bill Cosby sound bites, this book is approachable to members of whatever generation happen to be in the kitchen that day.  Julie commented that the sisters have received feedback from parents who have used "Bite Me" to reconnect with their teenagers through cooking.  But beyond the hip appeal of the book's fresh design, their philosophy is all about creating tasty but approachable food, which lends itself well to teaching cooks of all ages about how to make great meals.  

Wanting to give one of the recipes a try before our lunch, I whipped up the cinnamon swirl breakfast bread (page 224) and proceeded to consume it for both dessert and breakfast.  This comforting  recipe is perfect with a piping hot cup of coffee and I am sure to have it in my back pocket for many years to come.  Best of all, most of the ingredients in the bread are probably in your cupboard already, so it's quite simple to make if unexpected guests come into town.

Since the sisters hail from Canada, I quizzed them on where I could find a good Nanaimo bar.  I assumed these originated in Canada ever since a 3rd grade report I did on the country in which I had to make a regional recipe, and my Canadian neighbor gave me her written version of this layered bar dessert. However, I have since learned that the Nanaimo bar's origins are forever under historical dispute.  Despite the Nanaimo mystery remaining unsolved, Julie and Lisa enlightened me about their culinary philosophy and reminded me why fun is an important part of the kitchen.  (My belief in this philosophy probably explains why I own things like this guitar spatula.  One can't resist a little rock and roll twist in a spatula design!)

Perhaps one of my favorite anecdotes from lunch was when Julie handed me a sticker with a recipe for their chunky white chocolate cranberry cookies.  She said that when offering them to others, such as the postman for example, she will ask them if they bake.  And if they don't bake themselves, she'll suggest "Well give it to the little woman!" Lisa charmed me with her approach to chocolate chip cookies, deeming herself a "chocolate chip cookie purist."  Anyone who takes chocolate chip cookies seriously is a friend of mine.  Generous in spirit, fun, and chocolate chip cookie philosophies, Julie and Lisa were a pleasure to meet and I hope the rest of their travels leave them with some time to take a bite out of life! 

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