I just came off a weeklong book-and-cooking tour on the west coast of Florida. For those of you who have never been, the west coast of Florida is similar to the west coast of California in that the sunsets, the beaches, and the women are gorgeous. It is unlike the west coast of California in that most of the people who should be in institutions are already there.
One of the pleasures of touring is getting to meet so many different and wonderful people. Whether it's sautéing some shrimp under a tent in 95-degree heat for a crowd or cooking up some chicken Marsala in a comfortable waterfront home for a dozen new friends, I always enjoy this aspect of making my way in the world as an author.
Of course another added benefit is hearing about new places to eat and new ways to cook.
For instance, Bill told me about a killer mobile eatery called, appropriately, The Taco Bus. I also found out about a restaurant called The Refinery. It features locally grown ingredients served up with a bit of panache minus the attitude. Both of these are on my list for a visit the next time I’m in town. There’s a new tea shop down near Davis Island that I’m dying to visit, and of course there’s always Kelly’s in downtown Dunedin. My visits here would be incomplete if I didn’t stop in at least once for breakfast.
I also met Chef John at one of my favorite after-work attitude-adjustment emporiums. He has a cookbook coming out, and we spent a good bit of time discussing the possibility of hosting a foodie event in the area. We are moving forward on it. Details to follow.
And then there’s always the simple suggestions and advice that flows between folks who have something in common (food) and are having a good time (festivals). Here are a few that I filed away in that part of my brain called “Good Ideas.” Some are mine. Most I gleaned from others:
For perfect pasta, make sure you boil the water before adding the pasta. (Thanks, Brendan.)
Don’t try to sharpen a knife after three or four margaritas. (Thanks, Rod.)
Cooking up some food at a festival will help sell more cookbooks. Cooking up the birds you accidentally ran over in the festival parking lot will not. (Mine.)
Don’t try to sell your books if you’re wearing a wife-beater t-shirt. This is probably true for cookbooks but it is especially true for children’s books. You want to see parents grab the hands of their kids and drag them to the opposite side of the venue from your booth? Just wear a wife-beater t-shirt. Heck, even I was tempted to move to a different booth. (Mine again.)
Buying the absolute cheapest of anything will never save you time or money in the long run. This goes for chef’s knives, cookware, and unidentifiable yet creatively-named items in the meat department. (Thanks, Randy.)
Make sure the beater blades on your mixer have completely stopped before you attempt to lick the icing off them. (Thanks, Sheila.)
Growing your own herbs is both healthy and frugal. Growing them where your dog decides to relieve herself is not. (Thanks, Megan.)
Don’t fry bacon naked. (Thanks, Laura.)
And finally, tossing around ideas and suggestions with friends is a great way to spend the evening. Tossing back some frosty glasses of Blue Moon at the same time makes it even better. (Mine.)
So…you got any ideas? Speak up while I grab another pitcher and a few more oranges.