Cathy Erway has been a ubiquitous presence in the New York Cook Off scene. It shouldn't be any surprise that her blog -Not Eating Out in New York is one of our favorites. Cathy's book, The Art of Eating In, is hitting the shelves and she is celebrating with an Aphrodisiac Dinner for Singles at Jimmy's No. 43 on February 11. (See sidebar under Upcoming Tasting Events for details!) If you don't know her- check out this brief interview, then hit her blog, then buy the book!
How weird did it seem to your friends when you stopped eating out, now over 2 years ago?
Pretty weird, but then my friends already knew me :). It was strangers who were most shocked when they heard that [I was not eating out anymore], and would always exclaim, I don't know how anyone could do that!
Were you a writer before you started noteatingoutinny.com, or were you inspired enough by the concept to become a writer?
I always wanted to be a writer, but paying gigs didn't seem to be falling on my lap too easily. That's why I started a blog, to self-publish my food writing, and not get paid for it either!
Do you have a day job? If so, what?
I work as a freelance writer; I do copywriting, and some writing for publications like Edible Brooklyn on the side. A flexible schedule was all mastered so that I could take food photography in daylight!
How did you come up with your 5 course aphrodisiac menu? (See menu below) Oysters and pomegranates seem natural for Valentines, but why have you included beef cheeks?
The menu is roughly based on a five-course meal that I cooked for a group of ten at my place one night, which is recalled in the book. It was an elaborate prank between me and three friends to invite someone whom we had a crush on to dinner, and hopefully woo them with aphrodisiac foods, which are featured throughout the menu (pomegranate, basil, etc.). We didn't tell any of this to our guests though, and as it turned out, none of us got lucky, nor had a very good time -- at least, until the other guests had left and we were left to ourselves again, to just have fun. Anyway, the food was really good at least!
As an off shoot of your "not eating out", you became a leader in the amateur cook off movement in Brooklyn. What was the first cookoff you participated in? Do you compete to win? What are some other cook offs that are coming up?
The first cook-off had to be a Chili Takedown way back in '07. I made something with chicken and hominy, and did not win. Since then I have never thought very seriously about trying to win the cookoffs, but just have a great time with the other chefs, hosts, and generally awesome people who show up to eat.
There is just one seating for Cathy's Aphrodisiac Dinner for Singles- a five course prix fixe dinner for $25/ per person (tax, tips and drinks not included). Seating at 7:30 followed by a reading and Q and A with Cathy in our Back Room. The menu for the Aphrodisiac Dinner for Singles includes:
Risotto with spelt (freekah), arugula, pinenuts and basil
Braised beef cheeks w/ pomegranate and butternut mash
Spiced fennel salad
Almond pudding with amaretto crumbs
Thanks for talking to us, Cathy, and best of luck with your new book!