There’s a good reason I haven’t posted here for 12 months. Or there’s a reason, anyway, which is that I spent most (okay, some) of the year hidden away in a cave (also known as my study) rewriting and revising two novels at once (not an exercise I would recommend) like a madwoman, till I was blue in the face and tearing my hair out, though I tried to keep both clichés and bracketed asides out of my manuscripts.
One of the novels I was revising was The Oakdale Dinner Club, an irreverent comedy of suburban manners about food, infidelity and telepathy – a novel in the vein of Nora Ephron’s Heartburn and Maeve Binchy’s Evening Class with a soupçon of John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids (say what?). It will be published in May, 2014 by Dundurn, and I will be featuring recipes for some of the dishes in the book in this space as the pub date draws nearer.
I did emerge from my revision cave from time to time during the year to travel a bit and eat well, especially when it came to fried chicken.
While in New York in June to attend a writers’ pitch conference, for instance, I learned about the importance of using the right “comparable” titles in a pitch – FYI, only one should be a classic, one should be recent, and all must have been best-sellers. And after a long day of pitching, I happily consumed a fried chicken supper at Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter, an East Village spot (whose website home page, I just realized, is hey, what do you know, comparable to The Oakdale Dinner Club book cover). Bobwhite is my favorite kind of restaurant: it’s unpretentious, ultra-casual, and serves good, real food, like the deliciously moist inside, crunchy-skinned, Southern-style fried chicken, pictured above.
Summer weather or not, I couldn’t leave New York without stopping in for a set lunch of ramen with a side bowl (!) of fried chicken on rice with lettuce, a dab of teriyaki sauce and mayo (!) at my favorite ramen spot Ippudo.
Later in the year, when the revisions of The Oakdale Dinner Club were finally done, and the copy edit proofed and get it off my desk already, I escaped the wintry weather in Toronto for a few weeks in Florida, where I tried fried chicken and waffles at a resolutely downscale strip plaza location of Bay Bay’s Chicken and Waffles in West Palm Beach (the pic is theirs, lifted from their website, I’d gotten out of the habit of photographing my food by then):
The spicy, crunchy breast of chicken on top of a freshly made cinnamon-scented buttermilk waffle was good enough to get me back there a second time a few days later (though West Palm Beach is admittedly a bit of a desert, food-wise). And when we swung by Miami Beach the next week, I had to check out the cool, comfortable and prettily appointed Yardbird in South Beach, where the cauliflower ‘steak’ sandwich (loved the sliced apples inside) was tasty if a little pricy at $13:
the reasonably priced fried chicken blue plate special (only $14) was not as crispy as it should have been, and the biscuits were impressively flaky – like I can be after months of revision.