Elena F. Guiral
Her first book A whale, a walrus and a carpenter is the most beautiful cookbook I´ve ever read in my life but at the same time one of the most practical. Some of its recipes stuck with me forever, such as the halibut and morel sauce, the parsnip soup, and the Brussel sprouts with Espelette paprika.
When I had notice that Renee Erickson, one of the most amazing Seattle chefs and entrepreneurs had published her new book Getaway I tried my luck to know if she would be willing to talk to an anonymous Spanish blogger and admirer. To my surprise she said Yes!
Renee, as the rest of us, is still emotionally and financially recovering from the pandemic that has shaken to the bone especially the entertaining industry all around the world. “It´s been a really hard year and workers and customers are exhausted, but luckily things are improving with the vaccination campaign. Luckily, we live in a progressive state where science rules”, she explains.
Getaway talks about travel, cocktails, and informal food to share with friends, inspired by Erickson trips to places such as Rome, Paris, London, Normandy, and Baja California. She shot the photographs in 2019 without knowing she would be again a visionary as when she began to blend and honor local pacific northwest products with a European flair a long time ago. Because now everyone is dying to travel again, this is the perfect book to plan our most special summer holidays ever.
As a journalist and writer, I am perfectly aware of the epic amount of work and care behind such beautiful books, and Renee confirmed my guess. She doesn’t write in a conventional way, blocking 3 weeks of her time to finish all the work. “My books are conceived seasonally so you have to take the time to develop the idea and the book. We traveled to Baja in January, and shot the dishes related to Seattle in summer. It makes all sense to take a picture of a tomato in summer”, Renee adds.
She laughs when I ask her which is more challenging: writing a book or opening a restaurant. “Both are difficult because I want to be hands on fully on both processes although know I have and amazing team managing my restaurants so I can focus more on my books”. In fact, her restaurants are as deeply personal as her books and offer a complete vision of her way to understand beauty and cooking. I would say is a slow cooking and writing way of life.
I hear another laugh on the phone when I ask her why Spain is out of the table and out of Getaway. “In fact, it´s a great question. Spain is the first European country that I visited, and I loved it. I guess it has to be with the way life went, as my first restaurant Boat street café had a strong French influence, and the fact that I went to school in Rome”, she recognizes. “And my personality. When I love a place I always want to return and know more and more”
When I ask her if she has a specific reader in mind when she begins writing she barely tells me “culinary educated”. She wants to share all these experiences and friendships with the home cook in an easy but a special way with tips and discoveries she has been exposed too. “I collect a lot of amazing memories, as when all fishing boats were coming back in Normandy and scallops where so fresh that they were still clapping”, Renee remembers.
She is planning a trip to Sardegna or Greece to celebrate her 50th birthday, but I hope to see her soon in Madrid because a lot of interesting things are happening right now here. She promises to consider it: “I am a big fan of Europe. I love the tradition of all these individual places that are so uniquely different. It´s exciting to be part of the European culture and learn from that”. I will wait here for you, Renee.
My Getaway particular discoveries
As I expected, you want your suitcase as soon as you begin to read Getaway, but trips will need to wait for now, so I browsed through the book to find the most appealing recipes to entertain and enjoy your virtual culinary tour. The things that surprised/didn´t surprised me where the amazing cocktails featured in the book with local spirits, from the Italian bitter wonders like Amara Amaro to Calvados, the Normandy pear and apple liquor. I am a bit lazy and clumsy to prepare them, so I will try for sure the ultra-easy concoctions as calvados and tonic or the white Negroni. Easy but adventurous, as I will expand knowledge of drinks for sure.
As a Spanish and seafood lover as Renee is, I will focus on the fish and seafood recipes such as the fried salted cod with lemon aioli and the clams with Dijon broth that I prepared with mussels (see below), because a cookbook is a path not a prison. And I will remember my Mexican friends from Seattle grilling pineapples and fish to prepare tacos in my barbecue. But any recipe is worth trying and it won´t disappoint you.
Read more about Renee