As I took it easy this 4th of July weekend, I was able to catch up on a couple of books I had been wanting to read. The first is The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer that Changed the World, the story of Arthur Guinness (yes of stout fame) and his descendants and how they built the great beer company, and more importantly what they did for their employees and the community of Dublin. Can’t wait to tell you about it!
The second one was the book by Seattle-area NYT best selling author, blogger, and restaurant owner, Molly Wizenberg and her latest offering: Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage.
Molly Wizenberg is local celebrity of sorts as she has continually been featured in great food magazines, foodie websites, and countless “best of” food blogs, not to mention her hilarious podcast, Spilled Milk, where she and her partner obsess over various foods, recipes, food trends and is always sprinkled with lots of knowledge and wit.
Her NYT best seller, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table has had excerpts featured in all sorts of websites, print media and has generally propelled her into that sort of celebrity that has garnered her many fans around the world (Note: I am sure she had a legion of fans to begin with). An excellent writer, with a sincere and honest tone, Molly deserves the credit she is getting, for sure.
Her latest book, which I believe just came out this past spring, Delancey, is the memoir of sorts of how she met her husband (through her blog – no joke!), and his many “hobby” projects and ideas that ultimately led to them opening a little nondescript pizzeria in a residential neighborhood of Ballard, in Seattle.
First let me tell you that I live in Issaquah, a community about 15-20 miles east of Seattle, and is probably more like 30 miles to the Ballard neighborhood but one thing you may have noticed about me, with or without the boys, is that I am willing to drive for good food (case in point: on the 4th, Nate and I went to the Fremont neighborhood to finally get those sloppy Carribbean pork roast sandwiches we had heard so much about from Paseo – more on that some other time).
Can’t remember exactly what excuse I gave myself for hitting up the restaurant Delancey the first time, but I figured out something and even though I had to get back, I popped in and grabbed their house pizza, I believe called the Brooklyn, and let me just tell you…we couldn’t wait to get home. We literally drove one block, pulled over, parked, and ate the pizza. It was excellent!
So, when I heard she was writing a book about the start of her restaurant, and since I am such a big fan of “artisan” pizza, I was excited to read it.
The book is simply great. I am underlining the word simply, because that is what it is. It is a simple book. It is not just honest, rather, it is frank and open in a way that is refreshing. Molly doesn’t hide the stresses, the personnel decisions, the toll it seemed to be taking on her marriage and career. It feels like we are up at their little concrete bar, pouring a beer, probably eating pizza, and she is describing candidly the process of going from single to newlywed, to successful writer, to pursuit of a wild dream in opening up a pizza joint smack dab in the middle of the recession. The book moves at a very nice pace and after each couple of chapters, Molly shares a recipe, some that may have appeard in some fashion on the chalkboard menu at Delancey, and others that conjured up some sort of connection to a person or a time that contributed in some way to the development of the story and their lives.
Here is one of the quotes in the book. I think it sums up their experience at Delancey very well.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings. – Wendell Berry
There really aren’t any spoilers here as the restaurant is not only still open, but appears to be thriving. They have added a little bar next door, called Essex (haven’t been yet but will to be sure) and the two proprietors now have a child!
Whether you get books for your tablet or check them out at the library, if you want a sneak peek into some of what it takes to build a little, independent restaurant on a shoestring budget, especially if you live in the Seattle area, you absolutely should read this great book.
Cheers to you Molly, Brandon, and baby and cheers to Delancey the great pizzeria in Ballard as well!
If you liked this post on Delancey, check out these other links: