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  • By Susan Welsh

Dinner With Ruth Reichl

The Farm Cooking School is one of the treasures we locals are blessed with. Located on Gravity Hill Farm, the rustic charm here is almost palpable, and the passion for food is tangible.

Last night we had the great fortune to attend an evening with Ruth Reichl, former editor goddess of Gourmet Magazine, prolific author, once food critic for both the LA Times and the NY Times and boss angel to anyone, it seems, who has ever worked with her, for her, or beside her. In a word, she’s lovely.

Shelly Wiseman and Ian Knauer are the culinary partnership behind the Farm Cooking school and also former co-workers of Ruth’s. To listen to any of them speak of each other is to witness absolute respect and appreciation for the creativity, passion, and love they all possess for things related to their life as "family" during the days of the iconic magazine's prime.

Nothing about the Gourmet empire has faded. If anything, the iconic stature of the publication only seems to gain in reverence and esteem as time goes by. The spirit and energy of the magazine live on in Ruth. Last night she generously shared stories and memories of Gourmet at each communal table, while also taking the time to ask all of us about our own connections to the art and appreciation of food.

In these uncertain times in America, the communion of new friends, shared wine and an incredibly delicious menu of Reichl’s recipes was both grounding and comforting. The menu, cleverly titled after her books included delights like Sourdough Crackers with Black Garlic Butter, Preserved Lemon and Pomegranate; Thai inspired Watermelon Soup with Crab; Pasta Rags with 1000 herbs; Beef Rib Roast with Mustard CrustTwice Baked Potatoes with Basil and Creme Fraiche, Ian’s Aged Triple Creme Cheese, Calvados Apple Galette with Salted Caramel Ice cream. Apropos of her newest memoir, Save Me The Plums, the evening culminated with a bowl of Solebury Orchard plums.

I feel a kinship with Ruth Reichl. Maybe it’s because I am a writer and a foodie, or maybe it’s because the epigraph of her newest book is one of my all-time favorite William Carlos Williams poems, but I suspect it’s just because being in the aura of Ruth Reichl’s authentic warmth will make anyone feel at home at the table and in the world.

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