You may recognize James Oseland from Top Chef Masters. He's a regular judge on the show. The New York resident is also the editor in chief of the beautiful and informative Saveur magazine. Here's what he did yesterday, a day he describes as "wonderfully average," Tuesday, July 26.
7:30 a.m.: I started out the day with my usual bill of fare. It was ploddingly predictable. I had homemade poor man's muesli. Every three weeks my partner, Daniel, makes it from scratch. This version had oats, whole rolled oats, and nuts of many different varieties. There were a lot of coarsely chopped Brazilian nuts — which I have affection for. Also dried currents, dried apples, and dried raisins. Daniel teaches ESL in New Jersey and he has to leave early at 5:30. What he does, the night before, is he makes two bowls of muesli and he leaves one in the fridge for me. I bring it out and put it on the counter and let it come to room temperature. I added kefir and some milk, along with my new obsession: fruit from Trader Joe's.
The fruit from Trader Joe's is weirdly more satisfying than the way, way, way too expensive fruit at the Union Square farmers market. At least for now. But this fruit from the Trader Joe's that's two blocks from my house is actually pretty good. It's hit or miss and it's unfortunate that it's prepackaged, so you can't smell it, but you can get some shockingly good fruit. I threw in some apricots and white nectarines that I chopped up and they were very delicious and very sweet. I put some cinnamon sprinkles on the cereal too. Alongside, I had a cup of PG Tips tea with a lot of sugar and a lot milk.
Keep reading to see what James did with the Trader Joe's fruit later in the day.
9 a.m.: We had a very long pitch meeting at Saveur. Our senior editor, Gabriella Gershenson, had come in literally the night before from a working trip to the former Czechoslovakia. She had brought back this completely fantastic spread of little sweet Czech nibbles. I bit right into one and I didn't know what it was. But it was a prune covered in chocolate. I was honestly thinking of spitting it out, it tasted so odd and so extreme, but after a couple of seconds of chewing, I started to fall in love with it. It was very sweet and slightly bitter. It was a weirdly magical thing to be eating these chocolate-covered prunes during a very, very long pitch meeting. The prunes got me through the pitch meeting.
12:15 p.m.: Meanwhile, as we were having the pitch meeting, a wonderful thing was happening in Saveur test kitchen. Some very old friends of mine, from when I was first toying with the idea of being a food writer — this was in the '90s and it was just after Time Out New York first came out. I did a round up for them, for like the second or third issue ever, and I included this little Malaysian restaurant, Good Taste. I ended up becoming family friends with the husband and wife, Tong and Helen, who ran the restaurant. Well, a couple of months ago, they sold the restaurant and Helen told me that Tong has been losing his mind because he was so used to working all the time and now has nothing to do. So I had him come in and cook us a staff lunch. He helped us test out two recipes for the October issue, which includes a story about Ipoh, a Malaysian city.
1:45 p.m.: We finally finished the meeting and had Tong's lunch. It was so, so fabulous and tasted so good. We had Hainan chicken, this steamed chicken dish that's served with cucumbers that sit under the chicken. It was served with Hainan chicken rice, rice that's made with chicken stock and a really, really fabulous hot coconut-milk based vegetable curry with cabbage and dried anchovies. The test kitchen intern, Judy, made an amazing iced chai tea to go along with the meal. I loved seeing Helen and Tong in the office! It reminds me of my old life.
Everyone ate scattered around the office, but I pulled up a couple of chairs in the kitchen and sat down with Helen and Tong. It was really, really special and I'm glad we could keep Tong out of his retirement boredom for at least one day.
3:30 p.m.: I hit that mid-afternoon moment when I thought, "I have to eat something sweet and fatty now." So I had a very slim slice of something that sounded gross when I first heard about it. It was pumpkin cheesecake that had been sitting in the fridge for a couple of days. It's a recipe that's being tested out for the November issue. This pumpkin cheesecake initially sounded gross, but it was so delicious! I'm glad it was in the fridge; it took a special kind of restraint to not eat the whole thing.
7 p.m.: Pam Kaufman, who is a dear, dear friend of mine and the executive editor at Food & Wine magazine, lives about two blocks away from my house. She hadn't seen my new apartment yet, we moved in last November, so she came over. She brought a really wonderful bottle of wine, I can't remember what it was. I think it was Argentinean wine, and Pam, Daniel, and I had wine and Brazil nuts.
7:30 p.m.: Pam headed home and we had dinner. It's funny because Daniel and I can be pretty formulaic in our rituals in the morning and at dinner. We tend to make a lot of food in advance on the weekend for throughout the week. But we didn't have any of the usual Daniel and James formulaic food on hand, and I knew it, so I brought home some coconut vegetable curry in a tupperware. I boiled cappellini and I thinned out the curry because it was scorchingly hot and we ate it like an Asian-style soup with copious amounts of lime juice squeezed on top. It was a great, great dinner.
9 p.m.: We were going to go for a walk. There is a beautiful little pocket park near my house and when you walk into it it feels like walking into an Edith Wharton novel. So I said to Daniel, "let's go for a walk and bring some of this excellent Trader Joe's fruit." But as soon as we walked outside, a very forceful wind picked up and by the time we reached the little park, torrential downpour was coming down, so we walked back in the rain without an umbrella and ate the fruit at home.
10 p.m.: Earlier in the day, when I saw Helen she brought me all this stuff about feng shui. She is a great believer of feng shui and when I told her how things in my apartment were arranged, she gasped in horror. So she brought me all these amazing feng shui books and accouterments from Chinatown. There were these kitschy bunny rabbits and turtles and these beautiful crystals that I had to place in energy points around my apartment, so I did that. I broke one of the bunny rabbits, but that is OK.
11:45 p.m.: I went to bed. Before I go to bed, I like to read on my iPad. I read The New York Times on my iPad, then I go to sleep.
Photos courtesy of Todd Coleman