Based on who I spend most of my time with, a few people are bound to make repeat appearances in this blog. When someone tells me a story I like to have a little background on the people I’m hearing about and if possible a picture so I can put a face with a name. Here’s a little breakdown on some of the key players in my life.
Hank Taplinger: This is my wonderful father who is the only man I know who will cook an entire gourmet meal for himself and then describe in detail the exact ingredients he used and what wine or cocktail he paired with it. His love for food exceeds everything other than family and a trip with him means a tour of restaurants and open air markets. Museums are not his thing, but take him to an open market and he will spend hours staring at the fish display… Pike’s Market in Seattle might rank #1 in Hank’s seafood tour of America. He is the happiest person I know and has achieved self actualization like no other person I’ve ever met.
Pam Taplinger: This is my amazing mother who balances my Dad’s love for food with a healthy dose of reality that you can’t eat everything and anything without experiencing some of the consequences. While my mom is a pretty experimental eater, she also is unwilling to try certain delicacies-some examples include raw fish, red meat (most of the time) and she’s been known to reign my Dad and I in when we’re having too much fun trying new things. My Mom seeks balance in everything that she does and pushes me to relax and keep everything in moderation. My Mom is the reason why our family vacations include excursions outside of the culinary realm. Without her I may have never stepped in an actual museum the entire time I was in Europe or gained a strong sense of discipline in my life. She is one of the most motivated women I know and I admire her endlessly for that.
Stacy Tasman: This is my best friend since high school who recently moved in with me in my small New York City apartment. We met on our first day of school Junior year in our first period French class. Despite the early hour, we bonded instantly and our friendship has flourished ever since. Stacy’s ideal meal used to be anything that seemed safe. Grilled chicken was king and anything outside of the box was considered intimidating and unappealing. I am happy to report that 7 years later and after traveling all over the world Stacy is now a much more experimental eater. She’s open to trying new things and realizes that one mushroom won’t kill her. One of the best things about our friendship is that we both have grown apart while growing together so we always bring new things to the table. Our friendship has never been superficial and we’ve always able to bring each other down to earth when necessary.
Montana Ross: Despite the fact that Ross is her last name, Montana is basically a Taplinger. Setting her up with my cousin is one of the best things I’ve ever done. My family knew she was one of us after taking her on her very first trip to Tarpon Springs. As much as we love trying new restaurants together, some of my best memories with her involved our nights when we cook together or when we decided to play mixologist on Memorial Day a few years ago. Who knew M&M’s, coffee creamer and vodka would be great in a cocktail… it sounds crazy I know, but we are on to something. Montana is one of the most enthusiastic people I know and I am so happy to call her part of my family.
Jessica Freeman Henderson: This is my roommate in New York City who’s ideal meal would be macaroni and cheese, cheesesteaks, bagels and cheesecake frozen yogurt with graham cracker crumbs from 16 Handles around the corner from our apartment. When we first moved in together we would make an effort to try new restaurants in our neighborhood on Sunday nights. Our budgets don’t allow us to try as many places as we’d like, but our low cost staples are some of the best in the city.
Maddie Aubuchon: This is one of my best friends from college who shares my love of extended dinners. We share a love for nice restaurants and expensive things which often gets us into trouble. I introduced her to my obsession with Prosecco and she has shared some amazing recipes with me. She’ll be the first person to volunteer to bake for someone’s birthday or invite everyone over for dinner. I look forward to when she lives closer and these dinners can take place more often.
Ashley Orleans: We are each other’s oldest friends and our relationship originated back in the day when getting popsicles at Camp by the Sea in Longport was the most exciting part of our day. Our tastes have evolved along with our friendship and we now get together in Philadelphia and the Jersey Shore whenever possible. When together we often talk about restaurants and frequent some of our favorites in both locations. We have a mutual obsession with every restaurant by Stephen Starr and she always introduces me to the best new places in the city.
Meghan McGuire: Meghan and I met at work and instantly bonded over our obsession with food and wine. She has introduced me to some of my favorite restaurants in the city, and we’ve shared great conversations over a bottle or two of wine. We are constantly sending each other menus to look at and information on restaurant openings and reviews. I know I can always count on her for wanting to try a new place and for giving good advice on what to order. One day we’ll turn our fantasies of gallivanting around Europe together on a culinary tour into reality. In the meantime, New York City is a great place for us to explore.