It seems I’ve always been a gal who knows what she wants. They tell me that as soon as I could chew, I was plucking ripe, juicy tomatoes in my great granny’s sunny California backyard and eating ’em straight off the vine. My first memories of Granny J’s house though, are of picking Meyer lemons (though we didn’t call ’em that), climbing trees with the neighbor kids and eating granny’s homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, pilfered from their place inside a Roman Meal bread bag, tucked inside a Krispy Cracker box.
I’m told, I was also a very opinionated child, who didn’t mind telling you just what she thought. A story that my Grandma Nick loves to tell, involves me, at three years old, standing up on the seat at my mother’s favorite Chinese restaurant (Chee), turning around and saying over the top of the banquette, to our neighboring table, “If you don’t have nuthin’ good to say — be quiet!” Apparently the ladies were dishing on a “friend,” and disrupting my enjoyment of the meal. What I remember from that night, were the exquisite homemade almond cookies they were serving. How different they were from other cookies I’d had, so crumbly-soft and silken they felt on my tongue, the nutty almost cherried flavor and how cute the single almond looked in the center of that cookie. I liked them so much, the owners sent us home with a small bag of them.
At the age of six, I discovered writing. It all began with DIY plagiarizing Peter Rabbit for my first grade class (adorned with crayon drawn illustrations and a wallpapered, cardboard cover.) I have been declaring myself a writer ever since.
By the age of eight, I had cooked my first pot roast (complete with potatoes and carrots and onions) and was working on honing my lasagna layering skills. The summer of that same year, I devoured the entire Miss Piggle Wiggle series of books. At 12, I made my first french silk chocolate pie and began building a solar energy hot dog cooker (I also built a spice rack) in wood shop class, for my science fair project. It was a one-project, two-birds sort-of-thing and it had the added benefit of being for cooking as well.
This marriage of cooking and writing has always been natural in me, and so it also seemed, a natural progression in my life’s work. After ditching an ill-fitting suburban life in 2002 at the age of 31, I backpacked throughout Western Europe, filling journals with sights, sounds and most of all, tastes I would never forget. It was like letting loose a child in the proverbial candy store.
I was Charlie Bucket, entering Bill’s Candy Shop, with my newly found piece of silver.
I learned everything I could about food, wine, beer and spirits in places like London, Paris, Tuscany, Amsterdam, Vienna, Bavaria, Edinburgh and the South of France. When I returned home to Portland, I began pursuing a career in writing and in writing about food, for local outlets. I was the Portland Sentinel’s Food Critic for four years, before the publishing industry shifted and the paper went out of print.
Now, carving out a niche for myself , writing about the world of craft beer, I still work on perfecting my own recipes at home, in the hopes of one day having a collection of my own signature dishes to pass down to my son. I cook dinner every night for my hubby and son and since both are interested in cooking, I work hard to share what I know with them both.
Because I believe that a family that cooks and eats together, stays close.
We’re lucky, we get to sample the best of the best — right in our own backyard, as Portland is fast rising to become one of the world’s premiere food cities, chock full of the largest variety of the freshest, locally sourced ingredients you could ever imagine. We live in a city rich with gastronomical delights.
So, “Y” write this blog? Because it’s my love letter to all things food and beverage. Here’s hoping you can feel the love I put into every licky, sticky wordy spoonful.
Vanessa’s work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the country, writing everything from hard-hitting news and community profiles to art previews and fashion features, her passion for edibles has made the epicurean beat her favorite.
If you’d like to know more about Vanessa Nix Anthony and her journalism, copywriting and writing coach business, visit The Portland Writer. Her poetry and kooky mishmash of thoughts on life, are cataloged at Infinite Monkey: Write Know and her reference site for Portland area writers lives at Oregonlive.com’s Writer’s Block.