Friday, October 18, 2013

Pie Love You

Three of my favorite things: Bread, fresh produce, and vegan cookbooks!
I first met Dynise Balcavage (aka The Urban Vegan) years ago--maybe 2006?--when I worked at VegNews and she pitched an article on Buenos Aires. I accepted her proposal straight away. Why? Because it was everything an editor wants: An enticing snapshot of the article to come (Tango! Outdoor markets! Vintage hotels!) accompanied by great clips and a way-better-than-average cover letter.

Throughout that first collaborative experience, Dynise proved herself to be the consummate professional, not only submitting her story and gorgeous photos on time (a rarity--believe me!), but more importantly, delivering a quality story interwoven with interesting facts, fun anecdotes, and information that the reader could actually benefit from.

Perpetually pretty and loaded with talent, too!

In the years that followed, I interviewed Dynise for various stories I'd written for other publications, and called on her culinary expertise when the situation called for it. Two years ago, we finally met in the flesh at Paris Vegan Day, and I wasn't the least bit surprised to learn that Dynise is as delightful in person as she is with the written word. Her blog is something I always look forward to, and I've always loved the diversity of her recipes and the straightforward, relate-able tone that permeates everything she produces.

In a stroke of luck, I received a copy of Dynise's latest book, Pies and Tarts with Heart, and an invitation to join the Pies and Tarts with Heart blog tour. Hells yes! The only thing I like more than pies and tarts is slavering over delicious visual representations of them. This book is loaded with gorgeous photos taken by a photographer Dynise knows well: Her talented bf, Paul Runyon. Nice work, Paul! But it's the recipes that are the real stars of this book. Not only are they simple enough for baking amateurs like me, but they're creative, intriguing, and (yay!) vegan.

Urban (Parisian) Vegan
Seeing Dynise at this year's Paris Vegan Day gave me the opportunity to thank her in person for producing this I'm-about-to-lick-the-page tome, but also to catch up with her in a relaxed, non-professional way. Yesterday, over a leisurely lunch at Cafe Pinson, we yakked and yammered over colorful bowls of grilled vegetables and fluffy falafel cakes (I forgot to take a photo!), and discovered we had more than a few things in common, including a love of foods that marry salty and sweet.

"I'm freaking out over that recipe with peaches and sea-salt," I professed.

I would definitely win any pie-eating contest that required diving face-first into this salty-sweet masterpiece

"You mean the Peach Pie with Salted Agave Drizzle?" she asked.

"Yes--that one!," I said, swooning--and possibly drooling a little bit. "And the Chocolate Peanut-Butter Pie, AND the Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie!"

The conversation quickly shifted to the salted-chocolate tartine spread her comrade-in-cuisine Fran Costigan made at PVD, then veered off into directions of love, fashion, health, hobbies, heartbreak, previous careers, and other juicy, real and relevant topics.

Dynise and her culinary comrade Fran prep for their presentation at PVD '13 
Like me, Dynise is at a crossroads, plotting her next act. Will she continue her reign as a revered blogger and cookbook goddess, or will she surprise us all by reinventing herself into something entirely new? I can't wait to find out. And in the meanwhile, I'll be baking pies.

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