cooks at home

SLOW AND SEASONAL

Midtown’s best friend Emily Baime Michaels keeps it local.

WRITTEN BY DANIEL BARNES
PHOTOS BY RAOUL ORTEGA

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In her kitchen, Emily Baime Michaels prepares Honey Grilled Peaches and Chimichurri Sauce, a dish that pairs well with beer

As executive director of the Midtown Association, Emily Baime Michaels spends many of her days dealing with the nuts-and-bolts, behind-the-scenes aspects of the restaurant industry, rather than the more scrumptious, customer-facing side of the business.

“It’s a lot of conversation about policies that affect restaurants and their ability to thrive and do business,” Baime Michaels says.

However, she still turns to cooking for a therapeutic creative outlet.

“Being in that space is a little more clinical and logical, and I have this moment at the end of the day where I kick off my shoes, and I get to decide from start to finish exactly what sounds delicious, fresh, and inspirational,” she says.

Slow food in the fast lane

Baime Michaels fell in love with cooking during a summer of travel between high school and college, especially after learning how to make paella from a Spanish chef. She originally wanted to become an event planner, but she felt burned out on weddings after a stint with a catering company during college, and she eventually found herself getting involved with local-focused organizations such as Slow Food.

After meeting her husband, Darin Michaels, a craft beer industry veteran who currently works as territory manager for Lost Coast Brewery in Sacramento, Baime Michaels moved from San Diego to the Central Valley.

“I got involved with the Slow Food Lodi group and connected with a publisher there,” she says. “I told him it had always been my hope to do a cookbook that revolved around beer-and-food pairing.”

The publisher liked the idea, and that husband-and-wife collaboration became A Year in Food & Beer: Recipes and Beer Pairings for Every Season, currently available on Amazon. But before writing the cookbook, Darin and Emily wanted to field test their recipes and hone their skills as instructors, which is how Community Tap and Table was born.

Home school

Over the course of four years, the couple hosted more than 1,500 people, teaching various cooking techniques and the basics of beer pairings.

“Every month, we would have a different menu, and we would do four to six classes in our home,” Baime Michaels says. “Some of the closest friends we have in Sacramento we met through Tap and Table.”

They stopped hosting events several years ago, but the two still plan to write more cookbooks, and they have been gaining inspiration through travel. They visited Maine last year and New Orleans is next, followed by Brooklyn and Mexico.

“We’re still doing a lot of experimenting and recipe testing,” Baime Michaels says. “I think I just have a better sense now of how our style of writing and teaching is received, so I understand how to be more efficient in how we write our recipes.”

In keeping with her Slow Food roots, Baime Michaels’ beer tastes tend toward the local and seasonal, as she prefers robust porters in the winter and sour beers when the weather gets warm.

“That’s going to dictate having a fruit sorbet for dessert as opposed to having chocolate with a porter,” she says. “The seasonality is really important.”

Daniel Barnes is a freelance writer, film critic, podcast host, craft beer enthusiast, and member of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. He is the film critic for the Sacramento News & Review and the craft beer columnist for The Sacramento Bee. He runs a craft beer blog with his wife, Darcey Self, and he enjoys music, grilled meats, old movies, basketball, cats, dogs, and lists.

Recipe

Honey Grilled Peaches and Chimichurri Sauce
(courtesy of Emily Baime Michaels, executive director, Midtown Association in Sacramento, and co-author, A Year in Food & Beer: Recipes and Beer Pairings for Every Season. Serves 6)

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6 peaches (look for larger fruit that smells sweet but will be solid enough to hold up on the grill)
Raw honey
8 ounces white cheese (white Cheddar is best, but Cotija or an oily French feta will work)
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch parsley
1 small bunch oregano
½ cup olive oil
⅓ cup vinegar
2 bulbs garlic, finely chopped
1 small white onion or shallot, finely chopped
Dried red pepper
Cumin
Sea salt

Heat grill while you rinse, dry, and chop produce. Slice peaches into quarters, removing and discarding pits. Drizzle honey on cut side of each peach slice. Put peaches in refrigerator so honey hardens.

Crumble cheese using your hands or a fork. Put crumbled cheese in a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature to soften.

Prepare chimichurri sauce. Grab cilantro and parsley bunches by stems and twist off leafy tops. Put leaves in food processor with olive oil, vinegar, garlic, white onion (or shallot), and a few pinches of oregano. Pulse until blended (sauce should be chunky and bright). Season to taste with red pepper and cumin.

After 20 minutes in refrigerator, immediately take peaches to grill. Turn grill to medium-low heat and grill each cut side 2 to 3 minutes, or until grill marks appear. Remove peaches from grill and cover with crumbled cheese. Drizzle with chimichurri sauce and sprinkle salt across entire dish.

If serving as stand-alone appetizer, pair with an American or Flemish-style red ale; if serving as side dish to tenderloin or ribs, pair with a brown ale with notes of caramel.

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