Book pairing: "Tales From the Back Row" & Indian Summer sundaes
As a freshly-anointed blogger for New York Magazine’s then-new blog The Cut, Amy Odell was charged with spearheading a conversation on fashion, which was for her a first. In her book Tales From the Back Row, Odell — who is now the editor of Cosmopolitan.com — deftly describes her mishaps, achievements and growing understanding of the fashion world with self-deprecating humor and a hint of cynicism.
Odell has a great voice, and delves into her many hilarious encounters on the red carpet and at fashion events with great detail. Her tales as an outsider slowly making her way into the fashion circuit are at once illuminating and entertaining.
Perhaps my favorite moment is when she describes attending P. Diddy’s fragrance launch only to be denied access to the stars, whom she needed for interviews. Seizing the moment, she spots Jay-Z and Beyoncé passing her behind the red cord, guarded by two large men. Her question: what he smells like. And Jay-Z, seemingly intrigued by her desperation and the strangeness of the question, obliges with an answer worthy of any comedian.
As Odell grows in the fashion industry, she makes fewer of these mishaps and eventually snags an interview at Vogue. It is the ultimate description of an interview with Anna Wintour and a testament to Odell’s self-awareness the way she writes that she knows she won’t be getting the job.
As her work in fashion slowly comes to a close, Odell leaps into the publishing world. But the lessons she learned while in fashion — celebrity know-how, style and how to manage as an introvert at obscenely large and extravagant parties (someone please teach me!) — continue to linger.
All this to say, I can’t recommend Tales from the Back Row enough. It’s witty, smart and totally addicting in that weird I-want-to-know-everything-about-this-mysterious-industry way. At about 250 pages, it’s a quick, succinct read that will leave you wishing for more.
This decadent but simple dessert is the perfect treat for this in-between month, a blend of warm fall flavors and ripe summery peaches all in one because if you're going to have an Indian Summer, you might as well enjoy it in sundae form. Dress it up in a pretty cup or serving bowl, and it’s as stunning as any runway model.
- French vanilla ice cream
- 6 Dutch wafer cookies, three broken in half and three crumbled into small pieces and set aside
For the compote
- 3 peaches, sliced
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cardamom pods
- 2 cloves
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- juice of half a lemon
For the sauce
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Make the peach compote by placing sliced peaches in a saucepan with brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, vanilla and the lemon juice. Allow to simmer for several minutes until peaches are cooked, and a thickened sauce forms.
Make the butterscotch sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan, then adding the brown sugar, heavy cream, sea salt and vanilla to the melted butter. Allow to cook at a gentle boil for 4 to 5 minutes. Store excess in glass bottle for future use.
To serve, place a small scoop of French vanilla ice cream at the bottom of a glass cup. Add a layer of butterscotch sauce and crumbled Dutch waffle cookies. Follow with another scoop of ice cream. Add a large spoonful of peach compote (be sure to include some of that sauce!), then follow with another scoop of ice cream. Pour some more butterscotch sauce on top, and add a dash of cinnamon. Top with half a Dutch waffle cookie.