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Happy Birthday to Us

Happy Birthday, Leite’s Culinaria! Cue a shower of swirling confetti, the din of dozens of noisemakers, the magnificent “pop” of Champagne uncorking, and a parade of endless multi-tiered devil’s food cakes slathered in ganache about to be sliced into properly indulgent portions. (Oh, c’mon, where’s your imagination?)

Yup. It’s our twelfth birthday. And we’re inviting you to celebrate with us this very second in a virtual surprise party for our blog. Party hat optional. Mind you, the celebration isn’t just an excuse to tuck into that cake, nor is it just for the site-turned-blog that came to be nearly a baker’s dozen years ago today. It’s a chance to toast the characters behind the blog. And we don’t mean just us. There’s the namesake David Leite who conceived of the notion of a culinaria of hot food and dry wit. (Note: It’s the blog’s birthday, not David’s. He’s a Cancer–hint, hint.) There’s the dozens and dozens of writers and cookbook authors and photographers and illustrators whose work graces our pages. And there’s you, dear reader, without whom none of this would be worthwhile. So happy birthday to us all.

Some longtime friends of LC have kindly sent birthday wishes, which you’ll find below. We’re asking all guests to take a moment to do the same, mentioning a favorite recipe, a piece of writing, musing, or anything else on the blog that at some point caught your fancy or caused you to unexpectedly laugh out loud and snort your morning coffee or evening wine out your nose. Don’t worry about making it pretty, as we’re not the scrapbooking sort. It’s really just a way for you to remind one another of something you may have overlooked, something that may have been missing. Because it’s all about you. This day, this party, this blog.—Renee Schettler Rossi

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Several years ago, I was searching for some ingredient on the Internet and came across a website called Leite’s Culinaria. I clicked on it and was instantly mesmerized. I distinctly remember telling my husband that the site reminded me of Thomas Kincaid’s paintings: it was serene and inviting and so very unique compared to all the other sites on the net. I fell in love with David’s fun writing style–from Devil with a Red Apron on to Confessions of a Hired Belly. His writing is always enticing and makes me come back for me. I look to LC for inspiration and am so honored that LC chose to support some of my own work. Happy Birthday! I wish you super success in the years to come.
–Monica Bhide, writer & blogger at A Life of Spice

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David, are Internet years like dog years? If so, happy 1 3/4! Looking forward to your next 1 3/4…
–Amanda Hesser, food writer, cookbook author and founder of www.food52.com

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Dear David Leite, and by that I mean dear, dear man with the wicked sense of humor and impeccable palate. How sad we would be if you didn’t do this work. How hungry we would be, too. Thank you for Leite’s Culinaria. It’s been my honor to write for you a time or two, teach a class, and do a memorable podcast with a suddenly awakened toddler who cried during the recording. (And you just smiled.) My life is far more savory with you in it.
Love,
–Shauna James Ahern, blogger at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef and author of Gluten-Free Girl and Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

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Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
12 years went by quickly,
And you’re only 22!
–Barbara Fairchild, editor of Bon Appétit for the past 10 years

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Happy Birthday, Leites Culinaria. I can’t remember when I first stumbled across your pages on the Internet, but it was a thrill to discover smart food writing with a wonderful sense of humor. I do, however, remember when David, the talent behind the pages, and I first met. No violins on the windy wet shores of Lake Michigan, but an instant attraction and an ensuing battle over a plate of fat as to who got the bigger portion. Guess who won? Best wishes for lucky year thirteen. And remember, David, you still owe me a piece of crackling.
Jennifer McLagan, fat evangelist and cookbook author

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httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEMCP7YdWDk

–Jaden Hair, blogger at Steamy Kitchen and author of Steamy Kitchen Cookbook

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Happy birthday, Leite’s Culinaria, in all your spectacular deliciousness! David, I remember when you were a wee boy scampering across Portuguese hillsides with malasadas balanced in one hand, talking about how you were going to colonize Macao and then invent the Internet. Você percorreu um longo caminho, baby!
James Sturz, food, travel and fiction writer

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Though I first learned on David’s website that radishes are actually wonderful when cooked (gawd, what a concept), I will always be grateful for two recipes from his New Portuguese Table: his mom’s savory braised beef in wine and garlic (to which I add a dash or two of a few spices recommended from an Azorean cookbook I picked up in Lisbon: cloves, coriander, cumin and nutmeg), and the heavenly crispy fried asparagus.  Aw, and how can I forget the super-easy punch potatoes?  And of course, David’s moving essay about learning to release himself from the tyranny of following recipes exactly, thanks again to his mom. Here’s to another twelve years of eloquent food celebration!
–Philip Graham is a fiction and nonfiction writer and a lover of all things Portuguese.  His most recent books are The Moon, Come to Earth: Dispatches from Lisbon and the forthcoming memoir, Africa, Braided Worlds (Spring 2012).

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Happy Birthday to Leite’s Culinaria
Recipes and inspiration to spare-ia
I don’t know what I would do if y’all weren’t there-ia!
Dig you all!
–Martha Hall Foose, James Beard Award-winning writer and author of Screen Doors and Sweet Tea

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Happy Birthday, Leite’s Culinaria!  Can’t wait to see what the next 12 years will bring!
Giuliano Hazan, author, teacher, entrepreneur, authority on Italian cuisine,  and winner of the 2007 IACP Cooking Teacher of the Year Award.

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In all the years I’ve been fortunate enough to contribute to Leite’s Culinaria, I’ve never met the guy behind the blog. I know him through his food. I know how he stirs slow braises before sliding them into the oven, how he traipses across Portugal with broken bones, how he cuts guests giant slices of cake despite their best attempts at refusal, and how every holiday, he makes me feel like I’m making a version of mashed potatoes no one on the planet has ever conceived before, always knowing everyone at the table will love them. I think the ultimate LC recipe for me is David’s chocolate-chip cookie recipe. More than anything, I know first-hand that the writings he and his team curate for Leite’s Culinaria are honest, well-researched, and always, always thoughtful. Happy Birthday, Leite’s. Thank you for inspiring the best from these here fingers, and for making it better. I may never meet you, or figure out why everything I write for you turns to gold, but I will always know where to go for a good story, and a recipe that makes me want to sit down and write.
–Jess Thomson, a Seattle-based food writer and cookbook author currently working on Pike Place Market Recipes (spring 2012). Her daily rants, raves, and recipes can be found on her blog, Hogwash. She’s been writing for Leite’s Culinaria since 2007.

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I am so proud to be colleagues in this best of all possible professions. Congratulations on your blog turning twelve. Mine is only one-third its age, and I feel as though I’ve been doing it forever! If I had to chose a top favorite from Leite’s Culinaria it would be the Pomegranate Poussin–one of my top favorite savory recipes of all time.
Lots of love,
Rose Levy Beranbaum, cookbook author

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David, happy, happy birthday from one of your long-time friends and loyal fans! You are truly a renaissance man. My admiration is soooooo sincere and well-wishes are heartfelt. Bless you, David….and many, many happy returns of the day to you and your staff!!
Love,
Flo Braker, author of several baking books, including Simple Art of Perfect Baking and Baking for All Occasions

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Happy Birthday, Leite’s Culinaria and David! I’ve loved Leite’s Culinaria from the start, and I can’t imagine my life without it. I toast your birthday with a glass of virtual champagne and I am making the traditional Chinese birthday dish of longevity noodles in your honor! Long life and good fortune to Leite’s Culinaria!
With love,
Grace Young, wok evangelist and author of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge

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I’ve had the honor of a number of my recipes being featured on Leite’s Culinaria over the years, as well as the pleasure of knowing this great site’s inimitable founder, David Leite. David, you done good! In fact, you done SO good, I baked a cake for your baby’s birthday. It features banana and chocolate, and case you want to do more than just look at it, I’ve posted the recipe for you.  May your pride and joy—and you, too, of course—enjoy many more wonderful birthdays to come. My very best to you!
–Nancy Baggett, award-winning cookbook author, food writer, baker, media guest chef, and blogger at kitchenlane.com

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How appropriate to celebrate Leite’s Culinaria’s birthday and your fathering the site so appreciated by hundreds of thousands! Congratulations to you!  It has been a joy to watch your growth in the food writing world and beyond, David. I cheer you on and send best wishes to the young man who was on fire about words at the Symposium for Professional Food Writers many, many years ago. I am watching you from this treehouse, glad to see you rising in the ranks of our world of words!
Fondly,
Toni Allegra, career, writing coach, and founder of The Symposium for Professional Food Writers

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Happy Birthday to Leite’s Culinaria! One of my favorite LC remembrances happened offsite…but it’s logged somewhere in LC for posterity, I’m sure. A few years back, David Leite hosted an experiment called “Talking With Our Mouths Full,” in which he invited writers to step on stage and—horrors!—read their work ALOUD. In front of an AUDIENCE, for crying out loud.

I was one of the readers—still green and barely audible with stage fright!—alongside luminaries such as Kat Flinn, who read a chapter from her now-famous but then not-yet-published book, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry,  James Sturz, Elissa Altman, JJ Goode, and Gary Allen.  I never forgot the experience of hearing food writing read aloud—the poetic cadence, the dramatic pauses, and hearing and watching the audience laugh, nod in agreement, and respond. It was a heady experience.

So heady that now I’m hosting my own reader’s series:  Drink. Think. It’s for beverage writers, a little different than David’s original concept, but the inspiration continues. Perhaps one day a fledgling writer from my series —still green and barely audible with stage fright!—will one day carry on the tradition with an event of their own. Thanks for the inspiration, David and Leite’s Culinaria!
Kara Newman, author of Spice & Ice:  60 Tongue-Tingling Cocktails, spirits reviewer for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and curator of the Drink.Think reading series.

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I would love to wish Leite’s Culinaria the happiest of birthdays! The blogosphere truly wouldn’t be the same without you. Your site is packed with not only mouth-watering recipes and wonderful photographs, but it is filled with wit, passion and creativity. I wish you many more wonderful years!
–Allison Malec, Clarkson Potter