This week chez Pim: of something old and some things new
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Keeping the romance alive
What do you do when you’ve been blogging for the better part of a decade? You take a break, a breath, and then find a way to refresh and renew the love that inspired you to do it in the first place. That’s what I just did. Welcome to the new Chez Pim.
Moving to WordPress
Change is tough, changing blogging platforms even more so. I was with Typepad for pretty much the entire life of the company Sixapart. That’s a long, long time, and it’s been a great collaboration. I cannot thank the Typepad team enough for their attention and support in those years. I send my best wishes to them on their new path at Say Media. I cannot tell you what peace of mind it’s been, to know that no matter what my Typepad blog was always there. It ran how it should no matter how crazy my traffic spike and valley. I still recommend Typepad wholeheartedly to anyone who wants to start a blog without knowing or ever caring about what’s under the hood.
As comfortable as I was with Typepad, I’ve long outgrown the platform. I pretty much single-handedly built and tweaked the old Chez Pim templates by myself. With my scant skills, it’s like building a house with the help of duct tapes and gorilla glue. It wasn’t pretty, I can tell you that. Plus, as a hosted platform, Typepad wasn’t flexible enough for me to do what I wanted to do. It’s time to move on. Say hello to my shiny new WordPress blog.
Not just a new coat of paint
The new design is not just a new palette of colors and some nifty graphics. It reflects a fundamental rethinking of where online publishing is today. “Blogging” is breaking away from the stranglehold of chronology. Content is no longer just about what’s new and fresh and MORE. Now it’s all about relevance.
So, the new Chez Pim is no longer calendar-driven series of blog posts. Old contents that are relevant today are given just as big a lead-in as the newest post I wrote this morning. That’s what the picture carousel of top of the main page and each category page does. It features not only new content, like the video post of La Mamma’s braised rabbit that I shot in Italy, but what’s useful and relevant now. Chanterelles are coming into season again, the recipe post on pickled chanterelles from last year is welcome back on the main page.
The picture carousel is also about telling stories visually, which has become a real passion of mine in the last few years. I love going to cliché places but not bringing you back the same cliché frames everyone else sees. I went to Tsukiji market in Tokyo, but if you expect that shot of rows of frozen tuna at the famed auction, you’re in the wrong place. My Tsukiji is a bloody cutting board, a rusty scale, a bucket of tuna bones, and an old proprietress in her cubbyhole “office”. And I hope you enjoy this Tsukiji as much as I do.
More focused content
Breaking from the chronological mold to one that’s more subject driven will also help me better focus my storytelling. Pulling out the wine and drink posts onto their own page made me realize how little I’ve done on the subject I love so much. So expect to hear more, a lot more, from me on that. Also expect to hear more on the Travel section, you’ll be seeing handy city guides by me and my trusted friends from around the world.
Dinner @ 8
Perhaps what I’m most proud of, and the one we’ve worked the hardest on, is the new feature Dinner @ 8. I wanted to find a way to break from the norm of cooking blogs. Instead of presenting single recipes one at a time, Dinner @ 8 takes a holistic approach to cooking a meal.
The step-by-step guide takes you through the process of the entire meal, with steps from all the recipes woven and arranged logically and efficiently so you can put dinner on your table on time. And I’m not talking a semi-home-cooked silliness. I’m talking a proper debut menu of Dorie Greenspan’s recipes from her latest book, Around my French Table: 3 courses, 4 dishes to cook, all in 3 hours. Yes, you heard me the first time. Three hours. You don’t believe me? Here’s what Dorie herself said about this new feature..
“I’m thrilled any time Pim wants to cook from my recipes, but I’m thrilled and honored that she’s kicking off Dinner @ 8 with a meal made from my new book.
Pim explained a little about her site’s redesign to me when we met in San Francisco last month and it sounded pretty terrific, but nothing prepared me for how terrific it really is. This morning she sent me a link to the site and I clicked through just as my husband walked past my desk. He did a double take as he exclaimed: “What happened? You’re sitting there with your mouth wide open!” What happened was Pim’s site!
It’s beautiful, of course – Pim only does beautiful– but it’s also chockfull of great information and tips, and it’s so sensibly and helpfully laid out, and so logical that it makes everything really doable and doable in 3 hours sharp. I love this!
I know that I’ll be cooking along with Pim and I hope you will too. I can’t wait to hear about your adventures.”
– Dorie Greenspan, 10/13/2010
There is, of course, wine pairing suggestions for the meal. It wouldn’t be a holistic look without including the wines.
I didn’t do it alone
I couldn’t have done it alone. Meet my friend Ryan Wilke, pixel-pusher extraordinaire and véritable WordPress wiz. I cannot recommend Ryan enough. He’s fast, responsive, and crafty in some very astonishing ways. I should also mention how patient he is. I’m not an easy client to please. I knew precisely what I wanted and I wanted it precisely that way. And he managed it, every time. To Ryan, you amaze me. Thank you ever so. (Check out his site to see his take on the work he’s done on Chez Pim.)
And a giveaway, of course there’s a giveaway
This is, however, not one of those easy giveaways that you just need to leave a comment and then you’re eligible. Sorry. It’s a big prize, so you’ve got to work for it. What’s the prize, you asked? The winner will get a copy of Dorie’s new book, Around My French Table, and a copy of her last pastry book, Baking: From My Home to Yours (both courtesy of Dorie Greenspan). Plus, there’s more. From me, you’ll also receive two of my favorite pastry books, Desserts by Pierre Herme, and Paris Sweets, both also by Dorie. That’s $150 worth of books, and they will be priceless once they are signed and personalized to you by Dorie herself.
To win them, you must go to Dinner @ 8 and cook the Dorie’s French Supper menu. You don’t have to serve it at 8, eat at 7 or whenever you want, by all means. Just make sure you follow the steps and see if you could do it within the 3-hr time frame, more or less. You know, even if you’re 15-20 minutes behind schedule, you would still finish that meal faster than if you were to go at it by yourself.
So, go forth and cook, and don’t forget to enjoy yourself. You have until Monday December 6 to post evidence of that meal somewhere online. Your blog, your Foodbuzz, your Flickr, your Facebook page, anywhere you want. Go start a thread on Serious Eats if you must. Just post about it somewhere online, and then leave a comment and a link on the Dorie’s French Supper post to let us know. Dorie and I will pick our favorite 10, and will draw the winner from those 10 names.