Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Garlic and Blue Cheese Fondue ala AVERY AAMES - Cheese Shop Mystery

3 amazing things have happened in the life of Avery Aames this week...

1)... What an exciting time this must be for Avery Aames, author of the Cheese Shop Mysteries.  Just this last weekend, she received the prestigious AGATHA AWARD for "Best First Novel" for the first book in the series, "The Long Quiche Goodbye".

2)... And fresh on the heels of that triumph, today is the release date for her latest novel in the series, "Lost and Fondue".  Nationwide acclaim for her first, and the excitement of having an actual series appear on the shelves.  What could be better???

3)... Being asked to guest blog on my little corner of the blogosphere.

Just a brief introduction, Avery is 1/6th of the six merry murderesses from the MYSTERY LOVER's KITCHEN blog.  Six authors who all have published books, each book features culinary themes (Coffee, ice cream, BBQ, etc.).  Each book also is a murder mystery.  Fun reads all, and their blog is always among my favorites (6 competent, competitive women trying to "show off" each week with their best.  I get several of my favorite recipes from their postings).

Thursdays with AveryAvery Aames is the pen name for DARYL WOOD GERBER.  Daryl has a fascinating story aside from her author persona... On the culinary side, this former professional chef excels from Gluten sensitivity.  I say excels, as she makes the best of her sensitivity with terrific recipes and a related websites (you can find her Daryl Wood Gerber website by clicking the blue letters).  On a personal note, I have a family member who has the same sensitivity.  Avery (hard for me to call her Daryl, as I got introduced to her as Avery) was gracious enough to send me a couple of personal emails answering a few questions and giving advice to make a visit more gluten free friendly... her recipes and advice worked terrific!!!  If you read over Daryl's website, you will see some amazing accomplishments, World Traveler, Adventuress (jumps out of perfectly good airplanes), Gardner and Actress (Murder She Wrote, Matlock, Hart to Hart and many more).  Her acting is mostly on stage now, with roles in Nine, Footloose, How to Succeed in Business, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers and Many many more under her belt.

Oh, and a few decades ago, she pranced the sidelines of Stanford University wearing this (and a note to the other 5 murderesses from Mystery lover's Kitchen... You are welcome)...


So, without further ado... 5 questions with AVERY AAMES...

What is your name?
Avery Aames, but some folks like to think I’m Daryl Wood Gerber.  Okay, yes, I’m two people. I admit it. I’m not in therapy, either.

What is your favorite color?
Jade green. It’s a beautiful gem, it a color that goes with my eyes, it often appears in gardens.  It’s lovely and lush.  Second favorite: red. I love a hot red. It sizzles with energy and enthusiasm. It reminds me of roses and Valentine’s and Christmas and fun.

What is your quest?
To be the kindest, most creative person I can be. On days, I fail miserably, but I  persevere. I’d also like to be the best cheerleader to other people.  I like to encourage those around me who are creative to pursue their dreams.

What... is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? 
Hmmm. To begin with, I’d need the kinematic ratios…or at the very least, I’d need to know whether it’s an African or European swallow…and, no, I’m not coconuts.

If you are a fan of Monty Python, you are rolling in the aisles.  
I am a Monty Python fan.  Have you seen The Cheese Shop sketch on youtube.  Laugh out loud hysterical.  “Not much of a cheese shop, are you?” Too funny!

Real first question:
In another life (pre-author days as actress Daryl Wood Gerber), you appeared as an actress in "Murder, She Wrote".  Do you have a story about working with Angela Lansbury?

Angela Lansbury was a consummate professional! I was playing the part of a wicked neighbor whose son’s bicycle was stolen. I had a lovely scene with Ms. Lansbury. When it was my turn for a close-up, she could have gone back to her dressing room and rested while the script person fed me the lines, but she didn’t. She stayed through each take and “acted” on the other side of the camera.  She never dropped her character. She inspired me that day to become the best actress I could.

 Second... Again in your previous life as Daryl Wood Gerber, you were active in theatre.  I happen to love musicals myself, so... Is a secretary a toy?
“No, my boy.  She’s a highly specialized key component of operation unity…a fine and sensitive mechanism to serve the office community.”  Tra-la!  I was lucky enough to sing the closing jazzy number, “The Brotherhood of Man.” That was when I learned how to scat.

Since you have appeared in so many classic theatre rolls (Lend Me a tenor, 7 Brides for 7 Brothers (national tour), Accomplice (my favorite), How to Succeed in Business, Nine, Footloose, and on and on...), you must have a great story.  Anything you can share???  

Avery's acting photo from Lend me a Tenor

Yes. Okay, this one’s fun.  Accomplice (also one of my favorites) was my first theater experience when I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. My son, pre-teen, was an aspiring actor and wanted to come. Well, Accomplice can get quite racy. Not to give anything away, but my character kissed a man, made love to a man on stage (very campy), killed a man, and kissed a woman. I prepared my son for each moment because I didn’t want him to feel “mom” was straying in any way. It was fiction. I didn’t prepare my husband for the twists and turns and sensual surprises, so needless to say, he was stunned. Boy, did my son have a laugh at that.  I earned rave reviews and that show opened all sorts of doors for other theatre parts.  Also, during one of the performances, the city decided to raze a building.  Guess when it came down? You guessed it.  Right at the end of the campy love scene.  Talk about an audience howling with laughter!! Heaven.

Third... (this is assuming that you got your start in magazine publications... something small) The first time you were paid to be a professional writer... What did you do with the money??? 
I didn’t get my start in magazines; I got my writing start in television. The money went into a college fund.  But I did publish a short story wherein my character killed a former coworker. I was paid five dollars. Big whoop. I spent the money on chocolate.

Fourth... Do you deduct your cheese purchases from your taxes???  
I am able to deduct cheese purchases. But the most fun is the research. Going to the cheese shops, tasting cheeses, trying out recipes, and mixing it up online with other culinary mystery authors. I love that!!  Oh, and writing.  I love to write. I love to spend time with my characters.

Fifth… I read you went to Stanford and you were in the band.
Actually, I wasn’t “in” the band. I was a pom-pom girl known as a Dollie. We were under the auspices of the band.  And for anyone who hasn’t seen the Stanford Band, don’t miss it. I’m sure there are youtube videos. The band is irreverent. The players wear fedoras instead of tall plumed hats. They do a scatter formation instead of “marching” in lines. And they are a hoot!  The music is incredible. All the arrangements are done by the band or musical director. Great rhythms! One of the highlights of my college life.

Final question... OK, cheese expert... What's your ideal cheese board to celebrate the release of your latest book?  I need not only the cheeses, but any additional items like salami or apples or single malt scotch... What would you serve?  Any tips for a successful board?

Best tip: keep it simple. Put things on the platter that you yourself would like. Fruits and nuts or jams and honeys, three to four cheeses of different color, texture, shape.  The larger the cheese platter, the better. It’s easier to slice the cheeses, and they won’t mix flavors.  And you’ll want to use different knives for different cheeses, again so the flavors don’t mix.  I’ve posted a number of platter ideas on Mystery Lovers Kitchen.  They can all be found under the Avery Aames tag on the right hand side of the blog.

I prefer wine or champagne with my cheese but that’s because, being gluten-free, I don’t find all that many good wheat-free beers.  

Favorites for me: Taleggio (soft cow’s milk), Manchego (firm sheep’s milk), Humboldt Fog (goat cheese). Add a nice prosciutto, slices of melon, grapes, figs!!!  A twist of honey (that goes oh so well with the Taleggio and a slice of fig and prosciutto).  Crackers or small toast (with no added flavoring like sesame and such).  [If you crisp up the prosciutto in the oven, like a bacon, it’s delish!]

The Pom Pom, Lend me a Tenor and Cheese Platter photos above were provided by and used with permission of Avery Aames.  They are hers again after today, although I believe the Mystery Lover's Kitchen should make one of these available as a screen savor.

As a final treat...

Avery provided me an advance peek at one of the recipes featured in her new book, "Lost and Fondue".

Blue cheese and garlic Fondue...

2 ounces Point Reyes Blue Cheese
1/2 cup Half and Half
1 YBS Tapioca Flour
2 Cloves garlic

Cut garlic in half.  Rub garlic around the inside of the fondue pot.  heat fondue pot to medium heat.  Add half and half.  Add cheese and stir until it is all melted.  Add the tapioca flour and stir again so there are no lumps.  This all takes 5 to 7 minutes.

Serve warm in a small crockpot with cut vegetables like broccoli florets, celery sticks, carrot sticks and asparagus.  It also may be served with crackers and or bread cubes.


Thanks Avery, you were a great sport for my little blog.  I made this recipe the night before I started my diet!  IT WAS AMAZING!  If the new book is as good as this recipe, you have another well deserved award coming your way!

And best of luck with the new book... Heading over to order my copy of "Lost and Fondue" now!!!



  1. I loved this interview Dave! Had me in hysterics the whole time! And fondue...sigh...I so want it...but my thighs are saying NO.

  2. Blue...no! Yellow....aaaayyyeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  3. I love it! Especially the picture of Avery from Stanford--Avery always has a smile on her face and I can see she's been that cheerful her whole life. :)

    Great interview, Dave! And congratulations to Avery!! Woot!

  4. Dave - What a fun post! Avery is indeed a wonderful booster as well as an inspiration to all of us crime-writing cooks at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Her energy and joy are infectious (as are yours). The recipe looks amazing, too!

    3 Cheers to you both,
    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter