January 5, 2019
You still have things to celebrate. People you love. Presents to buy. And I just came upon this remarkable offering from the wonderful Celia Sack at Omnivore books.
She’s bought a treasure-trove of old Chez Panisse menus from Fritz Streiff, who has been a part of the restaurant pretty much since the beginning. Among the many things Fritz has been at Chez Panisse, is the voice of Alice Waters; he’s collaborated on many of her books.
And Alice has never done anything by half measures. She’s had great artists – David Goines, Patty Curtan, Wesley Tanner, among many others – design her menus. And I imagine there’s something here that would make just about anyone happy. The prices are definitely right; these vintage menus are both food history and gorgeous art.
December 22, 2018
Too late to order by mail? You can still support your local bookstore. Lots of possibilities there. For an Italian food lover, for example, you might put together a selection of regional recipe books, covering Tuscany, Rome, Puglia, Venice. For those who are enamored of the food of the middle east there are a number of great new books on the market (there’s always Ottolenghi, and I’m especially fond of Anissa Helou’s new Feast) .
They can, of course, buy these books for themselves. This book, however, is one that seems meant to be a gift.
I’m generally suspicious of coffee table gift books, but there’s something so appealing about Let’s Eat France!: 1,250 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, 350 topics, 260 personalities, plus hundreds of maps, charts, tricks, tips, and everything else you want to know about the food of France, that I find myself unable to put it down. I’m pretty sure that anyone who loves the food of France will feel the same way about this quirky compilation. Weighing in at 6 pounds, it covers everything from famous chefs to glassware, pasta, historical menus, writers
cheese, fruit, tripe
The book, in short, is everything a gift book should be: big, bold, unusual, fun – and not the sort of thing a person is likely to buy for herself.
December 5, 2018
The most fun I’ve had lately is trolling through Lizz Young’s new website. Ms. Young has just set up shop in Brooklyn, selling a wide range of cookbooks, manuscripts, menus, advertising cards….. If it has to do with food, she’s interested.
For food historians the most fascinating offering is the MFK Fisher archive. This amazing trove, which included books, letters, bills, contracts and the like is selling for $225,000, but you can look through the offerings on the site. It gives you an interesting insight into Fisher’s life.
I spent three days with Mary Frances at the end of her life, going in and out of her bedroom when she grew too tired to talk. I looked through her books, drawings and cookbooks, but I always wondered what was in those desk drawers and the boxes beneath the bed. And now, here it all is.
If you’re looking for a thoughtful gift for someone who’s interested in food, Lizz Young is sure to have something. There are great old menus…
and wonderful ephemera:
There is also this extremely moving reminder of a terrible time. Even after all this time, just looking at the cover made me burst into tears.
November 26, 2018
Cheating a bit today, because this isn’t a food or cooking item. But I love this little Lumio light so much that I want all my friends to have one.
I fell in love with these little lamps on first sight. Closed, they look like innocent little wooden books sitting on your table.
Open one up, and it turns into a perfect circle (held open by magnets).
It even comes with a strap so that you can hang it over your table.
The light is lovely, the lamp is completely portable, and it elicits a little sigh of pleasure from your guests when you open it up. Really. And today being, you know, that online shopping day, the MOMA store is offering this beautifully designed object at a discount.
September 25, 2018
First stop in Nashville – always – the great Parnassus Books. If you haven’t been, go! The most wonderful book store: dogs roam, children laugh, and everyone has a suggestion for something you simply have to read.
Then, just around the corner for a bite of lunch at etc. restaurant, where Deb Paquette turns out the most beautiful food. “We have soup tonight,” said our waitress,” but I’m not sure what it is. Deb’s out in the kitchen, staring at the ingredients, figuring it out.” In the end it was that gorgeous swirl of color.
But first, this remarkable carrot tartare, all crisp, crunch and color, with pickled fennel, onion, peppercress and a lemon celery aioli.
And the restaurant’s signature dish, porcini cauliflower, which somehow combines roasted turnip miso, a yellow beet purée, mushroom thyme sauce, risotto, wonton wrappers… a vegan fantasy to make every vegetarian rejoice.
In town for the Music City Food and Wine Festival to cook onstage with Jonathan Waxman, I had only one free evening. (For the record, the food at the event was awesome; in 104 degree weather, the great Pat Martin set up a whole slew of fire pits and cooked some of the finest ‘que I’ve ever eaten. This little piggy was one of many porcine pleasures – not to mention prime ribs, brisket, salmon, loins… there wasn’t much Pat didn’t subject to low, slow heat.)
Later that night, chefs from every great Nashville restaurant set up tents and offered tastes. (For the record, the longest lines were for Emmy Squared burgers; this is a town that reveres meat!)
Everybody had a suggestion about which place to choose for my single dinner. In the end I opted for Henrietta Red. And was very glad: Julia Sullivan is cooking extremely appealing food. Dinner was long and wonderful, starting with wood-roasted oysters with green curry and bagna cauda.
Sour cream with spring onion vinaigrette and paddlefish caviar.
Wonderful fried herring. And this…
homemade bread, with the most intense smush of anchovy butter.
Best of all, however, was this extraordinary stew: light little puffs of potato gnocchi tangled into pork and vegetables. It wasn’t just that the textures were so appealing, or the flavors so fine, but that this is truly Italy in Music City mode.
A crazy night of music, headlined by the Kings of Leon and closed by The Struts – and then, after way too little sleep – it was on to New Orleans for the Symposium on American Cuisine and Hospitality – and the 125th Anniversary of Commander’s Palace. Wouldn’t you know that in true Commander’s fashion, a group of us zoomed in from the airport with a police escort complete with high speeds and flashing lights!
Dropped my luggage and went straight to Maypop for Michael Gulatta’s Sunday morning dim sum brunch. Fun – and rather brilliant – it’s a southern take on an Asian tradition, and done with tongue in cheek. Up above, bacon scallion pancakes with oysters and cucumber kimchi.
Head cheese and blue crab soup noodle dumplings.
Blue crab and buckwheat noodle salad with peaches, eggplant and shiso.
Pork and cane syrup sausage-stuffed sesame balls with chili oil.
The most delicious fried oysters with a bit of manchego and a lot of spice.
Who could possibly resist boudin bao?
Tomorrow, more of NOLA: gumbo, red beans and rice, blue crab – and the best eggrolls I’ve ever eaten.