Category Archives: books

CHEZ PANISSE MENUS

Ordering this book immediately. I love reading menus, and lists of ingredients; it’s so soothing. Is that weird? My favorite Richard Olney volumes are his books arranged by precise meal plans —specifically,The French Menu Cookbook: The Food and Wine of France—Season by Delicious Season—in Beautifully Composed Menus and Ten Vineyard Lunches. I can’t even count how many times I’ve referred to its pages for inspirations for dinner parties and other events. I love thinking about the sequencing of a great meal as being similar to a tracks on a record or chapters in a book. Why should a meal be assembled haphazardly, when it could be composed as a linear, thoughtful event? Oh, and this Patricia Curtan book inspires me to host a Grand Aïoli of my own, too.

[via the Paris Review]

TRIPLE TEAM

I wish I had remembered to post this a full day earlier, but I’ve had a long week—

Benoît Chaput, founder of L’Oie de Cravan Press and bilingual cultural journal Le Bathyscaphe, hosted a wonderful triple-book release and concert last night at the Sala Rossa. I wrote a teeny thing about it for the Montreal Mirror, excerpted here:

Manhattan-born critic Byron Coley began documenting the music underground in the 1970s, as strains of rock, punk, noise and free jazz thrashed and congealed into something startlingly elec­tric. C’est la guerre: Early Writing 1978-1983 traces the contours of his earliest writing, with thrilling, wry essays on musicians like David Bowie, Lydia Lunch, and the Minutemen. 

Friday also launches The Words to the Songs of Michael Hurley, a bilingual book of lyrics by American folk legend Michael Hurley. His sweet melodies and eccentric visual imagery make Hur­ley—perpetually underrated for four decades—one of America’s finest songwriters, yet The Words to the Songs marks the first time his lyrics have been published in book form.

I’ve been an admirer of Coley’s acerbic, Beatnik-flecked music journalism for quite some time (that’s him in the photo above), and his columns for Arthur and The Wire add a much needed levity and wittiness to both pubs. And, of course, my love for the Snock knows no bounds, though admittedly I was surprised at how indie rock-ified most of the music was last night. Was hoping for more of an old-soul vibe, but c’est la vie!

Buy these books from L’Oie de Cravan now!

NO MORE, NO LESS; THAT WAS THE MAGIC

Adam recently gave me a beautiful first edition of one of my favorite books from high school, John Updike’s Witches of Eastwick. As I happily reread it, I’m noticing for the first time how heavily food plays into the story. All of the witches have their own strange eating and cooking habits; one afternoon, one of the witches makes some pasta sauce:

It was, she dimly perceived, some kind of ridiculous tribute to her present lover, a plumber of Italian ancestry. Her recipe called for no onions, two cloves of garlic minced and sauteed for three minutes (no more, no less; that was the magic) in heated oil, plenty of sugar to counteract acidity, a single grated carrot, more pepper than salt; but the teaspoon of crumbled basil is what catered to virility, and the dash of belladonna provided the release without which virility is merely a murderous congestion. All this must be added to her own tomatoes, picked and stored on every window sill these weeks past and now sliced and fed to the blender.

So lyrical and simple — it reads like a recipe that I want to follow. Now that is a spaghetti sauce I would happily eat every day.

ELIZABETH SCHNEIDER ‘UNCOMMON FRUITS + VEGETABLES’

My boyfriend recently surprised me with a copy of Elizabeth Schneider’s indispensable tome Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables. We have a bit of history with this book, though we never actually owned a copy. I first saw it at Chino Farms, where the ladies who worked there provided me with a battered copy to browse while I wondered what to do with the cardoon I was holding in my hand. (Schneider recommends a bit of an oven braise with some white wine and a dusting of grated Parmesan, and it is a delicious, light dish).

It’s just as wonderful as I remember it, full of gorgeous writing, delicate drawings and lovely recipes.

LOVE ACTUALLY

Bali is an easy place to fall in love with, but I don’t mind working a little harder to find the magic in Singapore — like the three-story bookshop Books Actually, the fish ball noodle soup at the Maxwell Food Centre, the rooftop flowers at the Esplanade, or the vintage record shops in Chinatown. I also documented the one massive fail meal I had the entire time I was in Singapore. I had spent all day at the National Library doing research and was famished for lunch and headed down to the library cafe downstairs… so I unwisely picked at random the ‘pesto’ pasta dish and was confronted with a slimy, watery mess of noodles and mysterious gooey green sauce. Never again.

BRINGING THIS DOWN TO NOTHINGNESS

I think I finally kicked my jetlag, but not after a sleepless night or two spent reading the entire Internet.

+Hidromiel y Fractal Fluido. Stunning fractal soup in San Sebastian.

+I can’t wait to read David Toop’s new book, Sinister Resonance. Really great interview with Geeta Dayal at Rhizome, with good parallels between John Cage and Virginia Woolf…

sound has this characteristic of the uncanny, that sound is to some degree a ghost, and hence this expression in the mediumship of the listener. Sound is transitory, ambiguous in its location in space, and it’s uncertain; it lends itself to representations of uncertainty. It lends itself to feelings of dread and fear and loss and these emotional states, these extreme psychic states. It lends itself to mysticism, all these ineffable experiences. These sensations of immateriality.

+Best tour rider ever. [And best fan letter ever.]

+Cats eating delicious things! This is old but still awesome.

+”Dedicated to the solitary soldiers keeping the grind alive.” Thank you for existing, Internet.

+Fall A.P.C. verdict: cute camo but not blown away.

+It’s apricot season! Make this tart immediately.

+Three amazing podcasts: curated by Gary War, Ariel Pink, and Toronto artist Maryanne Casasanta. I can’t decide which one I like the most.

BALANCE AND BITE

So I was just reading a book by Mario Batali and he says that the greatest secret to perfect pasta — and the number one mistake Americans make when preparing a pasta dish — is to not oversauce. Harmony. I love the taste of pasta just as much as the sauce, so I fully agree. So depressing, to be served a sad little pile of spaghetti drowning in gloopy red guts in a bowl.

For this lunch, I boiled half a pound of farfalle and fried chickpeas in some bacon fat, garlic, shallots, leftover asparagus and green onions until very crisp. Deglazed with white wine and lemon juice and then grated 1 heaping cup of fresh carrot right into the sauce and folded it all together in a broad cast iron skillet. Once grated, the carrots were so full of moisture that combined with the other liquids made for a very sweet garden sauce. Tossed with pasta and finished with fresh curls of pecorino and scant palmful minced parsley, it was all very fresh and alive and felt naughty with that bacon fat, too. This is more of a pasta salad — it’s even better cold, and lasted for days, and would liven up really nicely with a fresh vinaigrette.