Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cooking from 'My Nepenthe'

Cookbooks are among my favorite gifts to receive. It might come as a surprise to learn however, that it is a rare occasion I receive a cookbook a gift. It must be the same reason DH almost never receives wine as a gift. People must assume we have all we could ever need or want in these categories. That or it can be intimidating...but I sure hope not!
I really do love receiving a new cookbook, particularly in an age of, food network and google recipes. Working within the confines of a cookbook's pages can be a rewarding challenge.
And, as with all books given as gifts, cookbooks reflect the giver as much as the recipient. For a recent birthday, a close friend gave me the beautiful My Nepenthe cookbook. 
Nepenthe, the restaurant is arguably one of the most famous spots in all of Big Sur and quite possibly the oldest. With a sprawling, panoramic patio and floor-to-ceiling glass-walled interior, Nepenthe is easily the best bar and restaurant to take in the view. And the food is pretty great too.
our personal favorite at the restaurant! 
When we are fortunate to find ourselves in Big Sur, an outdoor seat at Nepenthe combined with an order of Ambrosia burgers (meat or veggie), a basket of fries and a pitcher of beer makes for a near perfect moment.
Big Sur
Part historical memoir, part cookbook; My Nepenthe weaves together mouthwatering recipes, from the restaurant and from the family's private repertoire along with the family history of Bill and Lolly Fasset, co-founders of the Nepenthe. Each recipe is tied into a story all its own and the order follows a stream of consciousness rather than a conventional cookbook layout.
shooting 'The Sandpiper' at Nepenthe
It's easy to get caught up in all the beautiful pictures and nostalgic stories of Nepenthe's salad days; from the bohemian 50's and 60's to the filming of 'The Sandpiper' with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but the real highlight of the book are the recipes.
In the months since receiving this cookbook, I have enjoyed preparing My Nepenthe recipes for large parties, close friends and for just the two of us.
their version
our version
Lamb brochettes with mint pesto and oven-baked rice provided the menu for DH's sis, Casey's Hastings Law School Graduation Party.
their version
our version
Lolly's famous hotcakes are now our go-to pancake batter, particularly when camping.
Marinated fresh sardines and roast corn with chipotle butter have become some of our favorite things to eat at home.
components of the rustic tart
sprinkle sweet dough w. sugar & almonds
stack up sliced pluots & strawberries
dot with butter
messy but good
And for a recent 18 reasons volunteer potluck, I made the plum and raspberry rustic tart. I swapped flavor king pluots for the plums and strawberries for raspberries since that's what looked (and tasted) best at the Berkeley Farmer's Market.
'Californian Hippy' cuisine
All the recipes have a distinctly 'Californian Hippy' feel to them. 'Californian Hippy' is by no means an official cuisine but can be defined by heaps of nuts and seeds, wheat germ, avocados, sprouts, ect. sprinkling every recipe. 
It is a cuisine and a lifestyle I have nothing but love, loyalty and nostalgia for and Nepenthe restaurant, for all intents and purposes, invented it!
I'd recommend the restaurant and the cookbook to anyone.

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