Archive for November, 2011
“Sir, respect your dinner: idolize it, enjoy it properly. You will be many hours in the week, many weeks in the year, and many years in your life happier if you do.”
We are approaching the high holy day of the culinary calendar, Thanksgiving. In the gym this morning I could practically hear the furor emanating from the TV monitors as the modern culinary media dispensed holiday advice. The enthusiasm is great but this year I am feeling the over-exertion of the gastronomic muscle a little too much. To my mind Thanksgiving is a great excuse to eat and drink all day long, with perhaps a few breaks for a stroll or some football. But the extreme eating that is so much a part of the American ethos these days turns me off. Each Thanksgiving should not be a challenge to outdo your last one. Take a deep breath and think about what is really important about that meal. Take the time to be present during its preparation and consumption. Don’t rush through it to get to your course/the football game/away from Aunt Doris. The speed at which we move these days is alarming. Thanksgiving is a great day to sit back and enjoy the cranberry sauce. Does it have nuts? Does it stand up in the dish? Is the balance of tart to sweet proportional? The day will be over before you know it and then we are all racing towards that day in December. We are going to take our time this coming Thursday and be thankful for having this brief respite.
Bloomsbury, 460 pages $45
Herewith begins the highlights of our favorite books of the season. Kenedy is the chef at Bocca Di Lupo, an Italian Trattoria in London that has been getting rave reviews. We’ve been importing this book from the UK for a while, but now Bloomsbury has brought it in. We loved it then and we love it even more now. Bocca is filled with regional recipes from Italy divided up as raw/cured/pasta/roasts etc. It is a very personal and intimate book for a chef, which does seem to be a trend this fall. Filled with sumptuous color photography of both the dishes and Italy, Bocca was designed by Caz Hildebrand, the renowned designer who collaborated with Kenedy on last year’s The Geometry of Pasta. They’ve teamed up again to create a lovely book reminiscent of Locatelli’s Made in Italy, though much less technique-oriented. The book ends with Posso, a recipe for disaster which includes as ingredients: a deck of cards; a piece of paper; a pen; someone you trust to keep score and many drinks. From start to finish a charming and delicious cookbook. A good gift for the Italian loving person on your list.
“ A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish.”
W. H. Auden
Here at Rabelais, we’re joining in the menu celebration by exhibiting a small selection from our collection of American, English and Continental menus. For the next month, the walls of the store will be covered with menus, from the historical to the oddball. The lovely abstract menu above is designed by American minimalist Terry Winters for the vanguard Tribeca restaurant, Chanterelle. Below is a menu from the Union Block Eating House in Taunton, MA, which proudly proclaims, “Hot Buck Wheat Cakes constantly on hand!” Sounds good to me. This weekend, at the Boston Antiquarian Book Fair, amongst the rare cookbooks and cocktail manuals, we’ll be exhibiting a collection of late 19th Century Viennese menus, as well as individual menus from the 19th & 20th Centuries.
No denying it’s Fall. We’ve been waking to frost most days lately. Cold weather breakfasts of oatmeal with apples, toasted nuts and our own maple syrup to start the days warming. I went down to the garden to do some clean up last week and discovered a crop of beets I had missed. Sweeter still for a little frost. Don made a delicious borscht the other night that we’ve had for a couple of meals. The obnoxious snow came while we were in Toronto. So there was no last minute harvesting of the chard or the last green onions. This weird weather makes the garden that much more challenging. I haven’t planted any garlic for next year yet. Think I should still have some time but who knows.
Rabelais is going to Boston. This weekend is the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Hynes Convention Center. Details can be found at their website. Don has been pouring over inventory, picking just the right books to bring. Our short list for the fair is in the form of a menu. We’ve got some quirky ideas for display that I will photograph for those who can’t make it. To kick off the baking season I made some Brown Sugar Butter Cookies to give out in the booth. (ah, the smell of butter and sugar on my hands…) If you are in the Boston area this weekend (Friday-Sunday) please do come by and say hello. If you’ve ever been to a book fair, this is a top notch experience, one of the few international book fairs in the US. If you are a book fair neophyte, this would be a great place to enter this fascinating subculture. A huge room filled with some of the best booksellers in the world displaying their beautiful books. Hope to see many of your familiar faces.
In our last missive we announced our new plans for Rabelais. We are very excited about the move and all the potential for our work with rare and Antiquarian books, as well as select new titles and imports. We are including some photos here of the space for you to see where we will land. To clarify, we will be open at 86 Middle street through the Holidays. The official move to the Mills won’t happen until late January. So please keep us in mind for your holiday gifts. Cookbooks, in book form, make great gifts! We will be participating in the East End Holiday Stroll again, and there will be another Cookie Swap! Stay tuned for details.