Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Usual Table - A Life in Restaurants

Growing up in Hollywood in the latter years of the studio days, Colman Andrews writes not so much about the meals themselves, but the restaurants he grew up eating in.  Restaurants which even to someone who was about as far away from the glitter of Hollywood as you can get, I recognize the names.  Not only the places themselves, but the regulars who frequented them, names we have seen on the big screen over and over.  Then comes his days in the music industry and the meals with big names there. From the famous Trader Vic's and Chasen's, to cafes in Rome and Paris and the rise of Wolfgang Puck's Spago, My Usual Table is a literary feast.

Andrews delves into his copious notes over the years and brings the history behind the restaurants.  He also brings his own history with that establishment, most of it very fond memories of people and times past, and meals shared there.  Having just discovered how nice it is to go somewhere and have the bartender know who you are, decades of similar treatment and even more intimate involvement in the restaurant, must have been exciting.

Colman Andrews has written three other books and four cookbooks, not to mention the food magazines and columns he has written over the years.  Currently he is the editorial director of The Daily Meal .

Side note:  He has kept notebooks on details of his meals and the establishments for decades.  From notebooks to pages of notes, he recorded everything for years.  This is further evidence my journals and 'writer's notebooks' are worth keeping. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

26 Books to Read in 2015

I came across this challenge in Bringing Up Burns and have the listing printed out and hanging on my bulletin board.  Since I have been told to rest the wrist and elevate (to stop swelling and spasms), I pulled out the book for week one - A BOOK I OWN BUT HAVEN'T READ.

Now this was a challenge (not) as I picked up the first book off one of the many piles I have in corners around the house.

The Lavender Garden, by Lucinda Riley,  has two storylines expertly woven together.  And just when I thought I had it figured out, there would be a slight twist to the story and I would be a hair off, which made it an enjoyable read.

Set primarily in southern France, Emilie de la Martinieres has just buried her mother and is faced with settling the family estate.  Enter Sebastian Carruthers who is an art agent and it seems, ties to the estate.  As questions emerge about the past, Emilie discovers more and more about her family's past and the ties to World War II and Constance Carruthers, Sebastian's grandmother.

Over the next few months, as Emilie pieces together the past, she also pieces together her future and the future of the estate.  

A nice read and I am glad I had it in my pile of books to read.  The next item on the list is a BOOK MADE INTO A MOVIE and I just happen to have a copy of Gone Girl on that same pile.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Radical Reading

One of my favorite 'genre' to read is 'a year in the life of...' type books.  Normally these are nonfiction and entertaining.  Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one that comes to mind immediately as a book which falls in that category.  

Last week I was picking out some books at the library (have a fantastic one I'm reading on Thomas Jefferson's garden at Monticello), and I came across Radical Prunings by Bonnie Thomas Abbott.  While it is not nonfiction, it does cover two years in the garden and I picked it up to give it a read.

Funny and smart is this read.  Set up as the gardening column of Mertensia Corydalis, we get to follow the seasons of gardening advice, as well as the happenings of her brother/sister gardener/secretary team.  Bits are thrown in about her celebrity gardener and ex-husband Norton and lots about her distain for people with lawns.  Since one of my pet peeves are home owner associations who feel a fertilized and sprayed lawn, each one matching the next door neighbors, is preferable to gardens and especially veggies in the front of the house, Mertensia's anti-lawn position was a joy.

While I am not a master gardener, the advice she gives in her column is sound gardening (and made me want to force bulbs indoors), so some interested in gardening wouldn't be mislead.   The trials of the Vong family, her brother Artur and her own gardening trials round out the columns to make this a great and quick read.

By the way...
  1.    Mertensia
  2. Mertensia is a genus of about 40 species of perennial herbaceous plants with bell-shaped blue flowers opening from pink-tinged buds. This is one of several plants commonly called bluebell.

    1. Corydalis

      Corydalis is a genus of about 470 species of annual and perennial herbaceous plants in the Papaveraceae family, native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere and the high mountains of tropical eastern Africa. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Only 26?

I came across this post from Bringing Up Burns and knew it was just right up my alley...

Since my goal on is 150 books for 2015, I can easily fit this in.  Actually, book #24 has been on my mind for some time now.   My first 'horse' book I can remember reading was Black Beauty.  I think about 5 decades is long enough and I need to reread.