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REIGNING COOKIES

 
   
 

Omnivore ended March with a roar this year, as every surface of the shop groaned with the weight of hundreds and hundreds of cookies. Our annual cookie contest had 47 entries vying for Best Cookie, from chocolate chip to lemon squares, butterscotch, oatmeal, mint and mocha. One curmudgeon even complained that there were too many varieties of chocolate chip. Is that even something you could consider complaining about? Deep breath. 120 people paid to taste and judge as many cookies as they could pile on their plates, and declared the winner to be the Black & White Drizzle cookies of first-time entrant Merritt Diaz. She adapted a recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction by not adding food dye, and drizzling the white chocolate over the cookies rather than dipping them. You can find the original recipe here. Merritt took home $300 (half of our door money), and runners-up won baking cookbooks generously donated by Ten Speed Press and Chronicle Books. While it was utter madness in the shop, I think and hope everyone had as great a time as I did. Except that one lady, of course.

I got the chance to handle and sell some amazing rare cookbooks in the past month, a couple of which are pictured here. Legendary author Paula Wolfert recently sold off many of the cookbooks from her personal collection, all of which have her stamp inside, and some with marginal notes by her about recipes. I purchased several shelves of them, and after being quoted in Kim Severson's excellent New York Times article about Wolfert, I woke up to online orders for every book of hers I had posted on my website. It is amazing and wonderful to know so many people care about her work and the books that inspired her. Luckily, I still have more in the shop that I didn't get a chance to post, so swing by to see them! We are also hosting the authors of Unforgettable, a biography of Paula Wolfert with recipes, for an event on April 25, so you can learn even more about her.

Two other exciting books that came through my shop in March were Jack Cusimano's Economical Italian Cook Book(1917) and Bessie Gunter's Housekeeper's Companion (1889). The former is one of the first Italian cookbooks published in America (the first was in 1912), and this copy was particularly rare because it was self-published in a small print run in Los Angeles and contained two chromolithograph plates of pasta. Because the illustrations are so beautiful, they were often removed from the book for framing, so finding the book intact is uncommon. There are recipes using pasta, squash, beans, sheep head, peppers, etc., and even a chapter on Italian soup for invalids. Bessie Gunter's Housekeeper's Companion was published in Richmond, Virginia in 1889. Gunter was the member of a prominent Accomack County family from the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and most of her recipes reflect the food of the region, including numerous methods of preparing oysters, clams, terrapin, fish, crabs, and other seafood. First editions of this seminal Southern cookbook are extremely scarce, but this copy was unique because it had belonged to Varina Davis, the wife of Confederate States president Jefferson Davis. She contributed recipes to the book, and her signature appears at the top of the title page. Handling and cataloging books like these is a tonic for me; I love the breadth of history in my hands.

On the author event front, we are jam-packed in April; we've even added a few more events since my original posting of April events. We'll be co-hosting a dinner at Camino for Deborah Madison on April 26, and sharing margaritas at the shop with the owners and authors of Nopalito on April 15. In addition, I hope you can come meet Melissa Clark, Jack Bishop, Joan Nathan, Jeremy Fox, Zak Pelaccio, Ana Sortun, and many others. Remember, if you can't, you can always order a signed copy of their book - we'll be happy to have the author personalize it to you as well. Lastly, our first Tipple & Snack event at Bar Agricole was terrific! Our theme was cocktail history, and I brought (and sold) many vintage and new cocktail books. We will be doing this quarterly, with the themes of New Orleans and then San Francisco coming later in 2017. Thanks to all who made it such a success,

Celia Sack, Owner
Omnivore Books on Food
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Upcoming Events at Omnivore Books

 

Wed. April 5 • Jess Thompson • A Year Right Here: Adventures with Food and Family in the Great Nearby • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

Seattle-based writer and cookbook author Jess Thomson set out to spend a year exploring the food of her own backyard: the Pacific Northwest. Planning to revel in the culinary riches of the region and hoping to break her son, Graham, of his childhood pickiness, the adventures into the great nearby include building a backyard chicken coop, truffle hunting in Oregon, and razor clamming on the Washington coast.

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Sun. April 9 • Joan Nathan • King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World • 3:00-4:00 p.m. FREE

Driven by a passion for discovery, the biblical King Solomon is said to have sent emissaries on land and sea to all corners of the ancient world, initiating a mass cross-pollination of culinary cultures that continues to bear fruit today. With Solomon’s appetites and explorations in mind, in these pages Joan Nathan - “the queen of American Jewish cooking” - gathers together more than 170 recipes, from Israel to Italy to India and beyond.

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Sat. April 15 • Gonzalo Guzman & Stacy Adimando., and the Nopalito team! • Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen • 3:00-4:00 p.m. FREE, with margaritas!

The true spirit, roots, and flavors of regional Mexican cooking—from Puebla, Mexico City, Michoacán, the Yucatán, and beyond--come alive in this cookbook from Gonzalo Guzman, head chef at San Francisco restaurant Nopalito. Inspired by food straight from the sea and the land, Guzman transforms simple ingredients, such as masa and chiles, into bright and flavor-packed dishes.

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Mon. April 17 • Dave Broom • Rum: The Manual • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

The mission of this book is to help drinkers appreciate this complex spirit, find the style they like and discover how versatile rum can be. It will help you to understand rum - how it's produced (whether from molasses, cane syrup or cane juice) and whether it's dry, sweet, fresh or oaky. More than 100 different rums are featured and analyzed, from rich, sweet mellow Guyana rums to the vegetal peppery rums of Martinique or Guadeloupe and contemporary spiced rums.

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Tues. April 18 • Jeremy Fox • On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

Known for his game-changing approach to cooking with vegetables, Jeremy Fox first made his name at the Michelin-starred restaurant Ubuntu in Napa Valley. Today he is one of America's most talked-about chefs, celebrated for the ingredient-focused cuisine he serves at the Los Angeles restaurant, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen. In his first book, Fox presents his food philosophy in the form of 160 approachable recipes for the home cook.

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Wed. April 19 • Rachel Khong • Lucky Peach All About Eggs: Everything We Know About the World's Most Important Food • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

Eggs: star of the most important meal of the day, and, to hear billions of cooks and chefs tell it, quite possibly the world's most important food. Does that make Lucky Peach's All About Eggs the world's most important book? Probably yes. In essays, anecdotes, how-tos, and foolproof recipes, this egg-centric volume celebrates everything an egg can be and do.

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Thurs. April 20 • Marissa Hermer • An American Girl in London • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

Ladies of London star Marissa Hermer grew up in southern California picking avocados from her grandmother’s tree. Weekends meant trips to the Newport Beach pier for fresh fish and bowls of granola baked in the sunny family kitchen. But everything changed when Marissa moved to London to be with the love of her life, a British restaurateur who prefers meat and potatoes to guacamole.

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Tues. April 25 • Emily Thelin, Andrea Nguyen , Toni Tajima, & Eric Wolfinger • Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

Paula Wolfert is a legendary hero to some of our most influential chefs, from Alice Waters to Yotam Ottolenghi. Through her forty year career, from Morocco to the Middle East, she uncovered ingredients and methods we now take for granted, from preserved lemons to Aleppo and Marash chile pepper flakes. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013, this remarkable team Kickstarted this book to introduce her to a new generation.

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OFF-SITE EVENT! Wed. April 26 • Dinner for Deborah Madison at Camino Restaurant! 6:00-10:00 p.m.

Come celebrate author Deborah Madison's new cookbook, In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes. From the foremost authority on vegetarian cooking and one of the most trusted voices in food comes a carefully curated and updated collection of 100 favorite and most inspired recipes, reflecting how Deborah Madison loves to cook now. Camino will serve a four-course feast from the book, and we'll be there with Deborah to sell books and stuff ourselves silly. Join us! TICKETS HERE!

Thurs. April 27 • Ana Sortun • Soframiz: Vibrant Middle Eastern Recipes from Sofra Bakery and Cafe • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

A charming collection of 100 recipes from Cambridge's Sofra Bakery and Cafe, showcasing modern Middle Eastern spices and flavors with exotic yet accessible sweet and savory dishes geared toward everyday cooking and entertaining.

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Fri. April 28 • Zak Pelaccio • Project 258: Making Dinner at Fish & Game • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

Fish & Game restaurant in Hudson, New York, is a leader in the local foods movement. Its core approach—engaging intimately with nature both wild and domestic, building relationships with farmers, and exploring the joys of fermentation—is one of interest to anyone, anywhere, who yearns to cook and eat better food.

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Sat. April 29 • Melissa Clark • Dinner: Changing the Game • 3:00-4:00 p.m. FREE

Each recipe in Dinner is meant to be dinner—one fantastic dish that is so satisfying and flavor-forward it can stand alone—or be paired with a simple salad or fresh bread on the side. This is what Melissa Clark means by changing the game. Dinner is all about options: inventive, unfussy food with unexpected flavor. Clark’s mission is to help anyone—whether a novice with just a single pan or the experienced home cook—figure out what to make any night of the week without settling on fallbacks. These inherently simple recipes can turn anyone into a better and more confident cook.

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Sun. April 30 • Jack Bishop • Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and In-Between • 3:00-4:00 p.m. FREE

Jack Bishop is the editorial director of America's Test Kitchen. In this cookbook, America's Test Kitchen decodes and demystifies vegan cooking, so you can reap its many benefits and avoid the pitfalls of bland food, lack of variety, and overprocessed ingredients. You'll find approachable, fresh, vibrant recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between.

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Omnivore Books on Food • 3885a Cesar Chavez Street • San Francisco, CA 94131
415.282.4712 • Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm