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Sundance Report

 
 

I always enjoy the quiet after the storm of Christmas, and this year was no different. In fact, Omnivore even closed for a week so my manager, Sarah, and I could take a brief winter break. I snuck off to the Sundance Film Festival with Paula and some friends; I'll admit, it was a nice change to be in the audience instead of stacking chairs and preparing interview questions! We saw some great movies (keep your eye out for Sweet Country, a difficult but beautiful film about relations between Aboriginals and whites in the Outback in the 19th century). We also got to sit in the front row (trick: get there early) at numerous fascinating panels: New York Times writers Jodi Kantor and Charles M. Blow talking about Harvey Weinstein; Octavia Spencer and Sandra Oh talking about Harvey Weinstein. Todd Haynes and Richard Linklater talking about Harvey Weinstein.

I think you get the picture.

Naturally, I managed to eat as well as I could in Park City, which is no small feat during the festival. Most of the restaurants feature overpriced prix fixe meals to accommodate the onslaught of customers; we had one awful "pan-Asian" meal that combined pho, kung pao shrimp, albacore sashimi, larb duck lettuce wrap, and a lobster and crab ramen stir-fry into one meal. However, there were a couple of standouts: Handle wins best in show for overall meal, service and cocktails (the Rattlesnake is a must if you like whiskey). Best Old Fashioned of my life goes to High West Saloon, which also had great food at a reasonable price - we especially liked stopping in there for lunch. The snow was beautiful, but all the natives we spoke to said Fall is the time to come, when all the leaves change and you can hike in the mountains and stay in town without blowing out your wallet. So that's when I'll go back!

January also featured some terrific events at the shop. I especially loved hearing Maricel Presilla speak about her work, Peppers of the Americas, which is a deep dive into how to identify, grow, and cook a wide array peppers, from Pottstown to Patagonia. Jonathan Kauffman drew a huge crowd for his book, Hippie Food, which was five years in the making. It covers hippie food movements across the United States, and audience members waxed nostalgic about their own experiences with communes, co-ops, and illegal substances. February will bring us some fantastic talks, from David Wondrich on his classics, Imbibe! and Punch, to James Syhabout on Hawker Fare, Liza Gershman on The Cuban Table, and Denise Clifton on San Francisco's restaurants post-1906. Check out the full roster here.

Lastly, an addendum to my kiwifruit book story! Remember the customer who sent me a check and told me to use the extra money to buy someone a book? Well, I did, and she was really excited about it. She is pictured here.

Sincerely,

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

 

 

Tues. Jan. 30 • Cynthia Graubart • Chicken: A Savor the South Cookbook • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

While fried chicken may be the South's iconic dish, when it comes to southern foodways, there are a lot of ways to love America's most popular fowl. Preparations range from Country Captain to Carolina Chicken Bog to Chicken and Parslied Dumplings and more. Here, Cynthia Graubart celebrates the bird in all its glory, southern style and beyond. This little cookbook packs all the know-how that cooks need to make irresistible chicken dishes for everyday and special occasions, from shopping and selecting to cutting up, frying, braising, roasting, and much more.

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Thurs. Feb. 1 • James Syhabout & John Birdsall • Hawker Fare: Stories & Recipes from a Refugee Chef's Isan Thai & Lao Roots • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

James Syhabout’s hugely popular Hawker Fare restaurant in San Francisco is the product of his unique family history and diverse career experience. Born into two distinct but related Asian cultures—from his mother’s ancestral village in Isan, Thailand’s northeast region, and his father’s home in Pakse, Laos—he and his family landed in Oakland in 1981 in a community of other refugees from the Vietnam War. Syhabout also owns Commis in Oakland; this is his debut cookbook, written with San Francisco food writer John Birdsall.

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Sat. Feb. 3 • Kyndra Holley and Suzanne Ryan • Craveable Keto and Simply Keto • 3:00-4:00 p.m. FREE

It's a keto-palooza, with two highly respected keto authors taking the stage together at Omnivore. Kyndra Holley, the master behind the wildly popular food blog Peace, Love and Low Carb, brings together food, fun, and feeling fantastic in her new cookbook, Craveable Keto: Your Low-Carb, High-Fat Road Map to Weight Loss and Wellness. Suzanne Ryan is the author of the blog Keto Karma, and in her debut cookbook, she details how she accomplished the incredible feat of losing almost 40 percent of her total body weight and developed a healthier and more balanced relationship with food.

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OFF-SITE EVENT! Mon. Feb. 5 • Tofu Evolved • At the JCCSF • Hodo Soy and JCCSF Foodways present Minh Tsai of Hodo Soy in conversation with J. Kenji López-Alt. Featuring a multi-course dinner prepared by Bay Area chefs Kim Alter of Nightbird Nick Balla of Duna James Syhabout of Commis & Hawker Fare

Tofu has a rich, 2,000-year heritage in Asia as the oldest plant-based protein. In contrast, tofu’s history and introduction in the West is short, complicated – and limited. Join us as we collaborate with prominent Bay Area chefs to craft a multi-course dinner showcasing the intricacy and versatility of this storied ingredient. Enjoy complementary wine while Minh Tsai demonstrates the art and science of tofu and yuba making with J. Kenji López-Alt, Chief Culinary Advisor for Serious Eats and author of the James Beard Award-nominated column and book, The Food Lab. Together they’ll discuss how Minh has reacquainted eaters and chefs with tofu that is expertly crafted and innovative. TICKETS HERE!

 

 

 

Thurs. Feb. 8. Liza Gershman • Cuban Flavor: Exploring the Island's Unique Places, People, and Cuisine • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE, with Cuban snacks from Media Noche!

Much more than a cookbook, Cuban Flavor is an introduction to a revolutionary era of Cuban cuisine: a new frontier. Growth and transition foster the seed of invention and innovation, and these shifts often begin with food. From the succulent spiced meat of the national Ropa Viejo, simmered in a tomato-based criollo sauce, to the sweet and sticky Arroz Con Leche or the local favorite, Flan served in a soda can, Cuban cuisine has something for every palate.

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Fri. Feb. 9 • Denise Clifton • Tables From the Rubble: How the Restaurants That Arose After the Great Quake of 1906 Still Feed San Francisco Today. 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

Tables from the Rubble transports readers to San Francisco in the years just after the Great Earthquake of 1906. Amid the ruins, restaurants rose to feed the hungry and lead the recovery. Today, a handful of the restaurants that opened in those boom years remain – some still serving customers in the same spaces where they first opened, offering food and drinks with a direct link to a century-old past. The book tells the stories of restaurants like Swan Oyster Depot, Liguria Bakery, Comstock Saloon, the Palace Hotel, the House of Shields, John’s Grill and Schroeder’s. And it follows the journey of Chinatown’s Sam Wo, which was saved by the hard work of one family and an entire community committed to the historic restaurant’s legacy.

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Sat. Feb. 10 • David Wondrich • Imbibe! and Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl • 3:00-4:00 p.m. FREE, with punch!

David Wondrich is an renowned authority on cocktail history. Imbibe, his 2007 tribute to Professor Jerry Thomas, has become an essential text for bartenders and cocktail geeks alike. It is the first cocktail book to win a James Beard award. Punch, his 2010 follow-up, has helped refill the flowing bowl around the world.

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Sun. Feb. 11 • Nico Vera • Pisco Society Pop-up at Omnivore Books! 4:00-5:00 p.m. FREE.

Learn about the history of Pisco from Peru to San Francisco while tasting three different grape varietals. Then, enjoy a sample of El Capitan — a winter cocktail made with Pisco, sweet vermouth, and bitters. This event is free, and the Pisco will flow while quantities last. The Pisco Society is a series of pop-ups organized by Peruvian chef and Pisco mixologist Nico Vera. To learn more about Pisco, visit his blog, Pisco Trail.

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Tues. Feb. 13 • Carrie Tillie • Oyster: A Global History • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE.

In Oysters: A Global History Carolyn Tillie delves into the culinary, artistic, sexual, historical, and scientific history of the humble bivalve. She shows how the oyster encouraged immigration and industry in the newly established United States, how it perpetuated slavery among those working in the oyster beds, and how Japan unexpectedly became the savior of the world’s oyster industry. Packed with colorful anecdotes, recipes, and more than fifty illustrations, this little book is a delightful introduction to the lore of the oyster.

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Sat. Feb. 17 • Hannah Kaminsky • Real Food, Really Fast: Delicious Plant-Based Recipes Ready in 10 Minutes or Less • 3:00-4:00 p.m. FREE

Hannah Kaminsky gives us helpful tips for speeding through recipes, plus additional suggestions for flavor variations make this book an indispensable guide for hungry cooks of all stripes. You’ll never need to compromise on flavor, nutrition, or expense, even with the most demanding deadline. Simplified classics like Stovetop Granola and Cauliflower Risotto alla Milanese, will put old staples back on the table without all the typical prep work.

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Sun. Feb. 18 • Asha Shivakumar • Masala & Meatballs: Incredible Indian Dishes with an American Twist • 3:00-4:00 p.m. FREE.

Masala & Meatballs is packed with surprising recipes that are bursting with flavor, masterful photography and heartfelt stories of growing up in India and then raising a family in the United States. With each turn of the page you’ll expand your palate, boost your cooking bravado and experience a whole new thrilling world of flavors.

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Mon. Feb. 19 • Letizia Mattiacci • A Kitchen with a View Seasonal recipes from Alla Madonna del Piatto Cooking School in Umbria • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

"Use good quality ingredients in simple combinations. Embrace the rhythm of the seasons. Respect the balance of flavors and textures." Applying these principles to traditional, home-style Italian cooking, Letizia Mattiacci has created a collection of over 60 family-friendly recipes from her farmhouse kitchen in the Umbrian mountains above Assisi. Detailed guides to techniques, the quality and choice of ingredients, are sprinkled with stories on local customs and lessons from life.

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UPCOMING EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

 

 

Thurs. March 1 • Ken Albala • Noodle Soup: Recipes, Techniques, Obsession • 6:30-7:30 p.m. FREE

Every day, noodle shops around the globe ladle out quick meals that fuel our go-go lives. But Ken Albala has a mission: to get YOU in the kitchen making noodle soup. This primer offers the recipes and techniques for mastering quick-slurper staples and luxurious from-scratch feasts. Albala made a different noodle soup every day for two years. His obsession yielded all you need to know about making stock bases, using dried or fresh noodles, and choosing from a huge variety of garnishes, flavorings, and accompaniments. $21.95

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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