With the holidays coming up and their sensory feast of colors, foods, and decor, I have found myself inspired by several recent experiences: reading "The Cookbook Collector" by Allegra Goodman, a visit to a bookstore in Vermont which involved a cookbook shopping spree, and a recent visit to the Ferry Building in San Francisco on Farmers' Market Day. Maybe I'm overly excited for the upcoming festivities, but every where I look I see a "still life," as gorgeous as any painting by the Dutch masters.
Let's start with "The Cookbook Collector." It didn't hurt that I read the book at the beautiful Pitcher Inn in Vermont. This book is a delightful romantic comedy in the spirit of Jane Austen, with a heroine we love who is watched over by her more sensible older sister. At the same time the book contains a serious examination of the dot-com rise and fall of the early 21st century. Jess, the heroine, works at a used book store named Yoricks, which is owned by George, a wealthy bachelor who discovers a collection of rare cookbooks. The descriptions of the books and the recipes are written with the sensibility of a book lover who also loves food. In fact, all the descriptions in "The Cookbook Collector" of the meals, the houses, and the natural scenery are sensual and ravishing. The still life on the cover foretells the luscious world awaiting the reader.
Regarding the cookbook shopping spree in Vermont, we went to Tempest Bookshop in Waitsfield, where I discovered three wonderful cookbooks that were published a few years ago but are still available.
"Elizabeth David's Christmas"
I am in love with the green of the cover as well as the pretty design. Here are the endpapers, what a beautiful touch.
It turns out that renowned British food writer Elizabeth David had over the years collected recipes, essays, and notes in a box marked "Christmas." Her literary executor and agent compiled the contents of the box into this charming book.
"Paris Sweets" by Dorie Greenspan
"Confessions of a French Baker" by Peter Mayle and Gerard Auzet
I confess I bought these books as much for their physical beauty as for their content. Just looking at them makes me smile. They evoke warm holidays, baking, Paris, and Provence.
I have to mention these brand new cookbooks written by two of my favorite food writers.
"Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That" by Ina Garten
"Nigella Kitchen" by Nigella Lawson
All of these books will provide inspiration for Fall and Holiday entertaining.
I just spent a fabulous weekend in San Francisco and one of the highlights was a visit to the Ferry Building and the Farmers' Market that is held there on Saturdays.
Here are some of the "still lifes" I encountered:
Persimmons, pears, and pomegranates at Farmer's Market
Fall display from McEvoy Ranch
Cups and Pitcher from Culinaire Antiques
Table setting from Culinaire Antiques
Chocolate Filled Cookie Cutters