Andrews McMeel Publishing
Recipes by Romney Steele
Photography by Sara Remington
Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC - 2009
Buy it on Amazon
Resting on the grandiose cliffs of the Big Sur, California's picturesque central coastline, Nepenthe Restaurant has become an eating mecca for the artistic, bohemian crowd.
Movie buffs may even recognize the terrace on the cover from the 1960's romance The Sandpiper, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
The likes of Henry Miller, Steve McQueen, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles have sat around the table of the Fassett family's restaurant for the past sixty years -- and now cookbook readers can too.
See what we tested and whether the book is worth buying after the jump.
Takeaway Tips: "My Nepenthe" is not here to teach you how to cook. Instead, it exists as a memoir to transport the reader to the Big Sur through the Fassett family recipes. "Ultimately, this book is a story about food, family, and the culture of place, and how it all unfolds around the table and why that matters," author Romney Steele writes.
Quality of Pictures: Most of the photographs are vintage black-and-whites, landscapes of the Californian coastline or of the Fassett family themselves through the years. As for the food, this is rustic photography -- showing char marks on grilled lemons, wild persimmons and syrup-drenched French toast.
We tested: Nepenthe Cheese Pie and Phoenix Special Steak
The Phoenix Special Steak saved us a trip to the steakhouse. New York strip steaks are simply grilled (we did ours on a grill pan) until medium-rare. A Gorgonzola and caramelized onion butter is the coup de grâce of the juicy cut. The written recipe calls for the steaks to be served with a stalk of endive, but we omitted this ingredient because of licorice-tasting aversions.
Nepenthe Cheese Pie is one of the restaurant's original creations. Despite its savory sound, the pie is definitively sweet. If you like cheesecake, consider this its lighter, creamier counterpart. A homemade graham cracker crust receives a cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla filling before being baked off. A sweetened sour cream topping replaces cheesecake's traditional fruit sauce or fresh berry adornment.
Worth the investment: As a cookbook, you may be a bit disappointed. Of the 338 pages, only 85 recipes are provided -- some being as simple as roasted garlic or butter and radish sandwiches. Nevertheless, simplicity is not to be discounted -- especially when it's sixty years in the making. If you enjoy "la vie boheme," the refuge of Nepenthe awaits.