Tag Archives: San Francisco

Your Home Can Smell Like Big Sur

9 Jul

Busy poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who is still active at ninety-three years old, moved out to San Francisco and founded City Lights in 1953.  More than just the independent bookstore of Beat pilgrimages, City Lights is a book publisher, and in 1956, Ferlinghetti was arrested on obscenity charges because he had published and sold Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.  He was later found not guilty of a crime.

The year after Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti made the papers, Jack Kerouac finally found fame with On the Road.  The fame was overwhelming, though.  Talk-show hosts invited the naturally shy author on their show.  Wanderlust kids, winos, and dogged readers showed up unannounced at his home.  Fame took a toll on his mind, body, soul.

Ferlinghetti had a cabin, a refuge, out in the wilderness of Big Sur.  He could escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco for respite along the coast of central California.  After the fame wore him down, Kerouac escaped there too, living for a brief time in Ferlinghetti’s cabin in the woods.  The result of this experience is the 1962 novel Big Sur.

Juniper Ridge now has a room spray called Big Sur.  According to their website, it smells of “wild ginger, burnt honey, salt, damp ground.”  The ingredients are plucked from the deserts and mountains of the West, and 10% of the $20 spray bottle goes back to protecting western wilderness.  They also have a Big Sur soap, essential oil, and sachet.  For $50 you can give the gift of Big Sur, which includes the items already mentioned, plus wild huckleberry jam (perhaps reminiscent of Neal Cassady, whom some have said is Huckleberry Finn incarnate).  The gift comes gift wrapped with real pine cones!  And, like the others, 10% of the profit goes to protecting wilderness.

Remembering Philips Lamantia

7 Mar

Beat poet Philip Lamantia passed away on this day 2005.  He read at the famous Six Gallery reading in San Francisco in which Allen Ginsberg debuted Howl.  Instead of reading his own poetry, though, Lamantia read poems by his friend John Hoffman, who had recently passed away.  His own poems were erotic, surrealist, Catholic.

You can read the last interview Lamantia ever gave here (it was with Garrett Caples) and the original obituary that ran in The New York Times.

 

Greek Cookbooks at BEA 2011

2 Jun

Zigzagging my way through the Javitz Center last week at BEA, I discovered two beautifully packaged Greek cookbooks I want to share with you.

 

I’m a huge fan of pretty much everything Chronicle publishes, and their upcoming book Kokkari is no exception.  Written by executive chef Erik Cosselman and food writer Janet Fletcher, the cookbook gives insight into life at the Greek restaurant Kokkari in San Francisco.  Look for it this coming September.

Marketing copy not yet available, but the book will be 224 pages of text and color photography.  Just look at that cover design!  Rather than focusing only on traditional Greek fare, the cookbook will discuss contemporary Greek cooking through the lens of what is servied at the popular California restaurant.

 

Arsenal Pulp Press showed off last year’s publication From the Olive Grove—and with good reason: Helen Koutalianos’ and Anastasia Koutalianos‘ book pairs the history and health benefits of olive oil with classic Mediterranean recipes.

Marketing copy reads as follows:

The healthful virtues of olive oil, a key component of the Mediterranean diet, have become well-known in recent years; its monounsaturated fats and antioxidants are beneficial in preventing heart disease by controlling LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels while simultaneously raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels.

Helen Koutalianos has preached the gospel of olive oil and its benefits for years; at the same time, consumers across North America have become more sophisticated and appreciative of flavorful, boutique olive oils that are not mass produced. In this charming, intimate cookbook, Helen and her daughter Anastasia have collected 150 delectable, Mediterranean-inspired recipes (Greek and beyond), many of which have been passed along from Helen’s mother and grandmother, in which olive oil is a central ingredient; these include Olive Oil Poached Lamb, Quail with Olives, Turkish Kebab with Garlic, Shrimp and Feta Casserole, Octopus in Wine Sauce, Seared Scallop and Prawn Gazpacho, Artichokes with Lemon, and Kolokethakia Yemista (Stuffed Zucchinis with Lemon Egg Sauce).

The book also takes readers through the artisan olive oil-making process, from cultivating and processing the fruit to the production of the oil itself. Complemented with full-color photographs of recipes, From the Olive Grove will seduce and inspire readers to create their own delicious, heart-healthy meals at home.

 

Perhaps in the downturn of the Greek economy, more Greeks have been immigrating to the United States, because I’ve noticed at least two new Greek restaurants pop up in Manhattan in the past six months.  In the past few years, Peruvian and Korean food seems to have assimilated into the culinary world, and while Greek food has been around for a while, I wonder if we might be headed into a bit of a Greek food renaissance—with a focus on new, contemporary explorations of Greek cooking.