by Romney Steele
Andrews McMeel Publishing
In these times, we could all use a trip to “an isle of no care.” Call it Shangri-La; call it a place “where everybody knows your name;” for many writers, travelers, actors and cooks, that place has been Nepenthe Restaurant. You can find it nestled on the cliffs of California's Big Sur, a family cabin with a colorful past.
My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur is, in a way, a family scrapbook of the generations who followed after Bill and Lolly Fassett purchased the cabin from Rita Hayworth in 1947. Now a restaurant, the cabin began as more of a crash pad for “rugged individualists,” including Henry Miller, Jack Kerouac and Steve McQueen.
Stories and photos illustrate such happenings as funky fashion shows and far-out astrology parties held at Nepenthe during its 60-year history.
The food almost takes a backseat to the counter-culture lore, but there are some substantial recipes here.
Baked goods with a story can be found tucked away in the book (see the “Passion Cookies” made especially for Richard Burton in the early 1960s).
A very “California” recipe, Garlic Basil Aioli, would be great on a sandwich, in spite of the books suggestion to serve it with grilled artichokes or Fresh Monterey Sardines, other recipes in the book.
Taking away just a hint of the breezy, carefree flavor makes the book a worthwhile read; one step closer to that Shangri-La state of mind.