Friday, October 22, 2010


Leslie Cole, Dorie Greenspan and Martha Holmberg

I've been handling the publicity chores for the launch of Dorie Greenspan's fabulous new cookbook, AROUND MY FRENCH TABLE.  The attention this book has received in print, on the Internet and on radio has been wonderful, and one of the most fulfilling cookbook projects I've ever worked on.  I've been cooking out of the book, and I can see why Dorie is so well liked by cookbook lovers. The recipes really work and she's made French home cooking entirely accessible, concentrating on flavors and ease of preparation rather than taking the "chef" approach and underlining technique.  I had never worked with Dorie nor met her before.  She was in Portland on Tuesday where we kept her busy with a big round of interviews and I got a chance to spend some time with her that evening, but not before she did a fantastic event at the Heathman restaurant which co-sponsored (along with Powell's Books) the event where Dorie talked about her life in Paris (she lives there part of the year) and her association with Julia Child (Dorie wrote a bestselling baking book based on Julia Child baking series on PBS-TV), Pierre Herme (acknowledged as France's premier pastry chef, and with whom she has written two cookbooks), and Daniel Boulud, the most famous French chef in New York (Dorie co-authored a book with Boulud as well).  I was lucky to introduce Dorie and Martha Holmberg, the former food editor of The Oregonian.  The two of the kept a packed audience of more than 260 people highly entertained as they discussed how French food has evolved over the years. Other friends arrived including Nancy and Paul Frisch, Trish Hamilton (my preserving buddy), and Ivy Manning, who had written a big cover-story on Dorie and the book for the FoodDay pages of the Oregonian the week before.  Ivy, a talented cookbook writer, has been a wonderful pal since I arrived in Portland, and she's helped introduce me to a large swath of the food community.  She's also been my source for finding new restaurants.  

Aftewards Dorie, her husband Michael, and Martha had dinner together in the Heathman restauarant where they were featuring five recipes from the book to diners in the restaurant that evening. I ordered the trio of rillettes (one of sardines, one of fresh and smoked salmon and one of tuna with curry) has inspired me to make these wonderful spreads for crackers, and a superb grilled swordfish.  It was a memorable evening and I was happy to spend some time with my very tired author (she's been working non-stop on the promotion of the book since mid-September).  Here's a photo of Dorie after the event with Martha Holmberg and Leslie Cole, who is also a food writer for the Oregonian.  

On Thursday I got to guest lecture again for my friend, Kent's publishing course class.  This is about the fourth time I've spoken to Kent's students.  Each class is different and gives you a different kind of energy.  Last night's class was my very favorite.  They were attentive, inquisitive, and asked a lot of questions about book publicity and I was able to share with them plenty of naughty war stories (my way of getting even with some unpleasant authors I've worked with in the past, as well as affectionate stories of authors I've enjoyed meeting).  We covered social media, which I'm rather new at and gaining some feelings of support for.  I find most people waste a lot of time on the Internet (myself included), but it is the wave of the future, and books are going to find more hospitable audience there as we gain more confidence about what is possible in cyberspace.

I've found a terrific shop not to far from my house where I've actually bought a number of things such as my bookshelves in the dining room that house my cookbook collection (or most of it), my dining room chairs, a red leather ottoman in the living room, a desk lamp and Chinese cabinet in my office (see above), a wooden chair table for the patio, an antique wrought iron plant stand, and a wonderfully campy black urn adorned with Greek classical images that I use as a doorstop for my bedroom balcony door. I even had the store sell a china cabinet for me that I no longer needed.  So when I started to look for a bookshelf for my bedroom, I found what I was looking for at Portico.  Originally I thought of a smallish bookshelf--not too tall, for a corner wall.  The wainscoting rises about 2/3 of the way up the walls, and it is painted white. I didn't want a dark, heavy shelf.  It would look too gloomy.  The rest of the furniture in the room is a light colored pine, which also dictated a lighter touch.  I found this sturdy and open bamboo and rattan shelf unit.  It was the perfect height, and it's open shelving made it idea to hold books without looking heavy. I even found it an ideal place to house my small stereo unit. Best of all these wonderful and gracefully aged pieces were so inexpensive.  The cabinet was $63 and the bookshelf unit was $68.  

The weather reports have promised rain all week and it's been gorgeous with warm sunshine every day this week.  We had a touch of rain last night.  I'm learning never to believe the reports I read when I check on the weather in Portland.  If the report says rain, I know the sun will be out.  If they predict sunshine, I reach for a hat and an umbrella.

I've still got some gardening chores to get done before the rains and the cold weather do finally arrive.  The weekend looks pretty open so I know what I'll be doing. 

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