I just got My Nepenthe in the mail in anticipation of the cookbook club we are starting.
I have not yet read the book in detail nor cooked from it, just flipped through and noted the recipes.
As a child of the central california coast, Big sur has a special place in my heart as well as the Nepenthe restaurant - it was a family favorite place to stop on those long, lazy trips up the coast.
Yet as much as I am a lover of Big Sur and Nepenthe, my initial feelings regarding the cookbook are of disappointment. First off, make no mistake - My Nepenthe is not really a cookbook as much as it is a memoir with some recipes here are there. Which is fine, if you are the sort of cookbook reader that likes a good story- personally, I like my cookbooks with recipes in them. The design of the book is beautiful and is heavily reminiscent of another cookbook memoir, Falling Cloudberries (which makes sense as they are from the same publisher). The recipes look good, and of course I won’t know until I cook any of them, but nothing really seems out of the scope of something I would dream up in the kitchen myself. Perhaps thats just because the style of the book is very close to the way I myself cook - simple flavors, lots of fresh produce, nothing very fancy in terms of technique. It’s a bit sad, really, because one of the things I look for in a cookbook are new ideas in flavor and technique and figuring out how I can apply them to my own style. At least at a glance, this book provides nothing new for me.
I’m hoping that once I read the book in greater depth that it will prove me wrong. On initial glance, though, the primary concern is that Steele’s Nepenthe is rather too close to my own, at least in the recipe department. And oh, I wish there were more of them.