This is the best part of being an author: when your book comes out and you have a signing at a terrific food-centric bookstore like Omnivore Books in San Francisco.
It also helps to have a great interviewer like food blogger Sean Timberlake of Hedonia, who lives in the neighborhood, to make it fun and dynamic. We talked about food blogging, mostly, but also got in a little bit about restaurant reviewing and freelance writing.
And it helps to have a good crowd. Among those who came out were food bloggers Anita Chu of Dessert First, Irvin Lin of Eat the Love, Lynda Balslev of TasteFood, Shauna Sever Webb of Piece of Cake, Kristin Halgedahl of Four Eyes Forum, Sam of The Second Lunch and the author of If I Knew You Were Coming I’d Have Baked a Cake. Ted Weinstein, a literary agent who lives in the neighborhood, also came by (he’s been a guest at my book proposals class for years, listening to student pitches), as did Joanne Rocklin, a talented children’s book author and member of my book group.
Celia Sack, proprietor, even asked a few questions. She’s working on her own book for Chronicle Books, a recipe keeper including images culled from her own antiquarian book collection.
After the crowd left, I had time to browse. Celia showed me some gorgeous books that are hard to find in the US. One standout is Maggie’s Harvest, an enormous 350-recipe cookbook from Maggie Beer, an Australian chef, cookbook author and television personality. It features an embroidered cloth cover that wraps around to the back. The book is full color inside, with gorgeous photography and design. And Beer is well known for recipes that work. Cost: $100.
For more about Omnivore and some of Celia’s favorite books, read this excellent blog post from Tara Weaver of Tea & Cookies.
By then it was close to dinnertime, so my husband Owen and I hopped over to Contigo, a Spanish and Catalan restaurant co-owned by Brett Emerson, who once took a food writing class from me when he was a mere food blogger. Now he’s a chef at one of San Francisco’s hottest restaurants.
Brett sent over a classic Catalan dish: a plate of bread slices toasted in the oven and topped with olive oil, fresh tomato, and salt. The dish reminded us of breakfast at a small hotel we stayed at in Cadaques, a little fishing village on the Costa Brava, where we watched Spanish guests squeeze fresh tomatoes onto slices of toast. At Contigo, we feasted on bocadillos, anchovies, a fig and arugula salad, patatas with aoli and tomato sauce, and two desserts: a caramlized peach upside down cake with brown butter ice cream; and a trio of ice creams: hazelnut, melon infused with lemon verbena, and peach. Full and happy, we wandered down the main drag of Noe Valley, looking in shop windows, enjoying the Victorian architecture, and bracing ourselves against the cold San Francisco fog.