Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Reading List


Well, I forgot to hang the "On Vacation" sign out before leaving, but indeed I've been gone - in Hawaii for most of two weeks, with too-brief stopovers in San Francisco on the way to and from. Some reports from the islands - Maui and Big Island in particular - will follow. We also ate incredibly well in our few days in San Francisco, starting with State Bird Provisions (named Bon Appétit's "Best New Restaurant of the Year" a few days after our visit), AQ, and finishing our trip with a Lazy Bear underground dinner. Lots of pictures are already up on flickr if you're interested in a preview.

To phase back in gently, here is the tried and true crutch of those lacking the energy to write their own material: the "What We're Reading" list. It just so happens that there were a number of interesting things I read over the past couple weeks which seemed worth sharing (and, it's easier than writing my own right now):

Top 50 Best New Restaurants (Bon Appétit) - by most accounts (and from my experience at State Bird and AQ, anyway) a very solid list.

Vacation (Michael Laiskonis' Notes from the Kitchen) - the mightily talented Laiskonis has been doing a lot of writing lately, and this description of a "perfect" meal is a great example with an apropos title.

What Danny Meyer's Customer Tracking System Really Says About You (Grubstreet New York) - an expansion of a fun New York Times piece on restaurant code (my favorite: "s'ammazzano," or "killing themselves," for a diner planning to propose), explaining how Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group keeps dibs on good - and bad - customers.

Repetition Defines Us (Michael Hung, Inside Scoop SF) - a simple essay on the nature of being a cook that seems to have particularly resonated with those in the business.

Would YOU Want to Have the New York Times Restaurant Critic Over For Dinner? (Adam Sachs, Bon Appétit) - a funny piece about a food writer cooking for present and former New York Times critics Pete Wells and Frank Bruni.

Should a Wine List Educate or Merely Flatter You? (Eric Asimov, New York Times) - a smart retort to a Steve Cuozzo column complaining about wine lists that go over his head, advocating the virtues of the unfamiliar and esoteric.

And for some longer reads:

The Raw and the Cooked (Jim Harrison) - I'm not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading Harrison; I'm glad I finally did so. He's a gutsy, passionate writer with a gargantuan appetite for food and life, and a real pleasure to read.

Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami) - not a food book (though Murakami habitually notes what his characters eat for each meal), just a magnificent, surreal, transporting kind of novel that was the perfect reading material for several long flights.

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