’Recipes from California: a Restaurant Guide and Cookbook’
RIDGE WRITERS ON BOOKS Review by DONNA MCCROHAN ROSENTHAL
Two marvelous books shed light on the Golden State’s saga while beguiling our senses.
“Recipes from Historic California: A Restaurant Guide and Cookbook” (Linda and Steve Bauer, color photo insert, 318 pages, Taylor Trade Pub-lishing, hardcover, 2008, $24.95) provides a gastronomic travelogue that combines the stories of celebrated dining establishments with their fam-ous recipes.
Destinations include the Culinary Institute of America, Awahnee Hotel, Steinbeck House, Wolf House Restaurant, Hotel del Coronado, Mission Inn, Queen Mary and 47 more.
Recipes range from exotic and evocative to homey: Calistoga Inn’s Lake County Pear Cake, Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort’s Crispy Cactus Appetizers and Rattlesnake Empanadas, and the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge Country Style Meatloaf with Roast Corn Sauce.
A picture of our past emerges as readers turn page by delectable page: prospectors, gold, railroads, the wine industry and the movies. Notes about films and TV shows shot in Death Valley accompany the Furnace Creek discussion, and another entry credits Oakdale’s Sierra Railroad Dinner Train with launching North America’s first dinner train.
Clearly, ambiance adds to the experience, but the authors offer the choice of preparing the dishes yourself or tracking down the remarkable kitchens that serve them.
“Quilts: California Bound, Cali-fornia Made 1840-1940” (Sandi Fox, 205 pages, University of Oklahoma Press, trade paperback, 2013, $40.00) appeals to the eyes every bit as much as “Recipes” tempts the taste buds.
Curator and scholar Fox presents hundreds of beautiful full-color photos of heirlooms originally carried on the backs of horses and mules, in covered wagons, by ships and trains and, in later years, crafted by settlers and residents. She describes each album quilt, storybook quilt, crazy quilt and other quilt in careful detail, from techniques, materials and patterns to the contemporary letters, diaries, and historical records that reveal the social, political and cultural contexts that produced them.
She delves into the earliest known documentation of a quilting party in California, English writer Oscar Wilde’s influence on American quilting, and quilting fads such as an escalating number of pieces in the 1930s: If Eva Long Stevens impresses you with her quilt constructed from 13,260 pieces of cotton cloth, consider Albert Small’s intricate design assembled from 224,000 pieces.
Arguably, the trappings of daily life never looked so good. “Recipes from Historic California” and “Quilts” elevate eating and sleeping from creature comforts to fine art.
This weekly column is written by members of the Ridge Writers, the East Sierra Branch of the Califor-nia Writers Club. Meetings are held the first Wednesday evening of each month at Ridgecrest Presbyterian Church, and free programs are offered throughout the year.
Ridge Writers’ book “Planet Mojave: Visions From a World Apart” is available at the Carriage Inn, Jawbone Station, the Historic USO Building, the Maturango Museum, Red Rock Books and www.planetmojave.com.Story First Published: 2013-05-08