Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Signing | Fall 2012 cookbook signings

One of my favorite things about the fall each year is the bounty of new cookbooks released right before the holiday season (I suppose it makes for higher sales from the abundance of gift giving). I had the pleasure of meeting three renowned culinary individuals this season.

{1,4} First, I was able to meet Nancy Singleton Hachisu, the woman behind {2Japanese Farm Food. She lives with her Japanese farmer husband, Tadaaki, and her three children on an organic farm in rural Japan, all of which certainly provided the inspiration for the stories and recipes in her latest cookbook. She and her husband grow and prepare all of their ingredients{3}As part of the demonstration/signing/Q&A at Williams-Sonoma, she cooked a Japanese eggplant dish (i.e., fried eggplant with sweet miso) along with the fluffiest Japanese rice (her book guides you how to shop for the best grains and how to cook it to its optimal state. {5} She also had some barley/buckwheat tea served cold.

Some highlights of her discussion with her audience:

  • Japanese cuisine has historically been dominated with a male approach to cooking. 
  • Her mother-in-law used to make udon noodles everyday for her husband, by hand!
  • Tadaaki learned everything he knows about cooking from his grandmother growing up. 
  • Tomatoes + soy sauce = umami explosion!
  • Rarely any sugar is used in her recipes.
  • Her life on the farm is much, much different life than the ones led by residents of urban Tokyo.
  • There is an obsessiveness with seasonality with her lifestyle, and even as such, it is actually very feasible to live this way.
  • Important ingredients: Ottawa soy sauce and brown rice vinegar (unlike most rice vinegars found in supermarkets which aren't as good).

She was so easy to talk to, and I cannot wait to delve into her recipes and learn more about traditional, rustic Japanese cooking. I hope our paths cross again, and I can attend a dinner with her as the guest chef!

My signed copy of Japanese Farm Food.

Next up was meeting Chef Thomas Keller and Chef Sebastien Rouxel for the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook. I cannot believe this was my fifth time meeting Chef Keller!

{1,4} This little book signing posed some great significance in my life. It was about three years ago, at this very Williams-Sonoma at Columbus Circle, that I had met Linda, my awesome friend and culinary soul sister, whilst waiting in line at another one of Chef Keller's cookbook signings, only it was for  Ad Hoc at Home. Waiting in line once again together with Linda brought about some major déjà vu, for sure -- what a way to celebrate our three-year friend-iversary! {2} And of course, even though arriving decently early, there was a good line ahead of us, but we were quite content with {3} the array of delectable desserts to sample. {5} Plus we even got to tell Chef Keller our story about how we met and act all starstruck in our photo with him and Chef Rouxel!

And in true Chef Keller fashion, the inscriptions for the Bouchon Bakery Cookbook were It's all about memories and It's all about childhood.

{1} In that very same week, Linda and I met up again so we could have {2} Chef Yotam Ottolenghi and Chef Sami Tamimi sign our copies of {3} their latest cookbook, Jerusalem. Not too shabby for being multi-chef groupies! {4} While Chef Ottolenghi was discussing the premise behind Jersalem which is not necessarily a complete anthology of Israeli cuisine but essentially a hodgepodge of all of their favorite recipes while growing up and living in Israel, we had the pleasure of sampling {5} some roasted butternut squash with red onion, tahini, and za'atar. It was so great that I was inspired to make this very dish for my family's holiday dinner.

My signed copy of Jerusalem!

Findings: These three cookbooks are so very different from each other and a lot different than many of the existing cookbooks that are in my collection, so I am very pleased to be adding these to my growing shelves of recipes (especially personally signed copies!). Hopefully I'll find some time to read my way through the beautiful photographs and stories in each one very soon -- I cannot wait!

Price point: $35-50 for each cookbook.

--October 17, 2012; October 26, 2012; October 26, 2012

Time Warner Center
10 Columbus Circle, Suite 114
New York, NY 10019

121 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022

Japanese Farm Food
Nancy Singleton Hachisu
available here on Amazon.com

Bouchon Bakery Cookbook
Thomas Keller & Sebastien Rouxel
available here on Amazon.com

Jerusalem: A Cookbook
Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
available here on Amazon.com

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