My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur

Overview

"A very special book about a very special place." —Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food

"What a world Romney Steele has given us in My Nepenthe! This personal tale is as tender and bright as a bite of Nepenthe Cheese Pie and will transport me—and you—to Big Sur and the days and nights of this magical place. My Nepenthe serves a big, gorgeous slice of American culture that I loved visiting through words and memory." —Deborah Madison, author of ...

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My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur

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Overview

"A very special book about a very special place." —Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food

"What a world Romney Steele has given us in My Nepenthe! This personal tale is as tender and bright as a bite of Nepenthe Cheese Pie and will transport me—and you—to Big Sur and the days and nights of this magical place. My Nepenthe serves a big, gorgeous slice of American culture that I loved visiting through words and memory." —Deborah Madison, author of What We Eat When We Eat Alone and Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone 

"Romney Steele grew up in the lively bohemian milieu of Nepenthe on the Big Sur coast and knows all the stories worth telling. In My Nepenthe, an intimate, richly illustrated memoir with recipes culled from the restaurant's 60 years, she writes marvelously about her "crazy stew of a family" and especially her beloved grandmother, whose kindness and hospitality were legendary. —Caroline Bates, contributing editor, Gourmet magazine

My Nepenthe weaves together stories and tales about the famous California restaurant perched on the majestic cliffs of Big Sur. It celebrates the magic and history of place through food and the Fassett family who started Nepenthe.

A lyrical feast written by the owners' granddaughter, Romney Steele, who grew up at the restaurant, My Nepenthe is as much about a family enterprise as it is about the Fassett family and their legacy. It recounts stories about the family's more than sixty-year history on the coast, the arts and architecture, and the colorful people who were the genesis of this legendary restaurant.

My Nepenthe marks the restaurant's vibrant past as a gathering place and noted bohemian haunt, and its foray into the film industry during the shooting of The Sandpiper, featuring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It also explores the lively scene that played out into the '70s, and onward through the current decade where it showcases Nepenthe's unique relationship with Pisoni Vineyards, owned by the renowned winemaker family. My Nepenthe includes more than seventy-five special recipes from the Fassetts, the restaurant, and the cafe, along with spectacular photography that completes the tale.

Ultimately, My Nepenthe is a story about food, family, and the culture of place, and how it all unfolds around the table and why that matters.

About Nepenthe

Located on the Big Sur cliffs 808 feet above the Pacific Ocean, Nepenthe Restaurant boasts sweeping views of the rugged Santa Lucia Mountains and the wild south coast of Monterey County. Angular mountains plunge into the crashing surf below, and on a clear day there is no limit to the scenery, unspoiled and immense in nature. Opened in 1949 by the Fassett family, the restaurant is nestled among native oak trees and a historic log cabin (now faced by brick) that was once owned by Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780740779145
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/17/2009
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 404,750
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Romney Steele

Romney "Nani" Steele is a writer, a cook, a visual artist, and a food stylist. As the granddaughter of Bill and Lolly Fassett, creators of Nepenthe Restaurant, she grew up at the family business and opened Cafe Kevah, located on the grounds of Nepenthe. She lives in Oakland, California, with her two children, Trevor and Nicoya.

Online:
mynepenthebook.com

www.facebook.com/pages/Plum-Gorgeous/

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    My Nepenthe (Too!)

    My first visit to Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur, California was in the fall of 1983. It was a hot day and we sat outside on the massive terrace with a cold drink -- in those days white wine, or possibly beer -- and looked down at the unbelievable view. A view of the Monterey coast that went on forever. I've never forgotten that first visit. Or that first view. Yes, the parking lot was full of rental cars, and yes, there were crowds of tourists snapping photos but none of that mattered. I didn't know what to expect as we climbed the winding stone steps up through a canopy of oak trees to the restaurant. But once I stepped foot onto the large terrace and saw the view, I understood the magic of Nepenthe. No matter where you are at Nepenthe, the Phoneix Shop, the Café Kevah or the restaurant itself, the view is there. Always and forever. In my memory there were hawks floating on thermals almost at eye level. That is how high up Nepenthe is. In the clouds. At the end of our drinks it was very hard to pull myself away. Over the years I have gone back to Nepenthe each time I visited the area. How can one not visit such a spectacular place?

    I was thrilled when I heard that a granddaughter of the original owners had written the Nepenthe story in celebration of its' 60th anniversary. I was even more excited when the book arrived on my doorstep for review. It is everything a book like this should be: a celebration of a place and time, a memoir from someone who lived it, and a cookbook with both family and restaurant recipes. I was recently in Big Sur. It was a joy to be back. I love the Bohemian-hippy vibe that still exists there and thankfully author, Romney Steele, infuses her writing with a lot of that historical detail. Nepenthe was and still is a gathering point for all sorts of interesting and unique souls. From writers, to artists and artisans, to film people, to through-voyagers. As a child Romney Steele was lucky enough to watch it all happen. From stories of her grandparents Bill and Lolly Fasset who bought the property from Orsen Welles and Rita Hayworth in 1947, to frequent visits by writers Henry Miller and Jack Kerouac, to filming of the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton movie The Sandpiper, Ms. Steele was witness to it all.

    The book is woven through with history, stories, memories, archival and color photos, and recipes. The look and feel of the entire work is evocative of the free-living Bohemian lifestyle that permeates Big Sur's past and present. For me it was a fun read as I have been to Nepenthe, and to Big Sur many times over the years; it was wonderful to learn more about the history of both the restaurant and the area. Nepenthe is woven into the fabric of Big Sur and vice versa. They are a part of each other. What I liked about the food in this book is that it fits in with the down-to-earth vibe the book embodies. Ms. Steele encourages use of local, sustainable ingredients. This isn't fancy, five-star cuisine nor should it be. The food is earthy, hearty, filling and direct. It's food that makes sense for a restaurant and place perched high atop a hillside above the crashing surf in the wilds of Big Sur. Steele encourages the reader to find their own Nepenthe within the pages of her book. Steele is my kind of cook, this is my kind of book, I expect to pick it up often to both cook from, and to read more and again about life at Nepenthe. My Nepenthe.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2011

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