Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ming Tsai's Boston

I get lots (LOTS!) of emails from publishers, and while I try to read all of them I'll admit I skip over more than I probably should. Today I opened my email from Clarkson Potter (part of Random House, Clarkson Potter focuses on cooking) and saw a link to a little interview with Ming Tsai about some of his Boston favorites.

In case you don't know Chef Tsai, he owns Blue Ginger, an acclaimed restaurant (that I really hope to try when I have a reason to splurge) near our sister store in Wellesley and is the author of the cookbook Blue Ginger, a classic that has been on our shelves since it was first published in 1999!

Note to self: Must head to Porter Exchange to try Sapporo Ramen.
Note to you: If you'd like to sign up for Clarkson Potter's Recipe Club newsletter you can subscribe by sending an email to

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Galley Grab!

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but they're lots of fun (at least I think so) so I'll try to remember to do them more often (especially now--Alie and I have just started meeting with our reps for the fall season which means they bring lots of new galleys for us. Yay!)

On with the freebies...

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

This was originally self-published, but it got such great attention that it got picked up by HarperCollins; they'll be releasing the spiffed-up version in August (you can read about it in this article by the Boston Globe). The Lace Reader, set in Salem, is the story of Towner Whitney, a woman who has a complicated relationship with her family--women known to be lace readers (those who can read a person's destiny through examining a piece of lace) and known to be a bit removed from the norms of society. Towner had left Salem under difficult circumstances, but is compelled back after her beloved Aunt Eva goes missing. The ensuing drama forces Towner to come to terms with her family, her past, and her gifts (and has a kicker of an ending). You can find out a lot more here.

I read The Lace Reader a couple of months ago and really liked it--a great read with an intricate plot and interesting characters. Though it's described as a mystery, it isn't me it's more of an exploration of abuse and loss and family. I especially recommend it to all the Jodi Picoult fans out there.

Wake Up: A Life of the Buddha by Jack Kerouac

Wake Up is a biography of the Buddha that Kerouac wrote in the '50s as he was developing a fascination with Buddhism. I gave a copy of this to Ric as he's both in charge of our Eastern Religion section and a fan of Kerouac (Scripture of the Golden Eternity is a particular recommendation of his), but I have another copy for you as well!

And finally, Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer

Be a hero to your kids and have them be the envy of their friends by giving the an advance copy of the new Artemis Fowl book, the sixth book in Colfer's series about a teenage genius of dubious moral character and the alternate world he discovers filled with fairies, trolls, and the like. (for ages ten and up

If you'd like any of these, just leave me a comment with your first name and I'll put it on hold for you behind the register!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The New Percy Jackson Book Has Arrived!

Oh my gods, I can't believe I forgot to mention this earlier--Battle of the Labyrinth, the fourth book in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan arrived! Yippee! I wanted to grab one right out of the box on Tuesday morning and start reading but restrained myself. Instead I took home Titan's Curse, the third book, to reread before I start on book four (in true good-book fashion, I missed my T stop last night as a result). I leave for Florida later tonight which gives me three hours of uninterrupted time with Percy, Annabeth and Grover! Yay!

I'm also taking The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson as Alie just finished it and cannot stop talking about how amazing it is. And I mean that quite literally. There's a window (well, not really a window, more of a square-shaped hole in the wall) between our offices and I've heard her rave about this book pretty much multiple times a day to anyone and everyone. How can I not try it?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I'm In Love

Vanilla Pound Cake. Triple Lime-Chocolate Crunchy Feet. Cranberry-Lemon Pound Cake Loaded with Chocolate. Coconut-Pineapple Crunchy Feet. Chocolate Butter Cake. I could go on.

We just got in a fantastic new cookbook--CakeLove by Warren Brown. Mr. Brown owns CakeLove, a bakery with locations in DC, VA and MD that's won numerous awards and he hosts Sugar Rush on the Food Network (Maybe I can convince him to open a Boston outpost of CakeLove? Maybe I can convince him to marry me? Just kidding. Sort of.)

I'm really impressed with this cookbook for a few reasons. First off, the recipes just sound delicious and have flavor combinations that are actually unique (which is hard to come by. The last baking book that had recipes that had me sit up and take notice is Regan Daley's 2001 In the Sweet Kitchen, which I still think is the best resource on baking and sweets out there. Period.).

Secondly, perhaps most importantly, Mr. Brown really does a great job of providing clear and descriptive instructions that also have a personal voice, something I love in a good cookbook--especially since (embarrassing confession alert) I read them way more than I actually cook from them. For example, he explains creaming butter and sugar in a way that totally opened my eyes to what to look for during the process (in case you were wondering: dancing--what a great term!, clumping, and coating). And here's his instruction for transferring batter to a pan: "Fill the prepared pan about three-quarters full. Even though this batter is a bit runny compared to the others, don't pour the batter into one spot and let it ooze around the pan. Instead, deposit the batter with the rubber spatula in small clumps around the pan." This is exactly the kind of stuff I want to know.

Finally, I think the idea of "crunchy feet" is just the best thing ever. Crunchy feet are pound cakes baked in little brioche pans that give you a quick hit of deliciousness and don't require frosting, which I have to admit, I don't usually much care for. As an added bonus it makes the baking process super-quick--generally just 15 minutes--which is fantastic as delayed gratification is not my strong suit when it comes to baked goods.

Going on...Sassy Cake with mango puree and cayenne pepper. Maizing Cake with fresh corn. No-Mixer Chocolate Cake. Cherry-Chocolate Chip Cupcakes...

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Masterpiece!

This past week I read a great book for kids coming out in September--Masterpiece by Elise Broach. It's the story of Marvin, a beetle whose family lives under the Pompaday's kitchen sink in New York City. Marvin discovers his hidden talent for drawing when he creates a birthday present for James, the eleven-year-old boy who lives in the apartment the beetles call home. Even more important than his discovery of his talents, however, is Marvin's discovery of a true friendship with James. Marvin's talents lead Beetle and boy to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they try to help uncover who has been stealing Durer drawings.

Masterpiece reminded me of some of my absolute, all-time favorite stories from childhood-- From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Claudia and Jamie are siblings who run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art--they shower in fountains and sleep on historic beds!--and try to discover the secrets of a beautiful sculpture), The Borrowers (a family of teeny-tiny people who create an entire world underneath the floorboards just like Marvin's family), and Charlotte's Web (I was reminded of the beautiful descriptions of friendships--and the unexpected talents of a bug!). That's some seriously heady company to be keeping, and Masterpiece pulls it off beautifully. Three cheers!