There are recipes in this book to be sure. But more than that, there are stories that will touch and stay with you long after you set its spine down.
“Recipe for Disaster” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy, is by Alison Riley. It is the first book by this Brooklyn-based writer and creative director, and founder of the paper and text studio, Set Editions.
It’s a unique collection of 40 essays and recipes highlighting how good food provides sustenance in so many ways through so many trying times. Riley has assembled an impressive roster of big-name contributors who share strikingly personal stories about how food has soothed and assuaged during some of the worst moments in life.
Comedian Sarah Silverman writes about how chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies known as pinwheels were the only thing that comforted her when she first experienced long-term depression at age 13. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse reveals how the throes of the pandemic made her appreciate all the more the beauty of a fresh salad made with the produce grown by her local farms.
Actor-comedian Bowen Yang admits that as a child he didn’t care for his mom’s cooking, but now appreciates it so much that her version of ma po tofu is the first thing he wants when he goes home to Colorado. And in one of the most stirring accounts, broadcast journalist Alex Wagner explains how her simple, hastily made canned-tuna sandwich that she toted to work would turn out to be the only thing to offer any sense of normalcy on Sept. 11, 2001.
Wine in cans is sure having a moment. And these from Djuce are as dramatic as they get.
Founded in Stockholm, Sweden, this sustainable-wine company just expanded into the United States in Los Angeles and San Diego, and soon to arrive in San Francisco. The cans are decorated with striking, contemporary artwork from artists around the world, and filled with wine from European producers.
Cans were chosen not only because they are lighter and easier to transport, but according to the company, also because they are 28 percent more efficient to recycle and their use cuts CO2 emissions by 79 percent compared to glass.
Currently, Djuce offers 11 wines from seven regions in Europe, all sustainably farmed, certified organic, vegan, and low in sulfites.
I had a chance to sample three of them. Each can is 250ml or roughly 1 cup, which makes for a generous portion for one person or a modest pour for two people to share.
Lahaina, Maui, HI — If you’re lucky enough to be on Maui from now through Saturday, you can enjoy the inventive dish that landed Assistant Executive Chef McKenna Shea of Pacifico On The Beach victory on the Food Network’s “Chopped” last month.
For the past month, the inviting beachfront restaurant has featured that special abalone salad that helped her trounce three other chefs and score the $10,000 prize.
Admittedly, she was initially befuddled upon opening up the mystery basket to discover abalone and ube cheesecake. Who wouldn’t be, right?
Not only that, she had never worked with abalone before. But harnessing the skills she’d learned from her mentor, Pacifico’s Executive Chef Isaac Bancaco, she set to work.
Visiting Maui last month, I had a chance to dine at Pacifico, a 28-year-old restaurant that Bancaco was hired to revamp a year ago. Don’t be surprised if some of the fresh catch of the day was actually caught by Bancaco, who’s an avid fisherman, too.
Such was the case, too, when he and his wife Janice Simeon bought the nearly two-decade-old Tiffany’s restaurant last year when its former owners, the Orite family, decided to retire. Long an old-school locals’ favorite, the expansive restaurant had a lived-in look and a huge menu leaning into Chinese, Japanese and Korean classics.
When the Simeons took over, they refreshed the interior a bit, but kept its funky island flair. The menu was honed, with some more Filipino influences added, as well as a few of Simeon’s signatures such as his version of Fat Chow Funn.
Having visited nearly every other one of their restaurants, my husband and I couldn’t pass up dining at Tiffany’s on our most recent visit to Maui last month.
Honolulu, Oahu, HI — For a truly special experience, snag a seat at the chef’s counter at natuRe Waikiki — if you can.
The two-story restaurant opened in 2022 with plenty of outdoor seating on the first floor with an a la carte menu. But the best spot in the restaurant is definitely at the 10-seat chef’s counter, where Chef Nae Ogawa and her young team hold court in the open kitchen.
I had many wonderful meals on my trip to Hawaii last week. But by far, one of the most outstanding was the tasting menu at this gem that Honolulu Magazine named “Best New Restaurant” in 2022.
To be honest, natuRe (pronounced the French way, “nah-tur) was not even on my radar. On a sun-and-sand, sandals-and-shorts kind of vacation, I wasn’t necessarily even contemplating an upscale, fine-dining dinner.
But friend Sarah Burchard deserves special thanks for steering me to it. The former chef at San Francisco’s Barbacco, Burchard moved to Honolulu more than six years ago to become a successful food writer. In fact, anyone planning a trip to Hawaii should check out her online site for tips on must-visit places. When she’s not writing or volunteering her time for all manner of community eco projects, she is a server at natuRe. So, when she recommended the chef’s counter there, I knew she wouldn’t steer me wrong.