Last Sunday, photographer Windsor Andersen and I headed to the Boulevard restaurant in San Francisco to cover the Cooks with Books luncheon for culinary icon, Alice Waters. It was an amazing afternoon that celebrated Waters’ philosophy of cooking and eating local, seasonal, and sustainable food with a menu selected from her latest cookbook, The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution.
We arrived early and set about photographing the beautiful, belle époque-inspired restaurant for our Cooks with Books feature article, Rediscovering the Table in a Big, Blog World. As we moved about, owner-chef, Nancy Oakes gathered her wait staff together and spoke about the food being served, its origins and Waters’ philosophies. The produce, she explained, was from the farmer’s market, while the duck for the main course came from a farm in Petaluma.
Alice arrived and went over the final details of the menu with the kitchen before settling in to greet her fans and sign several hundred books. The restaurant filled with anticipation and excitement as the guests checked in and received their books. Many came with friends; some had driven long distances while others were celebrating special occasions. When it came time to meet Alice, many beamed and chatted while she signed. Some brought cameras for a reminder of “their moment.” One lady cleared the line, flipped out her cell phone, dialed and screamed, “Aaaaa, Oh my God! I met her! She’s wonderful! I can’t believe I met her!” She clutched her book and headed to the dining room.
Windsor and I were thrilled to be seated at Alice’s table. It was a chance to chat informally and enjoy the beauty of simple, exquisitely prepared and presented food that is her passion. We all talked animatedly about Alice’s Edible Schoolyard program and shared our personal stories about teaching children the importance of knowing where their food comes from and how to cook and share it with love. Despite the fact that Alice Waters is one of the great American culinary figures of her time, she is warm and open, eager to spread the word to new friends. It’s a joy to witness her message rippling through a world raised on fast foods and the idea that it’s quick and easy or nothing.
The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons, and Recipes from a Revolution by Alice Waters.
Marinated Beet Salad
Herb Roasted Almonds
Sauteed Scallops with Salsa Verde
Celery Root Remoulade
Braised Duck Legs with Leeks &
Soft Polenta, Broccoli Rabe with Garlic & Hot Pepper
Ginger Snap Ice Cream Sandwich
Read Rediscovering the Table in a Big, Blog World and learn more about the Cooks with Books program.