You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Nepenthe’ tag.

While Holly’s Honey Wheat Berry Bread dough rises in my warm kitchen, let me tell you of a good book about the California coast which provides three things: Intimate Authenticity of the place, a History about how and why people settled at that location, and snippets of Experiences with the Coast Road.  My Nepenthe, by Romney Steele, also forks out exceptional recipes from the restaurant’s kitchen.

My Nepenthe is a cookbook memoir written by Bill and Lolly’s granddaughter, Romney Steele, who menu planned, cooked, and served at Nepenthe’s Cafe Kevah.  Romney’s family harkens to old California, back to the second-half of the 1800s, when her great-great grandfather, Albert Gallatin, built the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento.  Romney’s great-grandmother, Jane Gallatin Powers, grew up in the mansion, and then married San Francisco attorney, Frank Hubbard Powers.  Frank and Jane established the artists’ colony at Carmel-by-the-Sea and invited artists and writers to reside there to paint and write.

In 1949, Frank and Jane’s granddaughter, Lolly, together with her husband Bill Fassett, created Nepenthe atop a projection of Big Sur’s steep land, situated a few hundred feet above the Pacific Ocean.  Bill and Lolly commissioned Rowen Maiden, a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright, to develop their plans.  Romney writes, “My grandmother imagined an open-air pavilion for good food, dancing, and Sunday afternoon concerts, a place for people to come and forget their worldly cares.  She worked closely with Maiden to achieve her ideas.”

Nepenthe functioned as both home and restaurant.  “Bats and termites called the cabin home when they (Bill and Lolly) first saw it, and deer and rattlesnakes hovered.  My grandmother planted a grapevine that continues to trail up the front arbor.  My grandfather took jobs in the highway and in construction. The creation of Nepenthe Restaurant, a poet’s paradise carved from the hillside and formed to be one with land and sea, would follow.”

You read My Nepenthe two ways:  As a memoir, enjoying family photographs of good times and gorgeous meals at the restaurant, and also as a cookbook, by following its delicious recipes at your home.

As a memoir, My Nepenthe tells us of Big Sur through the lenses of each decade:

  • In the 1950s, “With a newly-minted highway and recovering economy, and Henry’s (Henry Miller) emerging fame after the ban on his Tropic books lifted, people flocked to Big Sur and hence, to Nepenthe.”
  • “The vigor of the ’60s brought a surge of interest in the coastal hamlet of Big Sur.  Hearst Castle in Cambria opened in 1959, bringing tourists from the south, and in 1962, the Esalen Institute opened its doors to the Human Potential Movement, drawing its own illustrious crowd.”
  • The Nepenthe Cheeseboard and the Vegetarian Chef Salad appeared on Nepenthe’s menu in the ’70s.  “The minute a waiter carried it (the Cheeseboard with generous hunks of cheese, fat slices of dark black bread, and fruit served on a board and accompanied by a glass of port) out to a table, surrounding tables asked for it too.”

After reading the book as a memoir, a memoir of Big Sur’s changes, a memoir of the restaurant Nepenthe, and a family memoir, you too will be inspired to cook.  My kitchen smells heavenly when making both, “Day At The Beach Minestrone Soup” and “Holly’s Honey Wheat Berry Bread.”

The Nepenthe telephone booth’s history is noted in My Nepenthe.  Lolly worried that they would be burdened with constantly answering the phone, “Everybody will call call to see if there was fog or not.”

Buy My Nepenthe.

 

 

This post written by Anneliese Agren

I am not without hope of delighting to find the essential Coast Road novel.  Expectations defined in a previous post on two Coast Road-titled books ended with a request that, at the very least, when a book is titled, “The Coast Road,” then the reader better find plenty of setting along the Coast Road.

Elizabeth C. Ward’s 1983, Coast Highway 1, has it all:  A pissy, Stanford alum, University of Irvine comparative literature professor who translates nineteenth-century Spanish novelists, and intentionally grades his best student’s extraordinary paper a B+.  Jake Martin finds the extraordinary student lying dead one foggy morning, under the bougainvillea of his Spanish stucco courtyard.

“It was too late to go home, even for a change of clothes.  I bought a map of the coast highway and headed south.”   Jake Martin exits his next locations (Balboa Bay Club, San Juan Capistrano, Encinitas, even Ensenada), always in the nick-of-time.  Bullets prod his every departure.

A twist in the plot turns Jake northward, and soon he is north of Santa Monica, above Malibu, “Point Magu [sic].  One last strange rock, alone and seaward, like some forgotten giant or a period at the end of a sentence.  Beyond that are the flats of the Ventura Valley, the firing range, the naval base, the Pacific missile range, pale fields with only the tips of the summer crop greening the land.  Highway 1 hurries across it as though to get to the other side quickly, before the sea sweeps in again and wipes it clean.”

The reader finds plenty of setting along the Coast Road.  In Pismo Beach, Jake races through Oceano Dunes to evade a dune-buggying pursuer.  To reach some inland locales, such as Jake’s side-trip to Stanford campus, Elizabeth Ward writes, “I left the sea at Pescadero and turned inland through the artichokes and up into the redwood canyons that wind up to Skyline Drive.”  At Fort Point, Jake exchanges words under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge with the sergeant assigned to the case.

Penciled edits in the copy that I read, made me laugh out loud.  The first edit is found when Jake Martin carries his investigation to Pacific Heights in San Francisco.  Elizabeth C. Ward describes the streets of his location as, “…on California, between Jackson and Clay.”  A savvy reader before me penciled in three parallel lines next to this paragraph, and named each: California, Clay, Jackson.  To the right of the paragraph, this editor/reader wrote, “BETWEEN?” and then, for good measure on the page, a deeply-leaded “!”

Later, the same scribe slashed an “r” in “Monterrey,” with an admonishment, “One “ARE” in our Monterey!”

Elizabeth C. Ward includes the environmental movement and Robinson Jeffers in her Coast Highway 1.  In the victim’s photography book on estuaries of the California coast, “Jennifer had used Jeffer’s words as the only text in her book and the photographs were worthy of a poet.  The eye that had looked through the lens had lingered on the detail of wing and seed and ripple of water.  Had recorded the reflection of insect and reed and marsh grass.  It had gloried in the sweep of sky and the boundless still-spaces of the estuary.”

The gnarliest chase scene occurs, briefly, as a coast road run through the Big Sur coastscape.  “No backwoods roads lead to the safety of highway arteries further inland.  There is no escape except by foot into terrain where only the wildcat and the red-tailed hawk survive.  Once committed, there is no way out.  Set a roadblock, one at each end, and a man is trapped here forever.  Fugitive, he is defeated, finally, not by the men at either end, but by the mountains themselves and the sea swirling below.”

Elizabeth C. Ward’s Coast Highway 1, is fairly essential as a Coast Road Read.  It is certainly a bunch of fun to vicariously romp along its settings up and down the California coast.  Elizabeth wrote two other books, both published in the 1980s, A Nice Little Beach Town and The Lost Day.  Ms. Ward has lived in Newport Beach for most of her life.

Available Used.

A little article on Ms. Ward.

Instagram

There was an error retrieving images from Instagram. An attempt will be remade in a few minutes.

Coast Road Twit

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Flickr Photos

Days until manuscript completion

Final DraftNovember 30th, 2013
Dot i's and cross t's.