What to read, what to read… If you’re like me, then you always stop at a bookstore and see what the staff has recommended before poking around the store. And the recent snowstorm was a windy reminder that an essential storm supply is a stack of good books. (No problem with power outages.) Today, we’re starting a weekly feature looking at the staff recommendations from some of our favorite bookstores. This week we visit Porter Square Books in Cambridge.
STAFF PICKS THAT CAUGHT OUR EYE:
“The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish” (Hardcover) by Linda Przybyszewski that Sarah says is a fascinating look at women and economics.
“The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water” (Hardcover) by first-time author and illustrator Gemma Merino is a book that Robin says: “This book is fun right from the start, and ends with a delightful surprise!”
“Everything I Never Told You” (Hardcover) by Celeste Ng, a novel that Dina describes as “A heartbreaking, affecting family drama that deserves all the praise it’s gotten.”
“The Bee: A Natural History” (Hardcover) by Noah Wilson-Rich, Kelly Allin, and Norman Carreck. Megan says of this non-fiction treasure: “The perfect gift for the inquisitive person on your list – explores the relationship between humans and bees, and describes the evolution and behavior of bees.”
And, “Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps” by Kelly Williams Brown. This gem is now available in paperback, is a great book to take as travel reading and is supported by the author’s blog, which doles out advice (some of a NSFW nature!) and update.
Now for part 2 of our series on Top Chef alums: Boston’s dining scene has always been a vibrant one. With such easy access to an abundance of farm-raised, season-changing ingredients, our region has always been much more than the “land of bean and cod.” Our corner of the country has always been quietly pushing culinary boundaries. (Thanksgiving? Totally America’s first dinner party.)
Faison placed runner-up on the very first season of “Top Chef,” and earlier this month she scored the number two spot again on the inaugural season of “Top Chef Duels,” a spin-off that pits popular alums in culinary face-offs. (She also competed in a special “Top Chef All Stars” season.) When she’s not in front of the camera, you’ll find her in the kitchen at Sweet Cheeks Q, her popular barbecue restaurant steps from Fenway Park. With its smartly sourced meats, house made sauces and creative, bourbon-drenched cocktails served in mason jars, there’s a slightly elevated touch to her down-home fare.
Pro Tip: Chilly out? Fear not. Sweet Cheeks’ popular beer garden has a retractable roof, so you can still drink outside (sort of) when the cool weather comes.
Mark Gaier & Clark Frasier
This culinary power couple competed together on “Top Chef Masters.” But they first made their mark at Arrows, an Ogunquit icon that introduced locals to “farm to table” dining long before the phrase became ubiquitous. They still operate a slightly more casual restaurant, M.C. Perkins Cove, up in that resort town. But earlier this year they opened their first Boston spot: M.C. Spiedo, at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel, a glitzy option for historic Italian cooking based on the traditions of – what else? – Renaissance-era cuisine.
Pro Tip: How down to detail are the recipes? Check out “Leonardo’s Salad,” is comprised of a list of ingredients found in Da Vinci’s notebooks.
Kish was chef de cuisine at Barbara Lynch’s fine dining destination Menton when she won the 10th season of “Top Chef.” Since then, she’s moved on and parlayed her fame into a number of opportunities: from roving the country for special cooking engagement to scoring an endorsement deal with Rembrandt toothpaste. She hasn’t yet settled into a new permanent home, so keep an eye on her Twitter account (@KristenLKish) to see where she’s cooking next.
Pro Tip: In this case, tip your hat. Kish made “Top Chef” history by being the first contestant to win after being (temporarily eliminated). She made a comeback in the show’s “Last Chance Kitchen” and wound up only the second female winner to date.
He may not have won the inaugural season of “Top Chef Masters,” but the star chef behind Via Matta, Tico, and Alta Strada says he would “absolutely” return to reality TV again. “Although it’s really stressful and demanding, I’m competitive and seek vindication,” says Schlow. “I understand the challenges a little better and hope that given the opportunity I would fair a little better on the show.”
Pro Tip: Traveling? Good news. Schlow recently opened some new restuarants outside the Hub: Cavatina at the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood, and a Washington, DC brand of Tico.
Another “Top Chef Masters” alum, Sortun is the major talent behind Oleana, a Turkish and Eastern Mediterranean restaurant that earns its recurring recognition as one of the area’s best restaurants. But late last year she also opened Sarma in Somerville, a hip destination for cocktails and small plates. And her Sofra Bakery continues to satisfy sweet teeth, specifically.
Pro Tip: Want to try your hand at the plates that this James Beard-winning chef puts together? Sortun is also the author of a cookbook, “Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean.”
As I wait in line to get on the ferry from Hyannis to the Vineyard, a wild-haired, sweating woman man-handling a stroller complains that I’ve placed my bags in front of her, blocking the line. It is certainly by mistake as I am simply trying to relieve my numb hand from the bag that I had over-packed–again. I apologize, pick up my bag with the non-numb hand and proceed to the end of the serpentine line.
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Shipping up to Boston? The Dropkick Murphy’s are! The Quincy-born shamrock-n-roll band is coming back to home tonight for a free concert to promote their latest album “Signed and Sealed in Blood” which drops, you guessed it, today.
Head over to McGreevy’s in Back Bay for a live acoustic performance, a Q and A with band members and CD signing from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The event is 21+ and free of charge but if you want to get through the doors, make sure you line up early because admission is first come first serve. If you can’t make it in Boston Phoenix & WFNX will broadcast live from the festivities on their websites.
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EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
Anna Paula Goncalves
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