Monday, October 31, 2005


.... Okay guys. I'm back in New York (more to follow once I recover from my gross cold sore on my great Texas trip), but first things first. I'm going to be doing a FREE reading at the KGB Bar TOMORROW from 7 to 9, with - wait for it - Amanda Hesser. The universe may implode, but it should be a good time. Here are the stats:

85 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505 3360
7-9 pm

Hope to see you there!

Friday, October 28, 2005

It's a beautiful day

to be a democrat in Texas. So, so sweet....

Crazy vidlit, Take Two

Okay, this bizarro thing is apparently finally now ready for public consumption:

I think the idea is that you're to send it to all your friends, who will be so freaked out that they'll have to buy many copies of my book. We'll see....

Pros and Cons

The bad thing about Mendocino county is that when your contact, for which you have no replacements, rips on a Saturday, there's no optometrist's office open to help.

The good thing about Mendocino county is that if you have an admirably pushy friend who will call optometrists at their home, you can dig one up who will meet you at his closed office and give you a contact from his sample bag, for free.

The bad thing about Hurricane Wilma is, well, you know. Big hurricane.

The nice thing about Hurricane Wilma is that instead of going to Miami - which I'm sure is very nice, except not during a big hurricane - I got to spend more time in Austin with my family. And hang out with old friends and blog commentors Pete and Paul, and also Paul's fiance Amanda, who is great but surely was bored to tears by all our catch-up talk.

This Sunday I've got a reading at 12:30 at the Texas Book Festival. Going up against Jane Smiley, so I fear I'm not the big draw at this event. Should be fun though. Then back to New York, and all its many pros and cons.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sorry, sorry, sorry....

I know - I'm like the worst blogger on the planet. Much to report - not scintillating, but long - so I'll probably break it up into parts. Part the First, San Francisco.

Had two events on Friday - the first was in Santa Rosa, at the Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Cafe. A several-course lunch, including: potato leek soup, leek quiche with celery root remoulade, boeuf bourguignonne, and reine de saba cake. Everything was delicious, and prepared by the students. It was kind of a crazy event, I kept having to go up to the podium to hold forth. Weird. But fun. And I met a 98-year-old woman who I'd've sworn was 72. And the people who taught at and studied at the cafe were all completely great... one of them ran after me to tell me her story about how she once made Quail in Rose Petal Sauce for a man she was in love with who turned out to be gay.

In the evening I had a reading at Book Passage in Corte Madera. In between, my escort and I went to Sausalito to pick up the rental car I'd be using to drive up to see my very oldest friend Matt in Fort Bragg (California, not North Carolina.) We were late picking it up, and my escort insulted the Hertz guy, so I found myself in the middle of this whole big thing, but all turned out well.

The Book Passage reading was great, too. Well, actually, to be honest, I felt like I wasn't really on. But I think people liked it anyway. And the women who work at Book Passage are just fucking amazing. I mean really. Everything booksellers are meant to be in my sexy daydreams.

Then I got in a car and drove to Mendocino in the middle of the night. I almost fell asleep and died. But then I drank two diet pepsis and chewed a pack of juicy fruit, and didn't. And then I was in Mendocino, with Matt. And his wife, Laura. And all was well.

More later.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Oh, and...

You can hear me saying "like" a lot here....

Creature Comforts

A thousand times better than a minibar stocked with merlot and reese's mini cups for curing bloat, loneliness and all the other ills of the road:

My bathtub has jacuzzi jets.

Who needs friends? Who needs husbands?

I can't BELIEVE I just discovered this this morning. What a waste of an evening.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

On the Road... Again.

Well, my reading last night at B&N went swimmingly, and I got to see a lot of old, old faces. By which I mean, obviously, not faces that are old, but faces I have not seen in a long, long time. Including my very first boss from my very first, $50-per-week job in New York, and several government-agency-democrats. Then my editor took Eric and me and a bunch of friends - including my brother and "Gwen" - for drinks at Indochine. Which is a very my-editor sort of place. And many, many gimlets were drunk, and now Eric is monstrously hungover.

Not me though. I, instead, am in San Francisco. After a couple of interviews, including one with a food writer named Meredith who is just FANTASTIC, and who bought me pork tacos and MORE gimlets, I am now ensconced in my hotel room, knitting and trying to stay awake until 9 pacific time so I'm not trashed by tomorrow night, when I'm getting into a rental car after my reading at Book Passage in Corta Madere and driving three hours to see my oldest oldest friend matt in mendocino.

It's strange. I'm feeling very, very lonely right now. My husband has apparently recovered from his hangover, either that or has died - he is off somewhere, not answering his phone. I feel weird, somehow, calling any friends. Perhaps because it's nearly midnight where my friends are. I'm just sitting in bed in my hotel-issued robe, knitting. And, well, crying a little. Not sure why. Sometimes one simply must, I suppose.

Tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


So. I'm going to be at the Astor Place Barnes & Noble tonight at 7:30, and I want every single one of you to be there. Even if you have to buy an expensive plane ticket, limp in on bloody stumps, or wear an elaborate disguise (you know who you are.) Because, as some would point out, that's the kind of prideful bitch I am. Also, I just got my first death threat, in the comments on my former blog. So this may be your last chance to see.

But seriously - come, come! We're going out for drinks after, so it should be fun.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sorry for the inconvenience

I hope this is not a huge pain in the ass for people - please tell me if it is. But I've gone ahead and changed the settings on comments. I hate to do it, being a big believer in democracy and all, but I'm also a big believer in accountability, and it seems to me that if someone is going to go to all the trouble to look up words in Webster's in order to ineffectively insult me, he or she ought to get due credit.

I will change it right back if it proves annoying for people. Just let me know.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Martha, Martha, Martha

The first thing to say about Martha is that she has great offices, and a crazy competent staff, all of whom are very sweet, very clean (I kept catching stage managers randomly wiping down surfaces when they had nothing better to do), and slightly terrified looking. Except for the kitchen staff, who are amazing and make dirty jokes in the kitchen, which obviously I like.) The second thing to say about Martha is that she looks and acts just as you would expect her to. And the third thing (which is really part of the second thing) is that she is such a micro-manager I was completely amazed. She kept saying things to her staff on break like, "You're using the crocque en bouche clip? You should use the wedding cake one!" or "I like the carbonnade better than the buorguignonne, don't you? We should have made that!" It was rather awe-inspiring I have to say. Rather surreal and ridiculous, but awe-inspiring all the same.

Oh, and the show will air THIS Wednesday, and NOT next Monday.

Life - freaky as it is - goes on....

Jiggity Jog....

Well, it sure is nice to be home. The weather is beautiful, the animals are happy to see me, and Eric and I stuffed ourselves on chili cheese meatloaf and mashed potatoes last night. And what am I doing with my day today, you ask? Why, cooking Boeuf Bourguignonne with Martha, of course!

Well, "cooking," really. It's TV after all, and that's what food stylists are for. But otherwise, it's all true. The show's going to air next Monday, the 24th.

Fucking unreal, man.

And, oh shit, I'm getting picked up to go there, like, now. Gotta go. Will report on Martha's coiffure/sanity in a bit....

Friday, October 14, 2005

Sweet, sweet, sweet...

(That's a strange word when typed three times in a row....)

I have finished my final event for at least two days. Tomorrow I am going home. No place like it, doncha know.

I had a great time in Boston, despite the fact that a) Goddamn, the weather in the northeast is sucking right now, and b) Bostonians, when behind wheels of automobiles, are totally psychotic. I'm a New York driver, so you know I'm not being a hothouse plant about this. In one twelve hours period, I witnessed:

a traffic cop nearly coldcock a guy for not getting out of a parking space quickly enough;

a busy intersection (right outside my hotel, sadly) that, during rush hour suffered every three minutes the deafening din of a dozen car drivers leaning on their horns, every SINGLE time the light changed;

not one but two cabbies who totally chastised me for my manner of asking to go somewhere. The first cabbie was angry that I asked to go to some such address on White Street rather than saying the such-and-such mall (I had no idea the place I was going was in a strip mall at all....); the second couldn't understand that I was talking about getting to a certain intersection because I said "Massachusetts Avenue" instead of "Mass Ave." So weird.

So anyway - had two events. The first was a reading at Borders - actually the first non-independent bookstore I've been too, which is pretty awesome. It was a lunchtime event, so the crowd was small, though actually not quite as small as you'd've thought. Twenty five people or so. And there was this one woman there, Lucy, who was AMAZING. Kind of a nut, but amazing just the same. She was an editor for online travel thingamajiggies, then she went to Malaysia, then she decided she wanted to go to cooking school, so she worked illegally in all these Malaysian restaurants for awhile, then went to cooking school in Australia, and is now back in Malaysia, doing freelance editing. So crazy, so great, and she was sort of brilliant as well.

Then I had this dinner at Chez Henri in Cambridge. I was shocked by this thing. The chef, Paul something or other, concocted this four course meal of entirely MtAoFC recipes, and cooked in exactly the way they were written in MtAoFC. I'm picturing this kitchen staff hovering over this cook bookr, saying, "You want me to do what with ths who now?" The appetizers were cheese croquets with shrimp, potato cheese sticks (which didn't rise like they were meant to, much as mine did not), and something else great. Mushroom canapes. Then there was fish soup, and eggs with bernaise sauce (total ballsy choice, and GREAT) and beef rolls (can't remember the French right now, and besides beef rolls sounds dirty, so I like it), and baba au rhum. They were making all this for a group of thirty, while at the same time serving a busy Friday night crowd eating totally different things. It was AMAZING. Honestly.

I got to talk to pretty much everyone there, including my crazy friend Andy, and Mark, who I went to grade school with and who teaches divinity school at Harvard (is that right?) and who is the older brother of the fabulous, fabulous "Brian" from my book. And this amazing woman, whose name I never got, who was 85 if she was a day, and a little deaf, but totally fucking awesome. She came, she said, because she wanted to ask me about how I felt about the review I got in the New York Times Book Review, because it totally pissed her off. This is a woman who didn't know me from adam, she just was angry at the review on priniciple. And she was totally engaged in the whole dinner, and at the end she said, "You were not what I was expecting."

"What were you expecting?" I asked.

"I don't know," she said. "You're very real."

Which is the best thing anyone has ever said to me in the last ten days, and maybe ever.

I didn't make my second dinner at the best restaurant in Boston, though I did have a drink there, where I chatted up both the charming French manager and the cute BU student hostess. Now I'm enjoying my minibar for the last time, and eagerly awaiting my trip home tomorrow.

Now, I'd like to take this moment to say - and I'm aware that I sound like Hillary Swank in this way un-cool way - that my publicists at Little Brown, Michelle and Bonnie, are amazing. I have had the chance, in the past few months, to meet more than my share of publicists, and I'm not particularly fond of them as a species. But these women have won me over so surely and completely that I feel like Renee Zellwegger - "You had me at hello."

(Which is a quote I hate from a movie I hate, I so much prefer a quote from another movie that came out at the same time, "I can still taste you." But no matter.)

Home home home home home.

One of the classic blunders.

So I saw friends last night. And got drunk in my oh-so-fancy hotel suite. Quite drunk. I just went to do an interview for the Boston Herald in the hotel restaurant, still stinking of vodka. Oh well.

Big day today here in Boston, INCLUDING - and this is VERY last minute of me to be telling you this today, oh well - a reading at the Borders Books downton, on School Street. Then another event tonight, at Chez Henri, where I'll be served French food, again. And then I just got roped into going to ANOTHER dinner after that, at my hotel restaurant, which is, according to the Boston Herald reporter, who reminds me of my friend Dan-dan, the best in town.

And then home.

Thank christ.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It isn't my fault.

After the Austin "conversation" at Book People - which went really well, mostly because my parents invited all of their friends and family, including some of the born again ones - I went out with my parents and my editor Judy for gimlets and appetizers at Jeffrey's. No one could expect me to blog after that, especially since I had to get up at 4 am the next morning to catch a plane to Milwaukee.

Well, 4ish. My mom woke up at 4:15 to the sight of a faceless suited man standing on the front porch - my driver. He continued to stand there while my mom, a bit panicked, woke me up, then climbed into my bed and napped just a bit while I climbed into my shower.

Milwaukee. Honestly, I don't love the town. That's totally not fair, and I should give it more of a chance. I had a lunch event at the Park Bistro, which according to everyone who could grab my arms for ten seconds is the BEST restaurant in town. They did a Julia - based menu, steak with bone marrow sauce and cream of mushroom soup and pear flan, not necessarily in that order. It was quite nice. And the people - 90% women, perhaps %25 of them over the age of 75 - were fantastic. But you know how you just get that conservative vibe off people? I didn't know what to read, so I read the bone marrow section, omitting the foul language, and I think it went over well. Oh! And Matt came by, husband-o-Pinky Matt, who ate the chicken livers in aspic on Aspic nights lo these many moons ago. He looks great. And he's starring in the new production at the Milwaukee Shakespeare Company. So Milwaukee can't be all bad.

Then a big nap. Then a reading at the Schwartz bookstore in Bay View ( am I getting this right?) Which was a lot of fun (still just a tiny bit on the old side), so clearly I'm not giving Milwaukee the fair shakes.

Probably because when I got back to the hotel after the reading and went to the bar for a drink, I got totally totally hit on by a 70 year old man from Jackson Mississippi. It was awful. He bought me a drink from across the room, which, you know, fine. I like drinks. Then he came to sit down, and he seemed a nice enough old man, we talked about politics - he seemed to be a liberal. And I drank too much, what with the free drinks and all, so when it was time for me to go up to my room I didn't notice at first that he was getting off the elevator with me, and walking me to my room. And then, suddenly, trying to kiss me. And telling me how good he was, and that I should let him into my room for a memorable experience.

Ick. Ick ick ick.

I wound up giving him my copy of my book, just to get rid of him.

Also, I don't like Milwaukee because I couldn't get internet service in my room there. I felt like I was in 1988. Eric suggested I register the domain name and try to assassinate George W. Bush. But who has the time?

Then on to Chicago, where many interviews and things. And a fanTABulous hotel room. The Ritz Carlton. There's a reason they call it the Ritz - holy shit. The sheets are like 3,000 thread count. And they brought me a pizza on a silver tray, with little ramekins of chili flakes and parmesan. My reading was at this weirdo place in Naperville, called Dinners Together. You go in, and you pay $150 or something, and in two hours you assemble twelve freezer-friendly meals, which then you take home and nosh on for the next month. I can't decide if this is a brilliant or insane idea. Probably a little of both. For my reading, they made hors'deuvres and after my reading, I signed books while everyone made chicken divan crepes. And I sipped gimlets out of paper cups, on the sly, because some goddamned city inspector is breathing down the neck of the woman who owns the place because of alcohol, though she doesn't sell alcohol, so I don't see what the fucking problem is.

And I met lots of people, including Chad and Emily, who was a lurker, and who it absolutely the most adorable person I've ever met, sort of like a cross between Sarah Vowell and Amanda Hesser. And we must all say a prayer that she gets out of her crap dead-end job. And also Jill, whose birthday present I was (next time, though, I want to get to burst out of a cake with pasties on.) And the people from Anderson's Bookstore, Mary and Rachelle et al..., who were all great. Rachelle reminds me of that actress who plays the manager in The 40-Year-Old Virgin who propositions whatsisname. Except she's much better looking.

And that is all. Tomorrow, Boston.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Turning over a new leaf.

It has come to my attention that some blog readers - well, one - are greatly disappointed that I'm not throwing fire bombs and bitching mightily about everything in my path. Point taken. Paul, when I see you tonight, I promise to be a total bitch, and will write about it the next day in great detail. Deal?

I have been terribly, terribly remiss.

Sorry, everyone. Things went a little haywire there for a couple of days, and now I'm completely behind. So:

1) Portland. I LOVED Portland. Of course, I understand that it helps that I came on one of the five non-drizzly days of the year. It also helped that I was shown around all day by Nancy, who looks like Cynthia Nixon and is just absolutely the BEST, and was very concerned that I eat very well. Goddammit, I can't remember the place where we ate dinner, but it was in a converted warehouse and it had a huge hearth for cooking lots of big hunks of meat, and I had a vodka and fennel cocktail, though Nancy's - vodka with cucumber and anchovy-stuffed olives - was better. My reading was at the Powell's Books for Cooks on Hawthorne, and it was great, though still I ramble. (Fennel cocktail probably didn't help with that.) Then Nancy and I ended the evening at my hotel bar, with some gimlets. It was great.

2) Oakland. Not so great. Nothing against Oakland, you understand - I just got to the Marriot early, slept for five hours, then went downstairs to get drunk with booksellers. Very, very drunk. Fall asleep in my clothes, get woken up by a call from my driver at 4:30 am drunk. Not good. Really the best thing to happen all day was that I met a woman named Jennifer on the plane to Oakland, who was flying from her 94-year-old mother's funeral to a vacation in Dubai, and who is going to buy copies of my book for all her siblings, because her mother was a devoted reader and cook. It was a wonderful conversation, and I've decided not to feel at all exploitative, just because I managed to shill my book to a woman in mourning.

3) After the late wake-up call, I managed to be on a plane to Houston by 6:30 am; doing a radio interview at Brazos Books by 1:30. Oh, and I left my laptop on the plane, but because god looks after fools and drunks the people at Continental found it, and because Time-Warner looks after their hapless authors, I had a driver named Ben who could run back to the airport to pick it up while I did my radio interview.

My editor met me in Houston, with her friend Charlotte, who's a good Fort Worth girl who's lived in New York for years, which is the very best kind of Fort Worth girl, because she can totally shoot the high-falutin' cosmopolitan shit, but will also go next door and break in to her neighbor's house to find a perfect stranger a hair dryer. We ate lunch at Hugo's, treating my Oakland hangover with some most excellent margaritas and cochinita pibil, then did an amazing reading at Ousie's, this sort of Old Houston place. A strange mix of very well-coifed older ladies and blog-kids. About 80 of them, which is an amazing turn-out - absolutely mind-blowing when you realize there was an 18-inning Astros game going on at the same time. (The waiters were watching at the back of the room, but they kept their cheers to a very respectable dull roar.) My brother-in-law and his wife and their two little ones, including Katherine who I've never met and who can open her mouth as wide as my head, and Eric's cousin Kirsten and her husband and their itty bitty one all came and sat in the front row, representing the Powells in all their prolific-ness. And a blog reader named Lynne gave me her copy of MtAoFC, signed by both Julia and Paul. Which made me cry. Then more drinking, then a long drive (Ben doing the driving, me doing the sleeping in the back seat) to Austin, where I ended the night with vodka tonics at my parents' kitchen table. A good day.

Now, Austin! Laundry and barbecue, perhaps a manicure. And Book People! Glorious, glorious Book People! I can't wait.....

Friday, October 07, 2005

Oh my lord. I did a truly amazing reading at Third Place Books in Seattle last night. It was not me that was amazing - I seem to be in the Rambling Stage of the writer's learning curve. It was everybody else. First of all there was Meagan (am I spelling that right?) who organized the reading and is fantabulous. Then there was the store manager, whose name I've shamefully forgotten, who made Roquefort turnovers (his roquefort, too, yearned for freedom), and potato cheese sticks and potage parmentier. And then there was the store itself, which just blows my mind. And mostly there were the people who came to see me, lots of incredibly friendly Seattle-style people, among them both Shazzer and... wait for it... the legendary Grammy! It was a very emotional meeting. She's just as inspirational in person as she was to all of us on the blog during the project. We're in negotiations to get me adopted as granddaughter.

A fine time was had by all, and I hope soon to have pictures from the event to post. In the meantime, here I am in Portland, a town I'm also loving. I'm wondering if I'm loving all these towns because I'm being driven around my totally cool professional escorts and put up in totally groovy hotels and introduced to people who are being paid to tell me I'm a genius? I wonder.....

Thursday, October 06, 2005

More Portland Panic

My publicist is an amazing woman. (Wow. If you'd had any doubt before, surely reading that sentence flowing from my fingers is enough to convince you that my life has gotten very, very strange.) She's been just incredible and she's so on top of things, I am constantly in awe.


Turns out she gave me the wrong address, again, for tomorrow's event. The Powell's is at 3747 SE Hawthorne. The previous number is incorrect.

This should be the last problem here...


Okay, everybody in Portland. I have made a HUGE MISTAKE. The address I gave you for the reading tomorrow is wrong wrong WRONG. It is in fact happening at:

Powell's Books
Cooks and Gardeners' Store
3474 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland OR

Got that? Good.

Oh, and Catherine. Wait, wait, I AM going to be in the San Francisco area. Twice, actually. On the 21st at noon I'm going to be at the Santa Rosa Jr. College Culinary Cafe for a reading and lunch. Then at 7 I'm going to be at Book Passage in Corte Madera. So, no, not San Francisco proper. But the vicinity, anyway. I hope you can come.

In Seattle now. Got up at 4 am to get here, and now must go have a delicious lunch of salami. Because my life is very, very hard. And then tonight, a reading at Third Place Books. Somebody please come!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

It's another beautiful day. I love LA.

I know. It's creepy, right? But I spent my first official book tour day here in Los Angeles, and I kind of loved it. I love the driving (well being driven) around, I love the nice people, I love In-and-Out Burger (though a controversy rages - which is better? In-and-Out or Fat Burger? I guess I'll have to get back here to do more research....), and I LOVE the weather. Ken, the guy driving me around - my "male escort" as he would prefer to be called - kept apologizing about the heat, but frankly, I didn't know what the hell he was talking about. Sometimes the breeze would pick up, and he would intone darkly about Santa Ana. I didn't know what the hell he was talking about. He did show me a collapsed house in Laurel Canyon that was pretty impressive, so maybe bad things do happen here. And those people I have known who have lived in LA warn that upon moving here, toxic boredom soon sets in, until you think you'll have to slit your wrists if you have to walk past Cameron Diaz on a perfect cloudless 75 degree day on the Santa Monica boardwalk one more fucking time. But I remain skeptical on that score.

Anyway, the very best thing about LA is that when you hold a reading, people come! I had people! They listened to me ramble! They bought my books! They were, almost to a man, blog readers! I met An Avid Fan, and Carol (not "Carroll"), whose husband (who I also met) went to grade school with Granny, and lost touch with her for 50 years, until they met again in a market in Istanbul. (!!!!!!) AND by the time I'd gotten home - by which I mean back to my fancy-ass W Hotel - Carol had already commented on this blog.

Damn! I love LA!

Now I must go to bed, because I must awake at 4 am to catch a plane to Seattle. Oy. I'm going to have to start going easy on the gimlets, I can tell already. And me with sudden frequent access to minibars....

Oh, I remember.

In LA, everyone waits for the crosswalk signs to change. I'd heard about this, but it's the first time I've witnessed it. It's so cute.

Also, people are unnervingly nice.

Also, the W hotel charges $40 for pork tacos.

That is all.

Well, I'm off.

It's my first Official Book Tour day - I'm going to be signing stock copies of books all day, then reading and signing tonight at Vroman's - you should come! It'll be a party! But first I have to go get some pens. What kind of chump goes on a book tour and doesn't bring pens? This kind, I guess....

Shit. I had something very important to say, but I overindulged in the mini bar last night, and now my brain isn't working quite right, and I can't remember.... Well, it'll come to me. Sorry. Post aborted.....

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Swimming pools and movie stars

Hello, all. I'm in LA! Who'd've thunk it? I'm going to spend my first morning here walking around aimlessly in search of a place to buy tampons and an ethernet cord. Perhaps later I'll go swimming. Because I'm in LA!

My first genuine book tour stop is tomorrow evening at Vroman's Books in Pasadena, JC's home turf and I'm sure a perfectly lovely place. Today, however, I am going to eat bon bons with a vengeance. And perhaps work out in my fancy W Hotel's fancy-ass gym. Because I'm in LA!