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My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur
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My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  75 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
"A very special book about a very special place." --Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food

"What a world Romney Steele has given us in My Nepenthe! This personal tale is as tender and bright as a bite of Nepenthe Cheese Pie and will transport me--and you--to Big Sur and the days and nights of this magical place. My Nepenthe serves a big, gor
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 17th 2009 by Andrews McMeel Publishing (first published July 1st 1905)
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Apr 06, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it
I loved this book so much. It's so much more than a cookbook, it's a family history and an amazing story of a magical restaurant where I spent a couple of blissful hours with my family on a trip to California ten years ago.

Nepenthe has always held a special place in my mind -- that amazing view on a warm, sunny afternoon, the perfect fruit and cheese board leisurely enjoyed while taking in the ocean view on the patio, the Phoenix shop where I wanted to just move in so I never had to leave those
Sep 11, 2011 Tracie rated it it was amazing
As beautiful as the place itself. I started coming here when I was in college and now my daughter and I take a "girls only" road trip every year to Pacific Grove and this is our favorite stop. Best grilled cheese sandwich in the entire world. The book is a combination of family history, stories, recipes, it was a delight to peruse and a great book to own.
Jul 06, 2011 Deb rated it it was amazing
I love, love, LOVE this book--it is gorgeous with history and photos of a fascinating place mixed in with delicious recipes. I made six of them for my review here:
Dec 27, 2010 Daisy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hana, Avra
Recommended to Daisy by: Elizabeth Murray
Library copy. This is nice enough to own though.

Now I own it and some extra copies because it's nice enough to give as a present.
Oct 17, 2011 LINDA rated it it was amazing
Shelves: entertaining
Lovely and indulgent!
C. Gregory Thompson
Apr 12, 2010 C. Gregory Thompson rated it it was amazing
My first visit to Nepenthe Restaurant in Big Sur, California was in the fall of 1983. It was a hot day and we sat outside on the massive terrace with a cold drink -- in those days white wine, or possibly beer -- and looked down at the unbelievable view. A view of the Monterey coast that went on forever. I've never forgotten that first visit. Or that first view. Yes, the parking lot was full of rental cars, and yes, there were crowds of tourists snapping photos but none of that mattered. I didn't ...more
Suzanne Barrett
Mar 21, 2011 Suzanne Barrett rated it it was amazing
My Nepenthe by Romney Steele is an ode to food, family and Big Sur. Steele, the granddaughter of founders Bill and Lolly Fassett, grew up amid the bohemian atmosphere of Nepenthe in the sixties and seventies and ran a café on the grounds. Her story is one of the culture of Big Sur's artistic community, of the famous visitors to the estate and of family recipes . Filled with anecdotes of the famous and ordinary, and coupled with an outstanding selection of color and black and white photographs de ...more
Mar 17, 2012 Debby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
I love this cookbook! Truthfully, I am biased, since I live 45 minutes away from Nepenthe's. I've been coming to this beautiful place for over 30 years. I have many, many fond memories of Nepenthe's. Last weekend, my husband and I drove to Big Sur because I was craving their Ambrosia Burger. I finally looked at a copy of the cookbook and hesitated buying it. After stopping at my local Border's store, I found a copy and perused it. I knew I had to own it! I finally ordered my own copy from Amazon ...more
Apr 15, 2010 bookinglibrarian rated it it was ok
The back deck at Nepenthe may be my favorite place in the world--for the view, the vibe and the overall loveliness of the place. On our almost yearly trips to Big Sur, we always have at least one dinner there. So we were excited to spot this new title at the bookstore, butI'm sorry to say that this beautiful looking book was rather a disappointment to read. It had lots of nice photographs and it was fun to look up people we knew in the index, but the text was vague, episodic, and oorly edited, w ...more
Dec 03, 2009 Helen rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking
This cookbook came recommended by 101 Cookbooks blogger Heidi Swanson. Being very near the source while I was in California I thought I would easily find a copy. Wrong. Everwhere I went they had sold out all they had. I finally found the last copy at a small shop and was thrilled to get it.

Beyond the recipes (none of which I have tried yet) the story of this place and the gorgeous pictures are well worth adding this to your cooking library.

If you want to see more about this book I would go to 1
Mar 17, 2013 Julie0208 rated it liked it
The reviewers who've been to Nepenthe have given this book 4 or 5 stars. I've never been there, so who am I to argue that the book captures the spirit of the restaurant? The pictures and design of the book are lovely (although some of the cursive print is hard to read), and the recipes sound pretty tasty. The author paints Nepenthe as a sort of paradise, and she seems apologetic about the changes that the second and third generation owners have made. A good companion to this book is the Henry Mi ...more
Jan 21, 2010 Melanie rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic cook book for so many reasons. I love how the author merges food and story with her vision of family life and the past. When i was first given this book... i was excited to see how the restaurant of my childhood and memories merged with the author's. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was much I didn't know about Nepenthe. I loved the stories... and i can't wait to try some of the recipes!
Joanne Miller
May 10, 2012 Joanne Miller rated it liked it
It's a beautiful book, but if you're looking for recipes, you won't find them here. The author does warn that the beauty of Nepenthe was in the setting, not necessarily the plain, hearty American food. The title tells it all--My Nepenthe is really a love song to her family (particularly her grandmother), the place, and the time.
Jul 30, 2011 Debbie rated it really liked it
I was lucky enough to visit Nepenthe this summer and what a beautiful place it is. It was on my list of places to go for many years and while I was there I bought this book which is the family history and the recipes from Nepenthe. I enjoyed learning about this family and I am really looking forward to trying some of the recipes.
Maria Finn
Dec 16, 2009 Maria Finn is currently reading it
I keep this book on my coffee table and flip through it from time to time. It has beautiful pictures and good, simple recipes. The stories of growing up in Big Sur seem good, but I haven't really dove in yet.
Nov 01, 2009 Leah marked it as to-read
living only 2 hours from this restaurant means i've been there many times in my life and have many, many happy memories associated with it. I can't wait to read this book and try the recipes!!!!
Jul 29, 2014 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
This book isn't all you want to know about this wonderful family and place but it does the job of taking you there whether you have visited or not.
Jun 10, 2010 Chelsea rated it liked it
I just flipped through the recipes and copied down some of my faves. Didn't read the text. Would make a wonderful XMAS gift for someone...ME? Hint hint!
Sep 05, 2010 Stephenie rated it really liked it
Loved this book and all of its beautiful pictures, great stories, and delicious recipes. Loved my visit to Nepenthe too and can't wait to return.
ann hurley
ann hurley rated it it was amazing
Jul 14, 2016
Heckatall rated it it was amazing
May 15, 2015
Pam Larson
Pam Larson rated it it was amazing
Jan 03, 2016
Leah rated it liked it
Dec 16, 2013
Jill rated it it was ok
Feb 22, 2016
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
May 15, 2012 Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson rated it it was amazing

Loved this beautiful book, the nostalgic photos, and wonderful recipes!
Kerry rated it really liked it
Feb 27, 2014
Peggy rated it really liked it
Feb 14, 2015
Richard Canale
Richard Canale rated it really liked it
Sep 02, 2016
Kathy rated it it was amazing
May 23, 2012
Davielle rated it it was amazing
Jan 04, 2012
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Romney Steele is a writer, cook, and food stylist, and the granddaughter of Bill and Lolly Fassett, creators of Nepenthe Restaurant. Nani, as she is known to family and friends, grew up at the family restaurant and opened Cafe Kevah, an outdoor cafe on the Nepenthe grounds, when she was twenty-six years old. She later served as a pastry chef at Sierra Mar Restaurant at neighboring Post Ranch Inn. ...more
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