For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Platter of Figs . . . the JOY of eating!

A Platter of Figs and other recipes, DAVID TANIS. Artisan 2009. Six months of each year, David Tanis is head chef at Chez Panisse in Berkely, California, where he’s worked since the 1980s for legendary Alice Waters. The other half of the year he’s in Paris preparing meals in a 6x10 foot galley kitchen in his 17th century apartment.

This book was conceived from Tanis's belief that the best meals are simple, easily prepared, and served without too much fuss.
A meal should not take all day to make. The “platter of figs” symbolizes the idea of eating with the seasons and is a metaphor for the food Tanis enjoys most: fresh, abundant, luxurious, fleeting, and innately beautiful.

Twenty-four seasonal menus designed for 8-10, easily halved or increased, includes such enticements as “
Salmon on My Mind,” “Yellow Hunger,” “A Simple Morrocan Supper,” and “Slow Beef.” For each section, Tanis writes as much about eating as about cooking, about his inspirations, techniques, and infinite joy in the kitchen.

This is my favorite cookbook so far this year! Here’s a selection from the book that is simple yet superb. Bon appétit!

Sea Scallops a la Plancha

One of the delights of the winter season is the availability of good shellfish
, especially sea scallops. Ask your fishmonger for freshly shucked scallops, often called “diver” scallops. A good way to cook them is a la plancha, on a hot griddle or cast-iron pan, which caramelizes the exterior and keeps them juicy inside.

1 pound large sea scallops, about 16

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Green Sauce (recipe follows)

Lime wedges

Remove the “feet”—the tough muscle that attaches scallops to their shell—and discard (or add them to a fish stock). Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Heat a large griddle or cast-iron skillet to nearly smoking. Add the scallops in one layer, being careful not to crowd them. Brown the scallops well, letting them cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the scallops over and cook for another 2 minutes.
Put the scallops on a platter and spoon a little green sauce onto each one. Surround with lime wedges.

Green Sauce:
Put 1 small bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems roughly chopped, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 sliced serrano chile, and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground, in a blender. Season lightly with salt and add 1 cup olive oil. Blend to a smooth puree. Makes about 1 cup. (Excerpted from A PLATTER OF FIGS by David Tanis [Artisan Books]. Copyright 2008. Christopher Hirsheimer, photographer)

Friday, July 17, 2009

At the Edge of the Spotlight: Canadian artist Emily Carr

The Forest Lover (Viking 2004) by Susan Vreeland, is a page-turner if you love art history and always long to know more about the painter behind the image. This is the captivating story of legendary painter, Canadian artist Emily Carr, who was passionate about recording the totems and lives of the native peoples of British Columbia in the early part of the 20th century. Carr has been compared to Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe (see Carr, O’Keefe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own [Yale University Press 2001]) and her work is exceptional and surrealistic in both content and style. She garnered little recognition in her lifetime because of her unusual subject matter and unorthodox lifestyle, and because she brought sophisticated techniques of surrealism learned during a stay in Paris to what was essentially an artistic backwater.

The author, Susan Vreeland, has written several “imagined” biographies either about famous artists or people in their closest circle. Her best known may be Girl in Hyacinth Blue, the imagined story of the girl in Vermeer’s painting by the same name. Perhaps the author’s greatest strength is found in her ability to turn well-grounded and thorough research into a compelling story—in this case, a story about a woman artist struggling to follow her passion, relieve her personal sense of isolation, and gain recognition for her talent.

Vreeland tells us in her own words what her research into her topics has taught her:

“Entering the mind and heart of painters has taught me to see, and to be more appreciative of the beauties of the visible world. . . . people are hungry for [the] real lives behind . . . paintings. . . . . And [I’ve especially learned] this: Thanks to art, instead of seeing only one world and time period, our own, we see it multiplied and can peer into other times, other worlds which offer windows to other lives. Each time we enter imaginatively into the life of another, it's a small step upwards in the elevation of the human race. . . . Where there is no imagination of others' lives, there is no human connection. Where there is no human connection, there is no chance for compassion to govern. Without compassion, then loving kindness, human understanding, peace all shrivel. Individuals become isolated, and the isolated can turn resentful, narrow, cruel; they can become blinded, and that's where prejudice, holocausts, terrorism, and tragedy hover. Art—and literature—are antidotes to that.”

It’s an insightful philosophy and one I have certainly connected with in my own writing and reading experiences. Watch for Vreeland's next enticing book, titled In Tiffany’s Shadow (due out 2010), about Louis Comfort Tiffany the glass artist whose windows, lamps, and mosaics blended Art Nouveau and the Aesthetics Movement to produce a unique style all his own.

For more information: http://www.svreeland.com/

Monday, July 06, 2009

1/500th of a second . . . An Unlikely Weapon

AN UNLIKELY WEAPON: The Eddie Adams Story (2009). This exceptional documentary about the life of an award-winning photographer premieres this week in Denver at the Starz FilmCenter, July 3-9. Go to http://www.anunlikelyweapon.com for times and directions. Opening nationwide throughout the summer.

Legendary photographer Eddie Adams, famously seen lurking in war zones, at celebrity shoots, and on the streets of New York, photographed 13 wars, six US presidents and every major film star in the last 50 years. His career and reputation exploded into world renown when, in Vietnam in 1968, Eddie shot what is considered by many to be the definitive war photograph: General Loan, the Saigon police chief shooting a Vietcong prisoner point-blank in the head. “Saigon Execution” won Eddie a Pulitzer Prize and was credited with changing public opinion to help end the Vietnam War.

Eddie was a guy who lived hard and played harder. Enormously ambitious and driven, rough talking, notoriously dissatisfied with his achievements, he documented the plight of refugees around the world, jumped aboard a boat load of Vietnamese headed out to sea with only some rice and a few hundred dollars worth of gasoline, and faced off Fidel Castro until the two went on an unlikely duck hunting trip together, among other risky ventures. In this documentary, journalists such as Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and Morley Safer speak about Eddie with a measure of awe and respect. As Safer says, “Eddie was not your typical sedate, thoughtful photographer . . . He looked for trouble both on and off the job.”

Later in life Eddie turned to photographing celebrities, resulting in stunning and unique shots, signatures of his skill and experienced eye for the money shot. There were many sides to this talented man: war photographer, human rights activist, teacher, competitive and aggressive artist; most of all, he was deeply human and fully engaged in life.

SUSAN MORGAN COOPER is the brilliant filmmaker who produced this exceptional documentary. The road to its completion was long and not always smooth—but she had promised Eddie, and she kept that promise, in spades. This is a DO NOT MISS film!

-- Rosemary Carstens


View trailer: