cook book and travel advice needed!

my dear readers, there are a few of you out there who i think might be able to help me with two questions ...

now that colder weather is here, i love to curl up with new books. i've already got a few on my wish list, but i really want a new cook book for dinner.

i've been eyeing the barefoot contessa books and know there are a bunch of fans out there ... so, if you like BC and have her cook books, which one would you recommend? do you have a favorite recipe from one of them? maybe her first one? or in paris? or at home? they all sound and look so lovely!

and it might be only october but that doesn't mean i'm not thinking about the holidays! the mimis are heading out west to visit family for christmas. we decided to extend the trip up to san francisco for new year's eve. neither of us know anyone in san fran, and mr. mimi was there only about 25 years ago! i'm super excited to visit chinatown, joe's burger, chez panisse, and muir woods.

but what should we do about new year's eve?? how do most people in san fran celebrate? unfortunately since we don't know anyone there, house parties are not an option. so for those stuck out and about, which part of town do people go to? we're no longer club hopping kids (well, mr. mimi never was, haha!) but like music, dancing, burlesque, etc etc. if you have specific suggestions that's great, but at least right now we're just trying to decide what area to book our hotel that might offer the best possibility of being in walking distance of whatever it is we end up doing! so downtown? union square? the mission? soma or whatever it's called?

i don't have much to give in return except my sincere undying gratitude, suggestions for vegetarian cook books, and new york city travel tips!

(photo credits: the contessa by quentin bacon and golden gate from destination 411)


  1. I own all of the Barefoot Contessa books and my favorites are the original BC Cookbook and Family Style. Parties also has some great recipes.

    I left San Francisco 8 years ago, but I think getting some authentic dim sum is a must-do experience - we liked Ton Kiang and Harbor Village - the latter is in the Embarcadero Center downtown. Who knows, other SF denizens may have more up-to-date recommendations. Have fun!

  2. I got an idea -- you should go to Hollywood Beach for New Years.

  3. yeah well maybe if you invited us to hollywood beach, we would have been there for new years!!

    there's always next time! ;-)

  4. thanks jess - definitely planning on some dim sum! i've heard about ton kiang, and it's on our list!

  5. You definitely want to know what you are doing and where it is located before you get a hotel, because the public transportation is PACKED on New Years (both MUNI and BART I think are free, so there you go.) Being in walking distance is ideal. Don't hesitate to make your hotel plans now, thought, it isn't too early. Well, if you are looking for something free to do, you could always fight the crowds near the Embarcadero for the fireworks, get a place near the Pier and you can walk there easily. Or you could book a boat tour on the bay through the company that does the Alcatraz tours (http://www.Alcatraz.us/tours/tourDetail.cfm?tour_id=342) and do the whole dinner/drinking/dancing AND fireworks. I can't tell from their site if it is still available, so I would call the number on the website to be sure. Also check with Hornblower Yachts (1-888-hornblower). Restaurants are always having parties if you are looking for something swanky. Top of the Mark is good for that, or Or go to the late show at Beach Blanket Babylon and party with them until after midnight. OOh! or you could go to Teatro Zinzanni at pier 29 (http://love.zinzanni.org)

    San Francisco is a fun place to be on New Years - I am so jealous... have a great time!


  6. I'm with Jess. The original and Family Style are the best with Parties somewhere just below those two. Her books went down hill from there. I especially like them because they're so simple there's lot of room to improvise.

  7. I have the original Barefoot Contessa and I love it--I really like the Turkey Meatloaf and I love love love her homemade granola.

  8. amy: the zizanni sounds exactly like what would be interested in! thanks for such a fab recommendation!

    no recipes and rachel: aren't the originals always the best? i already have a go-to turkey meatloaf (from hazan) but would love to try granola.