The week after the APHA/Dard Hunter conference in San Francisco, the Book Club of California scheduled a 2-day event called “A Feast for the Eyes” at their club house and two other venues in its neighborhood. What’s not to like? I found it fascinating and was very impressed with the BCC’s organization.
I’ve posted half a dozen pictures on the FPBA Facebook page. I won’t attempt comprehensive coverage, but will mention what were the highlights for me.
Randall Tarpey-Schwed was an instrumental organizer of the event, and his presentation Friday, the first day, was a tour-de-force chronicle of what one can learn by careful book collecting. Inscriptions in books linked food writer M.F.K. Fisher, collector Harold H. Price, screenwriter Idwal Jones, fine printer Ward Richie, and many others.
We relocated to the Commonwealth Club for one presentation, on more commercial culinary publishing, which was being recorded for broadcast and podcast. It was moderated by Joyce Goldstein and featured insiders from Chronicle Books, Sunset Magazine, and Ten Speed Press.
I overheard some grumbling about the next presentation, which was three blog writers talking about their approach to this new form of culinary publishing, but found it interesting myself. The writers behind the blogs “Dash and Bella,” “5 Second Rule,” and “Yummy Supper” each spoke about writing blogs and cookbooks, since they all do both.
For those of us for whom no trip to Codex is complete without a visit to Chez Panisse, the presentation by Patricia Curtan, David Lance Goines, and Wesley Tanner was probably the summit of the program. All three had stories which blended Alice Waters and printing. (Stephen Thomas, left, was the moderator.)
For me personally, the presentation by Ben Kinmont was the conference’s meatiest food for thought. Kinmont sells antiquarian gastronomic books from the unlikely location of Sebastapol, California, but also produces occasional art/food events in such cities as Montpelier, Amsterdam, Paris, and San Francisco.
Both days ended with delicious receptions in the BCC club rooms featuring handcrafted spirits, wine, and beer–not to mention delicious snacks–and plenty of conversation.
Saturday morning we were amused by the story of The Poodle Dog and its publicity. This establishment had many incarnations, all of which featured good food, [perhaps sometimes misleadingly labled] strong drink, and rooms whose design permitted visits between prosperous men of commerce and women who were not their wives.
The afternoon highlight was a panel discussion between two biographers of M.F.K. Fisher, Anne Zimmerman and Jeannette Ferrary, moderated by Randall Tarpey-Schwed. One point upon which all agreed: if you haven’t ever read any of her writing, start with _Gastronomical Me_.
To ease us into our final hour of drinking and talking, Tom Ingalls showed a torrent of beautiful wine labels for California vineyards, designed by California artists and designers–from classics of the 70s through the amazing labels being printed directly on bottles today.