It’s been quite a literary and culinary weekend. Friday night was Book Club, featuring Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, backed up by poached salmon with couscous and red and gold beets, spinach salad, garlic bean soup and a purchased dessert assortment of blackberry-lime sorbet, molasses-clove cookies, dark chocolate covered edamame and Mozartkugeln. As usual, what happens at book club stays at book club.
Tonight’s Book Swap party, now in its third or fourth year hosted by my good friend J took things to another level. The scheme is simple – bring some books, check out the books others have brought, take some different books home – and it’s backed up by (for many, fronted by) J’s always-impressive cooking. And this time, a couple of guests brought even more great food. I’m disappointed to report that only my freshly-read copy of Never Let Me Go and my extra copy of Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn (“Lyrical Eggdog! Logical Assnog!”) were snapped up in the first round of swappage. But I picked up John Hodgman’s Areas of My Expertise (filed, oddly, at the swap table as “non-fiction”) and some other trade paperbacks good for upcoming train and plane travel.
But I’m not here to write a book report. Let’s dish dishes. I don’t have all the details on everything, but there was definitely some great cheese, an impressive spinach focaccia, creamy mushroom dip, spring rolls, fried eggplant with miso sauce (nasu dengaku), shrimps and asparagus, Thai beef salad, Thai chicken (my favorite), and a fantastic posole contributed by guest chef P. For dessert, rice krispy treats in both regular and cocoa krispy varieties, chocolate cupcakes with cream and fresh mint icing, and some kind of chocolate sandwich cookie so far removed from the common o**o that I won’t even mention its name here. The latter desserts came from guest pastry chef D.
None of the following should reflect badly on any of the foregoing courses, every one of which was impressive and delicious, but these cookies were amazing and transcendent. One guest took a bite and deadpanned, “I need a cigarette.” We knew what she meant. With apologies to the professionals who make superior food photos, here is a humble snapshot.
Some of you may remember that in the past I’ve kvelled about the mascarporeos available at Via Matta. Also here (with J) and here, too. That’s how strongly I feel about them. Well, let me tell you, these cookies are right up there. The cookie is harder and thicker, and the filling is also thicker and toothier compared to the mascarporeo, but none of those attributes detracts. These are a variation on a theme, and a damn fine one, too. I also really like the slightly squared-off circle shape of them.