Monday, December 22, 2008

Book Signing Extravaganza

It's been hard to settle down enough to post anything lately. There was the book signing at The Cook's Library in West Hollywood with 9 LA food writers peddling their works on the street. The weather cooperated, thank goodness.

Then my friend Glenna Forster Jones arrived from London in time to help me peddle some more at the Studio City Farmer's Market. I've been on the street quite a lot lately and again, even though cold rain was predicted, it was clear and sunny. People don't usually come to a Farmer's Market to buy books but it worked out just fine. Another friend showed up with her 140 lb. lab Charlie who caught everyone's attention.

It's been a month for book signings. Pal Herman Leonard at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, then Diahann Carroll plugging her new memoir at Vroman's in Pasadena. When someone asked Diahann what her beauty secrets were she gave me a shout-out as her masseuse of many years. Diahann's new memoir, The Legs Are the Last To Go, is a great read. No more signings until next year. Have a wonderful holiday season everyone!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

When It Rains, Get Wet

So Thursday night ( DEC. 4) I went to see my long-time ghetto buddy Quincy Jones at the book signing for his new fantastic coffee table book THE COMPLETE QUINCY JONES: MY JOURNEY AND PASSIONS: PHOTOS, LETTERS, MEMORIES AND MORE FROM Q'S PERSONAL COLLECTION. About 300 people showed up to hear Quincy in conversation with Don Heckman, noted jazz journalist and, generous as ever, Quincy stayed until midnight to sign books and greet fans. Needless to say, the book is out of this world and even interactive. You can pull his report card from the Schillinger School of Music out of its sleeve. Need I add that he got mostly all A's. Also among the amazing collection of memorabilia from one of the most exciting lives ever lived is the sheet music for We Are The World, with the signatures of everyone who participated, including the fingerprints of Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder and the lipstick kiss of Diana Ross. Check out Q's website

I pulled a photo from my own memorabilia. Howard Hesseman, Quincy Jones and Herman Leonard--3 of my all time favorite guys. And guess what? They're all Pisces. Quincy's favorite quote and the path he has followed--"When it rains, get wet." Sage advice from the coolest dude on the planet.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Phoenix Reunion

Well, the Arizona desert is still beautiful and lush and the turnout for my book signing and tasting (another 100 grape leaves were rolled) was a delight. Friends, family and strangers turned out in numbers as chairs were added to accommodate them. I greeted people I had not seen in years. Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe is a true delight and no wonder it was chosen as the Publisher's Weekly Bookseller of the Year for 2007.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hippies Get It Right

So, the election is over and I can finally get back to work on my next book and actually writing something on my blog. And in the midst of all the Obama fever, there have been some amazing goings on. Writing a memoir and having it out in the world can actually help old friends find you and several I haven't been in contact with for the past 35+ years have made reappearances.
I just got an email from one of my Argentinian buddies from Ibiza, Hector Milberg, who is back in Buenos Aires running a gourmet catering company with his wife Fernanda and had no idea he was mentioned in Siren's Feast. Nice to discover so many hippies have become foodies. We were on to something all those years ago with our yoga, meditation, organic health food, natural healing, herbs, vegetarianism, recycling.

Then thumbing through an issue of Gourmet magazine I came upon a lovely article on the fellow whose macrobiotic restaurant I managed in London back in the day. He always was a true entrepreneur since he owned the first macrobiotic shop on Portobello Road in London back in the late 60's. Well, Craig Sams went on to become chairman of Britain's prestigious Soil Association and was the founder of Green & Black's organic chocolate. And Cadbury bought the company in 2005 for $52 mil. Not bad for an oldish hippie, I'd say. LSD didn't rot our brains after all.
You can read the article for yourself here:

Friday, November 7, 2008


Marc Cooper of the LA Weekly always writes a great column. His most recent says it all so well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Independent Publishers Rock

Siren's Feast is making news.  It was just chosen as a finalist in the Autobiography/Memoir category of the National Best Books 2008 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News.  The winner was Julie Andrews' memoir Home, published by a major, Hyperion.  So that's one for the little guy.  Now I get those lovely gold stickers and bragging rights.  

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Feasting in Wonderland

Last night was no ordinary book club event since it took place in the brand new library of Wonderland Ave. Elementary School in Laurel Canyon, a place memorialized in song by Joni Mitchell, among others.  My daughter Vedra was fortunate enough to have attended Wonderland in the early 80's so being there brought back warm memories for both of us. School librarian Myrtle Keefe was instrumental in bringing together a crowd of sassy Moms and a few Dads along with friends from the neighborhood.  Cheryl Montelle, dear friend and fellow member of Amy Friedman's writing group, the East Side Posse, along with Tyson Cornell of Book Soup helped coordinate.  And now Siren's Feast is available at Book Soup, one of the hippest bookstores in Los Angeles, located on the infamous Sunset Strip.  What more could an author wish for?  Actually I can think of a few more things. Stay tuned.
After my presentation and reading and fielding questions from the group, we all retired to the teacher's lounge and feasted on dishes prepared, from my recipes, by book club members. Everyone did a splendid job.  Martha's trifle, I have to admit, was even better than mine.  She carmelized the almonds and added Triple Sec.  Wow!  And Joan even attempted one of the more challenging recipes, Keta, Armenian sweet rolls.  We had fattoush, lentil salad, dal muhammara, tabbouli, grape leaves, beorag.  What better way to end a book club gathering than with a feast?

Monday, September 15, 2008

First Book Club for Siren's Feast

     Leave it to the Armenian sisters to host the first official book club for Siren's Feast.  And what a feast it was.  Not only did everyone dress in costumes of some of the countries I wrote about, but the spread was fit for a Queen--several recipes prepared from my culinary memoir.  We had mango lassi (p.142) no less than three mouth-watering eggplant dishes, hummous,
 baba ghanouj (p.196), kibbeh, vosp kufta (p.207),
muhammara (p.197), lebneh, olives and feta, pickles and bread--all delicious.  After all of that we still found room for Armenian pastries, Moroccan mint tea (pg. 37) and 
Armenian coffee for dessert. And then the gifted and lovely Anita actually read our coffee cups.  It was good fortunes for all.

     I brought along some artifacts and photos.  The gals were interested in what Alejandro, my first love, looked like.  I never got permission from the Scavullo estate to use the photo taken in 1969 but brought along a copy taken from one of Scavullo's photo books and also the little beaded tapestry my grandfather made when he was in a Turkish dungeon.  I loved hearing the ladies' reactions to my story.  Hours passed and it felt like minutes.  And the Odyssey continues.  

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Guacamole Paradise

In the midst of book promotion for the Feast, the economy and roof repair, it hasn't been easy to get away for new adventures, yet I managed recently to travel to a remote island off the coast of the Yucatan for a wedding. A 5 hour flight to Cancun, 2 1/2 hour drive through the jungle to a little village where we caught a ferry to Paradise with mosquitoes. Nothing is perfect, even in Paradise. The birds in the photo are the magnificent frigate birds. I watched them every morning while I had my delicious Mexican coffee on the beach.

How Rowan and Emilie got over 100 family members and friends to take a week off to participate in their nuptials was a feat that is a testament to them. I managed to gain 6 lbs. by gorging on chips and guacamole, every kind of ceviche fresh from the sea, margaritas, pina coladas and Aztec soup. I promptly lost all 6 lbs. on my return home, thank God. (I promise the Aztec soup recipe as soon as I work it out and a signed copy of Siren's Feast, An Edible Odyssey, to anyone who correctly identifies the island.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Writing for the Sun Community Newspapers

Recently my favorite local newspaper where I was a columnist for over three years has had to close down its presses.  Another sign of why we need change we can believe in.  This story is being repeated all over the country at a time when we need more than ever to connect.

Below are some links to columns about a few of my favorite people.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Best Chicken Soup, Happy Dogs

So many people lately have requested my recipe for Armenian chicken soup and complained when they couldn't find it in Siren's Feast, I have been compelled to post it on my blog. An old friend even tracked me down after 15 years because she really really wanted to make that soup. It is delicious and it's quite simple. So here goes. Notice photo of happy dogs, Cisco and Buddha, who had also recently complained that their photos hadn't yet made it on my blog. The real reason they're so happy is that they get all the chicken that doesn't make it into the soup.

Nancy's Special Armenian Chicken Soup

1 whole frying chicken (approx. 4 lbs., organic if possible)
3 quarts water
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup white rice (jasmine, calrose, or your favorite)
2 eggs, beaten
juice of 2 lemons, strained
few sprigs parsley, chopped finely, for garnish

Put chicken into large stock pot, add the 3 quarts water, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove from pot and allow to cool.
Remove breast meat from the bones, discarding all skin, fat and gristle. Then strain broth into a clean pot and bring to a boil.

Add onion, celery, salt, pepper and rice, cover and simmer for an additional 20 minutes. Add lemon juice to beaten eggs, along with a little of the hot soup, then slowly add to the pot. The lemon juice "bleaches" the soup, turning it into a lovely, creamy white. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve. Everyone LOVES this soup, and how easy was that?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Stairway to heaven

At the end of the odyssey that took me around the world, in search of love and enlightenment, I found both in the very place I grew up, in the form of a beautiful, petite Japanese American named Mary Burmeister. I spent 14 years studying with this living master of Jin Shin Jyutsu, the ancient Japanese healing art I have practiced for the past 33 years. Mary and the art of Jin Shin Jyutsu have been my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The last time I saw her I said, "There's not a day that passes that I don't think of you, with gratitude in my heart, for the life I've had because of Jin Shin."
Mary held out her hands. "Well," she responded, "God is the strength in my hands now. When He's 100% I'll be able to go home."
Mary returned home as peacefully as she lived on Jan. 27th, 2008, at the age of 89, leaving behind thousands of students and thousands more who have benefitted and been blessed by the healing graces of the precious art of Jin Shin Jyutsu.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Feast for the Senses

My culinary memoir SIREN'S FEAST got off to a tantalizing start when over 140 people showed up to celebrate the launch with me at Ca del Sole, a fabulous Mediterranean restaurant in Toluca Lake. One of my closest friends, Coco Conn, and my goddaughter Lauren Conn, helped me roll 400 stuffed grape leaves. Scrumptious paklava came from Oasis Bakery in Glendale, some of the best I've ever had, and Ca del Sole supplied the rest of the delicious cuisine. Guests were standing in line to have their Tarot cards and palms read and the place caught fire when Neena and Veena, the Belly Twins, performed. And yes, they are identical twins. Personally, I've never hugged so many people in one evening.

I'm blown away by the response to SIREN'S FEAST, AN EDIBLE ODYSSEY. People are already cooking the recipes and I've heard from several folks that they couldn't put the book down and have been ordering more copies for friends, in the words of one, "to share the delicious pleasure." It feels like a new odyssey is just beginning.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Great Big Festival

I've been outed. I had my first official book signing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and I've got to say it was FUN!
Hot fun, however, since the temps were in the 90's, hence the African fan which came in handy. I was honored to be part of the Abril Armenian Bookstore group of authors. I love my peeps and I even baked for the event, Armenian sweet rolls (Keta) and judging from the way they disappeared, I would say they were a hit. I'm looking forward to more food and fun as my newly released memoir rolls out. And the people one meets along the way only adds to the excitement. Check out Dr. Patricia Bragg. Her father, mentioned in SIREN'S FEAST, taught me all about fasting. Judging from the high energy of Patricia Bragg, they both know something about health.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Have some cake and eat it too

Okay, I won't lie. I love birthday cake. And there have been a few good ones lately. Friends gathered at Catalina Bar and Grill recently to celebrate the 85th birthday of Herman Leonard, the renowned photographer of all the jazz giants. Besides the smokin' hot performance of Joshua Redman that evening, I had the pleasure of hanging with the great music icon himself, Quincy Jones. Herman and Quincy are, without doubt, two of my favorite men on the entire planet so I was in a state of bliss. Life just doesn't get any better than that. And a big shout-out to Quincy, who just turned 75. I love those Pisces men.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Since my birthday falls on the day after Christmas I rarely celebrate. My last birthday was a big one (you can do the math) and it had been 20 years since the last party so I decided it was high time to throw myself a bash, by taking 18 friends to opening day at Santa Anita Race Track, where we were feted in style. On a glorious sunny day, we had a 10 course Japanese feast served to us by our own chef, (beef tenderloin and chicken satay, duck roasted with star anise, salmon with soba noodles, asparagus with wild mushrooms, sushi and sashimi, crab cakes, fried bananas with coconut ice cream.)
They even made me a special birthday cake decorated with horses. As if that wasn't enough, they sent a handicapper to our table to teach some of the novices the ins and outs of betting. I guess it was my lucky day since I bet every race and came home with more money than I started with. With my culinary memoir, Siren’s Feast, An Edible Odyssey, launching next month, it felt like I was truly off to the races.