the appetizer:

My Nepenthe by Romney Steele, includes recipes from the Big Sur restaurant like Marinated Fresh Monterey Sardines; Rosemary Lamb Brochettes with Mint Pesto; Wine Poached Quince with Rosemary; and Herb-Stuffed Pork Loin Roast with Wine Poached Quince.



My Nepenthe
Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur

by Romney Steele

 My Nepenthe
Click to buy My Nepenthe


Author Romney Steele creates a beautiful storybook with recipes in My Nepenthe: Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur. This true tale of a famous restaurant, perched on the majestic cliffs of California's Big Sur, celebrates the magic and history of place through food and the Fassett family, who started Nepenthe.

As Nepenthe celebrates its 60th anniversary, Romney—who grew up at Nepenthe as the granddaughter of the founders—delves into her own memories, those of family members, and the restaurant's archives. In the process, she re-creates Nepenthe's years of bringing writers, artists, dancers, travelers, actors, and cooks together around the table.

Nepenthe has become a cultural icon synonymous with Big Sur and the free-living bohemian lifestyle. Today, the original family cabin (purchased from Rita Hayworth), Nepenthe Restaurant, Café Kevah, and the Phoenix shop make up the legendary establishment that continues to represent the spirit of its past patrons and its owners. About 250,000 people visit Nepenthe every year to take in the spectacular view, sample the delicious food, and soak up a bit of history.

My Nepenthe readers will enjoy a collection of 85 tempting recipes from the Fassett family, the restaurant, and the cafe, along with the history, anecdotes, archival black-and-white photos, and breathtaking color photography by Sara Remington. Also of interest:

  • The art and architecture that made Nepenthe revered around the world.
  • The story of Lolly Fassen, Romney's grandmother, and the spirit and strength behind the creation of Nepenthe and its legacy. Nepenthe's Shangri-La atmosphere is the result of Lolly's vision to create "an isle of no care."
  • The creative influences of the founders' friends, international artists, and sculptors who contributed their ideas in making Nepenthe fabulous.
  • Nepenthe's role as a gathering place and focal point for bohemian America, a place that featured folk dancing, fashion shows, poetry readings, concerts, and the presence of notables including Henry Miller (who used it as his favorite watering hole), Jack Kerouac, Kim Novak, and Steve McQueen.
  • Nepenthe's big-screen debut in The Sandpiper, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
  • Family history including Romney's great-great-grandfather, who founded Carmel, CA, and her uncle Kaffe Fassett, a renowned textile artist.
  • A restaurant known for serving uncomplicated fare—grilled steaks, sandwiches, and salads—according to the founders' original vision. Nepenthe is now recognized as a destination among wine enthusiasts.

In the end, this is not the definitive Nepenthe Story or an unbiased account, but the way Romney Steele experienced it. It is her Nepenthe, and it is her hope that readers will find their own Nepenthe within the pages of the book.

About the Author

Romney Steele is a writer, cook, and food stylist, and the granddaughter of Bill and Lolly Fassett, creators of Nepenthe Restaurant. Nani, as she is known to family and friends, grew up at the family restaurant and opened Café Kevah, an outdoor café on the Nepenthe grounds, when she was twenty-six years old. She later served as a pastry chef at Sierra Mar Restaurant at neighboring Post Ranch Inn. Her writing has appeared in various print magazines, including Gourmet, and online at MSNBC. She currently lives in Oakland, California, with her two children.

  • My Nepenthe
    Bohemian Tales of Food, Family, and Big Sur
  • by Romney Steele
  • Andrews McMeel Publishing 2009
  • Hardcover; $35.00; 352 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0740779141
  • ISBN-13: 978-O-7407-7914-5
  • Information provided by the publisher.

Buy My Nepenthe


My Nepenthe


This page created April 2010

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