Les Dames d’Escoffier Chicago evening at Bookends and Beginnings

Books were on tap on a recent Thursday evening at Bookends and Beginnings, the independent bookstore in Evanston owned by Dame Nina Barrett.  Nina graciously opened her store after hours to Chicago Dames who enjoyed quite an evening.

A gorgeous and oh-so-delicious appetizer buffet was generously provided by Dame Julie Chernoff, alongside a top-notch selection of wines courtesy of Dame Veronica Hastings. Nina, in characteristic form, not only sells stories, she tells stories! One on one, she shared a plethora of interesting anecdotes and updates on her business. To the group, she provided a run-down of her favorite reads of the year including fiction, non-fiction and children’s books.  She even gave us a peak at Modernist Pizza, a 3-volume set of all-things-pizza, including over 1,000 recipes, stunning photography and even a red stainless steel case!

Delving deeper into our favorite things – cookbooks – Julie Chernoff gave us a sneak-peak of the soon-to-be-published list (on better.net) of her favorite cookbooks of 2021. Many of the appetizers on her amazing buffet are included in these books … Everything Bagel Rugelach from Jake Cohen’s jew-ish,  Smashed Peas with Tahini and Za’atar from Ottolenghi Test Kitchen, and Cacio e Pepe Shortbread from Jesse Szewczyk’s Cookies to name a few.  Other faves include Grist by Abra Berens, Black Food by Bryant Terry, Korean Vegan by Joanne Lee Molinaro, Instantly Mediterranean by our own Emily Paster and, of course, the new Dorie Greenspan book, Baking with Dorie.

These two Dames can be quite convincing . . . we spent the remainder of our time shopping the store, filling our bags to the brim with gifts for family, friends, and of course, ourselves! Thank you, Dame Nina Barrett, for making such a wonderful evening at Bookends and Beginnings possible!

–  Polly Peters

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