Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Market Kitchen

I just got a copy of the West Point Market Cookbook (The University of Akron Press, $29.95). I had to wait for the second printing because the first run of this newly published volume sold out almost immediately. It’s a collection of “secret” recipes for the prepared dishes and baked goods that have made this fancy food store an Akron destination for 71 years. Author Russ Vernon, who retired two years ago, ran the business, taking over from his father. The book attests to the fact that he’s been putting his free time to good use.

Some of the recipes are so Ohio and definitely hearken back to a bygone era. That’s part of their appeal. Think Hollandaise Sauce, Ice Box Cake, Monkey Bread, and ham loaf. Others, like fresh fig salad and grilled wild salmon with honey wine sauce are for a more contemporary-minded crowd. Suggested wine pairings are a nice touch. Longtime customers will surely be pleased to get the step by step instructions for preparing the Market’s memorable mac-and-cheese made with mascarpone, Gorgonzola, and fresh spinach, and their Original Killer Brownies. The pages are nicely laid out and feature charming illustrations. The forward by local writer David Giffels is the most literate, engaging, and entertaining cookbook opener I’ve ever read.

Flipping through the cookbook reminded me of a conversation I had with the late, great and always hungry journalist Johnny Apple in 2006. It was one of the last interviews he gave before he died. Sitting in a Seattle hotel room, he reminisced about growing up in Akron. His family owned the local Acme Supermarket. But Apple was a connoisseur from an early age. He gleefully confessed to me that when he had some money to spend, he’d sneak off to the West Point Market and buy wonderful things to eat. His parents, he admitted, would not have approved.

Vernon will be autographing books at the Market (1711 W. Market Street, Akron) on Saturday, December 13 from noon-3 pm. A signed copy would make a great gift for anyone who has some West Point memories of their own.

No comments: