My Material Life

My Nepenthe (The Book) & Ambrosia Sauce

I’d just hate to visit Big Sur without a stop at Nepenthe. Yes, you can say the food is overpriced, but it’s that view you’re paying for! It’s a magical spot that we’ve enjoyed for many years. We were there last week and they had this book for sale, but I didn’t buy one because I found mine last spring. Bought it no questions asked and at full price because of the happy memories I have of Nepenthe. It’s a cookbook and a memoir of Nepenthe’s founding family, the Fassetts (the author is a granddaughter). See the textile design on the book jacket? That’s by Kaffe Fassat. He’s a well-known knitwear designer living in London now, but he grew up at Nepenthe and showed his designs in the fashion shows held there in the seventies.

I was hoping one of the recipes for the dishes I had last week (a pinto bean pureed soup and banana cream pie – what a combination!) would be in the book because they were both so good, but they’re not. So I’ll share something else that is quintessential Nepenthe – the ambrosia sauce from their ambrosia burgers. This is one of those mayo and tomato combinations, but instead of using ketchup for the tomato, they use tomato sauce. So no cloying sweetness. Some mild green salsa (I used a small can of the Herdez brand) provides just a little kick. I’m going to use some tonight on a grilled avocado and cheese sandwich. I cut the following recipe in half.

Ambrosia Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup mild green salsa
Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl.

If you’re planning a visit to Nepenthe, you might want to rent the movie, The Sandpiper, to put you in the mood. I’ve never seen it, but I’d like to. Liz and Dick and Eva Marie Saint from 1964. Scenes were filmed on Nepenthe’s terrace and at nearby Pfeiffer Beach.



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