Full of tasty recipes with New England flair and abundant color photos of island life—with not a single Black Dog to be spotted—the new cookbook from Edgartown’s Carol McManus, Table Talk (Vineyard Stories, $22.95, 114 pages), is about as gift-basket ready as it gets. Due out in mid-August, the vibrant paperback is just the sort of thing a host can send home with summering out-of-towners, with no fear of perpetuating Bay State tourist kitsch.
McManus, longtime owner of Espresso Love Cafe, teamed up with island-based Vineyard Stories, which boasts an impressive pedigree for a small custom publisher: Husband-and-wife team Jan Pogue and John Walter are veteran journalists with a combined resume that includes the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and USA Today.
They also have strong ties to the Vineyard, with Walter having served as editor and publisher of the Vineyard Gazette. Table Talk is their eighth book, and their second cookbook (the first being the charming Delish!, a collection of recipes inspired by local author Philip R. Craig’s fictional Vineyard detective, J. W. Jackson).
No surprise, then, that Table Talk comes off as warmly authentic.
The 80 recipes featured, which McManus says she raised her kids on and also featured over the years at Espresso Love, range from breakfast staples (granola, fruit pancakes, blueberry muffins) to seafood (Katama bay scallops with linguine, fried codfish) to hearty dinners (beef stew, “tried and true” meatballs and spaghetti).
They’re all fairly simple and straightforward, making them a boon for both time-starved and skill-deprived chefs. Sprinkled throughout are time-saving tips, ideas for involving kids in the kitchen, anecdotes, and quotable tidbits (“As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it”—Buddy Hackett).
All in all, Table Talk has the makings of a great little regional keepsake—maybe even the kind you’re tempted to keep around for yourself.