Cafe Beaujolais by Margaret S. Fox and John Bear (Ten Speed Press: $9.95, softcover, 256 pp., illustrated)
Anyone who has ever fantasized about opening a restaurant should read "Cafe Beaujolais." Although the book includes recipes, Margaret Fox, chef-owner of this Mendocino restaurant, and co-author John Bear have deliberately left the word cookbook out of the title. What they have written is a restaurant biography augmented with recipes for many of the most popular dishes.
Fox devotes considerable space to describing the pitfalls, traumas, hard work and low pay that are the reality of running a restaurant, even one as successful as the Cafe Beaujolais. Her words should serve as warning to all those great cooks who dream some day of having their own little restaurant. Only the thick-skinned and dedicated can survive in this field.
Fox fits in this category, for she has seen the cafe through to its eighth anniversary, which will be observed April 28. Located in a small structure built in the early 1900s, the 38-seat Cafe Beaujolais has become known for its breakfasts. Omelets, waffles, pancakes, breads, muffins and much more draw not only locals but customers who drive from distant points over narrow, winding roads to reach this coastal community.
Without Chef's Training
Fox entered the business without chef's training but with a bachelor's degree in developmental psychology from UC Santa Cruz. Before buying the cafe, she worked as a baker at the Mendocino Hotel and at a local cheese shop. She has now formed a sideline business, the Cafe Beaujolais Bakery, to market some of her food products.
Running a successful eating place year in and out takes stamina and a consuming passion for the business. Writes Fox: "When I'm not at the restaurant, I'm kind of at a loss as to what to do." Her personal memoirs and discussion of the restaurant business take up the first half of the book. Then come recipes that range from Fox's breakfast specialties to salads, soups, breads, main dishes and desserts. Fox refuses to part with the recipe for the waffles that are a trademark dish but provides recipes for other breakfast treats, including the following light but crunchy cornmeal pancakes.
BLUEBERRY CORNMEAL PANCAKES
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups buttermilk
3 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Fresh or frozen blueberries
Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt and cornmeal. Mix buttermilk, egg yolks and butter with dry ingredients. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry and fold into batter.
For each pancake, pour 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons blueberries onto batter and cook until bubbles form and begin to pop. Turn with wide spatula and brown other side. Turn only once and do not press down. Makes about 5 1/2 cups batter.