Posts Tagged 'Bookstore Lore'

Amelia’s Adventures in the Kitchen

Wednesday visitors to the shop will have made the acquaintance of artist and staffer Amelia Garretson-Persans whose handmade fine art books are unique features of our collection.  Ever industrious and creative, Amelia took home a copy of Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking by Brother Curry.  Just a few days later she shared some of her experiences.  Baking is only one of Amelia’s many talents.  Contact the shop to order copies of the book.

3/2/09 Challah

Though challah is traditionally a Jewish bread, Brother Rick Curry justifies its presence in his Christian cookbook by explaining that Father Toby Myer, who I have to thank for this recipe, is a Jewish convert.  With that contentious issue settled, I will proceed.

Challah is the first type of bread I ever made, even before I was initiated into the mystic rites of Jesuit breadmaking.  If it turns out it is a terrific crowd-pleaser and a tremendous ego-booster.  With its egg wash and sesame/poppy seed coating it emerges from the oven triumphantly.

When a bread doesn’t turn out, as was the case with my second and third attempts, it can easily be misconstrued as a personal insult to your character and integrity.  This is perhaps the wrong way to approach baking, but when you are confronted with a squat, dead, little loaf after four h ours of labor and anticipation, it can be devastating.

Incredibly though, this tends to happen less and less with the more practice and research you do.  Brother Rick Curry clued me into the problem of starting your yeast in a cold bowl.  As I have been doing most of my baking this winter in a poorly winterized summer bungalow, I took his advice to heart and began heating my ceramic bowl in hot water before beginning.  So far, no more flops…

This challah turned out quite well, despite my persistently spazzy braiding.  I needed a diagram for the first four or five challahs I made, and when I finally decided to lose this crutch, I ended up with a wonky looking bread.  It tasted good, but while it lasted, it functioned as a reminder of my poor visual memory.  Fortunately, good challah only lasts about a day and half.

3/19/09 Brother Andrew’s Pumpernickel Bread

This bread has some weird stuff in it!  I always thought pumpernickel bread was made with pumpernickel flour, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.  I’ve always had a nebulous idea of what pumpernickel was to begin with, and frankly I still do.

The real wild cards in this bread are the one and half tablespoons of cocoa powder and two tablespoons of instant coffee granules, which I ordinarily wouldn’t allow in my home, if not for its hidden location in the back of the baking shelf.

The bread is cooked at a high temperature, mostly for the function of darkening the crust I think.  The result is a sweet, smoky flavor, much akin to store-bought pumpernickel bread…  It makes excellent toast, particularly the type of toast that accompanies a bowl of soup.

3/29/09 Sister Courtney’s Buttermilk Bread

While skimming through my Jesuit Breadmaking book, in a desperate attempt to use up the quickly turning buttermilk, I discover that Brother Rick Curry only has one arm!  Perhaps because I’m not wild about book covers that feature the author in all his or her smiling splendor, I never looked very carefully at it.  In the introduction Brother Curry describes the difficult task of cutting the fifty pound bricks of butter received at the monastery into useable chunks.  He makes  a fleeting remark about how much more difficult this is with only one arm.  No kidding!  I quickly flip back to the cover and am very surprised to see that though his right shoulder is obscured in shadow, there is clearly no arm attached to it.   And I thought kneading was a workout with two arms!

Anyway, Sister Courtney’s bread is a pretty simple bread to make, with virtually no curveballs thrown in.  It makes a sweet, slightly moist loaf, which makes excellent breakfast toast, particularly when it’s smothered in butter and honey.

Through the big blue door

We’ve been visited by old-timers who remember the place that in the late ’30s sold penny candy and sodas at the corner of Glover and Main where our bookshop has made its home since 1980. We’ve heard from others about the back room where teenagers came to watch t.v. in the ’50s and maybe drink some beer. Some variety of religious thrift shop sold old clothes and odds and ends here. Then Canio Pavone transformed the space into the literary gathering place and the eclectic shop Canio’s Books is today. We’ve heard rumors the huge basement was once a speak-easy during Prohibition, but then, it’s likely most any large underground rooms served a similar purpose in this port town. Access to Sag Harbor Cove through the trees out back may even have provided a clandestine route to transport the rum. In the mid to late 1850s, the building was once owned by a certain Reverend William Musgrave, minister at Christ Episcopal Church in Sag Harbor village. And the wide floorboards in back are said to be part of the original structure which dates from the late 1790s. We have yet to hear from any ghosts. But the voices of so many writers, poets, novelists and playwrights who have read at the shop have now seeped into the walls that the stories they could tell would likely continue for a long long while.

Who’s that cute little clown?

If you’ve seen our logo, an adorable clown banging a large drum and standing atop a pile of books, you may have wondered who he is….Opera lovers likely will recognize the billowing costumed figure as Pagliaccio, a character from the commedia dell’arte. The great Enrico Caruso is perhaps best known in the role in Leoncavallo’s popular opera, Pagliacci. Stepping further into the story, the actor who plays Paglicaccio in this play- within- a- play is named Canio. From here we direct you to read a bit of our shop history at our website’s homepage, Our founding owner is Canio Pavone! Ecco la! There it is! Canio’s wife, the artist Nohra Barros created the design back in 1980 when the shop first opened. While we often have opera playing in the shop, and sometimes even Pagliacci, particularly on Sundays…there’s always good music in the shop, as well as our hand-selected collection of books. We have a particular interest in books by Italian authors, Italian history, literature and culture, keeping the best of that tradition and heritage alive. That little clown, Pagliaccio, reminds us of the source of much of our inspiration.

Canio’s Books is located at 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963, 631.725.4926. Call or email us, While we love you to SEE you, you can also order new titles at our online storefront or some of our second hand inventory HERE. Thanks for visiting!