Cindy Pawlcyn helped define the California restaurant scene in the mid 1980s with Mustards Grill in Napa and the Fog City Diner in San Francisco, both combining a seriousness about food with a loose generosity of spirit that made you happy to eat there. Pawlcyn's eclectic new cookbook (10 Speed Press, $35; 290 pages) rings with that spirit. It's a round-the-world recipe tour featuring dishes from themed midweek dinners that Pawlcyn has held since 2003. It's miles from the dreaded "international" cookbooks of yore. Pawlcyn adapts recipes to her taste, but there's no lack of adventure in Korean-Style Beef Tartare, Sicilian Chestnut and Green Olive Pork Stew, or a South African Milk Tart with Blood Orange Compote. This assortment of recipes from Hawaii, Peru, Lebanon, India, and more is charming rather than odd. If you accept Pawlcyn as your tour guide, you'll like the culinary nooks and crannies she explores.
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