National Indie Excellence Book AwardsAs cherry season begins, I’m heading to two of my favorite cities—Chicago and Ann Arbor—and about to discover the pleasures of the farming community of Fennville, near southern Michigan’s art coast. I can’t wait to sample those famous Michigan cherries and discover the region’s homegrown specialties at the local farmers’ markets. What a great way to get a sense of place.

Here’s the lineup: I’m speaking to the Culinary Historians of Chicago about Los Angeles’ 19th-century food scene and ChicaGourmets! is hosting dinner at one sixtyblue with a menu from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook prepared by Chef Martial Noguier. Next, I’ll be cooking at the Green City Market and then on to Michigan to support local growers with a farm-to-table dinner with Chef Matthew Millar at the Journeyman Café in Fennville. Ari Weinzweig has invited me to help kick off this summer’s Ann Arbor Westside Farmers’ Market with a rollicking patio party at Zingerman’s Roadhouse with James Beard nominee Chef Alex Young.

And, I’m very pleased to tell you that The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook received the 2008 PubWest Book Design Awards Bronze Medal for Best Cookbook and was a finalist in the National Indie Excellence 2008 Book Awards’ cookbook category!