Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.

To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard... MORE

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Two Bits of Paradise

Otahuna Lodge, just outside Christchurch, in New Zealand. The grand Victorian, built in 1895 by Sir Heaton Rhodes, has been beautifully preserved (and is now owned by two American men). Every room is gorgeous. I came upstairs, after a long, luxurious dinner, to find the curtains drawn, the sheets turned down, and a fire blazing merrily in my room (this...

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Notes from New Zealand: Christchurch

Christchurch is heartbreaking and inspiring, in equal measure. New Zealand's second largest city is still recovering from the devastating earthquake of 2011. Huge swaths of the city have disappeared leaving gaping hulks of vanished buildings standing on every street like ghosts from the past. You walk the streets, haunted by the rubble of tumbled buildings. And yet there is a...

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A Japanese meal in New Zealand

My last dinner in Auckland was at the tranquil Cocoro: a lovely, langorous meal that was utterly Japanese in its restrained simplicity. It began with these two oysters: one a Bluff oyster, too delicious to serve with anything more than a bit of salt and lemon. The other a Kaipara topped with a subtle yuzu foam. Next came a little...

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