Appetizers

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Hank Shaw’s whirlwind tour: Talking, signing books and eating lots of duck!

12/02/2013 3:59 PM

12/02/2013 4:25 PM

I just caught up with Hank Shaw, the well-traveled and award-winning blogger and author, during a break from an extended tour to promote his second book, “Duck, Duck, Goose” (Ten Speed Press, 240 pp., $24.99).

Shaw may be sleeping in his own bed for the next couple of weeks, but he’s not exactly resting.

Tonight, he is hosting a special duck dinner at Mulvaney’s — it has been sold out for a month and was capped at 120 guests. He’ll be in Berkeley Tuesday night at Gather restaurant. Wednesday, he’s in Davis at the Avid Reader from 6 p.m. until closing, signing books and chatting with readers.

In the past two months, Shaw has put 7,000 miles on his his Toyota Tacoma pick-up (the odometer currently reads 307,000 miles), has done 34 events in 29 states and, well, he’s eaten lots and lots of duck.

Counting in his head as we chatted, Shaw came up with 25 duck dinners he has attended in recent weeks. That’s more than plenty, even for a guy whose book is about how to cook game birds.

“I got tired at the end, not so much of duck but duck cooked in the American farm-to-table style," he said with a laugh. “One of the first things I did when I came home was make pho with duck.”

Shaw says the first printing of 12,500 copies is almost sold out and he figures he has signed 1,200 copies. During one stretch of the tour, he did six events in five nights ... and paid the price.

“It was a grueling, exhilarating and humbling trip. It was everything at once all concentrated,” Shaw said. “It’s really important to try to talk to everybody who comes to see me," he said. “I put everything out there, and the next morning, I feel like a wet sponge.”

As most of you know by now, this has been a big year for Shaw, whose first book, “Hunt, Gather Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast,” was published to much acclaim in 2011. After two consecutive nominations, Shaw won a James Beard Award for best blog this year and published his second book this fall.

In addition to all those other events, Shaw will be teaching a class, basic duck cookery, Dec. 17 at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. There are still a few openings.

“The highlight of that class is I’m going to walk people through how I do roast goose. Everybody wants that traditional goose for the holidays, but getting there in a way that suits American palates today is not that easy.”

Once the holidays are over, Shaw will be back out on the road for a solid month in January. That’s right — being a writer means you write the book, then you gotta’ go sell it.

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