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Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise Audio CD


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Books on Tape
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1415916756
  • ISBN-13: 978-1415916759
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (304 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,178,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Reichl's wonderful food descriptions, mixed with recipes and clever disguses is a fun read for foodies.
Dawn M. Flinsch
Ruth writes so very well and entertainly, and you are torn from your own reality into her world of costumes and intrigue.
Diva Denise
I've listened to the audiobook three times and read the hardcopy book once...and I'd read it again if I had the time.
M. Mori

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

160 of 164 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous Reader on April 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires, an account of her years as restaurant critic of the New York Times, is simultaneously hilarious, refresing and poignant, altogether a five-star read in the light memoir category.

The hilarity comes from Reichl's penchant for donning elaborate disguises, the better to assure anonymity in assessing New York's most prominent eateries. These incognita excursions allow Reichl to skewer the pretensions and omissions of such well-known restaurants as Le Cirque and Tavern on the Green.

Garlic and Sapphires sets a refreshing tone due to Reichl's insistence on recognizing excellent dining in all of its venues, from humble ethnic restaurants to New York's most elegant establishments. Reichl's penchant for ferreting out little-known gems earns her the opprobrium of Bryan Miller, her predecessor as the Times's restaurant critic, and his supporters, all of whom charge Reichl with "letting down standards". But the many New Yorkers who experience life without expense account or trust fund appreciate her excursions to the wrong side of the tracks to identify dining delights.

Most important, Garlic and Sapphires provides a poignant look at what it is like to be too old, too unfashionable, or too poor to fully take part in the glories of the Big Apple. Reichl's disguises frequently place her in one or more these overlooked groups, and she provides a sensitive picture of what it is like to be marginalized-- not only by headwaiters at four-star dining establishments, but by society. One hopes that Reichl's tenure as Times restaurant critic made top restaurants more likely to treat all of their patrons with dignity and respect.
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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Booklover on April 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is my first Ruth Reichl book, so I really didn't know what to expect, but was intrigued by the title. I just bought this today and am almost done. It feels like the best kind of book, a novel that just grabs hold and pulls you right into another world. I'm right there, as she dons her disguises, dresses up as her mother, right down to the attitude, as she sends dishes back, or gives herself up to the sheer pleasure of the food without over-analyzing it. What comes across more than anything, is the pure passion for the food and her job,and the sincerity and respect for the reader as she sets out to share her experience and to rate each restaurant.

She also has a way with description. I can almost taste these dishes, and am now starving...

If you like food, and the restaurant world, you will have an absolute ball with this book.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on April 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's one thing to hold the coveted job of restaurant critic for the New York Times but it's an entirely different matter when that person can deliver such a wonderfully breezy book about her experiences. Ruth Reichl has done just that in a style that is as warm, informative and delicious as the best restaurants she has reviewed.

In "Garlic and Sapphires" the author invites you into her world so intimately that you feel you are sharing each and every meal with her. It would probably have been enough if Ruth had simply given us a compilation of her entire collected reviews because she writes so well in that vein, but the joy of this particular offering includes a cast of characters who are not from central casting. While she manages to keep herself in the limelight, as she should, she surrounds herself with willing (and sometimes unwilling) cohorts in her attempts to review restaurants through her many disguises and personalities. Her usually understanding husband, Michael, her precocious son Nicky, her friend and sometimes mentor Carol, and her close buddy Claudia all add to her support as the author becomes Miriam, Chloe, Brenda, Betty and Emily. A male critic could never have gotten away with what Ruth pulls off! It is a surprise to both the author and the reader that her dinner guests often become angry with her because she plays the roles of her assumed identities with such panache that they almost beg her to return to her own self.

In one of the most alluring chapters, Ruth relates how she meets a total stranger, Dan Green, who ends up dining with her at Lespinasse. Keeping her secret, she spends an evening with him wondering what he will think of the review when he reads it.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By e. verrillo on July 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
After reading Tender at the Bone, I was looking forward to more of Ruth Reichl. Garlic and Sapphires was not only a disappointment, it was as if a completely different person had written it. It is ironic that in a book about disguises, Reichl herself was unrecognizable. Far from the funny, sensitive, and sincere person she was in her first book, Reichl had transformed herself into a self-absorbed snob loaded with enough hypocrisy to sink a ship.

This book covers Reichl's stint as the New York Times chief restaurant critic. Although she accepts the position, she has reservations about the elitist implications of the job, and vows to write for the masses--those million readers who can't afford to spend $100 for a meal at a four-star French restaurant. Part of her mission is to expose the poor treatment many of these restaurants heap on the "common man." But in order to accomplish this lofty goal, Reichl must eat in disguise. For if she is recognized as New York's premier restaurant critic, she'll be treated like royalty. (Although this obviously has no bearing on the quality of the food, it has a great deal of bearing on the quality of the experience. Personally, I eat for the food.)

The idea is cute, and for the first few chapters it was fun. But Reichl shows her true colors right from the start when she heaps disdain on a bearded ignoramus (wearing Birkenstocks...unforgivable!) for having the audacity to dip his sushi rice-side down, thereby "ruining" the "clear transparent flavor," the "taut crispness," and the clam that was "almost baroque in its sensuality." (I have yet to meet a sensual or almost baroque clam, but I'll take Reichl's word for it.) Reichl then reminisces about her trip to Japan, in which she is first exposed to the proper way to eat Japanese food.
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More About the Author

Ruth Reichl, Gourmet's editor in chief, is the author of the best-selling memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires, and the forthcoming Not Becoming My Mother and Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way. She is executive producer of the two-time James Beard Award-winning Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie, which airs on public television across the country, and the editor of the Modern Library Food Series. Before coming to Gourmet, she was the restaurant critic for the New York Times, receiving two James Beard Awards for her work. She lectures frequently on food and culture.