by Romney Steele for Saveur.com
I've always cherished Thanksgivings at Nepenthe, my grandparents' storied restaurant in Big Sur, California. My mother's parents, Bill and Lolly Fassett, opened Nepenthe in 1949 on a cliffside property they'd fallen in love with and then purchased from its owners, Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles.
My grandfather, the child of an astrologer, and my grandmother, whose grandparents founded the artists' colony of Carmel, fit right into Big Sur's bohemian culture. They envisioned Nepenthe—a Greek word for an elixir that erases grief—as a place where people could forget their worldly cares and draw inspiration from the ocean views, the architecture (the restaurant was built by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright), the guests (painters, poets, vagabonds, and a few celebrities, like the writer Henry Miller), and, of course, the food. The restaurant became known for delicious, whimsically named dishes like the Phoenix Special, a steak slicked with Gorgonzola—caramelized onion butter, and the Ambrosia Burger, slathered in zesty mayonnaise.