by Lee Brian Schrager with Adeena Sussman. This just arrived and I'm so excited. Can't wait to dive in and see what cool techniques await and plan my fantasy road trip. Is there anything better than fried chicken (today)?
by Lee Brian Schrager with Adeena Sussman. This just arrived and I'm so excited. Can't wait to dive in and see what cool techniques await and plan my fantasy road trip. Is there anything better than fried chicken (today)?
I found an old favorite today while we were shopping at the Concord Antique Gallery. I bought this book years ago in Newport, Rhode Island, or was it Watch Hill? I've always been a fan of used bookstores, though they seem to be slowly disappearing, and had my favorites in both towns that I would visit religiously every summer when we went up to Charlestown Beach. This book was an impulse buy that turned out to be a gem. It's chock full of information, salty stories, New England lore and line drawings. It's compulsively readable and entertaining and you actually learn a thing or two hundred along the way.
I have no idea where my original copy is, somewhere buried in boxes of books. But this afternoon I'm revisiting an old favorite that reminds me why I love New England and why I am so happy to be back here again.
July 6, 2010
This week in the New York TImes Jeff Gordiner wrote interesting piece on Laurie Colwin. She is, unsurprisingly, one of my favorite authors though I may be in the minority in that I enjoy her fiction as much as her food writing. Truth be told, there's a lot of food in her fiction and having spent my high school years in the eighties in New York City I found her writing to be very true to life as I knew it. It was fresh and unique with a distinct voice as all the best writing often is. Now I have bookcases full of food writing and still Home Cooking and More Home Cooking are among those that I reach for the most.
In my younger days I was a huge fan of James Beard and MFK Fisher. I bought The Art of Eating when I was working at Metropolitan Museum of Art one Christmas season. I managed to find quite a few great cookbooks in the stores there but MFK was by far my best purchase. I read it over and over again and it seemed to embody the kind of writing I most enjoyed. Autobiographical, food-centric, and slightly eccentric. Each book in the series was clearly written in her voice and yet there were distinct variations in style and tone, time and space. She also wrote a tiny bit of fiction and I greatly enjoyed her novel Not Now but Now, and it sits alongside her other books on my shelf. James Beard's Delights and Prejudices is still a favorite and though it may have been years since I last cracked the cover I can close my eyes and conjure up stories of summertime in Olympia, French markets, sand tarts, curries, and Dungeness crab.
John Thorne was my go to for developing opinions and learning to cook on my own. His stories embody a journey of culinary evolution. Not in a fancy or snooty way, just the stories of an opinionated cook who often finds cooking and eating to be a solitary pleasure. He has both a website and a newsletter and his books are an extension of these. Some of his most popular pieces are on breakfasts and midnight snacks. These are highly personal meals that we may never want to recreate ourselves but then we all have our secret passions and strange meals that we enjoy most when we are alone. John Thorne invites us into his world without imposing his ideas upon us. Recipes are given but there's no pressure to run to the kitchen or follow them exactly. Instead they are a natural unfolding of whatever story they originate from.
Growing up with a Jewish uncle I was especially fond of books describing Jewish food. There's a whole culture to the cuisine, similar to what we see in Southern food writing, another favorite of mine. From My Mother's Kitchen by Mimi Sheraton was a keeper comfort read. Her voice is clear and informative as she matter-of-factly explains her mother's preferences in the kitchen and her own variations. It is as much a story about their relationship as it as about the food. Perhaps that's what makes the very best comfort reads, they give you something to relate to and something you can build upon for yourself. Of course these few books are just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on for days but instead I'll leave you here, so I can go curl up with a good book.
Okay, let's get this part out of the way. We know Chris Cosentino and are huge fans of both him and his wife. Completely aside from the fact that his restaurant is one of our favorites in San Francisco, his new book Beginnings: My Way To Start a Meal is pretty darned cool. It is fun to read, with tons or personality and great food combinations.
Flipping through the pages made us wish we had a west coast trip coming up. Simple dishes like the warm salad of savoy cabbage, chanterelles and ricotta salata with a warm mustard vinaigrette emphasize the deep flavors of the ingredients. Roasted marrow bones are gently tossed with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs before being topped with caviar for a delicious twist on surf and turf. Gorgeously pink spring lamb is roasted with fresh mint and garlic, sliced and topped with anchovy butter. And there's even a twist on classic bagna cauda made with Barolo wine from the same region as the dish to create something even better than the original.
The photography by Michael Harlan Turkell is inspiring. There are pictures in the book, like the fava bean, strawberry and pecorino salad or the treviso, pomegranate and pistachio dish that are just beautiful. They are aptly complemented by Chris' drawings, which illustrate some of the recipes and the ideas behind them. This is a book full of details, which not only inspire and enhance the food but tell a story of a chef driven by delicious.
May 16, 2009
Sometimes we get a book and for whatever reason it doesn't resonate. We read it and it just doesn't work for us. Sometimes a little time and distance can give us a new perspective on a formerly unappreciated tome. While it can be frustrating to realize that you had a hidden treasure sitting in plain sight, the fact is you have to be ready to appreciate it. When Gray Kunz's book The Elements of Taste came out I read it from cover to cover, underlined various points (to Aki's chagrin) and then set it aside. I had four star expectations for the book and for my younger self it failed to deliver. The book's comfortable approach to a complex topic flew well over my head. It sat on our book shelves for years, untouched, occasionally referenced but never fully explored.
Fast forward to a week ago and a conversation with a good friend and fellow chef who loves the book. His enthusiasm inspired me to take another look. The next time I wanted something to read I casually reached for The Elements of Taste. As I looked through it I was shocked to realize that what I had formerly dismissed as simplicity was actually the distillation of the myriad experiences of a culinary mastermind. It was incredible going through the book and seeing what I had underlined ten years ago, seeing what struck my fancy, what I was intrigued by and how those same sparks get ideas flowing today.
I opened to a random page and saw a beautiful gratin of fresh peas, pistachios and tarragon. It was one of those, "of course it's been done before" moments. Not that we thought we did something particularly unique, but to see the exact combination of ingredients and flavors beautifully presented over ten years ago was, well, humbling. It reminded me of the fact that while ideas may be new to us, chances are good that someone else had them before. Still it put a small smile on my face. If we are harnessing the flavor combinations of Gray Kunz then we can't be doing too poorly.
If you remember The French Laundry Cookbook and were inspired by the forager Connie Green who would hand pick wild edibles for Thomas Keller, then this is your fix. It brings you into Connie's world from ingredients to chefs and demonstrates what skill, passion and inspiration can do when combined with mother nature. Take a look and dive into The Wild Table.
We are thrilled with all the support and want to get the book in as many kitchens as possible.
Spread the word.
you may not have heard of. This was an amazing year for books and many very good books run the risk of being overlooked. Because of that we've put together a short list of books we loved that aren't getting as much buzz as other, more well known authors. Along those lines we tried to pick books that we haven't mentioned here yet.
Encyclopedia of Pasta, by Oretta Zanini De Vita and translated by Maureen B. Fant is a wonderful, comprehensive book that has more information and inspiration than you ever thought you could find in pasta. It has history, mythology and practical knowledge, everything you need in a great book.
A World of Cake by Krystina Castella is an odyssey spanning the globe, chronicling the world of cake. I confess that I bought the book for the Kasutera Cake recipe, a Japanese sponge cake that I've been chasing for years. Once the book arrived I was completely seduced by it's wide array of stories and recipes. As a lifelong cake lover it provided a surprising number of completely new and unique recipes that I can't wait to try out, in one form or another. Another fascinating read for anyone with a sweet tooth.
Secrets of the Red Lantern by Pauline Nguyen is a book we discovered it this year and felt compelled to share. This is both book and cookbook, for those who like to armchair travel it will take you to another time and place, from Vietnam to Australia, with a family who's life seems defined by food, both good and bad. The recipes are a welcome counterpoint to the stories and give you the tools ncessary to feed the hunger that builds as you read the book.
Asian Dumplings, Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas and More by Andrea Nguyen, the title and tag line basically say it all. This book is a must for anyone who loves these rich, delicae morsels. It is broken up into categories like thin skins, rich pastries, and translucent wheat and tapioca starches. Nguyen covers every aspect of dumpling making from flour to cooking method. There are photographs and line drawings to illustrate the techniques and recipes are clearly written and easy to follow.
Please feel free to chime in with your recommendations. We're always looking for new inspirations!
...to buy Ideas in Food, Great Recipes and Why They Work even if it doesn't hit stores before Christmas (and yes, this is shameless self promotion but sometimes you've just got to do it):
A big thank you to everyone who was gracious enough to include us on their list!
I love the Amazon pre-order function. Not only do we get the latest books at a discount, shipped via two day Prime, because we use it that much, but once the books are ordered we can forget about them. Then on rainy Tuesdays like today we get a special delivery from our local UPS man. Today three great looking books arrived on our doorstep. Momofuku, The Craft of Baking, and Artisan Breads Every Day. It's an abundance of riches that we have no time to read at the moment, those who follow my Twiiter know that my computer crashed and burned last week and I lost the entire hard drive, but neither of us could resist taking a few moments to flip through the pages of all three new additions to the library. Maybe we'll take them with us to Hawaii in December to read. Of course then we'd have to carry them on the plane...maybe they will just be something great to decompress with after a long day of cooking, writing and entertaining Amaya. No matter when we delve into them, it's nice to have something so intriguing to look forward to.
Feeding a baby is always an adventure. There's so much information out there, most of it negative. People are happy to tell you what not to feed them or to tell you that you're paranoid and that you can feed them anything at all. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between the extremes. Every baby is different and our approach is that she can taste almost anything and if she likes it and it agrees with her, then she can continue to eat it after the first bite. As chefs we probably give her more food than the average parent because when she looks longingly at our plates and reaches out for what we're eating, as she does at every meal, we just can't say no. There's been salt and spice and everything nice and so far Amaya seems pretty happy with it all. Still sometimes we wonder whether or not we're doing the right thing. It's in a new parent's nature to worry. That's why I was so happy to discover Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton. It's wry, entertaining, and altogether a fabulous read. It was so relevant and reassuring that I took it upon myself to take Alex's phone, download the Kindle app, and buy the book for him. He'll be reading it on the plane ride to San Francisco and if you have kids or ever plan to have kids or just like hanging out with kids you should read it too.
Alex spent the day yesterday helping out a friend who is Chef de Cuisine at a soon to be opened restaurant, scooping parisians of foie gras, and plating hors d'oeuvres for a major party. I was sorry to miss the spectacle. It's always fun to get an inside peek into other people's kitchens. Tonight he's speaking at a dinner meeting for the New York Institute of Food Technologists. I helped him put the speech together, but it's still not the same as being there. I guess that I'll just have to get used to that for a little while.
On the bright side I have the evening to myself and a plethora of books to occupy my attention. Tonight I'm leaning towards On the Line, by Eric Ripert. It's the sleeper of the batch and not because we weren't expecting it to be great. It's just that with so many anticipated releases this fall, it seemed to get a little lost in the shuffle. Now that we've had some time with it, I'm so glad that we were smart enough to buy it early. The book really does give you a glimpse behind the scenes at Le Bernadin, a bird's eye view of what goes on in their kitchen. For those of us in the business it's fun because of what we know, for those of you who aren't in the business it's fun because it shows you a side of things you wouldn't normally see. The photography is quirky and well done, and the book itself has great personality. Le Bernadin is one of those iconic restaurants that we've only visited once, years ago. Reading this makes me want to go back and see what the experience is like today. Until I can afford to do that, the book gives me glimpse of what I'm missing. It reminds me of the things I miss most about working in professional kitchens, the inspiration, the camaraderie, and of course, the food.
We have debated long and hard about our first run in the world of self published books. Unfortunately, the rising production cost of the 172 page, all picture book has made the book too expensive for us to continue to happily sell it as a printed document. The book is still available as a downloadable PDF of all 172 pictures for $15.00. The dishes and pictures represent a year of our cooking. And for those who never new we published something, perhaps now is the time to take a look. The link on the side bar takes you to the Ideas in Food bookstore. You may also follow this shortcut.
Cookwise and Bakewise by Shirley O. Corriher. Seriously, we only wish we could be this smart. These two books will teach you just about everything you need to know to understand the hows and whys of cooking. The books are informative, easy to read, and incredibly user-friendly. Bakewise just arrived on our doorstep the other day and I've hardly put it down. As we've said before, it's much easier to be creative with ideas and techniques when you understand how things work in the first place. Corriher's voice is very conversational and the recipes are well thought out and thoroughly explained. Not to mention the fact that they sound delicious. She provides explanations for everything she does in a matter of fact, chatty tone. It's feels like learning how to cook from your favorite aunt, who just happens to be well versed in food science and good taste.
I've been meaning to pick up Rebecca Rather's book, The Pastry Queen for quite some time. When I originally tried to buy it, Amazon was sold out. Somehow months went by before I got back to it. The book arrived the other day and I've been reading it like a novel. It's an amazing and delicious piece of work. The recipes (both sweet and savory) are fanciful and mouthwatering and the stories are personable and engaging. It's not fancy food, rather it's the kind food we cook at home, when we don't want to think, we just want to be taken care of. Truth be told I haven't baked a thing, although I can tell by reading the recipes that they will be pretty solid. The Muchas Leche Cake with Sugared Almonds is calling to me and I know it's only a matter of time before I have to taste it. It's a fabulous book and clearly meant to become well worn and often reached for on my baking shelf. There's even a Christmas Book too, which I'm sure can give Martha a run for her money. I'll have to put it on Santa's list and see what happens when the snow falls...
A friend recommended the book Frozen Desserts by Francisco J Migoya and because we trusted his opinion we picked it up. It's a wonderful, comprehensive tome that encompasses a modern view of frozen desserts. It discusses what actually occurs during the freezing process, which allows cooks to make educated decisions about creating their own frozen desserts. It's all in metric, which makes the recipes almost universal. It also discusses ice cream stabilizers and the use of hydrocolloids in frozen desserts. In fact, it presents two stabilizer recipes, a current fixation of ours. All in all it makes for an interesting and informative read.
Okay, so we missed a day. We’ve been doing a lot more writing lately and last night when it came time to write something for the website we were simply tapped out. It was a first and hopefully it will not be a recurring theme. Oddly we can spend all day in the kitchen and still have plenty of things to write about, getting the writing in before midnight is the challenge in that scenario. On the other hand when you spend most of the day writing and researching, sometimes the brain just goes on strike.
Speaking of research, we’ve been getting quite few inquiries on that subject lately. While the internet is a great resource and there are lots of informative websites out there, when push comes to shove, we still reach for our books. The classic and still the best is on On Food And Cooking by Harold McGee. Pair that with The Curious Cook and you will find answers to almost all of your kitchen questions. Learning to be a great cook is all about understanding the process. Harold McGee does an excellent job of explaining food science in clear, easy to understand terms. After all these years there is still no better combination of comprehensive books out there for the layperson. These are two books that every serious cook should own.
For the more technically minded we have recently discovered Food Polysaccharides and Their Applications. It takes all of the information in the Handbook of Hydrocolloids just a little bit further by providing more information and explanations about what's happening with your food. All that and it's a less expensive book, although it's still not what you'd call a cheap read.
We’ve been doing a lot of reading about spices lately and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Ian Hemphill’s Spice Notes and Recipes. This is a wonderful book, packed with information. There are no photographs, instead there is background and recipes for almost any spice that you can imagine. He includes particulars about origin, history, processing, storage, and usage. It’s one of those volumes that you can open to any page and find something interesting to peruse. It’s no wonder since the author and his family own Herbie's Spices, a company based in Sydney with products available internationally. Oddly I can no longer find copies of this book on Amazon or Powells, instead I've come across The Spice and Herb Bible and his latest Sticks, Seeds, Pods & Leaves: A Cook's Guide to Culinary Herbs and Spices (which we just ordered). If they're anything like Spice Notes, I'm sure they're worth the investment.
Last but not least we've been focusing in ice cream and frozen desserts. I'm sure we must have mentioned these books before although they're definitely worth mentioning again. Our go to volumes for icy confections are Frozen Desserts: The definitive guide to making ice creams, ices, sorbets, gelati, and other frozen delights by Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir, and Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments by David Lebovitz, who is probably one of the best sweet cookbook authors and food bloggers out there.
Back to the drawing board or in our case the laptop computers. While we're on the subject, what are your favorite go to food books? We're always looking for new additions to our library.
We ask questions all the time. As we continue to seek new information, we occasionally stumble across answers which leads to more questions. This question and answer roller coaster can be exhilarating although often times it feels daunting. One book, which I don't reach for often enough, continues to humble me with its clear and focused answers to the many questions we have about what the heck we are doing in the kitchen is Cookwise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed, by Shirley O. Corriher. She has the unique ability to clearly communicate information without necessarily dumbing it down. The many tasty recipes are an added bonus to the wealth of information between the covers. So, the next time you wonder why your custard curdled, take a moment to reflect and then open the book. The answers are right there for the reading. Once you understand exactly what is happening with your food, the doors begin to open and you are able to see the forest through the trees. The beauty of knowledge is that it makes us all better cooks.
I am loving Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Falkner on the Food Network that this book has some serious personality. It is engaging and easy to read. Her brother's illustrations of the exuberant pastry chef Caremi are just icing on the cake. The recipes do not appear to have been dumbed down for the masses, which is a huge plus. They are broken down into manageable pieces and the techniques are clear and easy to follow. She provides a lot of personal back story which keeps the pages turning and her technical information is solid. Frankly its been a long time since I've picked up a cookbook that I've enjoyed this much. It inspired me to look at food in a new light. As you traverse these pages it seems clear that in addition to being a chef, Elizabeth Falkner is also a teacher. And that is one of the best things that any chef can be.
There are certain books that I seem to pull out every year. They come to mind around the holidays, they are not necessarily about the festivities per se, they are about a feeling of warmth and community that I equate with the holidays. I've reread each of these books in the past few weeks, as the weather grew colder and the smell of gingerbread began to permeate the air. These publications are not about food science or haute cuisine, these books are about down home goodness and old fashioned comfort foods. Because that's mostly what I'm cooking for the holidays because that's what the people at our table really want to eat. Special meals at this time of the year are as much about memories and traditions as they are about cooking.
I was reading Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food just last night. It's a must for anyone who has grown up in New York or who has ever lived here for any significant amount of time. I feel like I grew up listening to Arthur Schwartz's Food Talk on WOR radio. Although I was not living in the city when he went off the radio, I was bereft at the idea that his voice was gone. His food tips and restaurant talk enlivened many a traffic jam over the 13 years that he was on the air. Who better to write a history of New York restaurants, complete with a variety of recipes for things you can no longer find on the streets of the city? It is a wonderful cookbook and reminiscence that I would recommend to anyone who loves food.
Home Cooking and More Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin are two of the best cookbooks ever. She was a wonderful writer of both fiction and food and these two books were my introduction to her work. I picked up More Home Cooking first and as soon as I finished it I headed out to the store to buy Home Cooking. The recipes are easy and delicious and the voice is irrepressible and unique. These are books to curl up with and enjoy. I come back to them periodically just because they are the kind of books that just make you feel good.
Miriam's Kitchen by Elizabeth Ehrlich is a different kind of food memoir. I have always been fascinated by how closely food is tied into the Jewish faith and traditions. In this book the author describes her uneasy relationship with the idea of Kashrut and her denial of and subsequent embrace of the Jewish dietary laws. Although this may sound a bit dry, the central theme is wrapped in stories of family, food, and a dawning self-awareness that people of any faith can relate to. The recipes are traditional and each one tells a story. It is not a religious book, instead it is a book about relationships and love.
This time of year my go-to guy is John Thorne. He is probably one of my very favorite writers. I found his first book Simple Cooking many years ago and never looked back. That one and Outlaw Cook are still my favorites, although over the years I have collected them all. His writing is thoughtful, whimsical and well researched. He writes about whatever he is passionate about at that moment and he draws you with him into his culinary obsessions. He and his wife, Matt Lewis Thorne, publish a newsletter, also called Simple Cooking, that theoretically is published quarterly, but in reality seems to come whenever the mood strikes. No matter, it is worth the wait. Every so often he collects all of these newsletters and a few other writings and publishes a new book. Their latest, Mouth Wide Open: A Cook and His Appetite, recently hit the bookstores and I expect that by Christmas morning I will have a copy in my hands. In the meantime I will go back and refresh my memory on how to make stifado or clotted cream or simply flip open the pages and visit with them for a while in Castine or Louisiana or Northampton or anywhere else the two of them may be.
In accordance with Holiday spirit and such, I am composing a list of eleven must have books for 2007. They may not have all been published in 2007, rather they have been essential and influential reads for me this past year. And why, with everyone else composing lists of ten for the holidays, have I chosen eleven?
I am inspired by the movie This is Spinal Tap. It is an old favorite and I was lucky enough to have my memory refreshed as I read the following dialog, excerpted from the movie, over at An Obsession With Food.
Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.
Well it's official, we can say that we are published authors with a book to display on our shelves. It's not a cookbook yet, although we're getting closer. Food and Philosophy has been released by Blackwell. We are proud to say that we contributed an essay to this culinary collection. We're still waiting for our copy from the publisher, so I ordered one from Amazon today. I'm looking forward to reading all of the other essays on food. Actually its been so long since we submitted it that I'm looking forward to reading our essay again. I'm sure we're in good company.
I just started reading, skimming, bouncing through and thoroughly enjoying Beyond Nose To Tail, by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly. The book is not large in size though its content and character enormous. It certainly inspires and requires thoughts about food. From the simply brilliant rhubarb mother to the brown bread and Armagnac ice cream to the infamous Trotter Gear this book is the one that no one should wait to buy.
It amazes me the constraint, thought and energy it takes to assemble recipes and pictures in such a way that you can actually feel the beliefs and visions of the chefs, the restaurant and the passion behind the project.
Well, it appears that one can now get in early on the Alinea book. We had heard about the custom publishing Grant and team have in the works during the Star Chefs ICC event earlier this week. It turns out that a new style of publishing is in the works. Now, if you pre-order the Alinea cookbook, you get early access to the book, the behind the scenes information, and the evolution of a chef, a restaurant and a cookbook. This is absolutely brilliant on so many levels, from hooking the early adapters, like me, to providing continued content on line, both before and after publication, a new approach to a book. Here, the actual book and the creative process are tied together. It's a brilliant idea and a natural evolution of the way blogs, books and the internet can come together to provide a total package of experiences. Bravo.
We recently received a copy of Morimoto: the New Art of Japanese cooking. Back when we first discovered the original Iron Chef, Morimoto was Aki's favorite. His innovative and outlandish American stylings were the perfect foil to the more traditional Chefs Chen and Sakai. We never did make it to either of his restaurants in Philly or in New York. We were sorely tempted and yet, neither of us wanted to be disappointed. The high prices and extreme hype made the actual experience almost impossible to live up to. On the other hand, we couldn't resist the lure of a cookbook. This one appears to have the depth and flavors expected from Morimoto. We have only begun to scratch the surface of the content and are already quite pleased with the information held within the pages and the ideas which have sprung forth from randomly flipping and skimming through the book.
Alex has now settled down and begon to read the book cover to cover, an approach he takes with most cookbooks. He is looking forward to discovering what new techniques we will be exposed to and what other idea paths we will travel down, inspired by Masaharu Morimoto.
If you're looking for a little light summer reading, about food, there's a great buy ($4.99) at Amazon.com that is totally worth the price. How I Learned to Cook: Culinary Explorations from the World's Greatest Chefs, is entertaining, intriguing and easy to read. The collection of chefs interviewed for this book is eclectic, from Ferran Adria to David Chang to Michelle Bernstein. Their inspirations are equally diverse and range from meeting Julia Child to an eye-opening meal in Italy to falling into the restaurant business as a way to pay for a vacation. The short essays mean that you can pick it up and put it down multiple times without ever feeling as though you've lost your place. It's on the bedside table right now and on those evenings when I can't fall asleep, it's a wonderful reminder of why I love this business.
George Blanc knows ingredients, particularly vegetables. In an era where artisinal and local are buzzwords it is certainly great to thumb through a book driven by impeccable unadulterated ingredients. George Blanc's book The Natural Cuisine of George Blanc brings ingredients to life. It is amazing to think this book was published in english in 1987. Blanc truly captures the essence of ingredients and shares them openly in this book. Not only is this a massive coffee table book (it is) but a book in which ideas and thoughts seem to jump from the pages.
With most of our books neatly boxed up in the basement I can only reflect on the pleasure of our library. Today, Alain Senderens popped into my mind. While his 3 star restaurant exists only in memory, his book The Three-Star Recipes of Alain Senderens still can be had. These recipes have a natural simplicity which when read through show his insistence on perfection and execution from idea to dish. Also, Senderens is known for developing dishes which coexist with particular wines. Such thought about the symbiotic relationship between food and wine is often overlooked. Anyway, there is a glut of his book, starting at $3.80 for sale. The information and thought process behind these recipes is worth 20 times that.
Aki and I truly enjoy rummaging through used bookstores. As our library grows, and it has grown immensely over the years, there seem to be less discoveries for us in the bookstores. Do not get me wrong, we still leave with stacks of books, but there are fewer surprises and undiscovered gems than there used to be. Often times in our searches we come across books which we already have, but which can be quite difficult to obtain. Occasionally, we pick up these second or third copies to have on hand to give as gifts. We like to share the pleasures that we have found in great books. In keeping with that spirit, we will now begin to publish posts labeled For the Bookshelves. These posts will feature books which have been truly important to us, that are somehow available online in relative abundance. The first of these books is retroactively the prior post on Fredy Girardet's book. Retroactively because I did not have the idea for the category until after it was written. And so I officially begin the category with another great cookbook Raymond Blanc: Recipes From Le Manoir Aut Quat' Saisons . Available as I write this, on Amazon, at prices beginning at the ridiculously low amount of $5.75.