Ten days in Italy with Brian Polcyn and Nic Heckett for a salume tour of northern and central Italy—primarily Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria and Emilia-Romagna. Damn, Italy is beautiful.  There’s a reason Tuscany in particular is so romanticized.  Its rolling, forested hills and little towns perched on hillsides are breathtaking, particularly, I assure you, if you live in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. I’m buried in work after being gone, so I will note a few highlights but of course keep the salume revelations for the book—there was one huge transformative one.  The book, a follow-up to Charcuterie and the reason for the trip, is due to the publisher September 1.  Yikes. The top photo was what our nightly table tended to look like in the beginning, salume tasting and notes.  What a pleasure it was to travel Read On »

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Last year, The French Laundry Cookbook Team, published Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide, a book spearheaded by per se chef de cuisine Jonathon Benno and featuring the dishes of him, his French Laundry counterpart Corey Lee, and Thomas Keller.  The book was explicitly geared toward professional chefs (recipes are in metric weights) because this form of cooking was at the time most applicable to restaurant kitchens.  The capacity to cook food sous vide, that is vacuum sealed and submerged in water kept at low precise temperatures, is perfectly suited to the demands of cooking for large numbers because food hit a specific temperature and stays there, no real chance to overcook.  But also the equipment was prohibitively expensive, with chamber vacuum sealers and immersion circulators (the device that heats the water) costing several thousand dollars. Read On »

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Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg have been publishing innovative books about cooking and the chef world for longer than I have. Their popular Becoming a Chef was published the summer I was harrassing the Culinary Institute of America to let me in to write about, well, becoming a chef.  I was mortified they’d beat me to it. It proved to be not just a different book from what I was attempting, but a valuable research tool for me then and throughout the years (its history of American restaurants and chefs with opening dates or significant restaurants is something I’ve  returned to throughout the years).  It remains a valuable book especially for people considering entering the profession. Their most recent book, The Flavor Bible, published last year was one I kept hearing about.  Finally I got Read On »

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I have two copies of Ad Hoc, signed by Thomas Keller, to give away, courtesy of Artisan (thanks, Amy!)  This is an even more valuable offer than I thought it would be because I see that Amazon is sold out until February, as are many bookstores.  More than 100,000 copies of this book have been printed, with more on the way, making Ad Hoc one of the best selling books of the season.  There’s a reason for it: it’s a fantastic book, with everything from burgers to bread pudding with leeks to cheesecake, and great discussion of cooking issues and technique from Thomas himself (who would have imagined a chef could be so uncommonly articulate on the page?!).  A few namby pambies in the media have whined that some of the recipes actually ask you Read On »

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