Gastronomic Fight Club SM

Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alinea, Thomas Keller and Fat Duck Cookbooks

posted by snekse
So you're a busy forgetful procrastinating slacker. You forgot to get your dad a Father's Day gift. Here's a great excuse - tell him it hasn't arrived yet. Even better, tell him it hasn't arrived because the gift you ordered isn't even in stores yet!

I mean, sure for Father's Day you could have gotten pop the predictable 10th Anniversary Edition of the The Barbecue! Bible or Weber's Real Grilling or one of the many other cookbooks associated with the holiday, but that's not very GFC. You wanted to get him something extra special, so you ordered one of the many amazing books coming out later this year. But what book to choose?

Alinea Cookbook by Grant Achatz
First we have a book we told you about a couple of months back - Grant Achatz' Alinea Book. It includes over 600 recipes to make 100 of Alinea's most famous dishes and includes over 600 stunning photos. Sure you may not have a cold smoking gun or an anti-griddle, but the pictures are pretty enough to justify the price. And to sweeten the pot, buying the book gets you access to the Alinea mosaic site "containing bonus recipes, demonstration videos, supplementary images, and a behind the scene perspective". Be sure to impress your dad by mentioning Grant Achatz is a 3 time James Beard Foundation Award winner.

Under Pressure Sous Vide Recipe cookbook By Thomas Keller
Next up is the first new book from Thomas Keller since the Bouchon Cookbook. Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide will cover cooking food, you guessed it..., "sous-vide"; the almost now passé molecular gastronomy trend of cooking food "under vacuum". I'm actually really excited about this book as I've been on the hunt for an economical sous-vide setup for months. This book might help justify spending a little more money on a proper immersion circulator bath. ***UPDATE*** Keller has another new book out as well: "Ad Hoc at Home".

The Big Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal
And finally we have the book from the second best restaurant in the world - The Fat Duck. In The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, Heston Blumenthal covers a lot of the back story behind the huge success of his restaurant along with documenting over 50 signature recipes in a massive 500+ page book. Now you too can make Snail Porridge, Nitro-scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream, and "Hot and Iced Tea". A more condensed and cheaper version titled "The Fat Duck Cookbook" is available as well.

Oh, alright, I'll throw in a couple more IOU books just because they're so darn cool.

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes
Do I really need to say much more about this book? I mean the title says it all - Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes. Are you kidding me? A book about fat! Endorsing the use of fat in all it's glory. Duck fat. Caul fat. Leaf lard. Bacon. Ghee. Suet. Schmaltz. Cracklings. Hell yeah. And that covershot - foodporn if I ever saw it. [UPDATE: Read the GFC review of the Fat cookbook]

A16 Cookbook
I'm a little bit surprised about this next one, because I didn't think A16 had been around that long. I know it's a hot spot and all and Nate Appleman has gotten a lot of praise, but he seems to have gotten himself a book deal pretty quickly. Congrats to him. The book, A16: Food & Wine, focuses on rustic recipes of Southern Italy and sounds pretty intriguing.

Dessert FourPlay Cookbook by Johnny Iuzzini
Finally, if your dad has more of a sweet tooth, you can get him Dessert FourPlay: Sweet Quartets from a Four-Star Pastry Chef - the first cookbook written by rockstar pastry chef, Johnny Iuzzini. Iuzzini is one of maybe 10 pastry chefs I could name off the top of my head, and one of the few "modern" pastry chefs who has written a book recently. The last modern pastry book I can think of is Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts.

Of course you could always just tell your dad you were working on your own book.

***UPDATE***
3 of these books have made Amazon.com's Editor's Picks list for the best cooking, food, and wine books of 2008.
Top 10 Cookbooks of 2008
And several have been nominated for a 2009 James Beard Book award.

RELATED LINKS:
Foodies Guide to Father's Day Gifts
The International Agenda for Great Cooking

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The International Agenda for Great Cooking

posted by snekse
Could you ask for anything cooler. Four of the most influential people in the food industry have gathered together to create a manifesto of sorts, expressing what guides them in their craft, how they view the past/present/future traditions/techniques/movements of the cooking world and how an Open Source philosophy in the kitchen can benefit everyone. To borrow from the Java Programming world, this may be the new "Design Patterns" by the new Gang of Four!

They will break the rules, make new rules and break those too. They will borrow from multiple disciplines to create a style all their own.

They will do all of this without labels. They will do all of this in the spirit of progress and the pursuit of excellence. They will do all of this knowing their journey will never end.

Welcome to the new food renaissance.


The International Agenda for Great Cooking
-By Ferran Adria, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller and Harold McGee

The world of food has changed a great deal in modern times. Change has come especially fast over the last decade. Along with many other developments, a new approach to cooking has emerged in restaurants around the globe, including our own. We feel that this approach has been widely misunderstood, both outside and inside our profession. Certain aspects of it are overemphasized and sensationalized, while others are ignored. We believe that this is an important time in the history of cooking, and wish to clarify the principles and thoughts that actually guide us. We hope that this statement will be useful to all people with an interest in food, but especially to our younger colleagues, the new generations of food professionals.

1. Three basic principles guide our cooking: excellence, openness, and integrity.

We are motivated above all by an aspiration to excellence. We wish to work with ingredients of the finest quality, and to realize the full potential of the food we choose to prepare, whether it is a single shot of espresso or a multicourse tasting menu.

We believe that today and in the future, a commitment to excellence requires openness to all resources that can help us give pleasure and meaning to people through the medium of food. In the past, cooks and their dishes were constrained by many factors: the limited availability of ingredients and ways of transforming them, limited understanding of cooking processes, and the necessarily narrow definitions and expectations embodied in local tradition. Today there are many fewer constraints, and tremendous potential for the progress of our craft. We can choose from the entire planet's ingredients, cooking methods, and traditions, and draw on all of human knowledge, to explore what it is possible to do with food and the experience of eating. This is not a new idea, but a new opportunity. Nearly two centuries ago, Brillat-Savarin wrote that 'the discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star."

Paramount in everything we do is integrity. Our beliefs and commitments are sincere and do not follow the latest trend.

2. Our cooking values tradition, builds on it, and along with tradition is part of the ongoing evolution of our craft.

The world's culinary traditions are collective, cumulative inventions, a heritage created by hundreds of generations of cooks. Tradition is the base which all cooks who aspire to excellence must know and master. Our open approach builds on the best that tradition has to offer.

As with everything in life, our craft evolves, and has done so from the moment when man first realized the powers of fire. We embrace this natural process of evolution and aspire to influence it. We respect our rich history and at the same time attempt to play a small part in the history of tomorrow.

3. We embrace innovation - new ingredients, techniques, appliances, information, and ideas - whenever it can make a real contribution to our cooking.

We do not pursue novelty for its own sake. We may use modern thickeners, sugar substitutes, enzymes, liquid nitrogen, sous-vide, dehydration, and other nontraditional means, but these do not define our cooking. They are a few of the many tools that we are fortunate to have available as we strive to make delicious and stimulating dishes.

Similarly, the disciplines of food chemistry and food technology are valuable sources of information and ideas for all cooks. Even the most straightforward traditional preparation can be strengthened by an understanding of its ingredients and methods, and chemists have been helping cooks for hundreds of years. The fashionable term "molecular gastronomy" was introduced relatively recently, in 1992, to name a particular academic workshop for scientists and chefs on the basic food chemistry of traditional dishes. That workshop did not influence our approach, and the term "molecular gastronomy" does not describe our cooking, or indeed any style of cooking.

4. We believe that cooking can affect people in profound ways, and that a spirit of collaboration and sharing is essential to true progress in developing this potential.

The act of eating engages all the senses as well as the mind. Preparing and serving food could therefore be the most complex and comprehensive of the performing arts. To explore the full expressive potential of food and cooking, we collaborate with scientists, from food chemists to psychologists, with artisans and artists (from all walks of the performing arts), architects, designers, industrial engineers. We also believe in the importance of collaboration and generosity among cooks: a readiness to share ideas and information, together with full acknowledgment of those who invent new techniques and dishes.
Read more about this and
Heston Blumenthal's thoughts.
Heston Blumenthal, the king of 'molecular gastronomy', has a new, radical manifesto.

POST TYPE: EDITORIAL
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