THE CHEZ PANISSE MENU COOKBOOK by Alice Waters
Kirkus Star

THE CHEZ PANISSE MENU COOKBOOK

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A knockout collection of spectacularly original recipes from the owner-chef of the famed Berkeley restaurant. Waters' stated principles are now commonplace--keep it seasonal, use only the best fresh ingredients--but her assiduous application is not. The meat comes from ""animals raised to our own specifications""; ""fresh"" trout means that it is kept alive in kitchen tanks; the tiny French green beans, grown for the restaurant from imported seeds, can only be duplicated by certain Mexican beans in season; and the collection abounds in ingredients--squash blossoms, flaked smoked trout, ""small green lentils imported from France""--not to be found in your local supermarket or gourmet shop. ""Picnics can be very special, indeed,"" says Waters early on, introducing a picnic of potato and truffle salad, hard-cooked quail eggs, marinated goat cheese with olives and whole garlic, roast pigeon with purple grapes, and an almond tart using Grand Marnier, kirsch, and whipping cream. Waters cavalierly mixes the haute with the humble (champagne sauerkraut, lobster in cabbage leaves); varies Hunan, Italian, Moroccan, and Mexican cuisines in an all-day garlic festival, and proceeds impartially from shredded potato pancakes to pasta with lobster and Cognac. Grander yet are the ""menus for special occasions"" and the ""memorable menus"" recalling such occasions as a Baudelaire Society dinner with dishes inspired by poem titles. ""Le Mort Joyeux"" became a roast stuffed pigeon with the head on ""so that it looked rather dead"" and lots of black mushrooms surrounding it. If many of her painstaking elaborations inspire us to rush to the restaurant instead of the kitchen, this is creative cooking indeed, inspired synthesis, and heady fare for the ambitious home cook with the requisite time, resources, access, and sense of adventure.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1982
Publisher: Random House