A welcome complement to the likes of Brillat-Savarin and Harold McGee and worthy of a place in any cooking enthusiast’s...

A James Beard Award–winning chef teams up with a perfume alchemist to reveal how food gets its flavor and how that flavor can be improved.

Good food isn’t just a matter of taste; apart from the visual component, the presentation on the plate, it’s also a matter of the nose.” Write Patterson (Coi: Stories and Recipes, 2013, etc.) and Aftel (Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent, 2014, etc.), “that’s why experienced cooks spend as much time smelling as they do tasting.” The authors go on to suggest that one component of being an experienced cook is to have logged enough time at the stove that recipes become suggestions rather than blueprints: a recipe can’t take into account the quality or condition of its ingredients, but “a good cook can adapt...and produce something delicious.” Another component is knowing how to complement an ingredient with flavoring to bring out its best. For example, a nondescript butternut squash comes to life with some ginger, an apple, some vegetable stock, and especially some butter (“fat fixes flavor”). The authors propose a set of common-sensical rules, one of which reads, in its entirety, “contrasting ingredients need a unifying flavor.” Cooked cauliflower lacks punch but comes alive with some dry-roasted cumin. But dry-roasted cumin doesn’t pair well with butter until the butter is browned, when “rich and meaty aromatics are created, much like when you brown meat, and the browned butter stands up well to the strong spice.” Patterson and Aftel don’t shy from heavy-duty science and densely packed concepts, invoking terms such as “cinnemaldehyde” and “flavor memory,” the latter of which they gloss as “the sensory database of experiences that you’re constantly compiling.” From the suppressive power of salt to the best way to cook steaks while preparing multiple other dishes, this zesty book offers some useful tip on every page.

A welcome complement to the likes of Brillat-Savarin and Harold McGee and worthy of a place in any cooking enthusiast’s library.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59463-430-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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