Monday, March 10, 2014

2013/2014 Cookbook Choices - New York City Legends

I had my graduation dinner at 'Daniel'.  My friend, who was terminally ill, very much wanted to come.  We all patiently waited an hour for her. And the chef Daniel Boulud was very understanding.  In fact, he came by to observe this young, exuberant table of diners, perhaps not knowing that his fabulous cooking had been an eternal treat for my friend.  Boulud has since gone on to expand globally and now has a restaurant in Singapore.

"Daniel" the cookbook documents Boulud's life's work. Most of the dishes marry the refinement of French gastronomy with the artistry of celebrated restaurants such as 'Eleven Madison Park'.  Black
Truffle Oeuf En Cocotte is presented so elegantly, almost a technological wonder of coddled egg done perfectly.

Yet what captures me is the end part of the book where Bill Buford, the book's essay writer, joins Boulud team to create the intricate dishes that make French cuisine so legendary.  Together, they would 'produce over a dozen elaborate, technically flamboyant, and historically evocative French dishes' which include Turbot Souffle, Tete de Veau en Tortue, Coulibiac, Chartreuse, Volaille a Noelle and Pate en Croute.  My blog readers will know by now that I am into food porn.  So to come across modern day photos of old style food is rather rare, let alone the patience and fortitude to create them.

Boulud is merciful and leaves us with one last chapter about home cooking.  Recognizable and achievable for cooks like me, 'Beer-marinated Pork Rack' will be something I want to try to bring a Superbowl party a notch up.  Or perhaps 'Garlic-studded Gigot' in time for Easter, accompanied by Tarte Normandy before I visit the beaches this summer.

Something more homey and American is "The Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant Cookbook". A beloved institution where one can imagine Don Draper dining at, the cookbook is part souvenir and part history lesson on the restaurant at the basement of the grand train station.  It is written by the executive chef Sandy Ingber who grew up in Maryland and trained at the Culinary Institute of America, all good signs to lead a restaurant that has built its name on crabcakes and oysters.  Furthermore, Ingber continues to visit the fish market at 3am in the morning to pick up the daily specials for the restaurant.  A bowl of chowder and it underscores why I continue to love the city.  And the recipe can be found in this book, along with charts that detail the source, flavor and size of at least 200 different oysters.

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