Book review The Balthazar Cookbook - by Keith McNally, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

The Balthazar Cookbook - by Keith McNally Heart

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane

Balthazar is one of our favourite restaurants in the New York as it gives the impression of being timeless. Each time we go back it still delivers the same high-quality food and service. It was established by experienced restaurateur Keith McNally.
We like it because it is not pretentious. It sets out to be a French bistro and succeeds admirably.
We can still taste the Brandade de Morue that we enjoyed so much here.
The book has an excellent introduction by expatriate Australian and prominent art critic Robert Hughes. This is a lovely vignette of life behind the scenes in a busy restaurant. We love the story about Cepe Gomez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, who peels 750 pounds of potatoes every day - by hand!!
By reading the introduction you get a good feeling for McNally's obsession with detail and his ability to find a combination of skills and temperament in the two chefs he hired from Daniel's, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson.
The layout of the book is clean and classical and is supported by over one hundred beautiful photographs.
And what about the food? Well, we wanted to cook nearly every recipe in the book. They are all here from aioli to chicken liver mousse to brandade de morue to frisée with lardons to cassoulet to bouillabaisse and on to crème brûlée. Most are authentic, others have been altered to suit modern tastes or the availability of produce. So Niçoise salad is made with seared tuna, glazed pork belly has a cup of fresh pineapple and bouillabaisse has clams and mussels rather than the more common white fish (the issue of the authenticity of this dish is addressed in the introduction to the recipe in relation to the use of white wine in the dish). However, the results are still delicious and the recipes clear and precise with detailed instructions on how to prepare each dish.
This is a book you will want to return to again and again. It will be a source of inspiration for home cooks and restaurateurs who want to enjoy the vibrant flavours of France.
We suspect that the book will still be as useful in twenty years time as it is today.
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