Provence: The Beautiful Cookbook by Richard Olney: Cookbook Review Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Provence: The Beautiful Cookbook by Richard Olney HeartHeart

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Country: France

Provence: The Beautiful Cookbook by Richard Olney is a 'coffee table' book that looks good but also contains solid, well-structured recipes that capture the essence of Provence.
We normally overlook 'beautiful' books because they often fail to deliver rigour and authenticity, however Richard Olney was incapable of doing anything by half measures. He always strove to accurately represent the essence of the food of his beloved Provence.
All the important recipes are here including Tapenade (which he suggests pairing with roast lamb), Troucha (a Swiss chard omelette from Nice), the ubiquitous Soupe au Pistou, Aigo Bouido (garlic and bread soup), Pot-Au-Feu a la Provencale (which includes a lamb shank along with the beef), Hourtete (the Vaucluse soup of garden vegetables bound with egg), Pissaladiere (the recipe uses anchovies but he points out that the original used the fermented fish paste called pissalat from where the name derives), Caillettes a la Vauclusienne (meatballs wrapped in caul that are executed beautifully at La Fourchette in Avignon), Ratatouille (he doesn't use separate pots to cook each of the vegetables but does take a long time reducing the resultant cooking liquid), Salad Nicoise (an authentic recipe that follows the stern warning of Jacques Medecin that the only cooked ingredient should be the eggs - no beans, definitely no potato), Estocaficada (the strong smelling stockfish stew which La Merenda in Nice does so well), Le Grand Aioli (a mixture of vegetable and seafoods that constitute a perfect summer lunch), the seafood soups of Bourride and Bouillabaisse with suitable discussions of the various styles as one moves from Nice along to Marseilles, Daube a la Provencale, Tian de Haricots (a favourite dish of Vaucluse which is also called Tian de Fayots around Caromb), Tian de Courgettes, Papeton d'Aubergines, Tian de Lait (an ancient custard), Tourte de Blettes (a dessert based on Swiss Chard that is popular in Nice) and Sabayon au Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise made with the beautifully luscious sweet wine of this delightful village.
The photographs are stunning and the descriptions of the various regions is brief but captures the essence of the area. The recipes are divided along traditional lines of Soups and Starters, Vegetables, Desserts and so on, but wherever a recipe is favoured in a sub-region such as Vaucluse or the Var then this is indicated.
This is a large format book that is well worth adding to your collection if you want to learn more about one of the greatest food regions in the world.
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