The Food Lovers' Cookbook Collection
The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
The Art of Simple Food: Notes, Lessons and Recipes from a Delicious Revolution by Alice Waters is the latest cookbook from the person who was a significant contributor to the fresh food revolution in California and a co-founder of the legendary Chez Panisse restaurant.
It was a visit to Chez Panisse in the 1980s that really set us on the road to the use of fresh, organic produce and also on the road to simplicity in presentation and in menu design.
We travelled to California to eat at this emerging restaurant because it seemed to be doing something that was the antithesis of what fine dining restaurants were offering at the time. We can still remember every dish we ate. We had sweet corn soup, pizza, roast chicken and peaches and ice cream! Everything was presented simply, everything was delicious!
We have subsequently made numerous visits here and have always enjoyed the experience whether it has been downstairs in the restaurant or in the more casual upstairs café.
We therefore take note when a new Chez Panisse publication is announced.
We immediately warmed to this book because it is strong on technique not just a series of recipes without any explanation of WHY!
In fact, the first two hundred pages are devoted to techniques and foundations such as a detailed explanation of the technique of braising including a long explanation of how to prepare braised chicken legs. There is a section of techniques for selecting and preparing salad greens. There is another on how to select and prepare fresh and dried beans.
There is another on creating sweet and savoury tarts. The author also devotes six pages to the preparation of her four essential sauces namely vinaigrette, salsa verde, aioli and herb butter showing the Mediterranean influences in her cooking. This section takes the first 212 pages. The rest of the book is divided along the traditional soups, pasta, eggs, meat, desserts and others where the majority of the recipes are listed. These recipes call on, and reference, the techniques and foundations presented in the first section of the book.
Every recipe is a gem and the explanations are clear and precise.
This is a great book from a legendary restaurateur.