My cookbook collection is now easily swelling towards and maybe even above 400 now. Out of all of them it is fun every now and then to reflect on say, the Top 25. This new offering from Besh makes that list, possibly even climbing into the coveted Top 10. Requirements, you ask? Must be unique, well thought out, with specific viewpoint of cooking expressed and followed through, good layout, writing, photos, and oh, yes: great recipe collection!
Besh meets this criteria well. What this reviewer really enjoys is the fine prose which speaks of his heart and passion for New Orleans cooking which he has grown up with and matured and developed. His wanting to be sustaining restaurants is an extension and promotion as he has entered into ventures raising his own pigs, helping local suppliers provide what is needed by such gourmet chefs, e.g. great story on the Creole Tomato Supplier. The format is large and photos are wonderful, with small historical B&W vingettes scattered throughout. This makes for great kitchen usage, as it stays open from its size and well chosen luxurious paper stock. This is not your coffee table type cookbook intended, but get it in the kitchen and put it to work.
I sometimes enter gourmet phases and stay there for awhile, e.g. my Crepes phase, or my Tapas phase of late, or an ingredient phase such as my fascination with Pears. This offering from the Big Easy has certainly propelled me on a New Orleans phase, which not even Emeril's fine offerings has. First B.E. venture was Crabmeat and Frog Etouffee (with Lou. frog legs flown in fresh), a Grilled Watermelon, Tomato and Goat Cheese Salad; Smoked Pork Shoulder with Purple Plum Glaze; then polished off with wonderful but Old-Fashioned Blackberry Double-Crusted Blackberry Pie. Guests were in high praise mode after this!
His organization is by ingredient/season pairing, along with celebrations such as Mardi Gras or Thanksgiving or Reveillion. Over 200 recipes in this collection along with Sources recommendations and great sidebars throughout. This is fine, large effort which will reward the cook looking to get in soul of one of New Orleans finest dedicated to preserving and extending its fine cuisine to us. For Besh of almost Iron Chef status: he has given us Iron Chef quality cookbook to battle with in our own foodie competitions and home dining environs.
A must have in all the many offerings that our hitting the streets.