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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on food I own
This is perhaps one of the most audacious cookery books you will read... Heston has taken 8 everyday classic dishes and sought out how to make it as good as it can possibly be by seeking out master chefs and carrying out in-depth testing in the research kitchens of his restaurant (The Fat Duck, named the best restaurant in the world last year) then by learning about the...
Published on 3 Nov 2006 by Kuma

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2.0 out of 5 stars book
not what I thought it would be , not a cook book it is heston telling you about places and not about the food he cooks, disappointed
Published 4 months ago by Sandra Lamb


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5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing!, 27 May 2010
By 
Ms. L. C. Gillatt (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics (Hardcover)
I bought 2 copies of this book to give as birthday gifts to 2 young men. I like Heston, but he'd seemed to have gone a bit off the wall lately. Curiosity had me open one of the books - you know the kind of thing - to flick rapidly through it? - I couldn't put it down! Not just interesting, but fascinating!! I watched with some amusement as the recipients of each book had the same experience!! I can honestly recommend this book for all ages too!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars interesting reading even if you don't make a single recipe, 29 Mar 2010
By 
Jonathan Haskell "hask74" (Near Geneva, Switz.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics (Hardcover)
Blumenthal re-invents the British Classics in an albeit complex manner. His descriptions of his search for perfection makes interesting reading even if you don't attempt a single time-consuming recipe...
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24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air, 3 Dec 2006
By 
T. M. Tegg "The Crab Man" (Guildford) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics (Hardcover)
At last a "cookery" publication that isn,t all about over inflated chefs egos and how to make a meal look michelin starred. No Antony (i cant really cook) Worrall Thomson and no Gordon (my way is best or i,ll smash your face in) Ramsay. Just an honest chef with an honest knowledge and passion for food. Not just the cooking but the origins and history of the recipes and ingredients. It is this concept within it that make this one of the most readable cookery books i have ever picked up, actually quite riveting almost like a classic novel. Waiting to see where Hestons unstoppable curiosity would take him next. Although maybe some of the techniques might be a little beyond the average home cook. A Dyson hoover to make a Black Forest Gateaux ? I ask you, not every home owns a Dyson ! However Hestons tales of his travels especially make for some fantastic reading almost a culinary version of Michael Palins "Around the world in eighty days" I would without reservation recommend this book to anyone even the non budding chefs amongst us.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy his previous book, 18 Dec 2006
By 
R. Loxley "rloxley" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics (Hardcover)
This book is interesting and good, for the dishes covered. I would however highly recommend his previous book, Family Food, as a better, wider ranging book and introduction to his cooking.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A biography of Heston's research to create the "best of the best", 8 Sep 2014
This review is from: In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics (Hardcover)
Classic Heston with detailed history of his search for creating the best of many basics! Of course the photography is fantastic!
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111 of 163 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars In search of perfection? Keep searching, Heston..., 15 Dec 2006
By 
J. Alt (Boston, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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Having a three star restaurant viewed by many people to be the most exciting and cutting-edge restaurant in the world, you would think Heston Blumenthal knows a bit about food. I bought this book expecting a lot of interesting ideas, and the scientific reasoning, research, and foundation to back up all of his claims. Unfortunately, it utterly failed to deliver.

Rather, it is a series of poorly written anecdotes, with an abundance of factually incorrect information. He uses large words which he clearly doesn't know the meaning of, and offers scientific theories which he clearly has no understanding of as evidence for his claims. His 'experiments' are also completely under-reaserched and incomplete. Case in point: he tests 5 different varieties of potatoes for his roast potatoes, theorizing that their roasting qualities would have some relation to their dry matter content. After testing one batch of potatoes, he admits that the tests were thrown off by a batch of Yukon Gold's which behaved abberantly, "perhaps due to bad storage." He offers a token theory that it's bad roasting could have been due to glucose developed during this storage, but then brushes the entire test aside and settles on the Maris Piper potato. He has now spent twelve pages setting up an experiment, the questionable results of which were completely ignored! Why bother even faking the science if you are going to ignore the results and do what you want to do anyways?

To top it all off, the food doesn't even look good. Examples: The whole point of roasting a chicken is to get all the skin nicely browned and rendered. If you're going to roast a chicken at a low temperature and give only the skin on the breast a cursory browning leaving the remainder of the skin pale and flabby, you may as well have poached the chicken or made a poul-au-pot to introduce some more flavor. In his recipe for a rib-roast, the low temperature cooking is very well-founded, I grant him that, but why on earth does he brown the meat before heating it, and then brown it again after heating it? He claims that browning the meat before hand "kickstarts a complicated process known as the Maillard reactions." Kickstart implies that this initial searing with a blowtorch helps these reactions further develop in the following step - unfortunately, the next step involves cooking the meat for 22-24 hours at 120 degrees, a temperature far far too low for any Maillard reactions to take place (although it is a temperature ideal for bacterial growth). The meat is then browned again after coming out of the oven. Explanation for browning it twice, at two different times, by two different methods? None. At least he doesn't go so far as to claim that browning seals in the juices.

To top it all off, most of his ideas are borrowed directly from more thorough, more engaging, better educated, and slightly less egotistical authors, notably Jeffrey Steingarten and Harold McGee.

This is probably the most disappointing food related book I've ever read, if only because of the high expectations I had of it.

I had my mind set on going to the Fat Duck, but after reading the work of this supposed genius, I've come to realize that it's all just smoke and mirrors.

The book is merely bad cooking under the guise of bad science.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile and provocative, 4 Jan 2007
This review is from: In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics (Hardcover)
Is this using Steingarten's style or is Blumenthal just another good food writer with interesting ideas?

I saw the TV programs before the book so I had expectations and knew the subject matter. I found the book provocative.. its recipe ideas certainly giving me pause for thought. Those I've tried have been successful but as yet I do not have the confidence to try his Roast Chicken. Time will tell.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is NOT for someone who can't cook!, 2 Oct 2007
This review is from: In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics (Hardcover)
If you have an inkling of an idea about how to cook and are hungry for someone to take you to a higher level, then you will enjoy this book.

Everyone already 'knows' how to make roast potatoes, or spag bol. Or do they? I am turning into a big fan of long slow cooking, and taking time over dishes. It never occured to me that as cold air is unable to be humid, the fridge makes a great place to dry things out (such as par-boiled potatoes). What a brilliantly simple and effective technique.

Heston's approach to cooking meat slowly goes against the British tendancy to value cuts of meat that remain tender when cooked quickly (but have little other merit - who wouldn't prefer properly cooked brisket over flash fried fillet?).

Having studied the cooking techniques, it led me to discover Texas pit barbecues, which are completely different from what we in the UK would call a barbecue (there is no direct application of heat, the food is gently cooked in the woodsmoke over many hours). Now, I'm cooking pieces of meat for many hours at 80C and getting far superior results. He makes valid points about the poor state of the British meat market and praises the American grading system. It is something we would do well to adopt, but it simply ain't gonna happen. So meat will forever be a mystery to some people, and we will have to continue to source a decent butcher.

The book is of course indulgent. After all, a lot of his recipes call for a lot of time and input, and you are unlikely to make these recipes every day.

The spagetti bolognese recipe is very interesting, and one wonders where on earth he got the idea for using Thai fish sauce. However, there is an historic precedent for this in that Thai fish sauce is not disimilar from ancient Roman fish sauces (known as garam, also a second cousin of Worcestershire Sauce). For an occasional treat, I don't think it can be bettered.

All in all, not so much a recipe book, more a research/training book for people who are already capable and don't mind spending 5 times as much on already familiar dishes as they might ordinarily do, but who appreciate that they are on a search for perfection, and time & money can occassionally be ignored.
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5.0 out of 5 stars All good, thank You very much, 4 Aug 2014
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This review is from: In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics (Hardcover)
All good, thank You very much
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28 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Borat in the Kitchen, 8 Jan 2009
This review is from: In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics (Hardcover)
Heard a snippet of a radio interview with Blumenthal a couple of months ago, so put his book on my Christmas wish list. As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

Before the Christmas wrappings were in the bin I was busy looking at it - a combination of science and cooking, my two passions after sex and cricket; what could be nicer?

Within minutes I'd skimmed 50 pages -- 12 contained only photos, usually full page jobs, of Mr Blumenthal. And in what a range of Borat outfits! We get Mr B in safety glasses, Mr B in dayglo motorway worker safety jackets, Mr B with a wide variety of seriously scientific instruments. Not a single picture has a caption, so you have no idea what Mr B is doing with all the scientific hardware, an oddly reticent touch for a man who, in the text, never misses the opportunity to use 46 words when seven would do.

Perish the thought that perhaps he has little idea of the difference between a spectrometer and a proctoscope.

He modestly admits that when he began his efforts to introduce technology to cooking he had almost no scientific background and that he consulted "chemists and physicists, psychologists and biologists, with the aim of understanding, at the most fundamental level, what went on in cooking."

Well, alas, they done him wrong! They apparently didn't explain that science isn't a matter of using shiny technically sophisticated devices and safety goggles, and as a result Mr B's book is the scientific equivalent of Borat's value as a Kazakh diplomat.

Let's take just one of Mr B's "scientific" forays, the search for the perfect potato for bangers and mash. After lengthy forays into roast potatoes and mashed potatoes made by boiling, after about 25 pages (including photographs) on potatoes in two chapters, what do we find Mr B's version of science tells us? Well, essentially nothing!

In the bangers and mash recipe (the last five pages in a 33-page chapter) we are told "these bangers had to have the flavors and fluffiness of a baked potato," and that's what the recipe requires you to do -- bake the damn things! There's no recommendation about the type of potato, and nowhere are there test results on making mash from different kinds of baked potatoes! What a waste of Mr B's time, and the reader's, the whole charade of testing different potatoes for boiling and roasting has turned out to be.

Perhaps this is not all so surprising in a picture book where even the conversion tables are muddled: "Celsius" is misspelled; we are told to note that 200g=6oz but 400g=14oz, even though 200g is actually 7oz ; we are also assured that the conversion tables "will help translate measurements" to either Imperial or British units, but the tables don't identify which system's cups and pints are being referred to (they are, in fact, Imperial).

In all this business I found only one thing sadder than Mr B's belief that using a scientific dress-up kit is a substitute for scientific method, namely an Amazon reviewer's comment on the usefulness of the book: "This is a book that is long overdue in that it tells you how to cook dishes that people actually want to eat! Unlike many of the modern chefs it is a relief to come across someone who is happy to cook real food for real people."

"Real" food for "real people" indeed!

Just two comments here, since the reviewer isn't by any means the only one who doesn't see that the emperor has no clothes (or at least nothing except knickers under the dayglo yellow duds). I'll assume that "real" people aren't those who can afford "ninety three pounds" each for a three course dinner at Mr B's famed restaurant, plus the 12.5% service charge, drink s(a glass of the cheaper plonk will set you back about 15 quid), and the "optional additional course" - cheese - "at thirteen pounds and fifty pence." A meal at a cost that would feed a small village of real starving people for a week!

Instead, just reflect on what is required of you to cook a roast chicken and roast potatoes - "real food" - the Borat, um, sorry, I mean the Blumenthal way.

There are only 11 steps involved in cooking the chicken (and you don't even have to rear your own chicken; for bangers and mash you have to make your own sausages), 7 steps to roast the potatoes (and a further 6 if you do the recommended carrots and broccoli). But - don't forget to plan ahead, because it will take you two days to do the chicken: about 8 ½ hours from beginning to end on each day. You'll be working only a part of this time; much of it is waiting - the chicken spends 6 hours in brine, for example, 4-6 hours roasting, and so on. I would be the first to defend Mr B of accusations that he would dream of promoting fast food!

Mr B's narcissistic picture um, I mean, cook book will be about as much use to "real" cooks as a mobile phone would be to a boa constrictor.

Jakkals
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In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics
In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics by Heston Blumenthal (Hardcover - 2 Nov 2006)
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