In Search of Perfection: Reinventing Kitchen Classics Hardcover – 2 Nov 2006
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About the Author
Chef Heston Blumenthal has been described as a culinary alchemist for his innovative style of cuisine. His work researches the molecular compounds of dishes so as to enable a greater understanding of taste and flavour. His restaurant The Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, was awarded three Michelin stars in 2004, and voted the Best Restaurant in the World by an international panel of 500 culinary experts in Restaurant Magazine's The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2005 awards. He also owns the Hinds Head Hotel, a village pub in Bray. Heston Blumenthal lives in Berkshire with his wife and three children.
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Top Customer Reviews
What makes it so special is that each dish is assessed both culturally and scientifically in the quest to make the recipe perfect, looking at how tradition and memory shape the food, and at the chemical processes involved in the preparation, assessing things such as how variations in temperature, ingredient quality and methods and timings of preparation may influence the final outcome.
At the end of each chapter Heston presents his recipe which often draw on novel and unusual methods of preparation which overcome the limitations you may face in the home (for example you are not likely to have a dewar of liquid nitrogen for making ice cream or an oven than can hit 500 degrees Centigrade for making pizza, but he finds a way to get close to these).
These recipes will be quite expensive to prepare with the special equipment you may need to buy and the use of the best ingredients possible - though Heston does suggest to use the best you can afford, and I plan to use good ordinary ingredients for a couple of dry runs (not yet being a three Michelin starred chef who has cooked up several hundred practice versions in a well-equipped research kitchen I think this may be sensible!) Also most of these recipes require a lot of time to prepare and may not leave much change out of a weekend.Read more ›
There are some good stories in the book and the photography is fantastic. I could hardly believe the time and effort that someone could spend on making a pizza but the finished product certainly looks nice.
I have to take issue with a couple of the recipes though. My favourite meal is steak with Black Forest gateaux and these are the two dishes I have tried to make but be warned - it is not easy.
It tells you to cook the steak with a blowtorch and then put it in the oven for 18 hours (true!). This just did not work for me and the steak ended up far too black and chewy. To be fair, the recipe did say to trim off any burnt bits but if I had done that we would not have had much left. As for the gateaux, this turned out very nice (although not as good as the photograph) but do be careful when using the vacuum cleaner on the chocolate because it is very hard to clean afterwards. Apart from this it is a great book and I recommend it.
The first thing that strikes you about the book is that IT IS NOT a cook book, far from it. It is much more biographical than that and goes to extraordinary lengths to give each of the featured recipes their opportunity to reveal their secrets and explain why they are such classics.
The aforementioned Black Forest "recipe" is in fact maybe only 4 pages long, out of a section of the book that is maybe 40 pages long. Heston uses the rest of the chapter to take you into his world of ingredients, he spends 6 pages walking you round the Amedei chocolate factory near Pisa for example. None of this makes you a better cook but he uses such evocative language that you really feel like you're in the conching room with him and smelling the roasted cocoa beans, It makes you want to do justice to the ingredients you're about to use. For me personally, gaining extra appreciation for ingredients was a fantastic by-product of owning this book.
Think of this as a cooks tour guide book, Heston walks and talks you through the regions that makes claim to inventing the recipes you're exploring on his journey, why specific tomatoes make the best sauce for pizza and why beer makes for a better batter. The book is fantastically well written, he makes very few references to the "sciency bit" that features prominently in the TV show, in fact it makes me feel the Molecular gastronomy title bestowed upon him is somewhat unfair, but you can be the judge of that.Read more ›
Naturally, he goes over the top with cooking times and equipment that may seem a little out of reach in most kitchens (Private Eye recently parodied his style, providing a recipe that involved the use of a particle accelerator and nuclear reactor core), but that's the whole point: in the quest for perfection, no stone is left unturned. Even if you can't reproduce what he does exactly, there is plenty to savour. The result is a delight for anyone who loves cooking...or indeed eating.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is so interesting, even though I'll probably never make any of the recipies!Published 7 months ago by prushjobs
If you buy this expecting a recipe book you will be disappointed. I love it!Published 18 months ago by McMon
Classic Heston with detailed history of his search for creating the best of many basics! Of course the photography is fantastic!Published 23 months ago by Addicted to cooking