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on 3 October 2010
When I received this book I flipped through it and my first emotion was disappointment: it features only a few pictures, and the recipes didn't look as interesting and innovative as I'd hoped for a book about California cuisine, written by one of California's greatest chefs (and California can showcase quite a few of those). Instead, it includes many French-style preparations and "Californicated" southern Italian staple dishes, most of which I already have the recipes for, being a great fan of Italian cuisine.

That evening I had a chance to examine the book closer, and my initial disappointment quickly subsided. Judy Rodgers is a person with meticulous attention to detail, from explaining the cuts of meat best used for her stocks with regards to the flavor they produce, to describing the desired outcome of roasting (canned!) tomatoes in words which more than make up for the missing pictures of finished dishes. She doesn't go for the easy option of substituting ingredients not readily available widely with the "least worst of" those conveniently pre-packed on supermarket shelves, but instead goes through great effort to "recreate" the flavor of the original, and often very local, ingredient(s) at home. It's a bit of an effort for the home cook, and quite a few of her dishes are best left to prepare on weekends and holidays where one is likely to have more time for cooking, although many others are quick enough to prepare for a weekday supper. Great emphasis is put on the selection of the freshest, highest quality (organic) produce available from farmers' markets. To keep this short, this book is for the dedicated home cook who refuses to settle for second best; the one who doesn't sacrifice flavor and texture for convenience. (Judy's suggestion to reduce portion sizes rather than the amount of butter used to prepare a dish must be seen in this context, if the reader wants to remain objective and fair in this crazy world of worship for all products reduced in something.)

Cooking techniques are equally important to Judy Rodgers; some of those she uses at times are not traditional to a certain dish, and thus give it a new and exciting character without the need to add (often expensive) fairy dust. Judy encourages her readers to be creative and give dishes the occasional change of make-up: Even the most lovingly prepared dish can lose its appeal when served too often in the same manner; be inventive and feel free to use vegetables and pulses with a similar consistency for those in the ingredients list, if that's what you happen to have in your store cupboards and fridge/freezer. This is a "waste not, want not" chef, and suggestions are given what to do with, for example, braising liquids that are not served with the ready-cooked dish, or the meats used to make stocks.

Interesting to read for me was also Judy's story at the beginning of the book: It's an account of what made Judy Rodger's the chef she is now (and the Zuni Cafe the Zuni Cafe, I guess), and the road she traveled to get to this point. The "Notes" section that follows the recipe section could prove most important for many home cooks: Judy gives invaluable tips on how to select, store, and treat ingredients before and after cooking.

The Zuni Cafe Cookbook is a purchase that I will cherish; I feel that it will prove well worth the money spent on it. :-)
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on 8 December 2002
This cookbook is perfect for someone like me--very interested in good food, more interested in cooking good food, and most interested in sharing food with friends. Even though I consider myself fairly knowledgable about cooking, this cookbook has taught me substantial techniques. The sections on tasting, salting and braising are excellent. The approach to food--trusting in food being good without over manipulation, constant interest, intense experiment and exploration, relaxed enjoyment, historical point of view--have been inspiring for me. I know this restaurant. I have had dozens of great meals there. Now I know better how she does it. Enjoy.
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on 13 July 2014
Unless you have a fetish for cookery books like myself, then don't buy. It's got some great recipes and having visited the cafe on a trip a couple of years ago, I know how great the food turns out. But It lacks pictorial content.
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on 24 June 2011
The author has a touch of genius. I constantly turn to it for recipes that are innovative and delicious, while at the same time simple to execute. I have tried many of the recipes, all of them successful, and if an indicator of success is the number of people who ask for a recipe after having tasted a dish, then this one is way up there. It's also a beautifully written book. With more than the 20 or so colour photos that the book has, it would have earned 10 stars.

Asparagus with pistachios? Bresaola with persimmons? Raw portobello mushrooms with salt, olive oil, mint, lemon juice and crème fraîche turned into a feast? Espresso granita with whipped cream?

On my to-do list still is deep-fried figs with honey and raspberries.
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on 17 May 2004
Having visit Zuni a couple of times over the last 10 years I was thrilled to buy this, one of the very best in my now considerable collection of cookbooks.
The stories and recipies make entrancing reading and actually work first time, every time. The wine recommendations are also excellent.
A must for every cookbook collection.
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on 28 June 2015
one of the best cookery books written in English. inspirational, modern, clever, lots to learn from. This woman did have an amazing, impeccable taste (RIP)
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on 13 November 2014
This famous book is an inspiration. there are many recipes I will try.
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on 1 January 2016
Good price and quick delivery.
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