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Danny Marbella (Abu Dhabi)

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Volt Ink.: Recipes, Stories, Brothers
Volt Ink.: Recipes, Stories, Brothers
by Bryan And Michael Voltaggio
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £30.79

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will be A very difficult book to use in the home kitchen, 21 Jan. 2012
When these two brothers write about families, it is about flavor families -- how Avian (Squab, Quail, Chicken) or Buckwheat (Buckwheat Flour, Sorrel, Buckwheat Groat, Rhubarb) give them ideas -- that have them to compete before us. They force us to be Structuralist. It's as if their new cookbook were saying, "Think about the food: that is what we are." This gives the book inner tension between their own Structuralist approach and the Post-Structuralist urge in readers to want to know the authors more. (There are no pictures of Mum or Dad or other family members. There is little about the details of the food they grew up with -- the TV shows they watched or books they read)

They invite comparison in Food: readers want to tease apart their psyches. Here are two brothers, both chefs. How did nurture affect nature? How did the role of their mentors help form their own signature styles?

The Voltaggio Brothers answer in restaurant recipes, constructed like a competition between two chefs, but really a challenge to see whether readers can tell them apart.

Chefs Michael and Bryan have both worked for Charlie Palmer, who penned a forward. Michael worked at Dry Creek Kitchen, and Bryan at Charlie Palmer Steak. They have competed against each other on Top Chef. Jose Andres knows both chefs as well, since Bryan used to work nearby in Washington DC, while Michael worked for him at The Bazaar by Jose Andres in LA:
No one knows you better, and no matter how different you grow up to be or how much distance separates you, your sibling understands you like no one else does. Unlike most brothers, the connection between Bryan and Michael has the added layer of their connection through the kitchen. Both of them are amazing and talented cooks, among the best I know.
Is this about understanding or competition - or both?

Figuring that out is plenty of fun.

Bryan's Whole Roasted Squab, Brussels Sprouts, Chanterelle Mushrooms, Salsify Variations (pp. 11-15) is a sous vide preparation of his one of his "favorite birds" as well as circulating water bath for the Brussels Sprouts and salsify -- the last two would make incredible additions to Thanksgiving, if you could cook sous vide at home.

Michael's dish is Chocolate Tea-Roasted Quail, Banana Polenta, Truffle Bolognese (pp. 16-19), which also uses a thermal immersion circulator. He makes an amazing Arugula -Tarragon Gelee that looks like squares of banana leaf.

A chapter entitled "Grain: Corn Rye Wheat" has an odd assortment of recipes. Michael offers Pulpo alla Gallaga, Buttered Popcorn, Piquillo Paper (pp. 146-148) with luscious octopus tentacles arching over a buttery puree of popcorn and cream, and dehydrated Piquillo pepper puree in a lovely photo by Ed Anderson. Bryan's dish is Rye Cavatelli, Parmigiano Broth, Broccoli Rabe, Country Ham (pp. 150-151) is an inspired dish using a local ingredient - in this case, shaved Virginia ham - to enhance an Italian dish. Michael's second recipe is for Bacon Knot Challah (p. 53), that seems delicious (though totally un-Kosher) but also quite simple compared to the other recipes in the book - it isn't a restaurant dish, but a recipe for a bread to use in French Toast - and yet, there isn't any plated French Toast recipe to follow it. Bryan finishes off the chapter with another pasta dish, Goat Cheese and Ash Ravioli, Mushrooms, Parsley Root (pp. 154-157). He uses the vegetable ash that covers the goat cheese in the pasta, rather then squid ink. The ravioli themselves are a play on the cheese inside.

This is a striking book with beautiful photography of painterly plates and the hands of chefs putting them together. It may prove difficult book to use in a home kitchen. Regardless, it is rich in ideas and reveal the trends, inspiration, and direction of two young, gifted American chefs.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2012 8:47 AM GMT

White Heat
White Heat
by Marco Pierre White
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 years later and still a great read, 1 Jan. 2012
This review is from: White Heat (Hardcover)
When I first read this book in 1990 I had to work with this culinary genius.
And I have to admit my dream did come true and I was lucky enough to work with
the legend that is Marco.
Yes food has moved on in the 2 decades but this energy that is drawn from this book is amazing.
Chefs from around the world still hold Marco with the highest respect.
Here is a little about this wonderfull publication......

The first half is filled with wonderful black and white photographs by Bob Carlos Clarke of Marco in his adrenaline-filled, psychotic kitchen nightmare. These photographs are not the stock photos that fill most cookbooks of chef and crew posing for the camera, but moments in time, frozen by the camera¿s lens, of a real chef in the midst of cooking, tasting, plating and living. The second half of the book is a cookbook, but don¿t expect to be cooking these dishes unless you have a squadron of prep cooks in your closet to help you out. They are `food porn¿ brought to us with Marco's recipes and beautiful color photography by Michael Boys. This is the type of cookbook that kept me up at night. If you;re familiar with other chef's cookbooks such as The French Laundry Cookbook, then you know what I mean. This is a cookbook of dreams, not recipes. Marco Pierre White was born in Leeds, and is proud of it. Throughout the text interspersed with the black and white photographs, we get a glimpse of the man who, at age 33, became the world's youngest and only Britsh chef at the time to win three Michelin stars. In a style similar to that of Anthony Bourdain in his bestseller Kitchen Confidential, we get Marco's thoughts on everything from caterers who couldn¿t make it as real chefs to what brought him into the crazy world of food service in the first place. His rants go from tender to explosive at the drop of a hat, reminiscent of his reputation as the original Rock and Roll chef. Since his rise to greatness in 1991, Marco has stopped cooking himself to focus on his food empire, White Star Line Groups

This schizophrenic book is a must own for anyone who wants a peek into the kitchen of a world renowned chef from the point of view of both his diners and his fellow chefs. Its a book that is as comfortable on the coffee table as it is in the kitchen, not necessarily for its recipes, but for the inspiration that they provide.

Notebooks of Michel Bras: Desserts
Notebooks of Michel Bras: Desserts
by Michel Bras
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "This is a book of gourmet suggestions,", 1 Jan. 2012
Michel Bras, like many artists, draws his inspiration from the natural world surrounding him. The shape of a leaf, the elusive scent of a sweet meadow flower, a fir branch or a cloud may prompt him to reach for his notebook to record the fleeting impression or emotion it has stirred.

Upon returning from an energizing hike through his beloved region of Aubrac in southwestern France, he will rush to the kitchen of the three-star restaurant Michel Bras and begin to make his art. Bras is a celebrated chef, and his creations are sublime and unexpected dishes, as beautiful to the eye as they are to the palate.

This is the first of Bras's notebooks to be published in English, capturing the essence of his creative process. The 90 recipes presented in The Notebooks of Michel Bras: Desserts may well be some of the most exquisite and original you have ever encountered. Many are very easy, requiring only a few ingredients and only basic experience in the kitchen. All are clearly explained, with great humor and the unmistakable style and grace that is his hallmark.

"This is a book of gourmet suggestions," Bras writes in his introductory comments. "To ensure that the recipes are within everyone's grasp, I have sometimes departed from professional practice and suggested simplified techniques. It's up to you to put them to use and -- why not? -- create your own!

"Baking a dessert," he says, "can be a moment of pleasure, friendship and sharing. Certainly, you put a great deal of love into the preparation of a cake for your children and friends. Dessert is a special moment in the course of a meal, and it is the last impression that your guests will take away with them."

Michel Bras's Desserts notebook offers 90 joyous and generous recipes -- 90 sweet gifts to delight the eyes, nose, palate and heart.

Pierre Gagnaire: Reinventing French Cuisine
Pierre Gagnaire: Reinventing French Cuisine
by Jean-Francois Abert
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Providing huge inspiration for the open minded, 1 Jan. 2012
France's maverick genius, Pierre Gagnaire, is famous for publishing beautifully photographed books - works of art, in fact - that encompass his food philosophy and musings on ingredients, but lack recipes. So get ready for a shock: he's rectified that in the latest, English, version of Reinventing French Cuisine.

As he says himself in the book's preface, it was time for his "persistent and complete allergy to carefully weighted, well-expressed, and clearly articulated recipes" to bite the dust.

So here, in addition to a definitive laying out of his career in chronological order (from Lyon to Paris, and everything in between, from the mid-'60s to the present), is a definitive number of recipes reflecting the influences on, and development of, his cooking. So, if you have just one Gagnaire book in your library, it should be this one.

There are four main chapters, equating to certain phases in Gagnaire's culinary life, and within these each recipe has an identifying year. For instance, the first recipe - "La Marta", which refers directly to favourite childhood sweets - is stamped with 1965. Typically for Gagnaire, he gives you the bones of the recipe, in this case how to make little chocolate moulds, but leaves you to work out fillings for these, handing on tantalising suggestions, like redcurrant jelly and passion fruit seeds for white chocolate cases, without specifying quantities. It's a reflection of his well-known tendency to improvise, but you don't hold three Michelin stars without consistency, do you? Thankfully, other recipes are more detailed.

There's a bonus section of "basic" recipes at the back of the book, which besides stocks includes chantilly foie gras "in the style of Herve This", and various spice and aromatic pastes: anyone for tobacco powder? And the book is bursting with enough Gagnaire dishes to give a window on his culinary soul.

Gagnaire is known for surprising and multiple-ingredient matches, skilful temperature and texture contrasts, and unmatched visual artistry on the plate. The complexity of his food has divided opinion over the years, but there's no doubt the book sheds light on the very individual style of one of the world's great chefs, providing huge inspiration in the process

Dessert Fourplay: Sweet Quartets from a Four-Star Pastry Chef
Dessert Fourplay: Sweet Quartets from a Four-Star Pastry Chef
by Johnny Iuzzini
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £27.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What appears to be a "lookbook" is, actually a cookbook!, 1 Jan. 2012
Johnny Iuzzini is the Executive Pastry Chef of the three-starred Michelin Restaurant Jean Georges in New York. At Jean Georges, Johnny's desserts arrive as four mini tasters served together. These creations may be inspired by a single ingredient or by the season, each a collection of delicious tastes, textures and techniques.

His desserts in FourPlay follow the same methodology as those at Jean Georges, so, when you look at the pictures in the book you might think that you are set for a visual feast and nothing more. But when you look a little deeper, the chef has written a book that puts the creative ball in the reader's court. It's a book of options.

You can choose to recreate one of the many quartets such as the Strawberry FourPlay; Strawberry Soda, Strawberry Ice Cream with Strawberry-Lavender Leather, Strawberry Shortcake with Roasted Strawberries & Strawberry Gelée, Coconut Cream & Crispy Chocolate or follow a simpler route and be inspired by one these components each of which shape up to be a great standalone dish.

I have used several of the recipes in the book over the past few years, each of which have been accurate, well written and tasty.

Johnny Iuzzini has published a unique cookbook, one that serves up a magnificent concoction of style and substance

by Grant Achatz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £32.50

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a book that's not sure what it wants to be, 1 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Alinea (Hardcover)
My guess is that many of the reviews of Alinea are going to try to define the book, and invariably there'll be a comparison to The French Laundry Cookbook. They're both gigantic hardbacks with unwieldy dimensions and an obsessive focus on precision. Not to mention that there's a nice human-interest angle to the fact that Thomas Keller was Grant Achatz's mentor. But the books are more different than they're alike.

They should admit that this is a recipe collection that's unapproachable for most people, and sell it like A Day at El Bulli. Not to cooking from, but more as a source of inspiration. Or, alternately, they should present this as a real cookbook, with a straight face. They should be saying "these are the recipes, cook them. If you can't cook them, don't purchase the book."

Here's an oversimplification: French Laundry is accessible. Keller's whole thing, his metier, is taking everyday food (lettuce, cheese, oyster, chocolate) and doing it up in such a way that its essence is revealed. The portions at his restaurants are so small because the one bite of marrow that you get is all you need - it is one perfect bite of marrow, it is the platonic ideal of marrow, reduced and contextualized to contain all marrow of all cows on all ranges in that one bite. What Keller does is edit food down, distill it, and that's something people can do at home. If they can't do it at home, it's still something they can wrap their heads around.
Imagine a lamb chop, but it's the best, most succulent, most intense lamb chop you've ever had. Imagine it melting in your mouth. Imagine it surrounded by peppery greens whose flavors are so intense that they seem to crystallize. You can do it, right? Your mouth is watering. All you have to do to describe Keller's food is name the ingredient, and then say "and now imagine that as the best, most intense version of that possible." Keller is accessible.

Achatz, on the other hand, isn't. Imagine a blackcurrent. Now imagine it's on a sheet of tobacco-flavored whipped cream, made with a crushed cigar, and the cream is set using gelatin so it doesn't feel in your mouth like whipped cream. And top that with smoked salt, and bee balm, and peppercorns. Imagine that. Are you imagining it? Is the flavor in your mouth? Alinea isn't accessible in the same way

In the right context, this lack of accessibility isn't a bad thing. It's what makes eating at Alinea so extraordinary, that the flavors and sensations and textures are turned inside-out and on their ear. A meal at Alinea isn't a meal - it's multisensory performance art, it's the culinary equivalent of dropping acid, it's palate-expansion.

The Complete Robuchon
The Complete Robuchon
by Joel Robuchon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The recipes stand scrutiny. It's magnificent, 28 Dec. 2011
This review is from: The Complete Robuchon (Paperback)
The name Joël Robuchon might not mean too much to you ... unless you are a food professional, a passionate home cook, interested in classic French cooking, a lover of fine food or a collector of the best cookbooks. Consider this as an introduction to one of the most celebrated of contemporary French chefs and one who has been awarded more Michelin Stars than any other chef. You know they don't give those away free with cornflakes... not even top-quality cornflakes!

Joël has a restaurant empire that reaches from Europe to America and Asia. That's not bad for a lad who had to find a job when he was only 15 years old. He was born in 1945 and by 1966 he was the official chef of La Tour de France, the most prestigious sporting event in the country. At 28 he was the head chef at Harmony-Lafayette and cooking 3000 meals each day (OK, he did have staff). Jamin in Paris was opened in 1981 and within 3 years he had 3 Michelin Stars under his belt.

The Complete Robuchon is a hefty tome of over 800 recipes. It looks an overwhelming size on the bookshelf but dip into these pages and you'll see that it's not going to spend much time on those bookshelves. This is a practical cookbook with sensible and accessible recipes that will be recognisable to family cooks all over France and beyond. Don't be put off by the weight of the book nor the French name but rather focus on the quality of the dishes.

These are not cheffy recipes. It's good old-fashioned cooking. Roast Duck is basic, traditional and delicious, and simple Buttered Cabbage relies on the quality of the produce rather than complicated cooking techniques. Skate Wings with Capers takes 2 minutes to prepare and only 13 minutes to cook. That's less time than most preprepared "instant" meals.

My favourite chapter is that of One-dish Meals and Regional Specialities, not because it's French food but rather because it has some of the finest rustic family cooking. Aligot is a winner of a dish of mashed potatoes, cheese and cream, and hails from the Massif Central, the central mountain range. Parisian Custard Tart is a lovely dessert but it's not difficult, and nods to bistros and cafes and visits to the Louvre.

The Complete Robuchon deserves respect for its breadth of information. It must surely be considered a classic, not because the author is star-spangled but because the recipes stand scrutiny. It's magnificent.

by Stéphane Reynaud
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.95

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch meat lovers drool over these recipes...., 28 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Terrine (Hardcover)
Stephane Reynaud is a French bloke - to quote the 'blurb' in the front: "a celebrated French chef who comes from a family of butchers". He has focussed on giving us many traditional and regional recipes in this book.

Being entitled "Terrines", it is indeed a celebration of terrines - of a variety I would never have imagined! He starts off with Vegetable Terrines - like Ratatouille Terrine, and Artichoke and Porcini Terrine, then moves on to your traditional terrines like Veal Terrine with Muscat, and Duck and Juniper Terrine, then he completes the meal with the likes of Strawberry and Fresh Mint Terrine or Coffee Terrine.

I think we need to take our blinkers off in regard to what we classify as a 'terrine'. Prior to reading this book, I would have generalised a terrine by calling a 'meatloaf' a terrine of sorts. Having read this book, I think it looks like you can call many things a terrine - like a pate, or a loaf of something, or even a 'pile' (Haddock and Puy Lentil Terrine) of something edible in a glass.
I read this book in tandem with his previous book entitled "Pork and Sons" - which obviously contains squillions of pork and related recipes.

I can see meat lovers absolutely drooling over the recipes in this book, as Stephane is obviously passionate about his subject. And I know the French love to use everything in their cookery, and abhor waste, so the recipes I rapidly shut the book on (the Pigs Ears, or the Parfait of Pigs Liver and Muscatel) would fill a Frenchperson with pure glee.

I know my dad would love the book, so I would tend to buy it as a present for my Dad on his birthday.

Ripailles: Traditional French Cuisine
Ripailles: Traditional French Cuisine
by Stéphane Reynaud
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ripailles when roughly translated means feasts, 28 Dec. 2011
This is a joy of a cookbook. Lavish to look at, entertaining, amusing and educational. What more could you want?

Whether you actually make any of the dishes is debatable. In reality, it's more likely to sit by your bed or on the coffee table to be dipped into and dreamed about.

Written by French chef Stephane Reynaud, this book is huge with 299 recipes covering everything from the appetiser to the cheese board.

But Ripailles, roughly translated as feasts, is so much more than a French cook book. Reynaud is the chef and owner of the renowned Villa 9 Trois in Montreuil near Paris and comes from a family of pig farmers and butchers. This vast book is a personal collection designed with his memories of the Sunday feasts of his childhood.

It is jam-packed covering the history and culture of French cuisine and Reynaud's own life and passions. There are funny and beautiful cartoon illustrations covering anything from Monuments of Paris, The Six Nations Championship rugby, to how to make Preserved Duck Confit. There are music scores and stories of food people in the Ardeche region in France, such as Bobosse junior, master andouillette (sausage) maker and life at the café Chez Hugon in Lyon. Every time you open the book, you find another fascinating or funny page to engross.

Many of Reynaud's recipes may defeat a British home-cook and are not for vegetarians or the faint-hearted. Anyone for `tete de veau pane aux amandes' or `crumbed rolled calf's head with almonds'? Or crispy pigs trotters or stuffed duck neck?

Don't worry; there are enough recipes with ingredients available in your local shops to try out. His simple `Chicken Chasseur' is delicious and `poule au pot', poached chicken is a great, classic way to prepare a chicken.

The book is written with lively, fun style which makes it great to sit down and read and the stunning images evoke a foodie-heaven France which will have you booking a place on the Eurostar.

Stéphane Reynaud's 365 Good Reasons To Sit Down To Eat...
Stéphane Reynaud's 365 Good Reasons To Sit Down To Eat...
by Stephane Reynaud
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £24.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly simple and effective dishes, 28 Dec. 2011
like Monsieur Reynaud, he's French you know. His new book, 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down and Eat is written and presented in the same style as his brilliant Ripailles book which reignited our love affair with French country cooking.
Reynaud's books are quirky and easy on the eye with great photographs by Marie-Pierre Morel and wonderful sketches by Jose Reis de Matos which give the book a real sense of character.

The book, if you haven't already worked it out for yourself sets out a dish for every day of the year with some brilliantly simple and effective dishes from duck terrine to grilled bass with herbs, shellfish hotpot pumpkin gratin and a classic French apple tart.

It's one of those rare books about food which actually makes you look forward to winter with its rustic dishes of slow cooked meats, lentils and root vegetables. I love books like this, I've no time for ego filled books by chefs who can't see past their own nonsensical dishes of foams and e numbers. This is a book which can be used as a word for word recipe or inspiration for ingredients of your choice.

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