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on 23 January 2008
This is a marvellous book. I keep checking if Suzanne Goin has already written a new book, because I love it that much. But I should not complain, and admit that it's only greed making me do this, because I am far from ready with this one.

My favourite way of cooking is mostly Mediterranean, with a passion in particular for the Italian and Middle-Eastern cuisine, for olive oil and garlic based dishes, with a major part for vegetables, based on simple preparations, in which the ingredients are shown in their pure form and strength. Books I own are by Sam & Sam Clark for example, Ursula Ferrigno, Paula Wolfert or Diana Henry. This book is different, although it's cooking is Mediterranean in style and flavour- yet it's very elegant, and as sometimes the straightforward kitchen is lacking in sophistication, this brings the link between a more classic or French way of cooking and simple food. I don't fancy elaborate cuisine, I dislike chefs that cook rather for their ego than for my palate and I hate towers on my plate. Don't get me wrong, I love being in the kitchen- I just don't see the beauty of making foams of asparagus, or cappuccino of beets, or lemongrass frost on duck beaks. But one still needs to cook in a different register, now and again. I want to serve my lover on a special occasion with something else than the amazing pastas I make, or the hearty lamb stew. The answer I was looking for was to be found in this very book.

It is organised per season, and each of the four chapter contains eight full menus composed of four courses, comprising of more than 130 recipes, each made with ingredients current to the time of year. Of course the restaurant is located in Los Angeles, but the ingredients in this book are not necessarily according to Californian seasons, but follow the traditional cool autumn and cold winter. Every chapter opens with an introduction to the season and a listing of the seasonal produce. The menus are elaborate indeed, and many involve a lot of preparation. But what inspiration they offer, what richness in their combination.

"Spring" offers for example a menu containing
- Sauté of white asparagus, morels and ramps over polenta
- Wild salmon salad with beets, potato, egg and mustard vinaigrette
- Glazed duck confit with black rice, mizuna and cherries

Summer brings such sweet things as ricotta gnocchi with chanterelles; sweet corn and sage brown butter; prawns with tomato confit, garlic and chile or plum tarte tatin with crème fraiche; and in autumn I ate clams with vermouth, cannelloni beans and cavolo nero. One of my favourite autumn menus has
- kabocha salad with dandelion, bacon, roncal and pecans;
- sea bass with shell bean risotto and gremolata butter
- pork porterhouse with sautéed quince, apples and potatoes
- cranberry-walnut clafoutis with bourbon whipped cream

"Winter" offers such treasures as grilled squab with farro, scallops with chanterelles, young onion tart with cantal or gateau basque with Armagnac prunes. And oww, duck braised in banyuls and turnip-parsnip gratin, also with prunes.

The recipes, as I mentioned, are elaborate and sometimes more difficult than an average amateur cook could cope with, but they are all clearly written, so that you are walked through and even with little skill or experience should be able to manage. Btw, lucques have always been among my favourite varieties of olives. I'm a fan!
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on 23 August 2008
I picked this book up in a vast bookshop in New York while keeping out of the rain, and it immediately transported me to sunny Californian climes. Suzanne's recipes fuse a European sensibility for quality and tradition with a Californian appreciation of fresh, light, seasonal market produce, in the mould of San Fransisco's Greens restaurant, and Chez Panisse (from whence author Goin hails). A sample of recipes include:

Swiss Chard Tart with Goat Cheese, Currants, and Pine Nuts
Fava Bean Puree with Oil-Cured Olives, French Feta, and Garlic Toasts
Dungeness Crab Salad with Avocado, Beets, Creme Fraiche and Lime
Sauteed Alaskan Black Cod with Endive and Hazelnuts
Orecchiette Carbonara with English Peas and Pea Shoots
Saute of White Asparagus, Morels, and Ramps over Polenta
Herb-Roasted Pork Loin with Haricots Verts, Spring Onions and Mustard Breadcrumbs
Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
California Seabass Kabobs with Eggplant, Peppers, and Chermoula
Cornmeal Shortcakes with Peaches, Mint, and Soured Cream
Fig-and-Almond Custard Tart
Tarte au Fromage with Lemon Cream and Blueberry Compote

I defy anyone not to be seduced as I was by these recipes - and to resist the temptation to be on the next flight to LA to visit in person.
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on 6 December 2015
A truly inspiring cookbook which makes you want to cook all the recipes in it, invite friends over and enjoy a convivial meal together.
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on 17 November 2009
I read an article about Ms Goin and decided to search for her book. The recipes look very nice and I will give many a go. What I dont like about it is there are so few photos. Appox one in five recipes have a photo, you may not care about this, but I was a bit disappointed.
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