Here is a book that any real foodie will like, even though some of the wonderful photographs might be viewed as a little creepy or scary by many.
So, what do you get from this richly-illustrated, thick tome written by some of the team who create the culinary magic at the Portland, Oregon-based "Le Pigeon" restaurant? Things start with a genuinely interesting little introduction that explains the history of the restaurant to date and, unlike many books, this is not "ego city". Then it is straight to the kitchen to get cooking.
The recipes are split into curiously-named chapters called "Lettuce and Such", "Tongue", "Fat Liver", Little Birds", "Rabbit", "Little Terry", "Big Terry", "Pork", "Horns and Antlers", "Lamb", "Veg" and "Choco, Tart, Profit". Some but not all may be fairly self-explanatory... Many of the recipes will appear "high end" and "exclusive dining" and yet when you look at the ingredients they might be everyday items that the typical consumer would avoid if they saw it in the food store. Not that many people like cooking tongue, for example, yet it sure is a versatile part and a shame to ignore it.
This is a book you need to really read through, at least once, to get the most out of it. There is plenty of strange terminology (at least to this reviewer) and many funny anecdotes tucked away where you least expect them, such as a customer finding a bullet lodged in a long-cooked piece of tongue (!). If you are prepared to "push the envelope" a bit and trust in the authors then you will not be disappointed. This is one of those very few books that can be classed as "truly different", an inner sanctum for foodies and food curious people, yet the authors did not need to rely on tricks or strange food combinations to create this masterpiece. The food speaks for itself.
In some ways the sheer, stark nature of some of the photographs is more "alarming" than the recipes and their textual descriptions. Cooked pigeon legs sticking out of a plastic container is not a typical image for a cookbook, that is for sure. Yet the photographs are artwork in their own right, such as that used to illustrate "Rabbit and Eel Terrine".
It is unfortunate that our usual niggles exist in this book (lack of an estimated preparation/cooking time and use of sole U.S. measures) but this book remains sufficiently different, engaging and detailed that you just want more, more and more. The instructions given are clear, to-the-point but through so as long as you can follow a recipe and don't burn water you would have no problems.
This won't be a book for everybody and if the idea of cooking "less common" ingredients is possibly not for you, consider checking this book out in a bookstore first. There are more "common" ingredient recipes inside too, but for this author at least part of the charm and appeal is the use of "less common" ingredients.
One must underline that this book is capable of being suitable for everybody and not just "elite gastronomes". You might, however, need to be less squeamish or picky and disassociate rabbit as just being something fluffy that hops around a field. If you only consider one out-of-the-ordinary book this year, give some strong consideration to this one.
Excellent cookbook, since the day I bought the Mission Street Food cookbook from Anthony Myint I've been on a quest for something similar, a cookbook that's exciting, makes you do food combinations you would never have thought of and most importantly turn out to be a revelation. This is it, a sexy cookbook that uses out of the ordinary cuts to make extraordinary dishes. I love it and if you're looking for some exciting venture in your kitchen so will you.
PS: All measurements are both in cups and gr & ml.
Great to see how the Yanks feel less constrained in their approach to European, specifically, French food. Less inhibited with maintaining "authenticity" this talented Chef and his team take a playful, experimental approach and evolve some classics giving them an edgy, innovative twist - how dare they, Escoffier will be turning get in his grave.