#1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERon 20 October 2013
Having had this book for a month now I wanted to post a fair and in depth review, but for those looking for a quick summary: I have enjoyed reading it, the photography in the book is beautiful and the recipes are all very inspiring. However the recipe layout and practicalities of the book leave a little to be desired hence 4 stars rather than 5 (please see below for more detail / a full list of recipes at the end).
Now for those wanting the detail...
It's probably best I start this review by pointing out I'm not a professional chef, but a very keen amateur with an interest in molecular gastronomy and fine dining. I've had this book for a month now and had chance to read through it, admire the photography and try a couple of the recipes.
I've included a full recipe list at the end of this review plus I've uploaded quite a few pictures of the book, I hope this will be helpful to those considering purchasing it. There are 50 recipes in the book.
First impressions of the book were very good, the laser cut hard sleeve is a nice touch, along with the embossed cover, gilt-edge and thick pages all go towards making this feel like a quality book. Although a pristine white book is perhaps not the most practical thing to bring into the kitchen.
I bought this with the intention of actually cooking from the book, I know that might sound like an obvious thing to say but I'm sure there are those out there that might consider this a "coffee table" cookbook, but I wanted to actually try out some of the recipes. However Le Livre Blanc is not written in the style or format of most recipe books and instead is more a celebration of chef Anne-Sophie Pic's work rather than a practical recipe book.
The photography is excellent, all of the dishes look amazing and I want to try to cook 90% of them but there are a few things that make cooking from the book a bit of a chore. Rather than having the recipe title, picture and recipe detail together they are split up in 3 separate parts of the book. Firstly there is a chapter introduction, then a double page of the recipe titles followed by several pages of photography then all the recipes are at the back of the book; somehow that just doesn't really work for me and seems to be a bit of a sacrifice of practicality in favour of style and concept.
The 50 recipes are divided into 6 chapters, to me the groupings seem a little tenuous and I didn't find the chapter introductions particularly interesting to read. The chapters are:
Earth & Sea
Acid Yellow & Pale Pink
The Lightness of Air
The Edge of Frontiers
I know this seems like I've been very negative for a 4 star review, but there are a few things I don't particularly like about it, having said that, if you look at this as a collection of 50 unbelievably inspiring recipes with equally amazing photography then this is a great book to own.
I'm sure nobody would think this, but just in case, don't buy this book if you're planning on cooking recipes from it on an evening after work! Each recipe has many individual components, some of which take many hours to produce, these are recipes that require some real dedication to follow, but the results are certainly worth it.
To summarise, this would make an excellent "coffee table" cookbook; gorgeous photography, amazing looking dishes and a real premium feel. When it comes to actually using it to cook from though it is a little impractical, however this is something I'm happy to overlook and work around.
1. Line-caught bass with Aquitaine caviar
2. Chicken's egg and reef squid - soft boiled egg, almost tomato ketchup with galangal capers, flower honey
3. Normandy scallop - cooked with the light sharpness of liquorice and smoked eel and served with a sunset of Venetian rose and flame radicchio
4. Purple sea urchins - sea urchin tongues and juice in a delicate sorrel jelly, with cubed-peppered runny egg yolk
5. Line-caught turbot - steamed slowly and served with sweet melting Cevennes onions, lightly scented with pink Madagascan peppercorns and black truffle
6. John Dory - steamed with peppermint, black truffle shavings, Mallemort asparagus
7. Shore turbot - gently steamed, cucumber crisp and mousseline, fennel seed butter sauce
8. No. 3 Gillardeau oysters - delicate jelly and yogurt cream sauce flavoured with liquorice
9. Local apricot - cooked like an ile flottante, caramel crunch and apricot coulis, beer ice cream
10. Lemon and juniper berry - combined in a creamy foam, lemon sorbet and lemon juice
11. Duck foie gras - a thick slice lightly smoked with Tahitian vanilla, tangy Menton lemon, spring turnip consommé
12. Bresse chicken - slow-cooked chicken breast, turnip fondant with Medjool date chutney and Voatsiperifery pepper, chick jus
13. Breton langoustines - cooked with local rhubarb, green celery and Tasmanian pepper sauce
14. Gariguette strawberries with aged rhum agricole - babas soaked in amber rum, strawberry coulis lightly flavoured with mint
15. Rhubarb and ginger - tangy yogurt cream sauce flavoured with ginger; rhubarb marmalade and sorbet
16. Raspberry and cinnamon - cream sauce infused with beer and cinnamon leaves, raspberry marmalade and confit
17. Beetroot plural - melting creamy textures with Blue Mountain coffee cream, tangy barberry
18. Mallemort asparagus and Aquitaine caviar - a marriage of earth and sea with hints of smoke and iodine
19. Peas and Aquitaine caviar - caviar and pea cream sauce, spring onion foam
20. Bresse chicken - pan-roasted chicken breast, red lemon marmalade, young chard and razon clams
21. Calf's sweetbread - a beautiful pan-roasted sweetbread `apple' local carrots with lavender, marbled veal juice
22. Carrot and orange flower - smooth carrot jelly and carrot cream sauce orange-flower and Voatsiperify pepper yogurt
23. Our producer's baby vegetables - smooth Parmigiano Reggiano sauce on a lavender shortcrust tart, baby vegetables deglazed in sherry vinegar
24. Freshwater crayfish - gently roasted in seafood butter, spring turnip two ways, tonka bean and Voatsiperifery pepper broth
25. John Dory - green zebra tomato, tomato consommé lightly scented with vintage Bora-Bora Tahitian vanilla and aged Martinique rhum agricole
26. Peanut marshmallow
27. Pea marbles with horseradish
28. Foie gras marbles and Sudachi lemon
29. Lapsang Souchong smoked tea macaroon - herring egg cream
30. Pot-caught crab and Chinese white jasmine tea - crabmeat in a fine jelly, Chinese white jasmine tea foam, cram mayonnaise
31. Raw No. 3 Gillardeau oysters - Lardo di Colonnata and a cloud of deconstructed fondue
32. Line-caught bass - cooked skin-on, sweet Cevennes onion petals with salted caramel and fresh walnut sauce, vin jaune
33. Caramel Gruyere and black truffle - hot soufflé with a melting Cazette (crushed hazelnut) centre, black truffle
34. Lager and caramel - cooked ile flottante-style beer foam, caramel sauce and crunchy hazelnut biscuit
35. Wild blueberries and Tahitian vanilla - tangy vanilla-flavoured yogurt cream sauce and blueberry confit, Chantilly with vintage Bora-Bora Tahitian vanilla powder
36. Blue lobster - roasted in seafood butter, lobster consommé with red berries, foaming celery cream with green peppercorns
37. Frogs' legs and Lapsang Souchong tea - frogs' legs meunieres, buttered green cabbage and potato with Menton lemon marmalade
38. Line-caught turbot - cooked in wakame butter, cauliflower cream sauce, jasmine flower emulsion
39. Freshwater white fish - grilled skin-on, crunchy turnips and turnip puree flavoured with Arabica coffee Menton lemon zest butter sauce
40. Milk fed lamb - pan-raosted saddle and ribs runny lightly smoked Banon pyramids
41. Drome pigeon - roasted whole, flambed with aged Martinique rhum agricole, confit rhubarb and foie gras with Voatsiperifery pepper, classic jus
42. Wild abalone - cooked meuniere-style, white asparagus, artichoke and wakame
43. Free-range pigeon - poached then roasted, lightly smoked broth, peas and celery in a light fennel butter
44. Venison - noisette lightly smoked with Tahitian vanilla, heirloom cabbages and a rich jus
45. Corsican kid goat - marinated with gin, confit, gently spiced potato gnocchi with black truffle
46. Frsh morels, peas and local broad beans - egg yolk sauce, morel broth lightly flavoured with cinnamon leaves and Bourbon Pointu de la Reunion coffee
47. Fresh morels - aged Parmesan millefeuille with morel and tarragon cream
48. Yellow Poitou leeks and Aquitaine caviar - pencil leeks and marinated Mediterranean anchovies, green tea broth, Aquitaine caviar
49. Venison - pan-cooked noisettes, Blue mountain-confit grapefruit sauce
50. Brie de Meaux and Bourbon vanilla