So Christmas brought me a few new books. My mother in law Lucy (also my wife’s name) brought me a signed copy of Thomas Keller’s new book Ad Hoc. She works at a Williams Sonoma where he came to a book signing.
My brother sent me Heston Blumenthal’s new book “the Fat Duck Cook Book” which is a cheaper version of his $250 “Big Fat Duck”
Both books are very inspirational. Thomas Keller’s book follows the formula he has followed since his first book: The French Laundry Cook Book.” This time he talks about a less formal type of cuisine but of course with the usual Thomas Keller sensibilities (read perfectionist). There are some very good dishes included which I will improvise on.
Heston’s book is monumental and at the price of $30 is a must buy. I saw Heston do a presentation at the 2008 International Chef’s Congress in NYC and it was by far the most mind-blowing presentation of the congress. Ironically it was a presentation on a multi-sensoriel dinner he put on for Christmas. I have just finished reading the first section of the book which gives the history behind the development of the Fat Duck restaurant. I am amazed at the path he took to get to where he is. The man is clearly brilliant, brave and generous. I must eat at his restaurant some day. Also strange is that my parents have good friends who live in the town where his restaurant is located and many years ago (1985) I visited that town as my parents and I were preparing for an extended trip to Ireland. When I visited that village on the river Thames, I would not have believed it would become home to two 3 star Michelin restaurants.
The recipes show the level of complexity and depth of thought that goes into each dish. After the recipe section you have the science of food section and a section with descriptions of all the special equipment he uses at his restaurant. I am blown away at the amount of money he has invested in equipment and the scientific nature of the gear. The science of food section is very educational and should be required reading for anyone going into the world of cooking. The “cooking meat” section alone reveals tons of info and takes an iconoclastic approach to meat cooking myths. I am going to read this book cover to cover and that will be no small task.
If any of you are sitting on some amazon gift cards that you want to use to buy cook books I can highly recommend these two.