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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2014

Recently, a writer for a national food magazine was bewailing her penchant for “next level” restaurants: those serving the exotic; those gastronomically altering the mundane; those scraping lichen off rocks and onto the plate; and those serving parts of protein-creatures (animals and fish) that people over the centuries, when they finally could afford to, were glad to avoid. On the other side of the spectrum are the restaurants of Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-ins and Dives, serving what seems for the most part to be belly busting meals that should come with discount coupons for the stents which the patrons may well need later in life to keep their clogged arteries open.

Enter Buvette, an almost absurdly small restaurant that serves good food in reasonable portions (what a concept) and whose existence has been coveted by those in the know in New York. Enter Buvette II, Williams’s second restaurant, fashioned to look like her first, which now has its home in Paris and is coveted in the “City of Food.”

Enter Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food. Here is one of the few restaurant generated cookbooks that can really be at home…well…at home.

Start with the “sources” section, for example. Beyond what seems to be the Di rigor nod to D’Artagnan, the rest of the section takes up less than half of a page and indicates where Williams purchases her supplies. The implication is clear: this is where I fin my supplies; find suppliers near you; they do exist. This follows the straightforward logic of shopping local. How can you be shopping local if you are not? Besides, there is almost nothing here in this book that you can’t find pretty easily.

Then check out the recipes. They do not require industrial BTU stoves, immersion circulators, foam dispensers or chemicals with unpronounceable names. They do not require a course in mushroom identification or memorizing material from old copies of Ewell Gibbons's Stalking the Wild Asparagus. They do not require graduation from the Culinary Institute of America. Although they may require a little concentration, the recipes are clear, clean, straightforward, and produce food which is both tasty and comfortable.

Next, note the subtle connection between the food and the experience. This is food that invites one to sit down, relax, put away the smartphone and maybe even kick off a shoe or two under the table. This is not food that acts as a tour De force for the chef or cook, but one that showcases the food itself, bringing it more into the territory of a fine family meal, with all of the social warmth associated with that event, even if there is no family involved. It is bistro or trattoria at its best.
Finally, look at the consistency in the philosophy and the food. In the introduction, chef Williams mentions that there are no artificial sweeteners in the restaurant, nor any decaf coffee. If it is not natural, then it is not at all. This pervades the whole book.
To date, I have made two items from the book and have earmarked many more. Although I have many, many cookbooks, only a handful have fallen this quickly into the category of “go-to” books. Interestingly, I have found Williams’s recipes easy to riff on. Along with her suggestions for variations, there is an implied freedom to try other things. Often, she will use terms like “try any fruit that you like.”

By the way, both meals were excellent.

I do have one slight gripe. I like the pictures to be representative of the recipes, and sometimes this does not happen. The photograph of the omelet, for example, is not what is indicated in the recipe, but is a photograph of a different style of omelet. It is, admittedly, a small item.

Ultimately, it is one of the most satisfying books that I have purchased. It is in the family of Susan Goin, and Albert Portale and the (late) Judy Rogers and Barbara Tropp. In short, it is what many restaurant based cookbooks, aimed at producing good meals in the home, hope to be, but never quite become.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2014
Jody Williams has created a charming book with well-written recipes that are at once doable and edgy. The pictures are enticing and I have found I cannot pick up the book if I don't have time to be in the kitchen. I want to try one of the recipes every time I read a different segment. Food I know that I cook well, for instance eggs, have become a new taste adventure with her techniques. And, what fun it is to share this delicious food!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2014
I have followed Buvette's blog, FB page and read about Jody and her gem of a restaurant and love her style. I was thrilled when I found out she had a cookbook coming out and promptly pre-ordered my copy. It is as charming, lovely and brilliant as I had hoped. Most of the recipes are straight forward and most home cooks will have no problem recreating them. Not only are there wonderful recipes to peruse, it is filled with little "stories". The photos are beautiful...a feast for the eyes. I know I will use this cookbook, not only for recipes, but kitchen inspiration and entertaining ideas. I have 100's of cookbooks and this is in my top 10!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2014
I rarely read a book cover to cover these days...much less a cook book! But this one captivated me and I made the time to read it...before I knew it I was at the end! And disappointed it ended by the way. I guess I identify with the way Ms. Williams approaches cooking and entertaining. I totally get her style and had all ready incorporated many of her ways into my own without even knowing it. The best part for me, besides the fantastic recipes of course, was her telling of her travels and cooking experiences. I was jealous that I never did that, and wanted to hear more in order to live vicariously. If anything, that would be my only complaint, that I wanted to hear more about her travels and cooking experiences.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2014
Alice Waters is correct, Buvette is a treasure. I have hundreds of cook books and love them all, but today Buvette soars to the top of my favorites. Jody Williams got her hook into me at the cover. Buvette brings back sweet foodie memories with loved ones past and opportunities for memorable gatherings in future whether it be morning, afternoon, evening or sweets. Simply marvelous.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2014
My initial reaction when I paged through the entire book in one sitting was lukewarm. I just didn't see any recipes that grabbed me. When I found myself with some extra homemade ricotta, I made a 1/2 batch of the ricotta fritters (but used the superfine sugar to coat, which was an idea from another recipe in the book). The fritters were so good, I made them again the next day. After the fritters, I Ieft the book on an end table, and periodically read it while I was having a glass of wine or cup of tea. Each time I opened the book, I enjoyed it more, and not just the recipes. Today I made the lentils and kale, also very nice. The pictures are gorgeous, but I wish every recipe had a picture. Most of the recipes seem quite simple, and many have a small ingredient list. Often substitutions are recommended for more obscure ingredients. I think a novice cook might be a little frustrated or intimidated by instructions that are a bit vague, such as cooking a mixture until it is "lovely" or "splash some more water on it". I'm not sure if it will become a go-to cookbook for me, but it is a nice one to have in the kitchen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2014
Excellent cookbook, not exotic ingredients, presented in unique ways. Very happy to own this wonderful collection of recipes. Highly recommend
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2014
Just like her restaurant in the West Village! Jody Williams tells her story and allows us to accompany her on her journey to find simply- prepared yet wonderful food. With a heavy French influence she shares her worldly food knowledge to allow us to prepare dishes to share with friends and family like pros! Every recipe that I have made has turned out perfectly!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2014
I am cooking my way through this book. So far every one is a hit. I did start with the ricotta doughnuts so that was a no brainer hit. wonderful food.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2014
Gorgeous cookbook, filled with simple, elegant ideas. The crepe recipe alone, basic as it is, is better than my old standard, and makes the book worth it for me.
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