From Publishers Weekly
Bertolli (Chez Panisse Cooking), former chef at Chez Panisse and now chef and co-owner of Oliveto restaurant in Oakland, Calif., persuasively encourages cooks to understand ingredient essentials and to appreciate the open-ended joy of learning and discovery. With stimulating essays on everything from gathering wild mushrooms and types of pasta flour to a 14-page section on the wonders of balsamic vinegar, Bertolli is nothing less than a pied piper for the Italian kitchen. Irresistibly, he explains how to replicate his restaurant's take on the Bloody Mary by using fresh tomatoes, how to prepare Risotto of Leeks with Balsamico and how to plan a menu by choosing dessert first, thus ensuring that it is a fitting conclusion for preceding courses. Atypically arranged in thematic sections-"Twelve Ways of Looking at a Tomato," "Bottom-Up Cooking," "The Whole Hog"-this volume is seductive, both in voice and because some of the 120-plus recipes, such as the one for Saltimbocca of Chicken, are so conversationally presented as to be narratives rather than precise lists of components and directions. When Bertolli extols the virtues of a home extruder machine for making fresh macaroni or supplies an illustrated seven-page procedure for curing prosciutto at home, he often gives the home cook a process to marvel at rather than aspire to. But even then, his enthusiasm for the result is infectious. This is an absorbing effort throughout.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Dedicated chefs recognize that every ingredient is unique and that the flavors and textures of a finished dish rely on each component's fundamental excellence. Not only is season important to harvesting the best but geography is critical, too. Paul Bertolli's Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland, California, makes use of the best of local produce of land and of sea. Cooking by Hand summarizes his approach. Not content with commercial dried pasta, Bertolli takes pages and pages of text to explain the significance of flours and how their milling affects the finished product. He elaborates how different grains such as spelt and farro produce different pastas. The sauces he offers are classics: Amatriciana, rabbit, truffles, butter and sage, and arrabbiata. His recipe for basic ragu consumes paragraphs. Bertolli serves up a definitive approach to hog butchering and sausage making, offering recipes for cotechino sausage and formulas for curing pork products. The serious Italian cook will revel in Bertolli's detailed approach. Mark Knoblauch
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved