Most helpful positive review
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Excellent and easy resource for the inventive home cook/home chef
on April 2, 2007
If you like cooking and/or Michael Chiarello, this is a great book to add to your collection. Much of the material was actually produced not too long after his tenure at Napa wine country's marvelous Tra Vigne, where he built the restaurant's excellent reputation as its chef before moving on to his current interests. As a result, there are a lot of references to Tra Vigne and his experiences there peppered throughout. That is not a bad thing; just a point to be aware of as, although this joint edition of "Oils and Vinegars" (formerly produced as 2 seperate books) predates his later cookbooks even thought it has a later publication date.
Anyway, if you are interested in making and cooking with your own infused oils and vinegars, he has demystified this and made it very accessible and user-friendly - something basically anyone can do at home without a lot of special equipment. His directions on process are right to the point and spare....just the info that is needed to do this succussfully based on his very estimed experience. His info on vinegar making is scattered throughout the various topical sections on vinegar and is sufficient to help you get it; if you want a serious artisan treatise on how to make and age fine vinegars, this is not the book and you would be better going to one of the early Chez Panisse cookbooks in which Alice Water's partner (sorry, I forget which one but I think it is the Chez P. Cafe cookbook...or else the Chez P. "Menus") provides such an in-depth artisan instruction on vinegar making using little oak casks and such that it frankly scared me away! That is why I say that Michael Chiarello's material in these volume is very accessible, practical and useful, oh, and a bit fun as well!
There are some very excellent recipes here as well, although if you want a recipe goldmine, go to his "NapaStyle" website (an unbelievably rich recipe resource!), or, buy his other cookbooks, all of which are among my favorites in my rather huge cookbook collection. Didn't rate this book a 5 (although I was tempted) only because I felt that he could have dug just a tad deeper in a few areas (herbal vinegars, for instance, but what he does provide works!) and I am not so sure that overall the info/contents are as well organized as they could be. That said....it is worth the buy!