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What a cookbook should be.
on November 17, 2005
For anyone who has dined at either of Suzanne Goin's Los Angeles restaurants (Lucques and A.O.C.) you know the standards for this book are as high as they can be. No detail is overlooked, and yet there is a lack of pretension and fussiness that is as refreshing as it is welcoming and comforting.
So it is with Sunday Suppers at Lucques. This truly is what a cookbook should be. The format of presenting complete three course menus, oriented wholly around what is fresh and available, is a brilliant stroke that has eliminated my usual frantic search through several books to find the right accompaniments. The menus are generally focused around a salad, followed by a fish or meat course and finishing with dessert, but you are given the freedom to mix and match as sounds appealing.
Along the way Goin provides great insight and straightforward advice. I can't tell you how long I've waited to have a cookbook that actually helps you learn how to cook - the advice on chopping onions is worth the price alone. For Goin the foundation of great cooking is great ingredients. It sounds much more obvious than it really is. Along with other advice including how to learn to season foods properly and to think like a chef while cooking, you will learn a great deal while making delicious meals.
The sections on the foods that are available in each season are incredibly helpful to anyone who has ever gone to a store or farmers market with a comprehensive list for a menu only to find that none of the ingredients on the list are available. By helping you understand and focus your cooking on the fresh and seasonal Goin helps you craft a dinner that is as mouthwatering as it reads.
The menus themselves make me wish I could quit my job and cook every night and somehow still pay the rent! This is great Mediterranean/California cooking that makes you believe that making great food is within your reach. Gather a few friends together (all the menus are for six) and tuck in for a night of delicious food, wine and conversation, exactly what a Sunday night should be. Very highly recommended.