From Publishers Weekly
Kunz (former four-star chef of New York's Lespinasse restaurant) and Kaminsky (New York Times food writer and author of The Moon Pulled Up an Acre of Bass) team up for a cookbook variation. Instead of arranging food by course or primary ingredient, they identify 14 basic tastes (salty, sweet, floral herbal, "funky," meaty, etc.) then groups them into four categories: Tastes That Push, Tastes That Pull, Tastes That Punctuate and Taste Platforms. The resulting recipes are, understandably, high-concept chef food. Explaining how they layer and balance tastes, the authors conclude each recipe with Our Taste Notes, which take an oenophile's approach to flavor description. Sweet Scallops in a Pink Lentil Crust with a Hot-and-Sweet Bell Pepper Reduction ends thusly: "The taste comes through first as crunch, then salt, and then heat. Next you get sweetness from the scallops.... The celery leaves provide a final garden note with some bitterness to close down the taste." Components are combined fearlessly. Green Onion Fondue includes scallions, tomatoes, dates, cornichons, mint and ajowan. Lady Apples with Gruyere Celery Pork Pockets are stuffed pork chops tweaked with cumin, mustard, prosciutto, turnips and quartered lady apples. As complicated and as multi-ingrediented as many recipes are, the directions are admirably clear, and some recipes, such as Oysters and Cabbage and Two-Tomato Coulis with Three Basils, are quite simple. While some readers may initially find the concept to be contrived, most will welcome this unusual means of creating and characterizing food.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Kunz, who earned four stars as the chef of Lespinasse in New York City, and Kaminsky, a food writer, have written an unusual cookbook. Kunz is known for his innovative recipes; having trained in Europe and worked in Singapore, he was one of the first young chefs to combine Asian and French flavors and cooking styles. He and Kaminsky have come up with a vocabulary of taste, comparable to the vocabulary of winespeak, based on 14 basic tastes they identified, from "Tastes That Push," or heighten the other flavors in a dish salty, sweet, and picante to "Tastes That Punctuate" sharp, bitter tastes like that of horseradish. They have grouped their 130 recipes according to these tastes, e.g., Seafood Casserole with Floral A oli falls under "Spiced Aromatic" and Gratin of Sweet Peas, Tarragon, and Pistachios is under "Garden," one of the "Taste Platforms." Each recipe is followed by Taste Notes, descriptions similar to wine notes; many of the headnotes describe the ideas and experimentation that led to the recipe. This is certainly an interesting approach, though some readers will find it unbearably esoteric. In any case, their book is full of delicious, imaginative recipes and gorgeous photographs of the sophisticated presentations. Highly recommended.
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.