American-born Paris dweller Patricia Wells has turned her love of French food into a remarkable series of culinary works. The Paris Cookbook
reflects that affection and her familiarity with the Paris food scene, offering 150 of its best recipes. From famed chef Joël Robuchon's sublime Creamy White Bean Soup to a hearty flank steak dish courtesy of Wells's butcher; from bistro Chez Benoit's Asparagus and Green Bean Salad to confectioner La Maison du Chocolate's Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse, the book abounds in wonderful food. Wells's achievement, here as elsewhere, is to make her recipes genuinely accessible to the average cook; well-chosen and lucidly written, they invite even the hesitant into the kitchen with the promise of great eating.
Following the courses of a typical Parisian meal, from appetizers through desserts, the book presents three-star dishes like Arpège Eggs with Maple Syrup, as well as more humble fare, including an exemplary Lemon Chicken and socca, the delicious Provençale pancakes. A section on pasta, rice, beans, and grains offers such standouts as Flora's Polenta Fries. Desserts also receive their due with delights like Fresh Fig and Almond Gratin. Illustrated with photos that evoke Parisian life at the market and at the table, and containing a wealth of tips and helpful information, wine recommendations, plus the addresses of the dining spots mentioned, the book is a worthy addition to Wells's dependable store of cooking guides. --Arthur Boehm
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From Publishers Weekly
Drawing on more than 20 years of experience as a food writer in Paris, Wells (Bistro Cooking) presents cherished recipes from famous Parisian restaurants, such as Benot Guichard of Jamin's Tarte Tatin (Caramelized Apple Tart), Jol Robuchon's Creamy White Bean Soup, Caf Bonaparte's Chicken Salad and Le Dme's Sole Meunire. She ferrets out the best recipes from the authority venues, such as La Maison du Chocolat's Bitter-Sweet Chocolate Mousse and Chef William Ledeuil's Fresh White Beans with Mimolette, Roquette and Pistachio Oie. If readers can get over some haute cuisine pretension (a Black Truffle Mayonnaise recipe suggests using "eggs that have been enclosed in a glass jar with the truffles for 1 day"), they will find down-to-earth recipes such as The Market Gardeners' Zucchini and Curry Soup and The Taxi Driver's Wife's Secret Mussels. Regional France is well represented by the likes of southwestern polenta (Hlene's `Polenta' with Sheep's-Milk Cheese) and seafood from Brittany (Memories of Brittany Lobster with Cream). Wells has a knack for choosing simple yet elegant recipes quintessentially French with reliable results in the North American kitchen. She follows a growing trend of replacing red meats (although there is a short chapter on them) with poultry, seafood and vegetables (a whole chapter is devoted to potatoes). This book is a must for any Francophile yearning for Brasserie Balzar's Midnight Onion Soup, and for visitors who want a great resource for where to buy and how to handle the spectacular foods in Paris. Photos. (Nov.)Forecast: Wells's fans will be pleased, for this is very much in the tradition of her other books. Despite a glut of French cookbooks, Wells is the real deal, and her latest offering will satisfy its readership, which includes anyone who loves France, or who lives there and wants to learn more about its foods.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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