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Bar Tartine: Techniques & Recipes Hardcover – November 25, 2014
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Winner, 2015 IACP Cookbook Award: Chefs and Restaurants
Winner, 2015 James Beard Cookbook Award: Cooking from a Professional Point of View
About the Author
Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns are the co-chefs and couple behind the beloved San Francisco Mission District eatery Bar Tartine (sister restaurant to Tartine Bakery). They are fiercely loyal to using local produce and to making anything and everything by hand. Nick was born in Michigan but spent some of his childhood in New York, moved to Hungary for part of high school, went to culinary school, and then traveled extensively in Japan while learning to make hand-crafted ingredients. Cortney grew up in Chicago, spending time in Nepal and India studying the Tibetan language and cultural anthropology. She worked for years cooking in restaurants, spending her free time learning the preservation techniques of past generations from old cookbooks, memoirs, and family histories. They both ended up in San Francisco, drawn by the talent of the chefs and farmers in the Bay Area. Their cooking is a product of the foods they grew up eating with their families in the Midwest and that they have experienced during their travels abroad. Bar Tartine has been featured in Men's Health, USA Today, InStyle, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, Wired, and Food & Wine among other top local and national outlets.
Chad Robertson is San Francisco–based cofounder of Tartine Bakery and Bar Tartine, and coauthor of Tartine and author of Tartine Bread and Tartine Book No. 3, which he also photographed.
Top customer reviews
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Bar Tartine is a lovely book. The photographs are stunning. The recipes are creative and complex. I might, someday, try one of them.
I will not be making any of these recipes anytime soon for a few reasons. As I'm sure the other reviews have mentioned again and again, each recipe calls for one or more ingredients that one must prepare using the techniques section that comprises the first half of the book. These ingredients are brined, pickled, smoked, dried, powdered, smoked, burnt, smoked then powdered...etc. I just do not have enough refrigerator space to devote to 10+ vats of various foods, in various stages of being transformed from simple to delicious. I live in Europe, and the fridges here tend to be small (note to any Europeans reading this, none of the things in this book will fit in your fridge, but if you are a native European, you may be braver than I when it comes to not refrigerating things). Also, only one person that I know in my town owns a gas oven, and it is the kind without a pilot light, so all of those dried food recipes are out.
The other thing is, for all of the time spent on techniques, there is very little information about how to use the resulting pickles and powders and sauces, other than in other equally daunting recipes at the end of the book. I might be persuaded to cook heads of garlic at 130F in my rice cooker for 3 WEEKS if there was a list of more than three ways in which I could actually use black garlic.
All of that said, I will never climb Mt. Everest, but I do occasionally enjoy reading books about this feat. Hence, 4 stars for an interesting and engaging book about cooking techniques that I will likely never use.
But back to that mushroom broth: it is ordinarily made with water and a few mushrooms, and is invariably insipid; this recipe cooks LOTS of fresh mushrooms at low temperature for hours then extracts all the liquid from them, is all. The recipe made so much sense that it was the first thing I made. It's easily the best mushroom broth in the world, but these guys also include a recipe to further reduce it to an emulsion, good grief.
The recipes for dishes, when they finally start, are very inventive and just as uncompromising. Cabbage rolls with fish cake starts with the recipe for making fish cake. The result is probably not that different from wrapping store-bought fish cake with cabbage (a pairing made in Heaven), but hey: now I can invent new fish cakes laced with (say) white anchovies,katsuobushi, or even that bottarga. Slow-roasted carrots with burnt bread and almond milk sounds bizarre, but after reading the recipe it sounds compelling.
Only after the first read-thru did I realize that - never mind the heavy use of Asian ingredients - the heart of this cookbook beats in Hungary. It uses no exotic, overpriced ingredients, and the recipes, while long and complicated, are not in themselves difficult. This is SLOW food, in the best sense of the word: some of the recipes would take months to make if you had to start from scratch. Right now is prime Brussels sprout season, so grab the book now, get the Brussels kraut started, and by next summer you'll be ready to cook with it. The authors spent years learning and developing their techniques, and are graciously sharing them with us here.