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Flavor Hardcover – November 5, 2003

3.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Before he was a television star (not just on the Food Network, but as the central character in the NBC reality show The Restaurant), DiSpirito was a rising star chef in New York with his high-end restaurant, Union Pacific. As Tom Colicchio did so ably in Think Like a Chef, here DiSpirito details the theory behind his cooking. In a nutshell, he seeks to balance sweet, sour, salty and bitter tastes in savory dishes such as Ceviche of Tuna, Sweet Onions and Lime, and Pomegranate and Cinnamon-Lacquered Duck. Each recipe has colored dots to indicate which ingredients provide which flavors; they also bear prep times, level of difficulty, yield and a brief wine suggestion: e.g., Black Sea Bass with Chestnuts and Blood Oranges is paired with a "medium-bodied Chardonnay with no oak." As at Union Pacific, DiSpirito works magic with seafood in particular, with such dishes as Charred Spanish Mackerel with Pear and Sweet Spice, and Calamari with Coconut Curry and Green Papaya. DiSpirito translates a few restaurant techniques for the home cook, as with a suggestion for using plastic wrap instead of the vacuum-sealed packaging used for sous vide cooking when making Chicken with Eggplant Carpaccio and Turmeric Marmalade. Desserts such as Mango and Papaya Carpaccio with Cilantro Candy are in the same lively spirit as the rest of the book, and photographs are also energetic. DiSpirito has considerately cordoned off the more advanced recipes in their own chapter, and a guide to ingredients helpfully includes photographs. Some stars can still relate to the little people.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Dare I whisper, genius?" -- Gael Greene, New York magazine

"I have yet to taste anything on Mr. DiSpirito's menu that is not wonderful. I was moaning as I ate." -- Ruth Reichl, New York Times

"Part of Dispirito’s brilliance is his ability to make a few, seemingly disparate elements come together in something bold." -- Gourmet

"Rocco DiSpirito rules." -- Zagat

"The best creative chef in America today under 35." -- Departures

"Top 10 Best New Chef." -- Food & Wine

"[Flavor] celebrates the fundamental notions of taste, and the depth created by toying with sweet, salty, sour, and bitter flavors." -- Detroit Free Press
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (November 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786868562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786868568
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This cookbook is a real knock-out. Visually as stimulating as the recipes are for the taste buds, the minute I opened it, I couldn't bear to close it. Its foundation is Rocco's exceptional palate, incorporating elements from all over the world and combining flavors that stimulate the taste sense in new and different ways. It's haute cuisine all the way, but accessible. Simple elements, the basics, fish, meats, vegetables, side dishes, desserts are combined with herbs and spices beyond the usual. The recipes are quite simple and easy to prepare, and the book is laid out very well to help you do so. Being an aromatherapist, I'm always seeking aromatic stimulation, and these recipes fit the bill.
In addition, the book gives you suggestions for wines that go with each recipe.
I've eaten at Rocco's first restaurant in NYC, Union Pacific, on East 22nd Street, and this book makes me feel that I can prepare the same type of food at home, simplified. I treated my cousin to a meal at Union Pacific and we both moaned and groaned through the entire meal in delight. If you want to do the same thing at home with your friends and loved ones, get this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a professional Chef with a soft spot for cookbooks. Sometimes I follow the recipes sometimes I don't. Mainly, I like to look at the pictures for ideas and inspiration. My frustration with most cookbooks is there are too many words and not enough pictures. cooking is a sensual/visual experience and less science. If you want science then start baking! But with cooking there aren't too many linear paths to the end, rather many routes to the same place. So if you are a chef and like to see new ideas then at least check this book out. There are a lot of good flavor ideas. If your are a home cook looking for a trusted recipe then stay away. You will have a hard time with recipes in this book. They obviously weren't tested and will be frustrating for you.
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By A Customer on November 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Flavor is everything you'd want in a cookbook. Hundreds of great color photos, amazingly simple recipes, plenty of resources like a pictorial guide to all the ingredients used in the book as well as plenty of style and substance. My wife hates cooking and loved the book-go figure.
This guy Rocco delivers on all levels.
Buy Flavor now.
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Format: Hardcover
I love cookbooks, but I admit that my cooking endevors usually lean towards the mundane. With that in mind, this book overwhelmed me with it's color coded flavor information for each meal, with the seeming exoticness of them, and the unique ingredients that some of the meals had.
That being said, I found that even with my past in cookbooks that there was still much to be had from this one. The instructions were easy to read and follow, and with serving size, difficulty, and other need to know information quick to find on each page, the functionality of the book impressed me.
Overall, I think it's a must have, even for someone like me who doesn't cook much other than 'regular' chicken and beef. It's enough of a challenge with food that I think we'll enjoy exploring the receipies presented, and it'll be great to use for cooking for company.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to agree with the general thrust of many of the reviews that highlight the look of the book. It looks really cool (at least after you take off the dustjacket that over-displays Rocco's goofy mug--the one negative about buying the book is the connection to Rocco), and I in fact have it sitting on my coffee table. Many of these review are wrong, however, in claiming that the book is only for looks and not for use as a real cookbook. I have made several of the dishes with excellent results, and have also culled some very helpful and practical tips and techniques (like using vegetable purees instead of starch or flour as a thickener) from the book. Granted, it is not on the level of a book like Joy of Cooking in this regard, but it doesn't have to be. One thing that it does display is that good cooking is not out of the average person's reach, and that the average kitchen can benefit from some "advanced" techniques.
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Format: Hardcover
Many celebrity chef cookbooks published in the last few months have been packaged as coffee table books and have been written with an emphasis on some distinctive aspect of cooking which will help it stand out from the pack and sell at relatively high prices. Rocco Dispirito's spin on the cooking experience, as the title makes obvious, is on the role of balancing flavors, or, more exactly, the four classic tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty) in preparing food. As we all learned in high school biology class, the four tastes are experienced on the tongue and the remaining components of flavor are experienced by thousands of receptors in the nose. Flavor is actually more about smell than it is about taste. But, the four classic tastes are much easier to classify, so Rocco and his co-author(s) focus on that. There is a brief mention of the newly conceived umani taste found in foods such as tomato, beef, mushrooms, and fava beans. Rocco, wisely, I think, leaves it at that. After introducing the tastes, the theme is carried throughout all the recipes in the book, identifying the predominant tastes of all the ingredients in each recipe. This theme is not merely a gloss, forgotten by the time one gets to the entrée recipes.
This book can be seen on several different layers and the value you find is based on how valuable you find each of the layers in the presentation.
At the most basic level, there are the recipes. For a list price of $35, the number of recipes is pretty thin. There are 105 recipes divided into Appetizers (18), Soups (11), Salads (10), Entrees (35), Side Dishes (11), Desserts (13) and Reserve List (7). The last category needs explanation. All the recipes in the other 6 categories are, I believe, fairly straightforward, with a very reasonable number of ingredients.
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