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Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys Hardcover – November 1, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Tanis (A Platter of Figs) has been a chef at Berkeley's Chez Panisse for so long, he seems to have achieved a certain California Zen master state of being. A recipe is "what happens between the concept of a dish and its final result," he observes, then paints a fine line between "om" and "yum" with 14 meditations on kitchen rituals, small moments of epiphany that tie his childhood oatmeal to his adult polenta or celebrate the genius of the Ziploc bag. Cooks who live in an unchanging climate seem to have a penchant for dividing their cookbooks into seasonal chapters and Tanis is no exception. The (artichoke) heart of this work consists of 20 full menus, five for each season. Spring offerings include Vietnamese vegetable summer rolls, and "The Flavor of Smoke," featuring tea-smoked chicken salad. Summer belongs to herbs with choices like flat-roasted chicken with rosemary, and rice salad with sweet herbs. With the fall comes flatbread, a focaccia served alongside stuffed raviolone. And winter brings fragrant lamb with prunes and almonds. Tanis rounds out the book with four feasts, celebrational meals involving a suckling pig or kid goat stew. When not easing the reader into some potentially complex dishes, Tanis enjoys reliving his culinary European adventures, adding an unfortunate air of pretension to his otherwise sincere labor of love. (Nov.) (c)
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About the Author

David Tanis is the author of A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes,Heart of the Artichoke and Other KitchenJourneys, and One Good Dish. His weekly column, City Kitchen, appears in The New York Times.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Artisan; 1st edition (November 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157965407X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579654078
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.4 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,539 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By wogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
David Tanis presents a cookbook that celebrates in season meals. It is not just recipes but his reflections on cooking these foods. He begins with a section on his kitchen rituals, remembering how he ate oatmeal, the first time he ate an artichoke, among others.

The book is divided into seasonal menus: spring, summer, fall and winter, each with 5 menus His focaccia is amazing, as is the Digestivo with fresh berries and then the Molasses pecan squares are a favorite, we have even substituted walnuts with great success. Another section has 4 feasts and the recipes for them, including a deconstructed turkey.
The index is done by ingredient, but could have used better spacing and highlighting. It is also frustrating to look up Focaccia and not have it listed, because it is not an ingredient.

Tanis believes in simplicity and his food-recipes are not that difficult. They are different and simple but yet complicated flavors. This is an unusual cookbook for those that collect them and for those who would like to cook something that is a conundrum between simple and complex.
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Format: Hardcover
My wife used to be Somebody in the New York fine dining world. As for me, one of the only two jobs that's required my daily presence was as a French chef. But going out to dinner has pretty much disappeared from our lives.
Our 8.5-year-old is the major reason. She has homework now, and reading, and piano pieces to practice, and although she is the-best-girl-in-the-world, we feel the need to sit with her in the early evening, whip in hand, while she gets it all done. Then there's the bedtime ritual --- my wife delivers a nightly lecture called "Bore Me to Sleep." By then, it's nine o'clock. Two hours until Jon Stewart. Haul in a sitter, rush to a restaurant? I think not.

What's that? At a child-friendly hour, we could take the kid out with us? No, no, no and no. The Princess is in year four or five of a lycopene addiction so severe that her culinary parameters start at pasta and end at pizza --- no way is she going to sit in a real restaurant. And we tire of Sal's Pizza.

So we cook at home. Sometimes for others. Mostly for ourselves.

Few cookbooks are of much use to us. They're too fancy, too formal. They're too basic, too simple. They're too regional, too specialized.

David Tanis, in "Heart of the Artichoke," gets it just right. No shocker there: He's the half-time chef at Chez Panisse --- he lives in Paris the other six months --- and he's a great representative for Alice Waters. That is, his thing is first-class ingredients, served with one twist --- a spice you wouldn't have thought of, a vegetable others would ignore. The result is familiar and novel, which is très cool. To quote Ms. Waters: "David will give me a menu, and I'll imagine what it will taste like, and then it's nothing like what I imagined. That's the thrill to me.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have given away as presents over 60 copies of David's first book. He cooks as I cook and eat ... only so much better. His book was not widely available in Australia's book shops. I stumbled over it accidentally and couldn't put it down.

This second book, "heart of the artichoke ..." is just as wonderful. The recipes are manageable for the average cook and the taste results are authentic and superb. I cooked the de-constructed turkey for thanksgiving and it was simply stunning. Rave reviews from those at the table including 2 chefs. I will never roast a turkey the old way again. My love of Pho (iconic Vietnamese soup) comes from living a year in Saigon during the Vietnam war. It is the soup I must have often for comfort and confirmation that all is right in my world. David's recipe for Pho is absolutely authentic. The recipes are wide-ranging and very interesting. This book reveals more of David's attitude to food, life, living which has pleased me immensely. Anyone who always travels with chillies in his pocket is my kind of guy! This is a book to buy and never lend out. Everyone should have their own copy. It's the perfect Christmas gift. I have purchased 22 copies to give as gifts in late December.
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Format: Hardcover
I will keep my comments brief, as Jesse Kornbluth and others have done a good job speaking about the book in general. I will say that we've had this book for about a month, and have already cooked a number of recipes from it. The recipes are laid out in a seasonal menu / meal format, and the meals we've prepared from it thus far have all been fantastic.

While not packed to the gills with recipe after recipe, those included are offer a nice variety of flavors and ingredients which make each dish and meal (thus far) that we've enjoyed a small, scrumptious feast.
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Very similar to his first book, A Platter of Figs, this one continues to build upon what he started. This book is designed to help people learn to cook with intuition and to cook what is seasonal and good without too much complexity. These are not recipes that are "quick and easy" for those who have no time to cook. This is for those who have the time and what to make something incredible without having the skills of a master chef.

Tanis starts out the book with a fascinating and helpful series of kitchen "moments" that help define what makes cooking real to him. This ranges from peeling an apple to cooking fresh pasta. Read this and think about what you love about cooking and find some inspiration. The rest of the book is like the first book: a series of seasonal three-course menus. Each menu starts with a summary explaining the inspiration, then includes a starter, main course, and dessert. The starters and desserts are often quick simple and require minimal work. The main course might be a bit more complex, but never impossible. None should be too intimidating to try. There is a wide range of cuisines here and certainly many unique ingredients for you to try (and broaden your gastronomic horizons).

A great book for home cooks, and for us professional chefs who rarely ever cook at home, but when we do, we want it to be good.
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