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In Search of Perfection Hardcover – November 2, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chef Heston Blumenthal has been described as a culinary alchemist for his innovative style of cuisine. His work researches the molecular compounds of dishes so as to enable a greater understanding of taste and flavour. His restaurant The Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, was awarded three Michelin stars in 2004, and voted the Best Restaurant in the World by an international panel of 500 culinary experts in Restaurant Magazine's The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2005 awards. He also owns the Hinds Head Hotel, a village pub in Bray. Heston Blumenthal lives in Berkshire with his wife and three children.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (November 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408849429
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408849422
  • ASIN: 0747584095
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #269,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`In Search of Perfection' by leading English chef, Heston Blumenthal is the kind of book you would actually expect from the American `version' of the same idea, `Tyler's Ultimate' by Tyler Florence. Like Florence's effort, Blumenthal's book is also the spin-off from a TV show done in eight episodes by the BBC instead of by Florence's Food Network. Where Florence' show is based on dropping in on two notable cooks who demonstrate their speciality, then does an `ultimate' version of his own, which may or may not include any of the ideas from the travelogue portion of the show. I can't get too down on Tyler's realization of this concept, because his show introduced me to a lot of very interesting classic dishes such as Tarte Tatin and Tortilla Espagnole. But his show is more about novelty than it is about truly great cooking. Blumenthal actually accomplishes the quests for ultimate dishes that Tyler merely dances around.

Even better, Blumenthal does not take the `Cooks Illustrated' route to excellence. And, the difference between his dishes and the same dish by `Cooks Illustrated' is a great lesson in how different OBJECTIVES can lead to far different realizations of excellence! While a major `Cooks Illustrated' objective is ease of accomplishing the dish, Blumenthal never once places simplicity before great taste. I suspect he may have avoided using highly specialized equipment or rare ingredients, but he never compromises when it comes to the time required to do the preparation. And, this is not a point of view he adopted just for this show. As a self-taught cook, he, like Julia Child, spent many years deconstructing French recipes and cuisine so he really knew how it worked.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yep, it's Alton Brown on steroids.

I am a big fan of Alton Brown, and now I have found an even greater hero: Heston!

Just one thing though - he scares the living daylights out of me - if he weren't in a kitchen the only safe place for him is a padded lockdown.

I've made about two of the recipes so far, and I am looking forward to doing more. I have already ordered Further Adventures in Search of Perfection and pre-ordered his (very expensive) The Big Fat Duck Cookbook.

On his Fish and Chips:
Alas, no turbot on the US West Coast. Maybe no-one understands me because I use the English pronunciation (like fillet) - pronouncing both t's, unlike the American/French with a silent 2nd t.

I used halibut - love halibut.
His batter method is unnecessarily long-winded. I used a 5lb CO2 bottle with a special adapter for a standard plastic soda bottle instead of a soda siphon, With this exception completed his recipe and found where the book's true value is:

It didn't work for me, but it allowed me to see where to improve my beer batter recipe that I have used for years.
I now use 2/3 beer, 1/3 vodka, (plus a large splash of lemon juice and paprika).

And now I make very small batter batches, don't wait for the every last lump to disappear, batter immediately, and straight in the fryer - all as fast as possible. It is a tangible improvement - thanks Heston!

His chips (french fries) again has what to my unrefined palette is an unnecessary step - the initial boil.
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Format: Hardcover
I distinguish between two categories of cookbooks. Primarily I turn to "what to make for dinner" cookbooks for inspiration and instruction, as I expect you do; that forms the large part of my 300+ cookbook library. (I do try to cull it, honest I do.) But I also can appreciate cookbooks that I know I likely will never cook from. I might fantasize about making a death-by-chocolate sort of dessert, but realistically I recognize it's unlikely to happen. And that's perfectly okay, because I enjoy learning food techniques and history... or at least looking at pretty pictures. There is no better example than this book. I'm in love with it, and am reading every word cover-to-cover.

After catching a few of Heston Blumenthal's episodes from the UK TV show In Search of Perfection, I ran out to find the accompanying book. Blumenthal's premise isn't that there is only one right way to make a dish, but this rather his attempt to re-examine the roots of dishes that everyone in Britain knows and (when done right) loves. There are actually very few recipes in the book -- just 8 meals. All of them are familiar, most even to American readers: roast chicken and roast potatoes; pizza; steak; spaghetti Bolognese; fish and chips; bangers and mash; Black Forest Gateau; treacle tart and ice cream.

But you won't mind the limited recipe list a bit, because each "dish" is really an in-depth discussion of the chemistry, social history, provenance, and travelogue about the ingredients. The roast chicken chapter, for instance, has several pages on "the cult of the chicken" including a trip to the source of the best: French Bresse chickens. He interviews someone who raises the chickens, explains the peculiar ecology that makes it unique (such as the lack of chalk in the soil), and shares plenty of details.
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