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lamington

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  1. I'm not a great fan of Zumbo, but that certainly needn't mean the book is poor. I've flicked through it a number of times and can see the positives described above. The artificial precision is one of those disappointing signs of editorial oversight that isn't concerned enough about the user. Similarly the careless use of branded product names. Our experience in reviewing books on The Gastronomer's Bookshelf has often been that many books with great potential fail the user due to a lack of vision somewhere in the authorship-editorial-design chain. Cookbook publishing is still mostly about getting books out that will sell... the cook/reader gets to gnash their teeth after purchase.
  2. To be honest, I think you'd be better expending time/energy on something else. There was nothing enlightening in the show regarding macaron making OR about creating these novel flavours (beyond using a small blob of pig's blood jelly ganache for one, and infusing milk in some way with chopped up hamburgers, then incorporating that into a white chocolate ganache). No recipes, no technique other than titillating visuals.
  3. I'd have described it more as a promotional vehicle than a documentary. The money people will pay for macarons is phenomenal (I find it harder to spend in $$ than €€ cos I can see how much I'm really spending;) )
  4. The price of books is in no small part dependent on what a specific market can tolerate, and of course is lessened or worsened for other customers depending on the exchange rate. Small print runs cost more per book, and in the case of professional or vanity works, often have high production values which pushes up the cost even further. The US market doesn't seem to tolerate particularly high prices for consumer oriented books, whereas there does seem to be more latitude in some European countries (Gräfe and Unzer published some very expensive books by Christian Teubner; my copy of Le Ricette Regionali Italiane cost EUR40 about five years ago; Planet Marx: EUR130; some books by Alain Ducasse or Pierre Hermé; and then there are all the professional books from publishers Montagud or Matthaes). It is true that some of these books do not have parallels in terms of scope or quality in the English speaking markets, but others are just priced to the audience. From my local book market (Australia), it is interesting to observe that the pain threshold (from publishers' perspective) is about AUD 125 for a big-name bible-cum-cookbook (Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer); that's equivalent to anywhere between USD65 and USD112, depending on exchange rates in the last year or so. Even at the lowest price in USD, that makes the big Australian productions unusually expensive compared to the US, and also to the UK, where cookery books have a pain limit of about GBP35 most of the time. The second-tier threshold in Australia of AUD80 or so corresponds better to the USD50/GBP35 zone. @OliverB: I'm sorry to say, but to complain about the elBulli books lacking recipes on paper is perhaps to misunderstand the point of the books and the design intentions of the authors. These aren't recipe books. They're guides, philosophies, stimuli, anthologies and vanity works rolled into one.
  5. I've had the book for a while and reviewed it. The recipes seem fine and I've made some tasty dishes from it, but I don't think that Leite should get to do a very subjective "new" Portuguese without some criticism. A book that takes you on a (mapless!) tour of regional cookery, yet tweaks, reworks or loosely extrapolates can yield good food, but doesn't necessarily do much for the reader's understanding of principles and origins in my opinion.
  6. Ce'nedra, you're getting hung up on labels rather than just looking at constituents. The fat content is the primary guide to thickness. And there you have it. (The small amount of gelatine added to Aus "thickened cream" has a relatively minor effect on thickness, so can be largely ignored.) Labels like pure and double are of little help beyond indicating that they are relatively high fat content relative to our standard thickened cream which is suitable for whipping. Just look at the fat content.
  7. I just remembered the thin, "Quick and Easy" or "Quick'n'easy" books for Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and others. They're very pictorial (including ingredients) and might be good as an introduction. Many people overlook these softcover books because of the title, but in fact they're well worth a look.
  8. I'm going to chime in here to agree that the format of the book is problematic in my opinion. I was excited about the book, but on seeing it, I was immediately disappointed at the coffee-table format and the too-numerous photos. While I would expect the recipes to be of Thompson's usual calibre, it seems odd to have packaged it in a kitchen-unfriendly form with so many street images, rather than focusing clearly on the food.
  9. I'm very much a curled-up-on-the-sofa cookbook reader... but it usually takes me weeks after I've got the book to actually open it. My loungeroom is littered with piles of books, some not-yet-read, some often read, most with bits of paper (strips of receipts!) or bookmarks poking out where I've noticed a recipe. Chaos.
  10. It's quite some time since I started this thread and at last I'm coming back to tell people that the feature article I was putting together about the editions of the Larousse Gastronomique, both French and English, has now been published on The Gastronomer's Bookshelf. I'd like the article to be a work-in-progress, adding interesting facts and quirks as time goes by. I hope you enjoy it.
  11. Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook is a very good, large sample of a wide range of cuisines (from the usual suspects through to Burma and Laos). She has good explanations of pantry staples, typical flavours, and the recipes are fairly well explained. The book is a little old-fashioned in its approach and certainly in its visual style, but it's a worthy starting point for a very wide range of cuisines.
  12. Following from Dave Hatfield's comment, I'd agree that Gary Rhode's New British Classics was a very interesting book. I've never really "got" Delia, but there's no denying her immense popularity. Strongly agree with Blether about the problematic aspects of Amazon as a recommendation service. It can surprise you with things occasionally, but because general-population buying patterns don't necessarily translate into niche-area wisdom (because of expense, markets, distribution, availability, ...) it can be hard to find the most suitable things for you. The additional problems of fickle reviewing (one star because it took a week to arrive, five stars because the book's pretty) and some authors crowd-sourcing reviews on Twitter or their blogs mean that it's not always easy to work out the merits of a book. In part that's why I started The Gastronomer's Bookshelf with jumanggy, in the hope of having (hopefully) helpful and reliable reviewers and reviews independent of a commercial space.
  13. I sort of find the initial question of this thread a bit odd (though no disrespect to Chris). I mean, how long is a piece of string? There are decades of intellectually, culinarily, technically and/or visually stunning books that might be mentioned. An eclectic list might include: The Constance Spry Cookery Book, French by Damien Pignolet, numerous Elizabeth David titles, the new Kitchen Garden Companion by Stephanie Alexander, various Nigel Slater titles, Cheese Slices by Will Studd, Desserts by Christine Manfield, The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon, The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas, Food in England by Dorothy Hartley, some books by Claudia Roden, Elisabeth Luard, Robin Howe, Diana Henry, Keith Floyd, ...
  14. I've been to Chat Thai once for a quick dinner. I was travelling through Sydney and didn't have time to get caught in the queues to eat there, so went at about 4.30pm and had the most delicious early dinner. Interesting menu.
  15. I found the book very useful in understanding some techniques better, and in understanding the process of preparing complex dishes in stages, how to time elements, etc. The book stimulates with some techniques/components which might not have been familiar to readers eight years ago, such as powdered fennel and mushroom, chocolate oil, licorice foams, savoury ice creams. That said, Campbell isn't trying to wow the reader with excessive modernity, so to speak (ie, it's not all bells and whistles). I find this book easier to read/use and more to-the-point than, say, The French Laundry. The title of the book is perhaps the least good aspect of it -- "formulas for flavours": the book is actually about the idea of producing great tasting restaurant-level dishes using appropriate techniques and plating, rather than analysing flavours as per, say, The Flavor Bible (Page/Dornenburg) or The Elements of Taste (Kunz). If you're already competent in serious technique, then whether this book suits you would be very much a matter of taste.
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