Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

anyone got the new michel bras book yet?


Jon Tseng
 Share

Recommended Posts

I haven't seen it, but I've been asked to pick up a copy for someone when I'm in France. Is it a bilignual edition, or just an English edition?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jon-I have a copy that I bought two weeks ago. It is quite well done and seems a fairly exhaustive collection of his recent recipes. The layout is exceptional with every dish taking up two pages with one whole page being a color photograph of the dish. Ambitious for an American publisher. Now will this book be translated into French to be released there? That phenomenon would signal the beginning of major changes in the high end book publishing business.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve et al--is this the Ici La Press version everyone is talking about?

Here's a link to a Houston Chronicle article that might be relevant:

http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/food/demers/976676

In it, the writer says "Ici La Press doesn't merely reprint European food books -- or even just translate them into English. The editors transform every aspect of each book "into American," especially those pesky metric measurements that still haven't become the rule here and the absurd European tendency to assume we've all mastered a host of techniques."

So with respect to the new Bras--does it seem written for the American home audience?  are weights in ounces vs. grams or are measurements in--he gasped--volume?

Steve--where'd you buy your copy?  Is it possible that the Bras book, published by an American company, in English, with American measurement, was made available for sale in France before the US?

It seems Amazon.com has not started shipping it for the "bargain" price of $35.

Also--anyone--have you seen the Ici La Press re-issue of the Michel Bras notebook on desserts, previously available only in French?  This would be very significant were it to be in English--and not dumbed down to volume.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve-Let's see. The price inside the front cover is $50 which is what I paid for it at Kitchen Arts & Letters. They had it in stock when I was there yesterday. Ici la Press owns the English translation rights but the copyright notice reads

2002 by Editions de Rouerge (France)

So I guess my prior post about it being translated back into French was wrong. I was looking for a notice that said "reprinted" and there isn't any. But maybe the notices read this way because it hasn't been printed in France yet? I'm not sure. I haven't read every page of it but there is no immediate indication that this has been updated from a prior version. Unless, the Rouerge edition is an updated edition itself. And I can add that when I was in Paris two weeks ago, this book was not available at either Galigniani or the Virgin Megastore on the Champs-Elysee.

As to the style of the book, each recipe seems to be an exhaustive description of how to prepare the dish. More exhaustive than what I am used to seeing. And the photography in the book is spectacular. Worth the price of admission because it does a good job of capturing the essence of each dish. And the photgrapher has angled each dish in order to create an appearance of depth and a sense of what the dish would look like laid out on a plate in front of you. One of the trickiest things about cookbook photgraphy in my opinion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Steve for sharing--you've helped me tremendously.  I would suggest that any Bras book in English is easily worth $50--that's how revered among chefs and how significant he is.  One question--is it volume or weight?

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steve- 270 pages. 188 pages of recipes and since each recipe is 2 pages, and with title pages that change the type of recipe from say appetizers to main courses, it appears to be about 90 recipe. There are 16 dessert recipes. The first dessert recipe is the  "Chocolate Biscuit Coulant, Iced Doubdle Cream, Coffee and Milk Powder" which I believe is what we were discussing the other night. And I am glad to report that it is, sans farine blanch :biggrin:. Le biscuit compose par creme de riz et poudre d'almond. Formidable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unless, the Rouerge edition is an updated edition itself.
I've been told there's a new Michel Bras book in French. I am assuming Bras will have copies for sale when he opens for the season.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Steve Klc;I recently got an Englsh version [used]of the Michel Bras dessert notebook from Amazon-I haven't studied the recipes closely,but it's a nice book.Way better is,' Essential Cuisine', sold at JB Prince in English,and so far ,it's a knock out-I just picked it up today.A very inspiring book...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a fan of Michel Bras work and I've got all his books: his 2 notebooks, Essential Cuisine and the newone: Bras.  All of them are extraordinary!!!  But, the new one, with his incredible pictures of food and of l'Aubrac, his a gem.  For those who didn't had the chance to have a meal at this incredible restaurant, it's maybe the next best thing... and, for the others ( like me!!!) who had this chance, it's the best way to remind you of this unrivalled place.

Patrice Demers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a fan of Michel Bras work and I've got all his books: his 2 notebooks, Essential Cuisine and the newone: Bras.  All

Patrice -- Skortha told me that the notebooks are beautiful, with sketches drawn by Bras of dishes, etc. in some cases (instead of photographs). Are they dedicated to particular topics?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We bought a copy in French for a chef friend and had it autographed by Bras. I only had a brief glance at it before we gave it away, but it was beautiful.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One of them is only on desserts, while the other, Petits Festins, contain mixed recipes.  You can really feel Bras spirit throught these books.  The recipes in Petits Festins are more accessible for everybody.

Patrice Demers

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't all start throwing things, but I picked up an advance proof copy of this book at a sale a couple of days ago and am puzzled about the fanfare. Little Miss Muffet would like this guy - what a lot of uses for curds, foamy whey and (can I bear to write this??) milk skin. Ick.

I must admit that I do like his use of edible flowers which look pretty even in the grainy B/W prints. I am however puzzled by the peculiar use of quotation marks in his recipe names, such as in the recipe title of Roasted Sweet Onions with "Licorice Powder" and Vinaigrette au Jus or the recipe title of Caramelized Quinoa Crusts with Jam like "Papa" made... (Yoikes! Was he only a simulated Papa??)  Perhaps the quotation marks are not in the final copy?

Never mind, I suppose that not all books are meant for all readers. C'est la "vie".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So true, cookbook lady.  I thought the milk skin was the coolest parallel to a centuries old Indian cooking technique--and the strength and charm of these books lies in the fact that Bras usually gives his reasons--thoughtfully reflecting on the how and why these seemingly strange techniques came about.  Lots of writers try to get into the minds of chefs and figure out how they create--Bras has done the work for you and Ici La Press the absolute best job with these books by not screwing them up (unlike most US publishers who buy the rights to foreign titles) leaving measurements by weight intact.  I'm guessing you're referring to the Essential Cuisine, but there is even more personal expression in the Notebooks.  (The desserts selected for inclusion in Essentials are not uniformly great--there is much more to be gained baking and pastry-wise from the Notebook.)  Make the fromage blanc cream or either of the yogurt creams on p. 171 or p. 187--they're delish by themselves and certainly with the caramelized gingerbread crusts.  It could change how you view "cream" or "milk" if you are open to it.  A slight sourness as long as it is balanced is as incredible as bitterness or acidity in desserts.

Often what's in quotes is not literal--like there's no actual licorice in licorice powder, right?  It's more of an association--a sensation.  Ties to his family, his upbringing, his sense of place, his sense of fun and playfulness-- all contribute to a rationale behind the mediums that admittedly seem weird at first blush.  But then you think about it, make some of them yourself, and you see what he's getting at by talking about the different characteristics of simple ingredients--ingredients we take for granted and for years have been codified into something homogeneous--like sugars, especially less refined sugars, the different milky creams, etc.  We are coming out of an age when this uniformity in taste and performance was viewed as advantageous by the best chefs and pastry chefs as well as food scientists and happy homemakers.  If you realize where we were, it's easier to see why Bras has been so incredibly influential on other chefs.  As has been mentioned elsewhere, before foodies made the pilgrimmage to Adria and El Bulli, they were beating the door down of Bras.  They still should be as far as I'm concerned and these books, now in English and widely available, will undoubtedly prompt a renaissance of thought and appreciation.  I have no problem blowing the trumpet here at eGullet first.

Both books are most certainly for readers, too, and offer a way into the soul of Bras--and the promise of what modern cooking holds--that is indispensable, even if you never plan to cook from them.

I hope that doesn't seem like I'm coming down too hard, just that there may be more there for you than meets the eye at first blush.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hello Steve klc - how gracious you are. Not in a million years would I feel that you stating your opinion was "coming down hard on me". I am glad that you find so much in the Bras books that makes you clearly so happy and so inspired. I am delighted that there is such variety of taste out there and that there is such variety of opinion here. Egullet is truly egulletarian.

I am afraid that what meets my eye in Bras' book is beyond first blush - I have been studying it with care (as I do with all cookbooks I bring home) for three days now and wish I could love it. I find too many quirks that prevent me from losing myself in it.

I think we must agree to disagree about Bras' use of some of his quotation marks - I understand your assertion about his playfulness and whimsy, and do agree with you that the "licorice powder" example is reasonable; indeed, most of the examples in the book make sense. However, the use of "Papa" is simply painful. Is he referring to his Papa or not? Or to whose Papa is he referring? Is he referring to something made "in Papa-style" in the same way as Sauce Grandmere? (Quotation marks mine.). It might seem pedantic to dwell on this, but it is the sort of thing that irks reviewers and comes back to haunt even the best cookbook writers. Keep in mind that I am reading from an uncorrected proof (and yes, it is Essential Cuisine, not the notebooks) and cling to the notion that such peculiarities must have been smoothed out in the final text.

I would add that I would be distinctly unnerved were I to read a menu listing such things as "beurre noisette" "sandre" "lait de poule" in inverted commas. If my dish includes "beurre noisette", is it beurre noisette or isn't it? Worse, if it isn't beurre noisette, what IS it? Isn't a chef obliged to inform his diners of what they are eating?

My chief instructor at culinary school used to rap us students with his long wooden spoon if we dared to apply a classical name to an invention or variation. I agreed with him then as I agree now. Bras has a recipe in the book called Loin of Lamb with "Florentine" Onions in Saffron Bouillon. "Florentine" anything should contain at least a whisper of spinach for it to be called Florentine. There is no spinach to be seen in the recipe. I checked the recipes before and after it in the book to see if Bras was having a wee joke by putting the spinach "near" the recipe. (See? I'm getting the idea of whimsy!) No such luck. Moreover, there is no spinach in the entire book! Now, if I, as a diner, look at a menu and see Something-Something Florentine, order the dish and get no spinach, what does that say about naming conventions? Isn't that like making up street names when giving strangers directions in the street?

Irish-born dairy girl that I am, I still find no charm and daring in the use of milk skin. That you do is to your credit - you are undoubtedly a rather agreeable diner.  At least the milk skin really IS milk skin - no euphemisms here, at least.

For all that, I can see why Bras is an inspiration - the food world needs fresh ideas and he is full of those. I have rooms of cookbooks of all genres and can see that he is innovative and artistic. He puts surprising ingredients together (jus of bread, egg and vinegar, lobster with dried candy apples) and each sounds exciting and is undoubtedly delicious. I am just sorry that my advance copy has such murky B/W pics of Aubrac - I will be sure to look at the real thing in a bookshop soon. Perhaps it takes a more prettily appointed book to present successfully Bras' message?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

ckbklady, I'm afraid nothing is what it used to be. Certainly not language. It appears that all you need are three layers to make a millefeuille these days. Imagine, and all that talk about inflation.

There's more poetry than anything else in the new menus, assuming the chef has his artistic license. I was rather amused by the "brandade d'asperges" I had recently. It was, in fact, pureed asparagus with mashed potatoes, or asparagus replacing the cod. Of course it was served with fresh cod just to complete the joke, or to please those who might miss the cod.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was browsing this book today in Books For Cooks and I must say I thought the section on the restaurant looked wonderful, but I disliked the style of the food photography. I suppose I wanted the dishes contained within a plate, I couldn't quite understand how the recipes would actually work with all the elements seemingly spread across a wide flat surface. Have I misunderstood this?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I posted this in another thread in respose to a mention of the book. It probably serves better here.

I've been seeing more than a few references to Bras' book(s) and although some of the posts seem to speak of his new book, I have the impression that they refer to one of the older publications. The new book, which we bought for our son-in-law and delivered before I ever got a good look, is well described by "fantastic." I got a better look at it this weekend. It's a very beautiful publication. It ends with a section devoted to the Aubrac and it's full of small photos interspersed with text. Enlarged to full coffee table sized pages, most of these photos would be spectacular, but reduced as they are, they serve up a more fleeting and ellusive image. They are not restricted to food or even the earth, but convey the "terroir" of the Aubrac in so many thousands words each. Only in their small format, they are a poetic whisper, but that should come as no suprise--Bras' food doesn't shout either.

The photographs accompanying the recipes are stunning, but I'm not sure I, as an amateur cook, would find them inspiring or helpful in interpreting the recipes. I recall one particular photo with rectangles of raw lamb surrounded by spices, cooked garnishes and what appeared to be swirls of finished sauces such as might be on a plate for a diner, but this was all laid out in an abstract pattern on an endess white table. I had to review the recipe (this was the French edition) with my daughter to make sure the recipe called for cooking meat and that this abstract tableau was in fact very abstract. I can't begin to match my son-in-law's library, so I'm content to pass on ownership and maintain my nonmaterialistic existence.

Just from that one recipe, I would assume that the photographs are not a picture of the finished dish, but an abstraction of the dish at various points in time and space. It's poetic and with great license.

The French language edition was 45 euros at the restaurant and elsewhere in France.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Finally got my greasy mitts on the book - thirty quid on slightly random mail order from The Times (the catch is 28 working days delivery - natch).

very interesting - would be a fantastic coffee table book if not so heavy - plenty of ideas and combinations - will take some time to digest this one (still haven't quite got my head round the gary kunz book after five months - and that's only half as long). note that the book - and accompanying essays - does a better job than most at getting across the chefs overall philosophy. refreshing when many cheffy books are simply recipe compendia interspersed with "money-shots" of the end product. the french laundry book is another good one for getting across the whole philosphy thing.

three gripes i guess: i) most of the recipes lack an introduction; prefer to have a couple lines describing the "why" behind the dish, not just the "how" its done (Charlie Trotter very good for this). ii) piccys of food on plain white background suitably contemplative but makes it very hard to put things into perspective. Need plates and other gubbins to give a sense of scale eg not sure if those artfully arranged prawns are half-inch shrimp to half-foot tigers. iii) most annoyingly, the translation is slip-shod; also the recipes don't seem to have been tested from the english versions. one example sticks to mind where a meat recipe talks about taking a lemon, rubbing it with sugar cubes, at which point said lemon vanishes from the page and is never seen again... i guess people tend to use these books for inspiration rather than cooking but it is still a bit annoying (eg thomas keller managed to inspire and still provide the best how-to-do guide to foie gras have yet encountered)

cheerio

j

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A word in qualified exoneration of Books for Cooks re their elevated price for the Bras (shows a lot of brass?). When they first placed an order it had to be through a Spanish distributor whose mark-up was extortionate. Subsequent shipments will be more moderately priced.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with the cookbook lady on this one. it's a very well made book, but the food looks ridiculous--that hyper modern style where the dish is deconstructed into its components, which are arranged haphazardly, as if to convey whimsicality. to me, it looks like what you might find under the high chair after you took a not-very-well-behaved two-year-old to the restaurant. on the other hand, i also got ici-la's "vegetables" by guy martin (le grand vefour). now THAT'S food i'd like to eat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...