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Cookbook of the day – The Harry’s Bar Cookbook

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Harry’s Bar Cookbook

by Arrigo Cipriani

  • Publisher: Bantam (October 1, 1991)
  • ISBN-10: 0553070304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553070309
  • There aren’t many dishes where you can point to an inventor. Most dishes are either old classics with creators long-forgotten or they just have sprung up without attribution. Probably the most famous dish attributed to a single person is the Caesar salad, a salad invented by Caesar Cardini in Tijuana Mexico in the 20s and there’s even a little dispute about that. 

     What’s beyond dispute is the fact that carpaccio, the famous thinly sliced beef (or other meats for that matter), was invented in 1950 by the owner of Harry’s Bar in Venice, Giuseppe Cipriani. The Contessa Amalia Nani Mocenigo had been forbidden to eat cooked meat by her doctor and, voila! the carpaccio was born. Cipriani named it after one of his favorite painters, Vittore Carpaccio, the Venetian Renaissance painter who used bright reds and whites in his paintings.

    This is the actual Harry’s Bar carpaccio, courtesy of famed food writer John Mariano at www.johnmariano.com :

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    Notice that it’s not all gussied up with superfluous greens, scattered with capers or any such excess. That’s the original.

    And you can read all about it in this wonderful cookbook,  The Harry’s Bar Cookbook, written by the son of Giuseppe, Arrigo Cipriani (Arrigo is Italian for Harry).  The history of the restaurant is lovingly told by Arrigo, who relates the story of how Harry’s Bar came to be. It was named for an American, Harry Pickering, who was the beneficiary of kindness from Giuseppe, who at the time was a barman at the Hotel Europa in Venice. I won’t spoil the story, except to say that it’s a tale worthy of F. Scott Fitzgerald. You’ll have to pick up the book to read about it.

    Harry’s Bar has always been a hangout for the wealthy and famous of the world, from Ernest Hemingway to the Onassises, globe trotters and royalty, decadent expatriots and famous movie stars like Richard Burton have found their way to the modest bar for the glories of great Italian ingredients simply and freshly prepared, and they are prepared to pay a premium price for it. The place oozes history, and you’re along for the ride with this cookbook.

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    Winner of the Julia child 1st Cookbook Award and The James Beard Award, you’ll find this book a treasure of family pride and tales of the upper crust. And let’s not forget that it’s Harry’s Bar, not Harry’s Restaurant, a point that Cipriani makes as he tells you how to make the perfect Bellini, the peach cocktail that he claims his father invented in the 30s. So Giuseppe is responsible to not one but two well-known culinary items. Amazing.

    Anyway, you’ll find all of the recipes to make you feel like you’re overlooking the canals of Venice and you’ll get the famous carpaccio sauce recipe as well.

    The Harry’s Bar Cookbook – as classic a cookbook as Harry’s Bar itself is. 

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    The Dream of St. Ursula – Vittorio Carpaccio (1495)

    Cookbook of the day – How To Grill

    How To Grill

    How to Grill: The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques

    by Steven Raichlen

     

  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; illustrated edition edition (May 1, 2001)
  • ISBN-10: 0761120149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761120148
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    Perhaps you’ve seen Steven Raichlen on his show Primal Grill. If you liked it, you’ll love this book. Lavishly photographed, with step-by-step photographs, you’ll learn by watching, almost as if he were over your shoulder. You’ll learn how to barbeque a whole pig, how to build different types of fires, how to judge the temperature of the grill using the hand technique (no, you don’t rest your hand on the grill!).  He covers pulled pork (one of my specialties), and does a reasonable job of covering the world’s different grilling techniques, from jerk to churrasco to yakitori. Even experienced grillmeisters can benefit from this colorful book. This isn’t an “artsy” book – the photographs are instructional in nature, not evocative, although there are some shots of grilled meats and veggies that are likely to get your pulse racing.

    It seems appropriate on July 1st to recommend that everyone pick up this book before their 4th of July festivities. You might find something “out-of-the-box” with which to dazzle your guests.

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    Cookbook of the day – Splendid Soups

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    Splendid Soups: Recipes and Master Techniques for Making the World’s Best Soups

    by James Peterson

    Publisher: Wiley (September 22, 2000)
    ISBN-10: 0471391360
    ISBN-13: 978-0471391364
     
    Once again, I don’t have the most current edition of this book. I have the 1994 edition, which clocks in at 100 less pages than this new edition. Mine has a different cover as well:

     

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    I’m assuming that Peterson has added some modern variants of classic soups, as he has presumably done with the updated edition of his Sauces book that I reviewed yesterday. This could be considered a companion edition to Sauces, but even this earlier edition has a wider scope than Sauces, with non-Western ingredients such as bonito flakes, Udon noodles, miso, and various soups from the Far East and other places included in this edition. You’ll find soups from India, Japan, Morocco, Thailand and other far-flung corners of the globe.

    This is another of Peterson’s “reference” works. As such, you won’t find a single photograph. It’s all recipes, tips and techniques. Some recipes are for intermediate or advanced cooks, but even the beginning cook can find a lot of practical advice on soup-making that will help them move past the basic into the more advanced levels of cooking.

    If you have Peterson’s Sauces, this should sit next to it on your bookshelf.

    Cookbook of the day – Sauces by James Peterson

    Sauces

    Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making

    By James Peterson

  • Publisher: Wiley; 2nd edition (January 27, 1998)
  • ISBN-10: 0471292753
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471292753
  • Caveat – I have the original 1991 edition, which has a different cover and is about 100 pages shorter. It’s the edition that won the James Beard Award for Cookbook of the Year.

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    This is the book if you want all of the lowdown on classical sauces. If you ever wondered what the difference between a sauce and a glace is, this is the book for you. The first chapter is a history of sauces, the second, a compendium of equipment that you might need, the third a listing of ingredients. After that, he breaks down the various sauces and expands them to their variants as well. There are more sauces in classical cooking than you ever thought possible, many with French-derived names. And they are all listed in categories according to the basic recipe from which they spring. This book concentrates on classical sauces and there are essential tips scattered throughout, tips that will allow you to create sauces equal to those in the finest restaurants.

    I haven’t paged throught the more current addition pictured above, but I would hope that he’s extended his overview to Asian and other “non-western classical” offerings, as well as some of the new sauces based on more exotic ingredients.

    This is one of those “foundation books” that every serious cook should have in their cooking library. I’ll be reviewing his equally important book “Splendid Soups” in a future post. The books are a little dry, but they are intended to be reference works, not entertainment.

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    Cookbook of the day – Sauternes

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    Sauternes

    by Bernard Ginestet

    Publisher:Jacques Legrand S.A. Paris ©1990

    ISBN-  0-582-07544-0

    ISBN- 2-905969-39-3

    This is a book that you might have to dig for. It’s a mostly European-distributed book from the series Bernard Ginestet’s Guide to the Vineyards of France. It was translated by John Meredith and has a foreword by Nicholas Faith, who points out that, Unfortunately, the French edition went to press before Bernard could discuss the biggest single revolution in the history of the great sweet wines of the bands of the Ciron: the way in which the technique of cryo-extraction has swept the vineyard, even such vineyards as Chateau d’Yquem, in the past few years.

    Other than that topic, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better discussion of the wine history of the region as well as a rundown of the chateaux of Sauternes, down to a discussion of the soil composition . Most get at least a cursory examination, some very extensive discussions, and at the very least, a listing of the various statistics and whether or not they allow visits.

    There’s a great map of the region, color-coded according to soil type. The photo on the cover shows a typical bunch of grapes which clearly shows the contrast between “healthy” grapes and the raisinesque botytris-attacked “raisins”. There is a comprehensive discussion about botrytis and Ginestet would seem to hope that the popular term “noble rot” disappear from the lexicon. In fact, he points out that this isn’t what we normally would call “rot”, as it doesn’t attack dead tissue but living, healthy grapes. The grapes end up getting picked in two different categories of decrepitude, shrivelled and dessicated. This necessitates constant pickings, and the price of the product is a reflection of this reality.

    You get a detailed report on the meteorology of the region as you would expect from a book covering a French region, as dependent on terroir as they are.

    The language is what you expect from translated French, lugubrious and academic. It achieves this without becoming treacly or haughty. There are copious photographs, which give you a sense of the culture of the region. There are even 5 “savory dishes” recipes from regional chefs in French; recipes that utilize Sauternes in the dish.

    I don’t recommend this book for people only getting into wine. This is for the intermediate wine enthusiast or better. It’s not that it’s above the head of a beginner, it just goes into more detail about a small but significant region of French wine, a region that the beginner might not even encounter, as most restaurants don’t even offer a Sauternes on their wine list. Additionally, it’s not a common book and might be difficult to find at a decent price (I was lucky enough to find mine for $3.00 – would I have piad $20 for it? Probably not, although for a wine expert it would be worth the price).

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    A World of Curries redux

    I reviewed a book called The World of Curries the other day by DeWitt and Pais. Well, Dave DeWitt  wrote:

    “Thanks for the plug on my out-of-print book! Your readers might like to know that an abridged version exists on my Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite. Also called “A World of Curries,” there are a lot more illustrations, including food shots. See? I figured out what to do with out-of-print books–recycle, recycle”!

    So, let’s give you the link (and you can bet that it’s going to be put in my Foodie blogroll as well).

    http://www.fiery-foods.com/

    Some might remember his Chile Pepper Magazine from over a decade ago. He also still has several books in print, one of which, The Whole Chile Book is in my queue for review. He is one of the pioneers of writing about “fiery foods”, having done it way back in the 70s.

    So, go forth and patronize his web site. You’ll find scads of info on peppers, curries, BBQs – heck, virtually anything that falls in the “heat” category.

    And this is a good time to remind you why I write about cookbooks on a waiter’s site. The more you know about food, flavor profiles and esoteric knowledge about various cuisines and food styles, the better prepared you will be to serve the guest. I hope that the food books that I recommend get you interested in picking some of them up to expand your food knowledge. Plus, maybe it will make your kitchen one that friends, neighbors and family come to know as the most interesting place to catch a bite to eat outside of a restaurant.

    Just so you know, I only review books that are in my collection. I don’t crib from other sources or speculate about books that  I’m sure are great books until I have them in my hot, sweaty hands (although I use stock photos in most cases). In fact, when I write these short promos (I consider them as much promo as review because I want you to seek them out), I always have them in my hand for reference. Oh yeah, as DeWitt points out, some, if not many of these books are out of print. Virtually all of them can be had either used or NOS (New Old Stock) at sites like eBay, Amazon, or the many websites that specialize in used books. You can find them in your local used bookstores as well.  When an author has taken the time to move information from an out-of-print book to a commercial website, I vigorously recommend patronizing their websites because they obviously get no income from an out-of-print book.

    As far as DeWitt and Pais’ book goes, despite the fact that he’s moved a lot of this information over to virtual form, I highly recommend you get a copy of the book. Just make sure that you go to his website early and often. And hell, buy stuff there.

    Finally, if you want to browse through the books that I’ve highlighted, just type in cookbook in the search box and you’ll get all of them back to back. But you knew that, didn’t you?

    Dave DeWitt

    Dave DeWitt

    Cookbook of the day – The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook

    boston cooking school

    The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook

    by Fannie Merritt Farmer

  • Publisher: Gramercy (September 16, 1997) (originally published 1897) (pictured edition 1946, Little, Brown and Co. Boston)
  • ISBN-10: 0517186780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517186787
  • This book has more editions and variants than Boston has beans. Copies have been passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter for years. And for good reason. It’s a damn good cookbook.

    Yes, it’s dated. Yes, it’s old-fashioned. No, you won’t find a lot of modern tools and techniques listed, at least if you get an older edition. And yes, there are millions of them still around because it’s been used by millions of households. It’s the book that the other perennial favorite, The Joy of Cooking is found right next to on your great aunt’s countertop. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a hold of a copy that has decades-old notes of family heirloom recipes scribbled in the margins. Or, you’ll get a shade less lucky and find a virtually new copy of an old edition for $1.50, as I did last week at my local used bookstore. Mine is the exact edition you see pictured above, the 1946 Eighth Edition by Little, Brown and Co. Boston. As of that date, I counted 62 reprintings. Each is listed along with the actual printing figures for each reprinting for a total of 2, 531,000 copies. As of 1946!

    It’s possible that it’s the most reprinted cookbook in history. It’s been revised umpteen times, the latest by acclaimed food writer, Marion Cunningham. Many people only know it as The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. You can even get a reprint of the original 1896 edition. And, even this 1896 edition was a reworking of the original Boston Cooking-School Cookbook by Mrs. D. A. Lincoln from 1884, which was also reprinted from the original and available from dover books until fairly recently.

    I can’t speak to the current edition. I’m sure that it’s been considerably modernised. But if you’re lucky to find an earlier edition, you’ll be transported back to a time where butter ruled, food was hardy and life-sustaining and ladies wore big hats to formal picnics.

    And you’ll find many classic dishes that still find favor in these hectic modern times. You’ll find comfort foods like Swiss steak, breaded veal cutlets,  and giblet gravy. You’ll find Grandmother’s Pound Cake, with its simple ingredients list: 1 cup sugar, 1 2/3 cup sugar, 2 eggs and 2 cups flour. You’ll find canning charts and your grandmother’s step by step canning procedure.

    It’s quaint and useful at the same time and it’s a solid link to the history of American cuisine. A must have.

    And now I have it.

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    Cookbook of the Day – Jeremiah Tower Cooks

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    Jeremiah Tower Cooks

    by Jeremiah Tower

  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; First Edition edition (October 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584792302
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584792307
  • After there was Julia Child, Paul Bocuse, Pierre Franey and Jacques Pepin and before Thomas Keller, Paul Prudhomme and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, there was Alice Waters and her chef Jeremiah Tower. Her restaurant Chez Panisse was legendary in the Bay Area and became famous nationwide through the Chez Panisse Cookbookand other writings. The restaurant, which opened in 1971, is credited with creating “California Cuisine” and Tower is considered its Godfather. He is the creator of the “gourmet pizza”, a concept later taken to massive heights by Wolfgang Puck and others. Even though Waters’ and Tower split less than amicably and the two have traded barbs in print and through the press, I suspect that Ms. Waters has more respect (if not affection) for her old head chef than she’s willing to admit (and vice versa).

    Tower became one of the earliest “celebrity chefs” in America (transplants like Child, Graham Kerr, Bocuse, Pepin and Franey notwithstanding). He did it without having a cooking show or a raft of popular cookbooks but did it though is association with Waters and his subsequent restaurants Sana Fe Bar and Grill and his most famous joint, Stars. He was (and is) legend in the culinary world and this cookbook will show you why.

    If you’ve read any of my cookbook reviews, you’ll know that I treasure a cookbook that opens the door to a chef’s inner workings. The best cookbooks written by chefs are more than just the sum of recipes, but almost manifestos of their cooking philosophy and the passing of house secrets that can transform the readers’ own culinary efforts. And this book has it in spades.

    A book that has the outer appearance of an artsy-fartsy coffee-table book, you’ll find the insides almost utilitarian, with sparse illustrations and a matter-of-fact look and feel. It starts with Chapter One, ” Delights and Prejudices”, with the admonition that errors and improvisations are allowed (his individual gourmet pizza was the result of a happy accident). He runs the gamut of a glossary of cooking terms and phrases and a concise list of techniques that are used through the book. And his description of “salt and pepper to taste” is very blunt – that’s exactly what he means.

    His 250 recipes are fresh, healthy and mouthwatering, just what you’d expect from the best California cuisine.

    As we are on the cusp of summer, I can’t recommend this book more highly, nor is any other cookbook more appropriate to this time of year. You’ll learn many quick tips and insights about combining food in palate-pleasing combinations. You’ll discover that great food doesn’t have to involve jumping through hoops.

    But let’s let croc-wearing Mario Batali have the final word:

    Jeremiah Tower became my instant hero the first time I set foot in Stars, three days after it opened. To this day I consder him my ultimate mentor, and his voice, style, and opinions the arbiters of taste and truth in the restaurant world. The recipes and words within this book are timeless classics, as is Jeremiah himself. I love this guy. 

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    Cookbook of the day – The Joy of Japanese Cooking

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    The Joy of Japanese cooking

    by Kuwako Takahashi

  • Publisher:Shufu No Tomo-Sha (September 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4079751508
  • ISBN-13: 978-4079751506
  • This is one of those standard reference works that non-native Japanese cooks should own. For such a compact volume, there’s an amazing amount of information – from nice photos and line drawings of various ingredients to various cuts employed in Japanese cooking.

    The book  does have some flaws according to at least one person in Tokyo, a couple of which are a rather inaccurate English translation at times and the lack of  a Japanese name index. Also, they point out that there are sometimes inconsistencies in measurements. Both metric and non-metric measurements are given, but sometimes you only get one or the other. The last drawback that this reviewer points out is the use of the occasional “non-authentic” ingredients in certain dishes. I don’t find the measurement issue of much consequence. Most of the time, it’s something pretty trivial like using cups instead of ml for liquid measurements or teaspoons and tablespoons, but weights are usually given in both standards. Obviously, the authenticity and translation is something that I can’t judge. I realize that calling dishes “casseroles” might startle a Japanese speaker familiar with English (I have a hard time myself using the word casserole with any Japanese dish), but I suspect that it’s not that big of a deal in the long run. There are some Japanese dishes that would be hard to name in an English context. I think that you basically just to have some common sense about it. 

    Having noted these reservations, I still heartily recommend this book for anyone interested in exploring Japanese cuisine. The section on sushi is helpful and the last section is devoted to “menu planning” with some timetables for assembling a large meal.  I think the best part of this book is the detailed cutting techniques that the Japanese use to prepare their food. The line drawings and instructions are clear and concise. And the book is fairly compact and easy to use in the kitchen. Many books that try to cover a cuisine that has a lot of unusual ingredients and techniques ends up being the size of a refrigerator. Not this book. There’s a lot of value packed in a small space.

    This is the cover for the paperback:

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    If you can get the hardcover, I’d recommend it. It’s got a good feel to it. I think that both editions might be out-of-print, but Amazon has lots of NOS and used copies from their associated vendors.

    Cookbook of the day – The French Laundry Cookbook

    9781579651268

    The French Laundry Cookbook

    by Thomas Keller

    Publisher: Artisan

    ISBN-10: 1579651267

    ISBN-13: 978-1579651268

    So, you say you’ve got a $50 bill burning a hole in your pocket? Want to know how The French Laundry is able to get away with charging people $135 each for a prix fixe menu? Wonder why you have to make a reservation two months to the day from your desired dining day? Wonder what the fuss is all about? 

    Well, wonder no more. Currently, you can pick this $50 book for as little as $30 if you look around.

    If you pull the trigger, you’ll find a substantial, well-crafted book that’s just as home on a fancy coffee-table as it is on your kitchen bookshelf.  This is a large format book, so it’s not particularly convenient on your counter-top.

    When you get this book, you’ll find the very recipes for many of the dishes that Chef Keller and his associates put out on a nightly basis. Even more importantly, you’ll uncover his philosophy of cooking sophistication, attention to detail and the use of the freshest products. Even though he’s a serious technician,  he clearly lays out the techniques that you’ll find essential if you want to reproduce his famous dishes. This is as much a “how-to” as it is a recipe book. These techniques are often elaborate and time-consuming but well within the skills of a home chef. An example is his insistence that all sauces and stocks are strained and skimmed as often as necessary to get a pure product. This is what he says about the subject: “When in doubt, strain. Not a single liquid or purée moves from one place to another in the restaurant except through some sort of strainer. And you must always be skimming – skim, skim, skim”. 

    All of the recipes are based on single portions as they would be served from the prix fixe menu in the restaurant. You are advised that you can double them for larger portions.

    I can’t say enough about the look and feel of the book. It’s definitely art gallery quality. This is a cookbook that you will be proud to own, even at the listed retail price.

    In the tradition of Julie and Julia, Carol Blymire has cooked her way through every recipe in this cookbook. You can follow her culinary adventures at her blog:

    http://carolcookskeller.blogspot.com/

    Stay tuned for my recommendation of his companion volume, Bouchon.

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