My Thoughts: Part cookbook, part travel book, Avec Eric was featured on the NPR show The Splendid Table in November. Each chapter features a different locale and a menu inspired by that place. The photos are amazing and the recipes look delicious. But my favorite aspect of this book was the adventure that Eric Ripert took in each location and then shared in words and pictures – a wild boar hunt in Italy, gathering honey from beehives in Sonoma County, California.
My favorite chapters were the ones that visited locations that are on my list of places to travel someday. Love Apple Farm (featured in Chapter 2 with the California restaurant that it serves, Manresa) offers classes and workshops that I considered taking when I was first reading blogs about kitchen gardens. Snorkeling off Grand Cayman Island is my dream vacation in paradise. Eric Ripert does that, harvesting conch that they eat for lunch – there’s a great photo of him and the boat captain at a table in about a foot and a half of water, enjoying seafood so fresh that they are eating it while still in the sea.
My favorite quote came from the chapter about Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a restaurant on a working farm in Pocantico Hills, New York. Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is a nonprofit organization with a mission for promoting community-based food systems. The quote I picked is a sentiment I’ve said myself, but he wrote it better:
The act of growing your own food and eventually cooking and eating it is the best way to connect with the earth and the food itself; it takes the experience beyond just feeding yourself. While some people have room for a backyard garden, some only have room for a small planter on a window-sill. Even if all you have is one pot of herbs, just using a pinch from a plant that you have taken care of changes the way you feel about the food you cook—it adds a layer of pride and connection with nature. (p. 239)
Following that quote is a quick set of instructions for growing a container of herbs, a practice I can recommend from experience. The benefit is spiritual as well as physical.
I marked three recipes to try, using ingredients from my garden and CSA box next year:
Arugula salad with baby turnips, pine nuts, and orange (p. 24)
Roasted carrots with baby pea shoots and curry vinaigrette (p. 55)
Roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic, rosemary, and thyme (p. 186)
To whom will this appeal?: Cooks who appreciate local ingredients and enjoy travel.
Challenges: Another book that would work for a couple of challenges (in this case the What’s In a Name Challenge for a book with travel or movement in the title and the Foodies Reading Challenge), but I read it in 2010. This post does, however, meet the criteria for the weekly Weekend Cooking meme hosted at Beth Fish Reads. Visit today’s post for a lovely review of a movie that also delighted me, The Waitress, and to click on the links to other Weekend Cooking posts.