Thoughts on Rocco DiSpirito's book "Flavor"
Sorry for the lag in posts recently. Blogger has been giving me problems for the past few days and hasn't let me post new entries until now. So I've been here...just temporarily cut off from posting. Hopefully whatever the issue was is resolved now. On to some thoughts for today...
I recently spotted a copy of Flavor by Rocco DiSpirito with Kris Sherer at our library. This is one of those cookbooks that I'd been curious about, but it hadn't quite made it to the top of my "must buy" list. So I was thrilled to bump into it at the library to get a chance to check it out for free.
Flavor is a gorgeous book. The photographs by Henry Leutwyler are beautiful and they make each dish jump off the page. Even when I wasn't interested in a particular recipe, I'd rest a moment on that page to soak in the art of the book. Really well done photography.
After seeing DiSpirito's crazy trainwreck of a show "The Restaurant," I wasn't sure that he'd be the type to pull together a cogent, well-organized cookbook. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how user-friendly the book is and by how much general cooking knowledge DiSpirito shares upfront. He spends many pages reviewing his thoughts on seasonality of foods, quality of ingredients, cooking styles and techniques and most importantly flavor combinations. The writing is clear and interesting and I learned a few things from the first chapter about "Finding Flavor."
The recipes in the book take much more of an Asian slant than his cooking at Rocco's in New York City would lead you to believe. There's some discussion of his style being sort of a "Global Fusion" and you can see that coming through in the recipes. My favorites from his Appetizers section include the Heirloom Tomatoes with Orange Zest, the Sweet and Sour Tamarind Shrimp on Rosemary Skewers, and the Jumbo Asparagus with Oyster Mushrooms and Fresh Pecorino Cheese. In the Entrees section, I'm most drawn to his Pomegranate and Cinnamon Lacquered Duck and Szechuan Peppercorn-Rubbed Fillet of Beef. DiSpirito's Lavender Creme Brulee really intrigues me for dessert. These are just a few of the recipes that popped out for me; obviously the book features many, many more.
The dishes don't seem terribly easy to prepare, but the book is honest about cooking and prep times and the recipes appear clear.
So will I be cooking from it? To be honest, not any time soon. For a busy mom, the dishes are just a bit too tough to gather (sometimes exotic) ingredients for and prepare on a tight dinner schedule. But when I have more time to experiment and cook a bit more leisurely, I'd welcome the chance to try something from this book.
While probably not the cookbook you'll rely on every day, it's a fun read. Obviously this isn't an official cookbook review since I haven't cooked anything from the book yet, but consider it a preliminary thumbs up for Flavor.