Saturday, June 17, 2006

A nod to Well Fed (and Suzanne Goin)

I spent a good part of this absolutely stunningly gorgeously HOT day in Toronto hanging out at Indigo at the Eaton Centre. My boyfriend was off working this afternoon and evening so I took the opportunity to do one of my favourite things without him (he gets pretty bored in bookstores and cookware shops whereas I could happily while away the hours in either place). I ended up spending too much time there, as a matter of fact, causing me to be late in getting to the drycleaners to drop off some pants for him. Oh well, such is life with a cookbook addict.

I actually had popped over to The Bay first to check the prices on the Mario Batali cookware that I'd previously posted about. The 6QT pot retails for $169, the Panini Grill for $129 and the Lasagne Pan for $129 - pretty much the same prices that I'd seen at Golda's Kitchen , but then again you don't have to pay for shipping if you pick them up at The Bay. I have a whole other post about additional Batali cookware (sounds like I'm doing a commercial for them I know, but honestly I don't even have one piece of it... YET - a post for another day is how I work in marketing and branding and really find the power of a good brand irresistible - think Apple, Nike, RedBull and now Batali).

So now that I knew that getting these pans (yes, I want all three) won't break the bank I felt a bit lighter in spirit and headed straight for Indigo. I even managed to bypass the Apple Store for a change (managed by not looking directly into the glowing Apple - never look directly at it, just see it in your peripheral vision or you'll be sucked into the vortex of all that is Apple and good) and went straight to the cookbooks.

Now, I've just finished reading Julie and Julia and It Must've Been Something I Ate and I was still in the mood for food writing. Picked up a few likely candidates such as The Man Who Ate Everything (also by Jeffrey Steingarten), a few collected works on food writing from Gourmet Magazine, and this book about the Culinary Boot Camp run by the CIA (FAR too expensive for me to consider right now - I looked it up as soon as I got home... About 2 grand tuition for 5 days and that doesn't include accommodations). While they were all very interesting, I knew pretty much that I was going to go with Steingarten but then I recalled reading about Grant's success with the book Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin and went to pick it up.

There I sat in the window seat, in full public view as a tear nearly managed to escape my jaded eyes as I read each menu and experienced the perfection that each dish alone would create - and the sublime pleasure and culinary ecstasy that an entire MEAL of these dishes would create. I felt nearly sentimental as I perused the outstanding combinations of flavours, textures, ingredients and seasonality (seasonality of ingredients is what makes dining so special when its done right - and in fact, the book is organized this way) inspiring each menu.

Others have written much about how these meals would definitely take far more time than most cooks would have time for - taking into account the marketing for the ingredients, the hunting for a few special items, ensuring one has cookware up to the task but certainly not the inviting of friend round to sample, that would surely be the least onerous task involved - but the flipside is that these menus and dinners are inspired by the restaurant's Sunday menu and created by its brigade of cooks for goodness knows how many covers in one evening. From what I could tell these recipes are meant to feed 6 and are not really that difficult for the experienced and motivated cook. I, personally, would have no qualms about spending a good half day shopping for the raw ingredients and another half day in preparation for such a grand event as these meals are sure to support. Sadly, I had not enough cash on hand to purchase this lovingly written and outstandingly photographed treasure, so I placed it back on the shelf for the time being. Having said that, purchased online can save at least a third of the cover price and pretty much includes shipping so there's no real rush there.

On my way home, and even now several hours later, I am still taken with how much this book affected my sense of sharing and entertaining. I have visions of my boyfriend and I hosting dinners on Sundays for our friends that leave them sated, satisfied and substantially sloshed with equal measures of outstanding food, wine and conversation - all stemming from this lovely book.


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