Atala, Alex. D.O.M.: Rediscovering Brazilian Ingredients. Phaidon. 2013. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9780714865744. $49.95. COOKING
Atala, named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2013 and owner and chef of Brazil’s renowned restaurant D.O.M, has written a meditation on Brazilian ingredients. With more than 165 photos and 65 recipes, this beautifully presented and packaged book would almost be more comfortable on a coffee table than in the kitchen. Throughout his career, Atala has devoted himself to the history of unique Brazilian ingredients and the path that foods take from grower to restaurant plate. His enthusiasm for Brazil’s biodiversity and the creation of a national cuisine is evident in his choice of ingredients and the tone of his essays. In each chapter, Atala covers an ingredient and includes an essay on its history and lore, incorporating relevant personal stories. Addressing foods that range from the familiar (lamb, pumpkin, okra, and squid) to the more obscure (mangarito, cariru, and tucupi), he has painted a portrait of Brazilian cuisine—where it has been and where he would like to see it go. VERDICT While this is a gorgeous debut cookbook from one of the world’s most acclaimed chefs, its usefulness for the amateur cook is limited. Professional chefs and those interested in Brazilian culture will enjoy this work.
Patterson, Daniel. Coi: Stories and Recipes. Phaidon. Oct. 2013. 304p. photos. index. ISBN 9780714865904. $49.95. COOKING
Chef and restaurateur Patterson presents a variety of well-crafted stories along with some complicated recipes that use simple, fresh, and inventive ingredients. Patterson has been involved with the California food scene since 1989, when he moved to San Francisco. Although it took him years to find a connection to his adoptive state, he ultimately embraced his spouse’s familial connection to the land. Patterson opened his restaurant Coi and blended the warmth of home cooking with modern cuisine. Readers will be grateful for the equipment list in the “Coi Kitchen” section, as many items, such as a Cryovac, may be unfamiliar. The recipes themselves at first appear incredibly simple, such as the poached and grilled lamb; however, readers will soon realize that these dishes actually require great passion and effort. The ingredients are simple, the development of the recipes is intense, and the gorgeous images depict folksy, down-to-earth-looking dishes. VERDICT There is nothing pretentious about this book; the photographs will ease your eyes, while the text will take your wanderlust straight to the kitchen.