Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fig Leaves

"A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes" by David Tanis Artisan $35 294 pages

The cover illustration is a pair of figs, probably what caught my eye. I'm at a loss to describe why I'm so enamored of figs, Perhaps they mean "autumn" - my favorite season? Their elegant simplicity - wrapped in pancetta and gently baked, split open with a dash of balsamic vinegar? I truly don't know. But, dammit, I am!

Tanis is a Chez Pannisse chef veteran (10 years) and the forward was written by Alice Waters, praising him to the skies.

What he's done is to present a year's worth of seasonal menus, with recipes and some chef's tips. This on peeling garlic - hold the clove between your thumb and forefinger and squeeze until the skin pops off. (I smack the clove with the flat side of my chef's knife and that works just as well.)

Making garlic paste? "The French grandmother method: hold a fork, tines down on the cutting board and run the clove back and forth across the tines. Or thin slice the garlic, sprinkle it with a little salt and scrape the knife back and forth across it.

His writing style is casual, but clearly he is a sensualist who enjoys food and all the ceremonies that surround it -- choosing it, preparing it, serving it and dining on it with friends.

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