The author may be cynical, but he is experienced, and most of the time he is correct.
What I like most about this book is that it goes beyond dishing dThe author may be cynical, but he is experienced, and most of the time he is correct.
What I like most about this book is that it goes beyond dishing dirt on the restaurant business and becomes an observation of humanity in general as well as a chronicle of the author's personal struggle to figure out what he wants to do in his life. His experiences as a waiter apply to most any service industry. Having worked various retail and customer service jobs, I found myself nodding along frequently. His commentary about writing is inspiring to those of us who like to write but wonder if we could do more or better or are even any good in the first place.
Nothing in the book was particularly shocking to me, but I read a lot about food and the food industry, so if you are unaware of the huge disparity in income between those who dine in fine restaurants and those who work in them -- whether in the front of the house as servers and hosts or in the back as cooks and dishwashers -- you could be in for an abrupt awakening....more
The plot is a little more complex and well developed than in the first book. The older sister is still annoying, and the love interests of the two sisThe plot is a little more complex and well developed than in the first book. The older sister is still annoying, and the love interests of the two sisters still don't acquit themselves very well. Fun, but I think I have had enough of this series and am ready to move on to other things....more
The five-star rating comes with a small caveat: this book is amazing ... as long as you are enthusiastic about cheese and interested in learning moreThe five-star rating comes with a small caveat: this book is amazing ... as long as you are enthusiastic about cheese and interested in learning more about the different kinds of cheese being made in the United States. If you are a snob about cheese and are convinced that only the French can make a triple cream brie and only grate imported Parmigiano-Reggiano over your pasta, then either move along or be prepared to have your eyes opened and your horizons broadened.
I don't speak cheese any better than I speak wine, so a lot of the tasting language is lost on me, but it doesn't make me any less interested in experiencing the broad spectrum of flavors available.
Not only am I even more inspired to make my own cheese -- beyond ricotta and mozzarella -- but I also want to go on a nationwide cheese tour (or at least spend a significant amount of time in Vermont, Wisconsin and California tasting cheese)....more
Although I spend quite a bit of time reading and daydreaming about France and Paris when it comes to food (especially cheese), wine, fashion, art, hisAlthough I spend quite a bit of time reading and daydreaming about France and Paris when it comes to food (especially cheese), wine, fashion, art, history and scenery, when I read a book like this, I think that Italy might be the way to go instead. Not that I haven't also long been a fan of Italian food, wine, fashion, history, art and scenery, but the daydreams are usually about Paris and France.
The first section of the book is devoted to pasta, probably my second favorite food after cheese, and I want to make just about every recipe. The gorgeous photographs make me want to shop for vintage rimmed soup bowls in which to serve these fabulous dishes.
The recipes in the second section focus on rice and grains. Another win in my book, given that I love risotto, with the bonus of a few farro recipes I want to try out with the farro I purchased before I really had any idea of what I would do with it. Polenta falls into that category as well, and now I have ideas for that as well, namely Lasagna di Polenta (polenta lasagna with three cheeses). The Bomba di Riso (rice cake with provolone and sausage)is also on the "to try" list, once I figure out which pan I can use.
Moving on to beans and legumes, the Pasta e Ceci (chickpea and pasta soup) is a beautifully written example of how to really build a soup, layering in the flavors for a hearty result, and while I am very proud of my "improv" lentil soup, the Minestra di Riso e Lenticchie (lentil and rice soup)looks as if it could be equally good. (Incidentally, the secret to really good lentil soup is to cook it longer than you think you should.)
Salads and vegetables are up next, and I dare you to resist the Asparagus Gratinati (asparagus and provolone gratin). You will probably learn a thing or two about leafy greens. I know I did.
La Vignarola (Roman springtime stew) has a detailed description for preparing artichokes which almost has me convinced that I can do it, but they still scare me a little, especially since the author does not offer suggestions of what to do with the outer leaves and so called "hairy choke." I am wondering if I could maybe cheat and just buy artichoke hearts, except that I really want to try to cook something starting with a whole, raw artichoke. If the artichokes do get the best of me, I could always console myself with Torta di Patate (potato pie with smoke mozzarells and salami).
Having cleansed your palate with salad and veggies, it's on to eggs and cheese. Frittata al Forno (frittata with scamorza) offers incentive to (learn to) use the broiler, even in the midst of summer when tomatoes are at their peak. Or perhaps a baked omelette which sounds more like a crepe.
Moving from the land to the sea, recipes for fish and other seafood, especially mussels and clams, are up next. There is a swordfish recipe which promises to be "very lemony, herby and garlicky," and all I could think was "Sign me up!"
The author does show a strong penchant for rosemary, which I don't care for, but I think a substitution could be made without undermining the recipes. The same is true for chiles, but I think that almost all of the recipes could be adapted with ease to individual preferences and tastes, not to mention to what is actually available to hand.
Other meats follow in the next two chapters -- chicken, beef, veal, lamb, including several recipes for offal, and even a couple of recipes for rabbit and one for oxtails. The final two chapters round out the meal, er, book with bread and pizza and desserts.
There are recipes simple and complex, vegetarian and meat loving. Anyone with a love of hearty, classic Italian food should find recipes in this book to make, enjoy and share....more