CHEZ PANISSE FRUIT

Alice Waters, Author
Alice Waters, Author , with Alan Tangren and Fritz Streiff. HarperCollins $34.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-019957-9
Reviewed on: 04/01/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
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The eighth Chez Panisse cookbook, which features sweet and savory dishes that use fruit, follows what has become acclaimed chef Alice Waters's patented style: a mix of rustic dishes, many exhibiting Italian and French influence, that highlight the best possible produce. Recipes are organized by fruit, and each chapter begins with a mini-essay on varieties and growing conditions, and often sounds the biodiversity alarm, as when Waters opines, "How sad, then, that well over 90 percent of the apples sold in this country belong to one of only fifteen of those seven thousand varieties." Desserts showcase flavors that may be slightly unfamiliar, either because they use unusual varieties (Caramelized Red Banana Tartlets) or different versions of a common fruit, as with Fig Cookies that are a haute substitute for Fig Newtons and use fresh figs rather than dried. Savory dishes such as Middle Eastern–Style Lamb Stew with Dried Apricots and a tasty assembly of spices skew more traditional. Some of the most intriguing recipes are the simplest, such as Pickled Cherries and Tea-Poached Prunes. At times, Waters's specificity can be exasperating. Will Crêpes Suzette with Pixie Tangerine Sherbet be just as good if the sherbet is made with some other variety of tangerine? Still, it's hard to find fault with a book wide-ranging and inventive enough to comfortably encompass Judy's Deep-Fried Lemon and Artichokes, Spring Fruit Compote with Kiwifruit Sherbet and Coconut Meringue, and a tart Vin de Pamplemousse apéritif. (May)

Forecast:As always, Waters's combination of serious writing and creative recipes will have cooks heading to the kitchen, and cookbook buyers heading to the stores. This book sticks to the tried-and-true Chez Panisse formula, which shows no signs of wearing out.

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