AQUAVIT: And the New Scandinavian Cuisine
When he became executive chef at New York City's swank Aquavit at the tender age of 24, Samuelsson began educating Americans about his native Swedish cuisine, but he also received an education in return. And it's that exchange that elevates this book beyond traditional Swedish cooking to an expression of one chef's unique viewpoint. There are certainly traditional Swedish dishes represented, such as Gravlax with Mustard Sauce, Swedish Meatballs, and Prune-Stuffed Pork Roast, but they stand side-by-side with successful experiments like Pickled Herring Sushi-Style, with slices of herring served on tiny mashed potato logs that resemble rice, and Warm Beef Carpaccio in Mushroom Tea, inspired by a trip to Japan. Every cross-cultural gambit, from a Tuna Burger with Cabbage Tzatziki to a Gravlax Club Sandwich with guacamole, sounds fabulous (with photos by Shimon & Tammar, which are as beautifully clear and crisp as the recipes). Samuelsson unabashedly confesses to a fascination with "junk food culture" that dates back to a time before he knew what the words meant and results in wonderful finger foods such as Crispy Potatoes dredged in corn flakes and panko bread crumbs and fried twice. Desserts exhibit the same combination of adherence to tradition and thoughtful experimentation and range from Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberry Whipped Cream to Black Pepper Cheesecake with blanched peppercorns. Samuelsson is one of our great chefs, and a warm-hearted and generous writer to boot. (Oct.)
Forecast:Publication of this book, as well as of Kitchen of Light (Forecasts, March 17) by Andreas Viestad, mark a new interest in Scandinavian food. Samuelsson's name recognition should support this truly masterful collection, which is both personal and professional.