cover image Heart of the Artichoke

Heart of the Artichoke

David Tanis, Artisan, $35 (352p) ISBN 978-1-57965-407-8

Tanis (A Platter of Figs) has been a chef at Berkeley's Chez Panisse for so long, he seems to have achieved a certain California Zen master state of being. A recipe is "what happens between the concept of a dish and its final result," he observes, then paints a fine line between "om" and "yum" with 14 meditations on kitchen rituals, small moments of epiphany that tie his childhood oatmeal to his adult polenta or celebrate the genius of the Ziploc bag. Cooks who live in an unchanging climate seem to have a penchant for dividing their cookbooks into seasonal chapters and Tanis is no exception. The (artichoke) heart of this work consists of 20 full menus, five for each season. Spring offerings include Vietnamese vegetable summer rolls, and "The Flavor of Smoke," featuring tea-smoked chicken salad. Summer belongs to herbs with choices like flat-roasted chicken with rosemary, and rice salad with sweet herbs. With the fall comes flatbread, a focaccia served alongside stuffed raviolone. And winter brings fragrant lamb with prunes and almonds. Tanis rounds out the book with four feasts, celebrational meals involving a suckling pig or kid goat stew. When not easing the reader into some potentially complex dishes, Tanis enjoys reliving his culinary European adventures, adding an unfortunate air of pretension to his otherwise sincere labor of love. (Nov.)