Geoffrey Zakarian's Town/Country
Geoffrey Zakarian, , photos by Quentin Bacon. . Clarkson Potter, $37.50 (272pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-5468-8
Zakarian has crafted the zesty celebration of opposites you would expect from the chef/owner of the New York restaurants Town and Country. "Pairings or partnerships are what make a recipe dynamic," he says in an introduction that generously acknowledges other chefs and the great home cooks in his life. He's in love not just with the usual contrasting dyads of smooth/crunchy, sweet/sour and hot/cold: his recipes come in sets of two, reflecting opposite approaches to the same core ingredients—with the common goal of explosive intensity. So the "town" take on the noble crustacean is Lobster Ginger Royale, with a ginger broth (perhaps made out of homemade chicken stock) and coconut milk custard, entailing a day or two of prep and execution. The "country" cousin is a lobster roll, assembled at the last minute; and Zakarian recommends Hellman's mayo, although he also tells you how to make your own if you must. The language throughout is refreshingly basic, save for the occasional home-baked word (e.g., "asparagussy"). The man of opposites includes enough arcana and innovation to entice a pro, yet his clear and realistic instructions make it possible for a weekend cook to produce minor miracles. Bacon's closeups—raspberries, squash, fennel, crabs—complement the words.
Reviewed on: 01/16/2006