There are cookbooks that have great recipes that I can’t wait to try, and there are cookbooks that have the most gorgeous pictures. This is one of the latter. This is a beautiful coffee table book, from the cover, which is a sort of burlap-like fibrous material, to the stunning photos of the Napa Valley, the local artisans, the farms, and of course the food.
If you are not familiar, Chef Christopher Kostow is the critically acclaimed chef of The Restaurant at Meadowood. Located in the Napa Valley in St. Helena, California, Kostow is the third youngest chef to ever receive three Michelin stars (according to his author biography on Amazon.com.)
I don’t see any dinners at Meadowood in my future – Forbes reports the price fixe is $225 per person for a 10 course tasting menu, wine pairings an additional $225, or $500 for an 18-20 course Chef’s Tasting Menu, wine pairings who knows how much. But I can afford the cookbook, and it truly is a gift.
I don’t give up easily and I was bound and determined to find something to try. Most of the recipes contained ingredients that are not easily sourced here in southern Florida. Most were so complex that I would need a weekend to even attempt something. Then I had an idea.
There is a recipe for a spectacular Chocolate Cherry Tart that involves three recipes, for the Cherry Vinegar, Chocolate Shortbread, and Chocolate Tart Shells. The shortbread is ground to a fine crumb for this tart, but I had the thought that I could make that part of the recipe. So I made the Chocolate Shortbread and I kept the cookies whole. They were delicious.
But that is not why you should buy this cookbook. But if you collect cookbooks, like reading cookbooks, or just want a coffee table book with drool-worthy pictures, buy it. (Click on the picture of the cover at the top of this page and I’ll even earn a couple of cents.)
The book is divided into four sections; The Growers, The Artisans, The Wilds, and Materia Prima. Each section features recipes that highlight that aspect of the Restaurant at Meadowood, as well as lovely essays explaining each section, Chef Kostow’s philosophy and his passions and they way he expresses them through his food.
The growers, as you may suspect, are the local farmers and a fascinating look at modern family farming today. The Artisans include a local potter who makes the dishes for the restaurant; some recipes inspire the potter, and the potter inspires some recipes – a symbiotic relationship, if you will. The Wilds are all about foraging, something Chef Kostow originally resisted as too trendy or precious, but has added a new dimension to the restaurant. Materia Prima is the food grown locally, or as Chef Kostow puts it, “What can we do that no one else can do…owing to our place in the world that others cannot because they are not here.”
The photographs by Peden+Munk are worth the price of admission alone. Every recipe is photographed in simple yet spectacular fashion and printed on heavy, beautiful paper. It is truly a cookbook to be savored and treasured. Plus I just loved reading this book.
9/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
A NEW NAPA CUISINE by Christopher Kostow. Ten Speed Press; First Edition edition (October 14, 2014). ISBN 978-1607745945. 304p.