Sep 02, 2009
Bittersweet Chocolate Cake at Boulevard
BOULEVARD: The Cookbook had been on my “gotta get one” list for several years, and my dear friends Dorie and Greg just gifted me with a copy of the beautiful looking book.
Chef Nancy Oakes’ elegant restaurant is located in San Francisco’s Financial District and I can never turn down an opportunity to dine on the kitchen’s exceptional pork chops or handmade ravioli. This over-sized book’s luscious photographs make me eager to return for another meal, which seems to be the concept behind the book’s creation. As co-authored by Oakes and Pamela Mazzola, I am not inspired to make this food at home. The text for the author’s Spiny Lobster Paella even admits that “at Boulevard we have complicated this simple, rustic dish by applying our own restaurant logic… ” “Complicated” is exactly the word for recipes written in dauntingly convoluted paragraph form. Even when the technique is fairly straightforward, as with the recipe for Cider-Brined Berkshire Pork Loin Chops (one of my favorite dishes on the restaurant’s menu), gathering all 36 separate ingredients together is off-putting.
The authors go on to state that “for us, one of the great pleasures of dining out is finding a dish on a menu that we would never, ever think of preparing at home.” Fine dining is, indeed, one of life’s most pleasing extravagant pleasures. Yet going back home and succeeding in creating something just a bit close to the original can be equally rewarding. We learn from eating in good restaurants just as we learn from reading good books — and those lessons learned can continue to enrich our lives for decades.
So while I am happy that my private cookbook library now includes Boulevard: The Cookbook, I doubt I will ever cook from it. I will, however, continue to add food stains to these great restaurant cookbooks which are indispensable in any home cook’s kitchen:
Henry Chung’s Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook
The Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook
Fog City Diner Cookbook
The Olives Table
Back to Square One
Brennan’s New Orleans Cookbook
The Green’s Cookbook