At Le Bernardin, seafood is always the star. From the day this posh restaurant opened in New York City, it was recognized for revolutionizing the way fish was prepared. Chef-owner Gilbert Le Coze and his sister, Maguy, quickly gained an exalted four-star rating for their original, impeccable, exquisite food, which you can now reproduce at home using their recipes.
Le Coze avoided using classic sauces because, lacking professional training, he did not know how to make them. Instead, he created Carpaccio of Tuna, a kind of paper-thin sashimi on a plate, Baked Sea Urchins, and Roast Monkfish on a Bed of Sautéed Savory Cabbage with Bacon, a dish that is both rustic and rich. When Gilbert died in 1994, at just 48, his chef de cuisine, Eric Ripert, stepped in and has continued to dazzle with his own fish dishes. Ripert, who had a classical chef's training, is especially innovative in his Poached Lobster in Lemongrass-Ginger Bouillon. If following three pages of meticulously clear instructions for handling the lobsters, puréeing their coral, and much more is not for you, try the salmon fillets served in a magically cream-free but creamy lemon sauce, the Roast Cod Niçoise flavored with basil, capers, and black olives, or the saffron-and-orange-perfumed Fish Soup.
Le Bernardin's desserts are famous, too. A reasonably competent cook can create ecstasy with the Bitter Chocolate Soufflé Cake, lavish with dark chocolate, butter, eggs, and just one tablespoon of flour.
If you read mostly cookbooks, the spirited dialogue between Ripert and Maguy, their anecdotes of culinary adventures, and characteristically Gallic commentary may divert you. Typically, Maguy says, "My favorite way to eat calamari is with a nice green salad. How American!" Seems the French only ate a lettuce salad with meats until nouvelle cuisine came along in the 1970s, and Maguy still considers it an aberration with seafood. Just as her taste has changed, this book may open you to new experiences with seafood. --Dana Jacobi
From Publishers Weekly
The first cookbook from Le Coze (owner) and Ripert (executive chef) of Le Bernardin, New York City's only four-star seafood restaurant, may spark the frustration of readers who have had difficulty getting a reservation at this culinary landmark. Such an appetizer such as Poached Baby Lobster on Asparagus and Cepe Risotto or entree like Pepper and Fennel-Crusted Salmon with Shallot-Madeira Sauce and Truffle-Scented Polenta promise a nirvana-like experience that will be hard to replicate at home (despite the collection's subtitle). This is four-star restaurant fare prepared by a master (and staff), requiring of home cooks a source of ultra-fresh seafood, deftness in esthetic presentation and considerable patience. There are some widely useful tips?capitalize on fresh herbs; use top-quality ingredients?and some recipes are indeed simple, e.g., Salmon Baked with Tomato and Mint; Broiled Shrimp with Garlic Butter; and Coffee Creme are within reach of anyone. But many recipes will challenge adventurous chefs. Baked Sea Urchins require nerve and dexterity. Salmon and Black Truffle Strudels aren't even attempted at the restaurant when it's busy, says Le Coze, and Ripert admits it took him two weeks to master Lobster with Coral Sauce, Asparagus, and Mushrooms. With an introduction recalling the restaurant's history, opened by Le Coze with her late brother Gilbert, this volume illustrates the best that a restaurant cookbook can offer, as well as the drawbacks.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.