on March 26, 2004
The book is beautiful: layout, photography, the food itself. As others have noted, the recipes are very good for a home cook: impressive, but not so complex as to deter a dedicated cook.
Why 4 and not 5 stars? Because I think Ruhlman is merely an average writer. He spends too much time cozying up to M. Ripert. In browsing the book, I found several grammar errors (minor irritance, but in a book of this quality, I find disappointing). Ruhlman is no Reichl or Grimes -- but I think he tries to be. I think Ruhlman picks fascinating topics (I enjoyed Soul of a Chef immensely); it's just that, for me, his writing is a distraction from the content.
on January 2, 2003
For a foodie, this is a five star book!!
I have eaten at Le Bernadin several times (during the joyous excesses of the late 90s), and was fortunate to have also dined twice in the cozy 'private room' that gives diners a view of the kitchen. I have Ripert's other book, the Bernadin fish book,and when I have managed to have almost everything needed on hand, (except the 5-hour stocks, etc), I was able to make a few outstanding dishes. "Return to Cooking", however, is less complex and less fussy in some, but not all, of its recipes. I have made several recipes from "Return" with great success, the easiest and best being Cod with Chorizo, Soy sauce and Sherry Vinegar.
This book is not for the beginner cook, or even for the timid intermediate cook. In my opinion, this is a cook book for someone who had tasted fine restaurant food and who has the desire, skills and budget to attempt to replicate their best dining experiences. My warning: if you need explanations about technique or don't have access to the freshest ingredients, you probably cannot bring these marvelous recipes to life.
on November 28, 2002
This is the second cook-book that Michael Ruhlman has taken part in if I'm not mistaken (the first being "The French Laundry",) and yet another smashing success!
Eric Ripert is one of New York's finest chef's, and in this, his second cook-book, he shows us exactly why he and Le Bernadin have been given the honor of "Best Chef" and "Best Restaurant" by several different sources! Ripert shows us his inner thoughts, his soul if you will, in many of the recipes that you will find here within this tome. Dishes such as: "Figs Wrapped in Bacon", "Seared Tuna with Escabeche of Pear Tomatoes" and "Mussels with Spicy Italian Sausage" show us how simple and yet exactly how refined Eric Riperts cooking and tastes can be!
Beyond the recipes, this 320 page book includes intermitant stories of Eric Ripert and fiver other friends and their experiences living together in four different locations during four different seasons! At the same time, readers will find commentary from the authors as they watch Ripert cook, or preparing his ingredients; Riperts own wistful thinking of Food and the Food Culture; many BEAUTIFUL photographs, equally beautiful paintings by Valentino Cortazar, and culinary advice from all involved in the making of this wonderfully crafted tome!
The most important aspect that I have to say about this book before I finish is that virtually ALL of these recipes are scaled to portions adequate for the home cook; and that they are often easy enough for nearly any novice or home cook to re-create for themselves, and yet refined and inspired enough that a professional would want to use them at their own restaurant!
on November 23, 2002
Amazing result of a lifetime famous chef desiring to "cooK." So he and some friends decide to get inspiration by visiting four places in four seasons.
Rest is here ... all-star cookbook!
Magnificent is this result... from specatacular accompanying photos and wordsmithing of one my fav foodwriters (Ruhlaman).
Large format.. large taste.. large creativity, e.g. Smoked Salmon Croque-Monscieur; Flash-Marinated Fluke with Lemon Confit; Mango, Passion Fruit, and Tarragon Salad;Chicken Pot-au-Feu with Ginger Cilanto Vermicelli;Portabello and Eggplant Tart; Salmon, Crab and Scallop Chowder; Grilled Magrets with Arugula and Cranberry.
Here is not only food to reserve for finest of occassions to labor of love offering; but inspiration to follow conceptually or tangent off of to own creative menu generation.
Both will occupy this reviewer for years to come from this exceptional volume.
on May 17, 2003
What a great book!! While I'm not the quickest in the kitchen, the suggested prep and cook times were dead on (for me anyway). And the results......STUNNING! The cucumber and lamb salad is not only quick and easy...it is freakin' delicious. It was a hit at my last dinner party.
The other great thing about this book is that it contains no impossible to find ingredients. Being in Las Vegas, gourmet food stores don't exist. I can find the ingredients easily. An important issue for me aat least.
Lastly, the book is a piece of art. Great photos! Great illustrations! Great writing. This isn't just a book of recipes but also insights and hints from Eric. This guy is awesome and I hope he someday makes another book similar to this one. OUTSTANDING in every way.
on November 9, 2002
A Return To Cooking is the best cookbook I have ever got in my life. Eric Ripert The Chef, Michael Ruhlman The Writer, Shimon and Tammar Rothstein The Photographers, Valentino Cortazar The Painter, and Andrea Glick The Personal Assistant - all and one as an A Team - had successfully fulfilled their complicated mission and created a new masterpiece of delight and pleasures. In order to share my pleasure with my family - I immediately bought extra copies of that wonderfull book to my daughters in law to let them enjoy the spectacular pictures and the highly creative recipes and story in the book. My recomendation: buy it for yourself and buy it as a remarkable gift to your beloved ones and friends.
on May 11, 2003
The Veal chops with Morels and Herb Butter Sauce, the only recipe I have made out of this book so far, is one of the great achievements of human civilization.
I have enjoyed Eric Ripert's chef's tasting menu at his Le Bernadin, an intimidatingly formal restaurant where Woody Allen sat at the next table celebrating the victory in his lawsuit. Apart from the croque monsieur, the recipe to which is included at the opening of this attractive book, the veal recipe was the equal of anything on his menu, even with my feeble hands at the stove.
And for a far more digestible price.
May I recommend this book to those who dare to enjoy life to its fullest.
on April 24, 2003
This cookbook is one of those rare combinations that includes readability, beauty, and praticality. The photographs and paintings make the book a treat for the eye; Ruhlman continues to be a terrific writer about food and cooking; and, Ripert;s recipes are intruguing without being artificially "artsy."
Several of the recipes call for exotic ingredients, but in most cases subtitutes involving easy to find alternatives are suggested.
The organization of the book is a bit odd, and it's not a reference work like "Joy of Cooking," but, anyone who finds pleasure and artistry in their cooking will appreciate this book.
on November 4, 2002
...THE BOOK THAT EVERY FOOD LOVER MUST OWN. This is an eclectic mix of culinary and visual artistry encased in an extremely well designed book.
A Return To Cooking will have you creating dishes that will leave you and your guests in awe. Its recipes are EXTREMELY well written - and really do work....even on the first try. This book bridges the mysterious gap between one of the world's best chefs and people who truly love good food.
Congratulations to Chef Ripert and his team for creating such a wonderful and invaluable addition to the culinary field.
on January 7, 2003
This is a deliciously decadent dive into the guts of cooking. Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlman have delivered a true masterpiece for anyone with an obsession with good food, and quality cooking.
The recipes are sensational...the pictures are glorious. I got this book as a Christmas gift and must page through it several times a day looking for inspiration and wise words from this phenomenal chef.
If you are a foodie, you will love this book.