I also love how he allows you to get to know about his family, and when he began to love food. He also shows pictures of the African American women who had an influence in his life, especially Dorothy Williams Davis. He always gives a tribute to her; she was the family cook for forty years, and he notes that she inspired many of the recipes in the book. Alex, did come from a family of affluence, but if you listen to him in any interview, he has great humility and charm.
He talks about how to taste food, or the three stages of the palate. He is not afraid of salt or salted butter, and gives all kinds of tips on what equipment you need in a kitchen to make the cooking process a success. I agree about getting the best ingredients that you can afford. I am particular about extracts, cocoa, and spices, so I agree with him 100%, that it does make a difference in the finished product. He also likes the idea of doing Southern Classics that would please a sophisticated foodies palate. That is where the French twist comes in to play in some of the recipes. He uses wine and bourbon and other libations in his cooking, which I just love. I think it adds an additional layer of flavor in the finished dish.
The cookbook has so many recipes that look like you may have to be a chef to cook, but when you read the recipes, you see that "you" can do it. Most ingredients are easily found, and the tips are great. The Hors d' Oeuvres are simple and beautiful. He has a belief you just need a few, and I agree, especially if they are a starter for a formal dinner. They should make you want to see what is next to come, not fill you up! Next is soups, all served in nice bowls, then salads, Eggs, and Cheese, and Grits, and Quiche. Then we move on to sauces, vegetables and side dishes, Seafood, Chicken, Turkey, and, of All Things, Pheasant. I've never had Pheasant before, maybe I should after seeing the recipe.
Next stop, Beef, Veal, Lamb, and Pork. He really shows you how to take a piece of meat and turn it into something special. Well we can't forget Biscuits, Rolls, Breads, Pastry, and Crepes. I think I want to make a few of these things, especially the biscuits. I'm from New Orleans and we love our biscuits. I love how his biscuits looked in the cookbook, so I am going to try them.
And last but not least Desserts. I love how he makes vanilla ice cream with homemade chocolate sauce served in a beautiful bowl look decadent! I want to try his New Orleans Bread Pudding with Vanilla Bourbon Sauce and his Chocolate Mousse. Alex always adds little tips on how he garnishes dishes to just give them that crowning of elegance.
The photos of the food makes you want to cook. I know, I am a sucker for good and pretty food. But I have to admit that this is a wonderful Christmas gift or hostess gift for foodies who like good food, with that touch of " relaxed elegance."
This book is beautiful, the photos of food and the table settings make you want to cook and entertain. This is one to add to collection of coveted cookbooks.
Note: This book was provided for review by Alfred A Knopf, Publisher,York khttp://www.aaknopf.com and check out Alex's website http://www.mybeverlyhillskitchen.com. This book can also be purchased on http://www.amazon.com SRP $35.00. Tip: Amazon has a great price now, so it will be an affordable Christmas gift. So hurry to get it ordered for the foodie on your list.