Originally published in 2001, The Last Course
was Claudia Fleming's collection of desserts from Gramercy Tavern, where she was then pastry chef. A visionary book, it combined a focus on seasonality with an interest in ingredients that, at that point, seemed slightly off-beat.
The book's initial life was short and it was soon out of print. It was treasured, however, by pastry cooks and serious home bakers, who loved Fleming's sense of flavor and her meticulous style, carefully captured by co-writer Melissa Clark. Prices for second-hand copies climbed to extraordinary levels and we found it almost impossible to get people to part with copies, even if they'd never cooked from the book. They knew it was something valuable.
So hurrah for this new printing, which makes the book accessible again to so many more people!
If you've never fallen under the spell of The Last Course
, here's how The New York Times
' Julia Moskin explains the appeal of the book and of Claudia Fleming:
Eventually, her signature style of starting with a single flavor, such as apple, mango, almond, ginger; intensifying it; and finally setting it off with a bit of crunch or tang or cold, came into focus. Her techniques for panna cotta, fresh corn ice cream and roasted pears became modern classics; her use of savory ingredients like rosemary, cornmeal and black pepper helped change the language of American desserts.
This is a book for serious bakers, and for all those who dream of becoming one.
Hardcover. Color photographs throughout.