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OP: The Art of Cooking Vegetables

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by Alain Passard

Frances Lincoln Limited, 2012. Hardcover. Near Fine. Second printing.

Alain Passard (1956– ), a native of Brittany and an artist at his core, discovered early on that cuisine was largely performance. Training and developing his skills and credentials under such icons as Alain Senderens in his kitchen at L’Archestrate, Passard absorbed the importance of colors, shapes, aromas, and textures as vital supporting elements of flavor. 

In 1986, Passard bought L’Archastrate from Senderens and changed its name to L’Arpège. The emphasis was a rich, vegetable-dominated menu. To supply his restaurant with what he needed, and to retain full control of his ingredients, he established biodynamic kitchen gardens in various French regions, giving him an enviable ability to have the best—in the right season and when it was needed. 

This is a cookbook elegantly and simply presented in a way only a truly experienced chef can achieve. The instructions are concise and easy to follow but come from the mind of one accustomed to working in a restaurant kitchen, concerned both with the finesse of presentation and the necessity of economy—“Trim the carrots into the shape of little bells as illustrated in the collage...Keep the left-over pieces of carrot for crudites, stock or a mirepoix.”

No dish is unattainable in the home kitchen, and Passard does us the favor of highlighting peak season for each one—and a suitable beverage to accompany it. In the summer months you might try three kinds of tomatoes roasted with eggplant caviar and a Languedoc red; autumn calls for pears and black radish with tapenade and a single malt Scotch.

The Art of Cooking With Vegetables was originally published in French as Collage & Recettes in 2010. The English edition, which we offer here in its second printing (2012)—Near Fine, sans jacket as issued—was unfortunately allowed to go out of print and can be hard to come by. Handsomely illustrated with Passard’s own cut paper collages. Visually stimulating and gastronomically inspiring.

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