The UnProfessional Chef

A girl's commentary on food, cooking and all things delicious!

Location: Singapore

A closet food critic and wannabe chef who loves the art of cooking and enjoying great cuisine in the company of great friends!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Books for Cooks

My cookbook collection prior to today numbered less than 10. However, I managed, in one fell swoop this afternoon, to increase it by 40%. Instead of cramming with the shopping crowd in the start of the Christmas present-hunting frenzy, I parked myself in Kinokuniya’s cookbook section, which has an excellent variety, and managed to spend a horrendous amount of money reliving my delicious days in Northern California and seeking new pastures. I decided on four cookbooks today, though there are many many more I have my eye on.

Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan looks like a surefire classic. With it I hope to improve my very amateur baking skills. There is just simply something very satisfying about mixing a bunch of ordinary ingredients together to create a wonderfully homey cake or batch of biscuits. The second book, Paris Sweets is also written by Dorie Greenspan. Looking delightfully like a road map to sugary nirvana, I can only hope that it will enable me to come close to some of the heavenly pastries I’ve experienced in Paris.

The other two books I picked up for completely nostalgic reasons. I had patronized both The Cheese Board in Berkeley, California, from which comes The Cheese Board Collective Works, and Zuni Café in San Francisco (The Zuni Cafe Cookbook), where I was pursuing a postgraduate degree some years back (UC Berkeley that is, not either one of the establishments, though a postgraduate culinary degree would have been wonderful). The Cheese Board in particular was a real favourite. Uniquely run as a co-operative (well, I was in Berkeley after all), I queued there regularly for the best pizza in the world (I exaggerate not – I have yet to meet a better pizza four years on), which only came in one flavour daily. It was only open for limited hours but I very luckily lived a mere seven minute brisk walk away. I still think about it with much fondness and droolingly reminisce about it with fellow ex-Singaporean Berkeley-ites. I’d only been to Zuni Café once (mind you, there were just so many good places to eat in Northern California) but have yet to forget its one and only roast chicken with bread salad. I hope this will let me recreate some of its other superb dishes at home.

At this point, I also have to confess my non-cooking related weakness for trashy fashion mags at this point, which is why you can see the latest copy of InStyle in the background too.

I look forward to producing many delights from these books for cooks!


Blogger J said...

hi, terrific choice of books - the zuni cafe book and paris sweets, in particular, are really fabulous...

4:34 PM  
Anonymous LisaSD said...

Sounds like a great haul for one shopping trip! I'm going to check these out on Amazon--they sound great!

1:57 PM  
Blogger The UnProfessional Chef said...

Hi j - if your pics of the desserts from Paris Sweets are anything to go by, then I've invested my money well :) If you're ever in San Francisco and haven't yet been to Zuni Cafe, do go. It's well worth the trip. There are many great places there though, like the incomparable French Laundry just a drive away, the unique Chez Panisse in Berkeley (I lived just up the same road!) and the Cheese Board (not kidding about the pizza)

Hi lisasd - I wanted to buy even more but couldn't lug so many books home!

5:02 PM  

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