Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking American
the girl and the fig cookbook : More than 100 Recipes from the Acclaimed California Wine Country Restaurant
Simon and Schuster
Published: April 12, 2004
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You have to admire a cookbook that opens with recipes for martinis. These are fig-accented for the most part, in keeping with the theme chef-owner Sondra Bernstein has laid down for her restaurants and cookbook, all called the girl and the
fig. It's about attitude, about fun, about good things in store. "Country food with a French passion" is what she calls her theme. And she paints it with the bright colors of California. Bernstein actually takes something as stale as fresh, local, and
seasonal ingredients spliced to an ersatz French country cuisine overlaid with Northern California wine country easy living, and makes it work to her advantage.
Once past the pantry ingredients and the martinis, you are invited to consider the
many taste treats in "A Small Bite," the likes of herb-marinated olives, apricot-cured salmon, and crispy sweetbreads. "From the Garden to the Stockpot" encourages the making of soup--cauliflower-Gruyere, perhaps, or carrot-ginger. "In the Salad Bowl"
has nice touches like the grilled asparagus salad with lemon-thyme vinaigrette. "Large Plates" covers ground from wild mushroom risotto to pan-roasted halibut with spring vegetable ragout, to braised chicken with prunes, olives and capers. The braised
beef short ribs are worth a second glance. Sondra Bernstein also treats us to vegetable side dishes, to a separate chapter on the cheese plate, to the sweets that end a meal, and to a consideration of the wines that round out the entire experience. In
fact nearly all of the 100-plus recipes are matched with the kind of wine that would be served at the girl and the fig in California's wine country.
This is a spirited cookbook, with challenges for the new cook and happy reminders for the
experienced cook. Sip that martini and turn the pages. --Schuyler Ingle
In 1997, Sondra Bernstein opened the doors to the first girl and#38; the fig restaurant, showcasing her love of locally grown ingredients and her
passion for French food. She named her restaurant for the fruit that symbolizes passion: the fig. Now with three restaurants in Sonoma County and with chef John Toulze at the helm, the girl and#38; the fig restaurants are not only local favorites but
also captivate thousands of visitors every year.
In the girl and#38; the fig Cookbook: More than 100 Recipes from the Acclaimed California Wine Country Restaurant, Bernstein offers an inspired collection of simple, yet sophisticated recipes from
the restaurant, featuring the finest, freshest ingredients. These are restaurant-quality recipes adapted for the home kitchen, with dishes for beginners as well as experienced cooks. Bernstein brings the culinary traditions of France to the California
The author's devotion to seasonal ingredients is wonderfully apparent in every recipe -- from the savory appetizers, soups, salads, and large plates to the innovative desserts. Starters such as Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho, Cauliflower
Gruyère Soup, Shrimp and Salmon Cakes, and Grilled Asparagus Salad with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette make the most of the region's bounty. Large plates such as Grilled Salmon with Lavender Beurre Rouge, Pan-Seared Scallops with Orange-Tarragon Beurre Blanc,
Wild Mushroom Risotto, and Grilled Pork Chops with Apple Cider Sauce make wonderful main courses, while French classics like Coq au Vin and Duck Confit with Lentils, Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Cabbage will comfort you on a cold winter's night. Side
dishes that can complement a large plate or be eaten alone include Braised Fennel, Citrus Pearl Couscous, Apple-Yam Gratin, and buttery Basil-Scented Potato Cakes. Bernstein's desserts range from the sinfully scrumptious (Chocolate Pots de Crème and
Lavender and Wildflower Honey Crème Brand#251;lée) to the unique (Roasted Figs with Honey and Vanilla Ice Cream and Warm Fig and Thyme Crisp with Fig Syrup).
With gorgeous photographs throughout, the girl and#38; the fig Cookbook also offers tips
on wine pairings, highlighting California wines inspired by the Rhand#244;ne Valley; imaginative ideas for aperitifs, charcut
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