December 2009

Araxi: Seasonal Recipes from the Celebrated Whistler Restaurant
By James Walt
Published by Douglas & McIntyre 2009, hardcover, $45; 250 pages

I’m hungry and dinner is still several hours away.

I’ve been reading Araxi Executive Chef James Walt’s cookbook and drooling over photos of some of the dishes by photographer John Sherlock, who could make Dayglo KD look good (did I say I was hungry?).

Araxi is easily Whistler’s top restaurant, a judgment reinforced by that master of judgment, Gordon Ramsay, who has declared it the best restaurant in Canada. The book’s timing is good, as the world turns its attention to February’s Olympic Games, with Whistler playing the role of beautiful princess to Vancouver’s brawnier prince. Let the Games begin. Araxi is ready. (more…)

The $10 Gourmet: Restaurant Quality Meals That Won’t Break Your Budget
By Ken Kostick
Published by Whitecap Books 2009, softcover, $24.95; 177 pages

I’m always a little fearful of cookbooks that try to squeeze themselves into a corner with a promise — a hard-and-fast time line, a limited number of ingredients, or in this case, a dollar figure.

Such gimmicks — and, really, that’s what they are — do have great appeal at first, but they lose their lustre because, for whatever reason, they don’t hold up in the real world.

Today’s obsession is the economy and we’re all pulling in our shopping horns, buying less of everything, cutting out what really isn’t necessary.

Everybody’s got to eat though, but going out to eat on a regular basis is no longer an affordable reality for a lot of us. That’s why celebrity chef Ken Kostick’s latest book has such great appeal. The idea of cooking up your own restaurant-quality meals at home for $10 or less means you don’t have to give up fine dining. You just have to be more resourceful about it. (more…)

Kitchen Scraps: a Humorous Illustrated Cookbook
By Pierre A. Lamielle
Published by Whitecap Books 2009, softcover, $29.95; 197 pages

Who knew cooking could be this much fun — or this funny.

From the teasing title — I overheard someone ask if the book was about composting — to the  whimsically hilarious illustrations and surprisingly sophisticated recipes (well, most of them are, but we can probably safely exclude blowtorch s’mores from this group), Pierre Lamielle’s first cookbook is a delight. Surreal Gourmet Bob Blumer is one of his heroes, so that gives you a hint of what’s to come.

Dudes —  in Lamielle’s tongue-in-cheek lexicon, I’m guessing it means someone hip, young and probably good-looking — who like their soup and sandwich with a little satire will immediately take to this book. Check this explanation in the recipe for Totally-Baked-Out-Of-Their-Minds Potatoes: (more…)