That's why I stick to baking. I understand it, and most importantly, I can eat it! For the same reasons, I find myself reading more baking books than anything else. Once you take out all the things I won't eat from regular cookbooks, there's not much left. (Seriously. It'd take less time for me to tell you what I will eat than what I won't.) I can at least enjoy the majority of baking books. So when I picked up the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I was wrong.
Despite being called the Big Sur Bakery, it's immediately obvious opening the book that it's much more of a restaurant than a bakery. A restaurant. With food. Food that I don't eat. I'm in trouble here. (I guess I should have paid a bit more attention to the subtitle of the book!) Just flipping through the pages, I'm already in over my head. This is definitely what I would consider a "foodie" type book. I should probably close the book and put it away now. There's likely nothing here for me. But since I've already got it out, maybe I'll just skim through a few more pages and see if anything looks interesting. Hmm.. A profile of a farmer near the front... He says his chickens are pasture-raised because "free-range don't mean shit." Wait. What? Later he calls himself a bad m--f--er. Whoa! Can you say that in a cookbook? Maybe this isn't such a foodie book after all! Maybe I'll actually take a look through the rest.. See what else is in here!
I literally read this book from cover to cover, which is rare for me. Although there are recipes, it reads more as a record of the life surrounding the restaurant, rather than just a collection of the restaurant's favorite dishes. You get a real glimpse into the lives of the inhabitants of the Big Sur community, as well as a look at the community itself, with all its stark and majestic beauty. (Big Sur isn't even an actual town! It's a 90-mile long stretch of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Lucia Mountains. There's no real "Main Street" and they apparently don't even have a real grocery store. Who knew!) Throughout the book, you'll not only find recipes, but you'll meet the farmers, fishermen, and friends who provide the ingredients, friendships, and ultimately life to the Bakery. The book is set up seasonally, chronicling each month of the year and the events the restaurant experiences; the holidays, special parties, the winter debt as the tourism dries up, as well as the story of a mountain lion that terrorized the community for four months at the height of tourist season. By the end, you feel as if you've not only been a part of the Big Sur Bakery, but part of Big Sur itself.
Although they're mostly real food I know nothing about, the recipes sound delicious. The pictures throughout the book are even more fantastic. There's a beautiful mix of the food, the people, the restaurant, and Big Sur. They truly make the book worthy of display. These are ones you definitely want to show off because they're amazing. Those of the food look good enough to eat. Well, that is until I remember I hate seafood and vegetables. I'll have to pass some of the recipes on to Boyfriend because I know he will enjoy a lot of them. As for those that do involve baking, I can't wait to try them! Right away, the doughnuts and chocolate bundt cake caught my eye, and made me drool!
I'd recommend this book to anyone that loves elegant food using fresh, high-quality ingredients. Especially those that can truly call themselves foodies and mean it. Even if you're not, like me, it's a beautiful book worth taking a look at. You may find yourself, like so many others, falling in love with Big Sur. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go microwave a hot dog and bake some cookies.
The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook by Michelle and Phillip Wojtowicz and Michael Gibson
Published June 2009 by HarperCollins
List Price: $40.00
|Rating||(1 = Worst,||5 = Best)|
|Depth of Information||Practicality|
|Gift Giving||Level of Difficulty||Average to Advanced|