Thursday, April 07, 2005

Keller versus Bourdain

Bouchon by Thomas Keller - The owner of Napa Valley's world-famous French Laundry decided to open a bistro in Yountville, California called Bouchon. I was lucky enough to eat there a year-and-a-half ago and enjoyed one of the best lunches of my life. So naturally when Keller released his bistro cookbook, I was intrigued.

What made it particularly interesting was not too long ago I'd read Anthony Bourdain's treatise on bistro cooking and so I wanted to see how the two compared. You can imagine.

It comes as no surprise to discover that Keller is much more finicky than Bourdain in just about every way. Bourdain's approach is, "C'mon, numb nuts! You can slap that roast chicken together."

In contrast, Keller's book is fussy and the recipes more complex in their preparation.

The one thing that struck me as innocuous about Bouchon (the book), however, was its over-sized coffee table format. The book is so unwieldy as to be awkward in a kitchen. Nor is it the sort of volume you'd want to accidentally splash red wine on.

Whereas Bourdain's, well, it practically begs for red wine....

Both struck me as having equally valid approaches and both featured recipes I'd like to try. Overall, I found Bourdain's more down-to-earth and approachable, although for sheer eye candy Keller's Bouchon is unmatched.