the appetizer:

Learn to eat seasonally, with friends, in A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes by David Tanis, including recipes for a Tapas Party, like Octopus Salad with Pickled Onions and Pimentón; Potato and Salt Cod Tortilla; Sea Scallops ala Plancha; Black Paella with Squid and Shrimp; and Membrillo and Sheep's-Milk Cheese.

Cookbook Profile

A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes

by David Tanis


"Do you really need a recipe for a platter of figs?" asks David Tanis. "No. Is that the point? Yes. Does it have to be more complicated than that? Not really." And thus is the premise behind Tanis's book, A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes. The platter of figs illustrates the idea of eating with the seasons and is a metaphor for the food Tanis enjoys: fresh, abundant, luxurious, fleeting and beautiful.

In Tanis's mind, the best menus are simply conceived, simply prepared and simply served: a toast, a roast, a vegetable, a salad, cheese, fruit. A meal need not be fancy to be satisfying, nor should it take all day to make. A party can be any gathering of eaters at a table. A fine meal does not have to be elaborate. The best meals mirror nature and celebrate the seasonal.

A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes serves up twenty-four seasonal and intuitive menus designed for a table of eight or ten, however, each recipe can be easily halved, or increased. A selection of seasons and dishes includes:

A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes is about eating as much as it is about cooking. Tanis encourages readers to eat with and cook for friends. Despite being the head chef at one of America's top restaurants, Tanis states, "cooking at home is a different experience entirely from the stressful world of restaurant cooking. To me, it doesn't feel like work. And even if it's not a perfect meal, the overriding mood of friends at the table still trumps a bad restaurant meal."

Illustrated with 125 color photographs by Christopher Hirscheimer, A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes celebrates the communal aspect of cooking for friends. Menus are thoughtfully arranged to create a delicious series of simple dishes whose tastes are anything but ordinary. And Tanis is an engaging guide, whose personal stories and anecdotes are a perfect accompaniment to the recipes. By the end, readers will have learned the inspiration, techniques and joy of the kitchen that are just as important as the best ingredients.

About the Author

Six months a year, David Tanis holds the prestigious post of head chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, where he's been working since the 1980s. During his long collaboration with Alice Waters, he has helped to define the restaurant's wildly influential style. He spends the other half of the year in Paris, where he hosts a private dining club, preparing meals in a six-by-ten-foot galley kitchen in his seventeenth-century apartment, with a less-than-adequate stove, a small sink, little counter space, and a half-dozen well-used pots and pans. When he's not cooking in restaurants, he's cooking for friends at home or ogling vegetables at far-flung open-air markets. Tanis has been featured in The New York Times, Gourmet and Saveur.


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This page created December 2008