Berkeley’s Chez Panisse Café opened on April Fool’s Day, 1980. Located above the more formal Chez Panisse Restaurant, the café is a bustling neighborhood bistro where guests needn’t reserve far in advance and can choose from the ever-changing à la carte menu.
It’s the place where Alice Waters’s inventive chefs cook in a more impromptu and earthy vein, drawing on the healthful, low-tech traditions of the cuisines of such Mediterranean regions as Catalonia, Campania, and Provence, while improvising and experimenting with the best products of Chez Panisse’s own regional network of small farms and producers.
In the Chez Panisse Café Cookbook, the follow-up to the award-winning Chez Panisse Vegetables, Alice Waters and her team of talented cooks offer more than 140 of the café’s best recipes, plus essays on the relationships Waters has cultivated with the farmers, foragers, and purveyors — most of them within an hour’s drive of Berkeley — who make it possible for Chez Panisse to boast that nearly all its food is locally grown, certifiably organic, and sustainably grown and harvested.
Waters encourages her chefs and cookbook readers alike to decide what to cook only after visiting the farmers’ market or produce stand. Then we can all fully appreciate the advantages of eating according to the seasons: fresh spring lamb in late March, ripe tomato salads in late summer, or Comice pear crisps in autumn.
Gorgeously designed and illustrated throughout with colored block prints by David Lance Goines, who has eaten at the café since the day it opened, the Chez Panisse Café Cookbook is destined to become an indispensable classic.
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