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First Look: Jody Williams' Buvette Cookbook

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Photo: Paula Forbes / Eater.com

Here's Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food by Jody Williams, chef and owner of the New York/Paris "gastrotheque" Buvette, and co-written by Julia Turshen. (You may know Turshen's previous work from the cookbooks of Gwyneth Paltrow.) The book is packed with classic French cuisine with an occasional New York twist (ramps). It's also full of gorgeous food shots from famed cookbook photography duo Gentl & Hyers (The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, more recently books like The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book).

In the book's introduction, Mario Batali writes that while "the entire pantheon of food aristocracy quietly slide into Buvette daily, there is a certain restraint in the press, as if we are preserving the secret of Buvette's pleasure for the inner circle." The book itself exudes this feeling of a secret, perfect little cafe. It's almost aspirational in tone, often veering into lifestyle tips (how to stock your bar, how to get red wine stains out of clothing, "Healthy Household Cleaning Tips").

There are many dishes in Buvette that you don't really need a recipe to cook. Do I need a recipe to tell me to slice black plums into a glass of rose and serve over ice? Not really, although it hadn't occurred to me previously and it sounds pretty good. While there are more technical recipes here — tarte tatin, coq au vin, various risottos — there's a lot here that's simple and almost instinctual. Salads topped with leftover roasted chicken, all manner of egg dishes, steamed artichokes.

But to focus on individual recipes is to miss the point. The entire book is a recipe for making your life more like the life at Buvette, for bringing "the secret of Buvette's pleasure" into your life even just for an evening. Want your next dinner party to feel like a New Yorker's fantasy of a neighborhood French restaurant? Or, if you happen to be in France, "a New York-based restaurant that is based on the concept of a Parisian wine bar, which has been brought back to Paris," as David Lebovitz puts it? This is the cookbook for you.

Buvette is out April 22 from Grand Central Life & Style (pre-order on Amazon). Check it out:

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· Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food [Amazon]
· All Cookbook Coverage on Eater [-E-]

Buvette

42 Grove St, New York, NY 10014

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