Suzanne Goin is an award winning chef and cookbook author. She and her husband have a number of superlative restaurants in Los Angeles. The hub of their empire is A.O.C., on West Third a few blocks west of the famed Farmers Market. It’s a food and art street, the perfect location for this centerpiece of culinary artistry.
What is the cuisine? There are European and Mediterranean influences, of course, a healthy respect for the farm fresh ingredients of Southern California, and a famous integration of French and Italian cheeses and wines. The cheese selections at A.O.C. — sufficient for a meal in itself — are fully documented here. The extensive wine selection at A.O.C. is surveyed and recommendations offered for many of the dishes that ramble through this lovely book.
You’ll find recipes from every terroir and every terrain:
- Black Bass with Fennel Puree, Winter Citrus, and Green Olives in Green Harissa
- Braised Duck with Madeira, Kale Stuffing and Dates
- Corn Pudding with Poblano and Queso Fresco
- Grilled Leeks and Artichokes with Burrata and Albitxada
- Grilled Pork Chops with Cornbread Chorizo Stuffing and Poached Cherries
- Mustard Grilled Chicken with Spinach, Pine Nuts, Pecorino and Soft Egg
- Trout Wrapped in Grape Leaves with Green Rice, Dill Yogurt, and Capers
- Watermelon and Strawberry Coupe with Torn Mint
These titles are representative of the gallant spectrum of flavor in The A.O.C. Cookbook. Few of the recipes are “simple.” You might say that “some assembly is required” as layers and components are assembled to craft a final dish of excellence. The writing for these longish recipes is superior. If the recipe can be described in one page, it is. If there is complexity, then three or four pages are devoted to detailed, lucid instructions. You won’t get lost or confused.
Not everything in the book is complex. There is a Potato Puree recipe that is decadent. It’s not American mashed potatoes. It’s Suzanne’s version of French potato purees that are sublime. There is an Anchovy Dressing that can make any salad bowl seem vibrant. A lamb recipe includes an Eggplant Jam that deserves to be made and enjoyed on its own. And next spring, Suzen and I will be trying the Pickled Rhubarb, a concept that seems to be a flavor bomb.
Besides the writing, A.O.C. is beautifully photographed with the close detail and vibrant — almost Renaissance colors.
These are marvelous recipes and, as laid out here, recipes that you can accomplish at home. If you’re a looking for an approachable book to elevate your skills and your meals, then there is no better volume out there. Foodie friends would appreciate this book as a gift. You might consider treating yourself. Those Pork Chops with Cornbread Chorizo Stuffing seemed destined for a Sunday night feast.