State Bird Provisions
By Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski
(Ten Speed Press; $40)
As a food editor and stylist, I confess that I’m a bit of a hard sell when it comes to cookbooks. A good one must not only be well written, with recipes that have a clear and consistent style and render great results, but it also needs to seduce me with pictures. State Bird Provisions, the debut cookbook from the acclaimed San Francisco restaurant of the same name, delivers on both counts. The photos are glorious, and not only was I delighted with the recipes I chose to make, but so were those joining me in taste-testing. With the help of co-author JJ Goode, the two chef/owners of State Bird Provisions take readers on the journey of their restaurant’s creation and express their culinary vision and philosophy.
Quail, the California state bird, is both the inspiration for the restaurant’s name and the main component in their signature dish, which is why it was the first recipe I chose to make. In it, the tiny bird is coated in a mix of breadcrumbs and pumpkin seeds before being deep-fried. Yes, the bird was terrific, but its accompaniment, lemon and rosemary-infused onions, slow-cooked in what is not a small amount of butter, was truly amazing and paired beautifully with the crunchy bird.
That dish alone is worth the price of the book, but there’s so much more. The Pork Ribs Glazed in Their Own Juices was also a hit with my guests. Chef-written, restaurant-style recipes are often a challenge not only in terms of cooking, but also in meeting the expectations of the cook/reader. State Bird Provisions is, in my experience, one of the rare exceptions. It not only met my expectations, it exceeded them.