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Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine: The Inn at Little Washington    by Patrick O'Connell & Tim Turner order for
Patrick O'Connell's Refined American Cuisine
by Patrick O'Connell
Order:  USA  Can
Bulfinch, 2004 (2004)

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Tucked away in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia - just north of Fredericksburg and east of Harrisonburg - lies the Inn at Little Washington. Patrick O'Connell, with his partner Reinhart Lynch, claims that running the Inn has been like 'hosting one continuous house party' for twenty-six years.

O'Connell has seen the evolution of American cuisine through home cooking to New American Cuisine, which term he feels was 'too broad to accurately describe how far professional cooking in the United States had evolved.' He continues, 'I am comfortable with a label that appropriately describes our country's equivalent to French haute cuisine - and it's only three words - refined American cuisine.' He prefers food to seem effortless - 'as though never touched by human hands, stacked and tortured as was the trend for awhile.' And so the recipes presented in this strikingly beautiful cookbook are simple and easy to prepare. They shine in presentation and taste delicious. Each recipe has been tested in two different home kitchens to be sure they are doable for private consumption. The photographs are worthy of framing and hanging in your own kitchen for inspiration and a touch of art.

The collection of recipes cover meals from Breakfasts to Desserts - and everything in between. I can't imagine anything as mundane as scrambled eggs being teamed with Rosti Potatoes and Smoked Salmon to produce such a tempting dish as I find here. Wonderful. Green Bean Tempura with Asian Dipping Sauce strike your fancy? It does mine. I fell in love with the Cream of Mussel Soup. Can you imagine Fricassee of Maine Lobster with Potato Gnocchi and Curried Walnuts? Sounds divine. And I think I could produce this tantalizing dish. So there! There's also Pan-Roasted Maine Lobster with Rosemary Cream. Ambrosia. Oh, heck. No sense listing everything. This is the type of cookbook that a budding chef would like to open, start right in with the first recipe, and slowly work through the whole array of scrumptious foods. O'Connell also gives tips on dressing the table when entertaining. For example, did you know that crushed Oreo cookies look just like dirt if you want to present a simple, flowery centerpiece?

The Inn at Little Washington is a lovely place and the ambience, good food and conviviality will tempt me into a trip to Washington, Virginia in the very near future. You can book a table by checking out their website. But if that is not possible (maybe you live in Anchorage, Alaska or Sydney, Australia) then pick up a copy of this lovely book, tie on your apron and go to it.

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