The San Diego Restaurant CookbookRecipes from America’s Finest CityBy Ingrid Croce
Avalanche Records and Books, 2005
271 pages including index $29.95
The author dedicated this book to the daring restaurateurs who have placed their hearts and fortunes on the line to build their city’s exciting and vibrant dining scene.
I like to cook, share meals with others and look at cookbooks for new recipes. Once or twice I have read a cookbook entirely. In recent years San Diego has been the home of my daughter, son-in-law and grandson so I visit there often. The editor/publisher said, “I have a cookbook that you might enjoy reading and reviewing.” “OK let me see it” was my reply. Maybe the book would help us find a good restaurant or specialty food shop? Might it have a recipe from a restaurant dish we had enjoyed?
What should a cookbook do? The book should provide good recipes explained well. Drawings or photos or the ingredients, utensils, process and the finished product are helpful. It helps that the book presents a style of food or regional specialties. Sometimes a good one features the cooking of a famous chef or school of cooking.
Good and interesting cookbooks might be printed and sold for a good cause or a charity. I search for a copy of the Ida Grove Farmers and Swineherds Auxiliary cookbook frequently but unrequitedly. You know the kind produced on a mimeo machine by one of the members and assembled on one of those snap rings that opens for the holes in the pages. Who could refuse a chance to see real Iowan farmers’ wives’ recipes? Pork chops, summer sausage, pound cake or head cheese anyone? How about a book of the recipes of the various home cafes or eats places that graced small town America before major leagues expanded?
This book is organized by appetizers, first course, soup, salad, pasta, fish, crustaceans, poultry, meat, dessert, breakfast and brunch, growers and vendors. The author informs us of the background of the chef or the restaurant which is the source of the recipe. The recipes are the restaurants and Ms. Croce tells us so that we make the adjustments in amounts for the home kitchen. Many of the recipes are rather appealing. Their scope across many ethnic and American styles of food illustrates the variety that one finds and enjoys in San Diego’s restaurants.
Unfortunately, this volume, which gives the hope for much, delivers less. This book has many recipes and some of them read well and might be good to make and eat. There is a dearth of photos that matter in a cookbook -- pictures of ingredients or what the finished product should look like when completed. The book is replete with photos. There are photos of restaurant front doors, dining rooms, tables, staff, chefs and even a stove with pots and pans on it. However, few of them are of the food that using the recipes would produce. There are good photos of outside scenes of San Diego and nice shots of view from restaurants. Of the more than 100 photos in the book less than two dozen of them show any food or product cooked or raw. When photos of them are in the book they most often introduce one of the sections: poultry, pasta, meat, dessert, etc. Why are not the photos of the foods those for which you have printed the recipes?
The San Diego Restaurant Cookbook is a good looking volume, which provides insights into what is available in San Diego’s restaurants.
--review by Mike Petersen