A Wild Mix of Ingredients
May 15, 2008 By Jane Ayer
A look at Dominique and Cindy Duby’s latest cookbook, Wild Sweets Chocolate (Whitecap Books, 2007, $40).
I have a bias to admit. I am in awe of the Dubys. I’m inspired by their creativity, by their passion for what they do, by their curiosity, by their insistence on pushing the limits and their unwillingness to settle for doing something in one way, simply because that’s the way it’s always been done.
“The huge different between us and other pastry chefs is the way we approach the process,” explains Dominique Duby. “There are a lot of chefs who are entrenched in their way of thinking. We don’t take tradition for granted. We always question how we’re doing something and what we could be doing differently. There may be a certain way to cook something, but is that the best way? If you think like that, then creativity comes a lot easier.”
And creativity comes in leaps in bounds in Wild Sweets Chocolate. It all begins with the photography. As if writing the book weren’t enough of a task in itself, the Dubys also styled all of the food featured in the book and took the pictures themselves. The pictures are gorgeous works of art that make you wish you could pluck the food from the pages and pop it into your mouth so you could experience its gloriousness for yourself.
As the cookbook name implies, the formulas all include chocolate. They’re divided into four sections: savoury, sweet, bites, and drinks, followed by wine pairing advice and basic recipes (components of the formulas themselves).
The formulas consistently cross the line between savoury and sweet, but that’s what the Dubys and both of their cookbooks (including the original Wild Sweets) do: they push limits, and surprise, and they always come through. The savoury section of the book includes anything from Orange Chili Chocolate Mayonnaise, Wakame Salad and Prawn Meringue to Chocolate Merlot Blueberry Jam, Apple Pasta and Cumin Yogurt Cheese. Turn to the sweets section and you’ll find Chocolate Lemon Cream, Almond Basil Cake and Raspberry Water Gelée, along with White Chocolate Raspberry Cream, Jellied Almond Milk and Vanilla Strings.
Sound a little too ambitious? Maybe, although many of the formulas offer a more simple, scaled down “everyday” version of the same recipe. And perhaps you might not make an entire formula to serve up in your bakery or café. But there are components of recipes here that would work wonders in dressing up your cakes or spicing up your display case. And I’m convinced some of the drinks (like Dark Strawberry Hot Chocolate or Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate) could bring customers into your business in droves.
Dione Lucas is quoted in the cookbook as saying. “The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art…”
And good art doesn’t need to explain itself. It just is, working to inspire us and motivate us and perhaps spur our own creativity. And so it is with Wild Sweets.
In the introduction to the book, Charlie Trotter wrote, “(The cookbook) is simple stupendous! I was not sure how they were going to outdo their glorious first work, Wild Sweets, but they have done so in definitive fashion…I almost wince to think of the next Duby cookbook…at this rate, it may make the rest of us want to give it all up.”
Well, we might wince along with him — but we also can’t wait.
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