After cooking with chefs Emile Jung, Antoine Westermann, Charlie Trotter, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Rob Feenie returned to Vancouver to open his own eatery Lumière. He opened his restaurant because he had something to say, and "food speaks." Feenie's French cooking style possesses Japanese and Chinese influences, embraces the seasons and highlights the work of Canadian farmers. Throughout the pages of his first cookbook aptly named after his restaurant, readers are treated to a collection of seasonally driven recipes - each of which reflects the food of his kitchen.
The book contains five chapters spring, summer, autumn, winter and basics. Each chapter follows a unique format; the recipes are organized, as they would at Lumière - as a series of tasting menus. First the reader is offered seven vegetarian recipes (Vegetarian Menu), then seven seafood recipes (Seafood Menu) and finally ten more recipes that reflect Rob's Signature Menu. In addition to the expected lists of ingredients and culinary direction, each chapter is punctuated with short essays. These essays discuss Rob's thoughts on restaurant dynamics like building a menu, mise en place and cooking techniques. Each essay is brief, interesting and in no way self-serving. The basics chapter offers the recipes that are the backbone to the book's dishes - stocks, sauces (sweet and savory), infused oils, vinaigrettes and alike.
Each recipe starts with a few words from the author explaining things like, how he came upon the idea for the recipe, how a certain product is grown, or what one might use as a substitution, if a particular ingredient is hard to come by. The dishes and techniques involved in their creation are more gauged towards an experienced cook or chef. A weekend culinary warrior will have a challenge with some of the dishes, but so long as one reads the preparation instructions and applies a little common sense, everything is achievable. The Young Garlic Velouté Soup (spring) and Haricot Vert Salad with Lemon and Thyme Crème Fraiche (summer) are very simple, however the Squab Wrapped in Potato with Seared Foie Gras, Squab Jus and Garlic Froth (autumn) is for the kitchen veteran.
Wine Notes & Photography
I love to see wine notes included in a cookbook. Neil Ingram (Lumière's Sommelier) has done a great job. The notes are very short without a glimmer of snobbery; a glorious Riesling: a ripe Alsatian or German Auslese, or Spätslese from Pfalz - his suggestion for Rob's Sake and Marinated Sablefish, a big-ass Rhône red for the Roasted Rack of Lamb.
The book is well photographed. Through the lens of John Sherlock the reader gets a good feel of how the finished dish should look. The pages are further embellished with a scattering of abstract shots.
The Bottom Line
Rob Feenie has got something to say and if food speaks, his cookbook Lumière is a good place to start "listening"…