State Bird Provisions
Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, with JJ Goode
Ten Speed Press, 2017
There are two reasons for a restauranteur/chef to create a cookbook of the recipes they use on a daily basis in their business — one is because they really want people to be able to cook and eat their food at any time, even if they can’t get a reservation or don’t live nearby; the other is as a promotional tool to attract customers to their restaurant. If a reader in Boston picks up this book about a restaurant in San Francisco, maybe the next time they’re on the west coast, they’ll add a meal at State Bird Provisions to their itinerary.
This is not a bad, or even cynical thing — many people enjoy reading cookbooks while having absolutely no intent to ever cook anything from them, but as a reviewer, I want to serve my readers as best I can with honest opinions based on my own culinary experience.
So here it is — State Bird Provisions is an absolutely gorgeous cookbook, full of beautiful photos of mouth-watering dishes… that will totally make you want to take a trip to San Francisco. But it probably won’t inspire you to dig out your pots and pans,
The award-winning restaurant, opened in 2011 by Brioza and Krasinski, started out serving everything on dim sum carts, and that aspect of the menu continues to this day with a variety of small dishes such as pickles, things on toast, and things on pancakes. The main draw on the menu and in the book is the “state bird”, fried quail (the state bird of California), which is a multi-step, multi-day undertaking.
The book is heavy on foundation recipes (salted chili paste, stock, aioli, sauces) that are required to complete other dishes. The dish Carrot Mochi with Pickled Carrots, Carrot Vinaigrette and Pistachio Dukka had four elements and 21 ingredients, some of which are sauces that need separate preparation. Some of the recipes for the restaurant’s famous ice cream sandwiches have 17 to 20 steps.
I’m not saying you’ll never cook from this — an accomplished home cook could certainly pull these recipes off. But will you try, or will you just read it, drool, and maybe think about visiting the restaurant the next time you visit the west coast instead?
Usability (hardcover version): As noted, recipes have many steps and ingredients. Text is clear, with line breaks between steps in the directions, font is a reasonable size. No metric measurements.