The beautifully produced America, Farm to Table at times has the feel of being two different books sewn together. And that’s not a bad thing.
On one hand, celebrity master chef Batali comes through again with an inspired collection of appetizers, soups, main dishes, sandwiches, and desserts. Most of his more than 100 recipes, unsurprisingly, have an Italian spin. Standouts include a potato and salami cheesecake, black risotto with oysters and fennel, minestrone Genovese, and Batali’s grandmother’s fettuccine with sparerib sauce.
Complementing Batali’s pieces are the sections written by Webster, an editor at the Washington Post and self-described “culinary adventurer.” He has traveled to 14 cities across the country, interviewing a chef, and that chef’s supplier, in each. The result is a highly entertaining behind-the scenes look at the business of small farming. In Nashville, chef Erik Anderson of the Catbird Seat and chicken farmer Karen Overton colorfully explain the 60-day trip her chicks take from hatchling to entrée, snacking on oyster shells from the restaurant and listening to the radio in their barn (NPR, of course). And in Tampa, Webster meets chef Greg Baker and his pork producer, Rebecca Krassnoski, who coaxes her hogs to their final reward not by wielding an electric prod but by proffering blueberry doughnuts. (description from publisher)