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Amuse-Bouche: Little Bites of Delight Before the Meal Begins

Amuse-Bouche: Little Bites of Delight Before the Meal Begins

by Rick Tramonto, Mary Goodbody, Tim Turner (Photographer)

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Amuse-bouche (pronounced ah-myuz boosh) are today what hors d'oeuvres were to America in the 1950s: a relatively unknown feature of French culinary tradition that, once introduced, immediately became standard fare. Chefs at many fine restaurants offer guests an amuse-bouche, a bite-sized treat that excites the tongue and delights the eye, before the meal is


Amuse-bouche (pronounced ah-myuz boosh) are today what hors d'oeuvres were to America in the 1950s: a relatively unknown feature of French culinary tradition that, once introduced, immediately became standard fare. Chefs at many fine restaurants offer guests an amuse-bouche, a bite-sized treat that excites the tongue and delights the eye, before the meal is served. Nobody does it better than the celebrated executive chef/partner of Chicago’s Tru, Rick Tramonto. Amuse-bouche are a fa-vorite of diners at Tru, many of whom come expressly to enjoy the “grand amuse"—an assortment of four different taste sensations.

Amuse-Bouche offers an array of recipes, from elegant and sophisticated to casual and surprising—but always exquisite—that will inspire home cooks to share these culinary jewels with their guests. From Black Mission Figs with Mascarpone Foam and Prosciutto di Parma to Curried Three-Bean Salad, from Soft Polenta with Forest Mushrooms to Blue Cheese Foam with Port Wine Reduction, Tramonto’s creations will embolden the novice and the experienced cook alike to experiment with unfamiliar ingredients and techniques.

Organized by type of amuse and season of the year, the book also includes a directory of sources for specialty products. With more than a hundred recipes and with fifty-two full-page color photographs by James Beard Award—winning photographer Tim Turner, Amuse-Bouche enchants the eyes as much as an amuse pleases the palate.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rick Tramonto's Amuse-Bouche is a 'Tru' delight! Who said cooking had to be difficult? Rick will guide you in transforming a few ingredients into perfect little palate teasers. This book is destined to be an indispensable part of your cooking library."
—THOMAS KELLER, The French Laundry

"Rick Tramonto dazzled America with his groundbreaking food and audacious presentations at Tru. Now he brings his inventiveness and creative spirit to the uniquely exciting subject of marvelous miniature mouthfuls. Be prepared to be amused."
—PATRICK O'CONNELL, The Inn at Little Washington

"The amuse-bouche is the best way for a great chef to express his big ideas in small bites."

"This book captures the whimsical and yet deeply satisfying soul of Rick Tramonto's complex food art, and yet makes it real for the ambitious home cook. Although the book is conceptually like James Joyce's Ulysses, on my palate the tastes are more like Tom Robbins's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. I love both sides of the coin."

“Rick Tramonto is one of America’s most creative chefs at work today. The tiny tastes Rick teaches us to prepare will light up any table with the spark that every great dinner party needs. This book will help any cook to unleash his or her imagination and transform any meal into an experience. These amuse-bouche stimulate not only the palate, but the conversation as well.”
Michael Lomonaco, Noche

Publishers Weekly
Breaking new ground in a previously untackled area of cuisine, the executive chef of TRU restaurant in Chicago and coauthor with Gale Gand of Just a Bite, Tramonto (who also coauthored Butter, Flour, Sugar, Eggs), has paired up with Goodbody to explore the world of Amuse-Bouche, "Little bites of food to amuse the mouth, invigorate the palate, whet the appetite." To this end, the author has produced recipes designed to create a mouthful of delight, whether a spoonful of salad, an espresso cup of soup or a scoop of savory sorbet. Giving the book greater scope, Tramonto suggests that the dishes, such as the simple, flavorful Warm Onion Tart with Thyme, can be used as hors d'oeuvre, "so elusive is the line between." Many of the portions can be expanded or multiplied to form starters or a light main course. Other recipes given a new look are bean salad, which with the addition of curry oil becomes Curried Three Bean Salad, and Potato Salad, which is spiced with cayenne pepper. The recipes require a variety of skill levels and time, although there are always several suitable for all occasions and aptitudes. (Oct.) Forecast: Despite the confusion that this might be just another hors d'oeuvre book, Tramonto's reputation and the striking cover and illustrations give this book a modern, eye-catching appearance guaranteed to leap out from table displays and shelves.
Library Journal
An amuse-bouche is a special little tidbit served as a treat at the beginning of the meal in many upscale restaurants, and Tramonto, chef of Chicago's acclaimed Tru, is a master of the form. Instead of just one, he presents four amuses, or sometimes even more, to each guest. He finds these little bites a perfect way to experiment with flavors and ingredients-and to have fun doing so (he describes the food at Tru as "fine dining with a sense of humor"). But sophisticated as his amuses are, they translate surprisingly well to the home kitchen. Because they are prepared on such a small scale and often include only a few ingredients, the better to highlight individual flavors, preparation of many of them, such as Watermelon Cube with Aged Balsamic, is not the lengthy process typical of most chefs' recipes. Not that there aren't more complicated recipes, too, such as Seared Cumin-Crusted Squab with Horseradish Gastrique, but the recipe instructions are clearly written and accessible. Tramonto also points out that these little bites are a great way for home cooks to serve an ingredient that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive (as in Warm Mini Foie Gras Club Sandwiches) or to taste an unfamiliar, "exotic" ingredient. For most collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.94(d)

Meet the Author

Rick Tramonto, the executive chef/partner of Tru in Chicago, was named one of Food & Wine’s Top Ten Best Chefs in the country in 1994 and selected as one of America’s Rising Star Chefs by Robert Mondavi in 1995. He has also been nominated four times for the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Midwest, winning the award in 2002. Tru, which opened its doors in May 1999, was nominated for the 2000 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant and named one of the Top 50 Best Restaurants in the World by Condé Nast Traveler. Tramonto is the coauthor, with his partner Gale Gand, of American Brasserie and Butter Sugar Flour Eggs.

Mary Goodbody is a nationally known food writer and editor who has worked on more than forty-five books. Her most recent credits include Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion, The Garden Entertaining Cookbook, and Back to the Table. She is the editor of the IACP Food Forum Quarterly, was the first editor in chief of Cooks magazine, and is a senior contributing editor for Choc-olatier magazine and Pastry Art & Design magazine.

Tim Turner is a nationally acclaimed food and tabletop photographer. He is a two-time James Beard Award winner for Best Food Photography, winning most recently in 2002. His previous projects include Charlie Trotter’s Recipes, Charlie Trotter’s Meat and Game, The Inn at Little Washington, Norman’s New World Cuisine (by Norman Van Aken), Jacques Pepin’s Kitchen, and American Brasserie.

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