A LIT­TLE FOOD FLIGHT READ­ING

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MICHELLE ROWE

DOM: Re­dis­cov­er­ing Brazil­ian In­gre­di­ents by Alex Atala Phaidon, $59.95

LALO DE ALMEIDA THE world’s lead­ing chefs re­serve high praise for col­league Alex Atala, the cham­pion of na­tive Brazil­ian in­gre­di­ents. ‘‘The most in­ter­est­ing man in the world,’’ trum­pets Mo­mo­fuku’s David Chang; ‘‘A gi­ant among chefs,’’ an­nounces Rene Redzepi, no small fry him­self within the cook­ing fra­ter­nity. In this book, is­sued next month, Atala cap­i­talises on his years of re­search into the nat­u­ral won­ders on his doorstep, which he has then used in pic­ture-per­fect dishes for his up­mar­ket Sao Paulo restau­rant, D.O.M. The weighty tome is al­most en­cy­clopaedic in its de­scrip­tions of more than 40 Brazil­ian in­gre­di­ents, many of them fa­mil­iar — from but­ters and bi­valves to yams and mush­rooms — oth­ers not (tu­cupi, jambu, pripri­oca). There’s an en­tire chap­ter on ants (they taste of lemon­grass, with notes of ginger and car­damom, ap­par­ently), fol­lowed by per­haps the world’s sim­plest recipe, so long as one can get one’s hands on four sauva ants, con­sid­ered a del­i­cacy in the coun­try’s north. To make ‘‘Ants and pineap­ple’’, sim­ply peel a pineap­ple, cut it into four and place the in­sects on top (no word, how­ever, on whether the crit­ters first need to be dis­patched to that great anthill in the sky or, if not, how to stop them run­ning off once po­si­tioned on the fruit). The book is quite beau­ti­ful — much of the food has been pho­tographed against a black back­ground, high­light­ing the al­most artis­tic ap­proach Atala takes in the pre­sen­ta­tion of his bright and bold dishes. Recipes in­clude ev­ery­thing from dainty slices of sir­loin served with pick­led turnip to sea snail with wakame and tan­ger­ine foam. With­out ac­cess to many of the in­gre­di­ents Atala calls for — or in­deed a kitchen equipped with the hi-tech likes of a Pa­co­jet, de­hy­dra­tor, sous-vide ma­chine or a Ro­tava­por — there is lit­tle hope the aver­age home cook will be able to re­cre­ate many of the dishes, but that’s hardly the point. Atala’s culi­nary mis­sion has long been to take the in­gre­di­ents of his home­land to the world stage and this hand­some com­pen­dium will cer­tainly arouse cu­rios­ity.

Clock­wise from main pic­ture, Alex Atala in the kitchen; a se­lec­tion of cacha­cas at Mo­coto restau­rant; Vento Haragano steak­house; a dish at Mani; the grill at Vento Haragano

The food pho­tog­ra­phy re­flects Atala’s al­most artis­tic ap­proach

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