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Tongue Twisters: Sexy Food from Bin 941 & Bin 942

by Gord Martin

Reconfiguring restaurant recipes for the home kitchen is always challenging. The dramatic differences in staple ingredients, equipment, number of assistants, and, most importantly, basic competence can be daunting obstacles. Making your food taste like restaurant food is challenging enough; presenting it so that it also looks slick is much trickier.

Author Gord Martin, the chef and owner of two restaurants in Vancouver, Bin 941 and Bin 942, does his best to urge readers of this book to try. Martin divides his book into menus for cocktail parties, barbecues, dinner parties, and other social events and suggests wine pairings. There is also a brief glossary of cooking terms and less familiar ingredients as well as a short section on basic stocks and sauces. The food is what he calls “cross cultural,” so ingredients are varied but most tend towards the spicy.

This is a cookbook for the experienced and/or fearless. His recipe for Grilled Chinese Pepper-Crusted Venison, Water Chestnuts and Shiitake Mushroom Sauce, Yam with Mascarpone and Chive Gateau, Fresh Mango or Papaya Salad is not for the novice or last-minute cook. The instructions include using a cookie cutter to cut yam into correct shapes. In other recipes, you are encouraged to smoke your own meat and fish, get sheets of untreated cedar veneer one-sixth inch thick (for Wild Sockeye Salmon in Cedar Sheath) and find five-inch ostrich fans (for Chermoula-Crusted Ostrich, Café au Lait Sauce and Medjool Date and Toasted Almond Saffron Pilaf).

Some of the directions given are extremely spare. As well, some recipes are incomplete. The Toffee Coffee Pot de Crème recipe has us lightly whisk 18 egg yolks and set them aside, forever, never to be referred to again.

This is not to say that there are not wonderfully delicious ideas here. An ambitious host, with a well-stocked pantry, access to specialty stores, and the patience to fiddle, will soon find a supply of grateful guests willing to experiment too.