After receiving an invitation to attend Chef Josiah Citrin’s book signing party at his Santa Monica restaurant, Melisse, I quickly sent back my rsvp and anxiously ticked off the days before I could not only get my own signed copy of In Pursuit of Excellence but also sample some of his signature dishes. Below is a story in photos, and I’ve also included the news release with all of the information and links so that you, too, can have a bite:
In Pursuit of Excellence (Northstar Media Books, $45.00, October 2011) is the first cookbook by two star Michelin Chef Josiah Citrin, owner and chef of the celebrated Mélisse, in Santa Monica, California. Since Mélisse first opened its doors in 1999, he and his restaurant have been a tour de force in the world of fine dining and a fixture in California’s culinary landscape.
Mélisse is known as much for its refined setting as it is its artistic, flawless cuisine. Citrin passionately frequents local Farmers’ Market and manages to coax unexpected flavors from his carefully chosen ingredients. They are presented as edible works of art. In Pursuit of Excellence showcases what has kept both Citrin and Mélisse at the top of the culinary game. Each of his methodically prepared and arranged dishes is comprised of several components and flavors. A myriad of textures and tastes are achieved; they are offset by meticulously thought-out and inspired accents to heighten overall flavors.
Among some of the signature dishes offered in the Mélisse cookbook are Lobster Bolognese, Capellini, Basil, Brown Butter Truffle Froth; Egg Caviar, Cauliflower Mousseline and Lemon-Chive Crème Fraiche; a Wild Mushroom Salad, with Oeuf Mollet, Garlic Croutons and Lemon-Mushroom Vinaigrette; Chatham Bay Cod Seared and Confit, Purple Peruvian Potatoes, Red Wine Onion and Mélisse Broth; a Filet of Beef, Garlic Potato Purée and Red Wine Shallot Sauce; and Sticky Toffee Pudding, Hibiscus Consommé, Mocha Malt Ice Cream.
Chapters include amuse bouches, soups, first courses from land and ocean; second courses from the ocean; poultry and game; meat; and desserts. The book also has sections with Mélisse base recipes, methodology, cutting techniques, and suggestions on cheese selection, a major component of the dining experience at Mélisse. There is a source guide with contact information for some of Citrin’s favorite ingredients.
The 240 page full color book is written by Patricia Aranka Smith, a former restaurant critic, newspaper columnist and long-time friend of Citrin, with food photography by Matt Kiefer, location photography by Charles Park and food styling by Citrin and Mélisse Chef de Cuisine, Ken Takayama. The book is available exclusively through Mélisse, the restaurant website, www.melisse.com, selected retailers and www.Amazon.com. The digital version of In Pursuit of Excellence can be viewed at www.booksthatcookpublishing.com/melisse-page-viewer
Mélisse, located in Santa Monica, has become a leading restaurant for fine dining in greater Los Angeles, promising a memorable experience in the artful presentation of Citrin’s dishes served in a setting of supreme elegance and the highest standards of service.
Josiah Citrin and Mélisse and have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, Angeleno, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Wine Spectator, Gayot.com, and Zagat. Mélisse’s awards include a coveted Two Stars by Michelin Guide Los Angeles; #1 American-French Restaurant for Food in Los Angeles by Zagat Guide (2003-2012); and Four Stars by Forbes Travel Guide.