A cookbook about the unique, fire-based cooking approach and ingredient-focused philosophy of Camino restaurant in Oakland, CA, with approximately 100 recipes.
Russ and Allison first opened the doors to Camino restaurant in Oakland, California, just as recession forced would-be diners home. Faced with a walk-in refrigerator full of uneaten food and an idling staff, they got industrious—canning, preserving, brining. This efficiency borne out of necessity soon became the driver of innovation for Camino’s cooking and the marker of a truly waste-free kitchen. But Camino is not all prudence and grandmotherly frugality. There’s the smoldering fire at the heart of the restaurant, which likely has a whole lamb leg dangling from a string, turning as it roasts perfectly, its fat seasoning a pot of fresh garbanzo beans underneath. Or, eggplants grilling for a smoky and complex ratatouille. Or, fresh fig leaves browning over the hot embers for a surprising and unforgettable grilled fig leaf ice cream. The pared down approach to ingredients at Camino opens up a world of layered flavors and ingenuity—sophisticated but direct, revelatory and, in its own way, revolutionary. This Is Camino is an extension of the brilliance of the restaurant, full of deep knowledge, good humor, and delicious food.
Chef Moore opened Oakland's Camino restaurant in 2008, after working at Chez Panisse for 21 years. Hopelain is his wife and partner in the well-received eatery, known for dishes that are cooked in a specially built nine-foot-wide fireplace. While, in this collection of 100 recipes, the couple dedicate a chapter to fire, with a shout-out to their Uruguayan-style metal fire basket for making coals, even the home cook with limited access to open flames will benefit from the authors' focus on intense flavors and their spiritual connection to food. It's a wandering, wordy, and romantic work, meditative in a quintessentially Californian way. "Duck is a self-esteem builder," they declare, then show off their bravery in slow-cooked duck legs with savoy cabbage, prunes, and duck cracklings. The vegetable dishes are equally noble and complex, as with the eggplant-tomato-mint gratin with black-eyed peas, fenugreek, and grilled artichokes. There's even a fiery dessert: grilled fig-leaf ice cream and grilled figs. If the recipes are not example enough of the restaurant's quirkiness, a chapter entitled "A Week at Camino" provides a diary and photographs of behind-the-scenes action. A typical passage reads, "Fred Niger Van Herck, a Frenchman with pale eyes and salt-and-pepper hair, drops in to give notes to the waitstaff about such things as the breaking of the musk and the nuances of biodynamic farming."