One of my personal recipes goes back forty-five years to when I was first conducting experiments in great eating e.g. my Bleu Cheese Dressing. Other recipes are less than one year old, so you may think of this work as a collection of the best based on my life experiences. Recently I developed a delicious sweet and sour salad dressing that is virtually identical (at least in taste) to a very special one served to me in a great restaurant, Poor Richards Inn®, sometime during 1968. I was amazed that I waited so many years before attempting to make it. I canít get enough now, and the restaurant closed thirty-five or more years ago! Wow! Just think how interesting it is that food memory and in particular detailed taste memory can span so many years.
Often I have anecdotal stories to accompany recipes that may entertain you or to talk about the inevitability of change, some of which is desirable and some not so desirable. You can sift through those stories in whatever manner suits you best.
My pride shows, and so it should. Iíve put in many years acquiring, developing and culling out recipes such that with rare exceptions I would much rather eat my cooking than tolerate the variety of slop served in most restaurants. Too often restaurant owners focus on profits at the expense of quality. At other times recipes are confined to the market they serve, which can be severely limiting, with boring unchanging menus. Yet other times the owner and chef or cook simply lack knowledge. But this is not always the case. The idea is that the best restaurants can make many excellent dishes that I donít even know how to prepare so in general you wonít find me competing with them. But where I have tried to either duplicate perfection or create it from scratch I will hold up my results to scrutiny by any professional chef.
Credit must, however, be given to the greatest cook I ever knew, my deceased wife Marie Piretti Gardner, and this book is dedicated to her memory. She could out-cook me easily and I owe her my biggest debt of gratitude for her joy and skills in cooking or preparing great foods that I would not have otherwise enjoyed. She was my best teacher and chef par excellence! The great times we shared with making and eating superb food, not to mention wonderful meals in great restaurants, are unforgettable. Yes, a fair number of her recipes are included in this Food Nirvana book, and as I locate more of them I will select the best ones and add them.
I am fortunate to have dear friends and relatives, very few who are excellent cooks in their own right. We share knowledge and thus we all win. My gratitude goes out to all the good and great cooks who have helped me learn and I wonít waste the space trying to give credit, except within certain specific recipes/titles.
Most of all I hope you take the time to use these recipes to experience for yourself the reality that you can vastly outdo most restaurants and commercial products found in supermarkets. Your family and friends will let you know your degree of success. And always be ready to improve any recipe. Ego has no place when it comes to making great food. Indeed you will make some new friends and open the door to learning things about cooking that are not part of your experience or mine. When you find or learn something that you consider to be excellent or make an improvement to one of the recipes in this book, please share that knowledge with me. This is especially important for those few special recipes included where I have indicated/stated that I have yet to try the recipe.
I included one section in Food Nirvana under Beverages on the topic of winemaking without providing my specific recipes. That section is for people ready to tackle making fine wines, not ordinary wines, as the requirements and investment are significant. I will freely provide help and further information to those adventurous enough and committed to making fine wines. For others I suggest you read the section simply to get a fundamental education about winemaking.