By Mark Best + Pasi Petanen
A book review by Franz Scheurer
It says a lot for Mark Best and Pasi Petanen’s international recognition and the respect of their peers that none other than René Redzepi wrote the foreword. Mark Best’s ability to create, grounded on solid technique and profound gastronomic knowledge, is astounding and the partnership with Pasi Petanen in the kitchen delivers some of the world’s most exciting dishes.
I love dining at Marque. Not only is the food sublime, exciting and ever-evolving, it’s the whole package that enamours. The sommelier, front of house staff and the kitchen nail it, time and time again.
When I first heard of the upcoming book I knew it would be a terrific table-top book with all the flamboyance of all involved, but I didn’t expect it to be a book that would impart achievable knowledge for the home cook. I am glad to admit that I was wrong. Mark Best and Pasi Petanen have managed to present a series of jaw-dropping dishes in a way that the home cook can actually reproduce them.
The book is divided into:
Foreword - Foreword
Mark Best – A potted history
Pasi Petanen – Head Chef
Bread and butter
This is followed by:
Notes to the recipes
And finished by:
I have interviewed Mark Best before and written about his background and what he calls ‘A potted history’ and I am glad to say that there is still something to learn and it’s interesting to see whom Pasi Petanen thinks he was influenced by. I won’t go into detail as I reckon this is something you have to read yourself. It’s informative, surprising and sometimes enlightening.
The photography by Stuart Scott is excellent but what makes the look of the book is the sensitivity and understanding of his subject that Scott manages to capture – this really is a photographic rendition of Marque’s essence.
The recipes are a journey into Mark Best’s mind and if you have been a customer at Marque over the years, you’ll recognise most of them. As I pointed out earlier on, they are achievable although, personally I am no friend of the ‘Elizabeth David-style’ incorporation of ingredients and method into the text.
Start your culinary journey with ‘Foie gras and beetroot macaroons’ on page 28 and who could pass up the ‘Chaud-froid free-range egg and grissini’ on page 32? The ‘Sea urchin, mandarin and green tea’ on page 38 is a personal favourite on mine and you have to taste the ‘Pea and ham’ on page 44 to believe it. Maybe you are taken by the ‘Blue swimmer crab with almond Gazpacho and sweet corn custard’ on page 51 or can’t resist the beauty of the ‘Octopus Carpaccio, marigold and pommes maxim’ on page 75. The ‘Pan-fried banded rock cod liver with pili pili and crispy scales’ on page 109 is a stroke of genius and the ‘Warm salad of new season peas, pork crackling, sorrel and béarnaise ice cream’ on page 131 is best captured with Best’s caption: “Spring peas with pork crackling. What is not to like?” The ‘Carpaccio of squab, buckwheat praline and sherry vinaigrette’ on page 157 is a collection of fabulous morsels and it’s rare to see goose on the menu in Sydney, ‘Roast goose with confit carrots, Kimchi pears and coriander’ on page 175.
A note on Marque’s breads: the dough-mother, carefully started and nursed by Mark Best over many, many years is the cornerstone of the incredible bread served at Marque. Not only is it some of the best bread served anywhere, it is also plentiful and the staff does not yank the bread plates from you the second entrées are over. Hospitality at it’s best, great to see!
For my 60th birthday Mark Best arrived with a couple of metres of his ‘Boudin Blanc’ one of my all-time favourite dishes at Marque and I am really excited to see the recipe on pages 178/179. Thank you Mark!
You may want to finish with something as deceptively simple as ‘Short-rib with smoked onion and black pudding’ or one of the cheese dishes, like the ‘Époisses with celery, anchovy and burnt bread with blueberry and vanilla brochette’ before you tackle the desserts.
The ‘Sauterne Custard’ has been on the menu at Marque for a very long time and it’s still one of the best things I have ever eaten. You find it on page 228 and I think that the ‘Fruit salad with honey and yoghurt’ is one of the prettiest dishes at Marque.
If you have never tried the ‘Salted caramel chocolates’, served at the end of the meal, you have not lived…
Do I like this book? Unreservedly: YES
Published by Hardy Grant Books
Available form book stores and at the restaurant
RRP: $ 79.95