Sada Fretz
March 09, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

Coyote Cafe

Current Status
In Season
Mark Miller
Ten Speed Press

We gave it a B+

In the nearly 20 years since Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley made American cooking ”new” by applying French foodways to fresh California ingredients, ingenious American chefs have been taking regional cuisines upscale with tricks and flavors from the global pantry. Now Mark Miller, a Chez Panisse alumnus who has won raves for his own Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, displays his Southwest-based ”bag of tricks” in Coyote Cafe. Miller writes with infectious exuberance but little mercy for the Hoboken home cook without ready access to fresh epazote, wild boar bacon, Platinum Lady corn, 23 kinds of chilis, or the dry-aged pecan wood he prefers for grilling. (He does list a number Southwestern mail-order sources.) Approaching culinary tradition as a ”live art form,” Miller dishes up inventive soups and salsas; borrows offbeat regional specialties from his Mexican travels and his 100 Mexican cookbooks; translates French, North African, and Asian ”inspirations” into the language of salsas and empanadas; and evokes the cowboy past with his trademark 22- ounce steaks. It’s a high-kicking performance, projected in a visually dynamic volume. B+

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