Starring: Alton Brown
- 3 episodes from the Food TV series
- “Ask Alton” reader mail Q&A
- Recipes (on-screen and DVD insert)
Released by: Food Network
My Advice: Buy it, but I’m not responsible for blood sugar or cholesterol problems.
Ah, the holidays…a time of tranquility, peace, and universal fellowship…or not. Maybe it’s really the time when you obsess about the juiciest turkey your mother-in-law won’t eat, the tastiest fruitcake your children won’t eat, and then what to do with all that food your relatives couldn’t stuff down their gullets because they were too busy fighting. Thus was born Holiday Treats, a new collection of Good Eats episodes with Alton Brown, host of the hit cooking and education show.
The instruction is, as always on Good Eats, excellent. Brown’s style is quirky and whimsical, but also quite useful and concise. You learn the chemistry behind the cooking, so you truly understand why you should do things a certain way. Brown is also unendingly energetic, so you won’t feel exhausted just watching him cook. It’s also nice to see a cooking show that doesn’t expect you to spend the Gross National Product of Ireland on your weekly grocery bill, or think you, yes you, can turn out perfect souffles or a complex Napoleon of stuff you’ve never even heard of. Nope, just good food made easy, but still exceptionally tasty is all you’ll find here. What’s more, Brown teaches skills and concepts more than a specific recipe, which means that you’ll be able to wing it on your own soon enough.
Holiday Treats has but two features, which is a bit disappointing, but at least they’re good features. We get “Ask Alton,” a question and answer session where Brown answers questions written-in by viewers. Real viewers asked these questions, so they’re of the basic sort, the kind of questions viewers of the disc are likely to have, which is good. The second feature is a simple reproduction of the recipes from the episodes, handy for those that don’t move as quickly as Brown in the kitchen. However, since the recipes are also included in the DVD’s case insert, a bit redundant. It would have been nice to maybe have had Brown talking about other ideas related to the recipes on this disc, the sort of things he might not have had time for in the half-hour show itself. Another possibility would be a fourth (or fifth…) episode, as three episodes don’t even come close to filling up a DVD.
The production values are high, with clear, crisp sound and bright, vivid color. I detected no pixel problems or even the stalling that sometimes happens during scene cuts. You can hear everything Brown is saying, and while the clarity of his delivery is as much him as the film quality, it’s still reassuring to know that you won’t miss a step because of background music or something.
In short, Holiday Treats is a solid addition to any cook’s library. Those of you just starting out learning to cook will find this disc very useful, but so will expert chefs who just want to understand the theory behind their skills or perhaps learn an easier way to do something. Try it for yourself and you might even learn not to fear the dreaded holiday fruitcake. Heck, you might even look forward to it…