This book was sent to me by the publisher, Hachette, at no cost. It was published in August; RRP $39.99.
Palomar is apparently one of the hottest restaurants in London at the moment: it seats 34 people and the waiting list is up to six months, I’m told (I hadn’t heard of it – because Australian, and because not really up on my Famous Restaurants Trivia). I’ve been a bit conflicted about the cookbook.
But I’m ready to call it now. Sadly, this book has not become one of my favourites.
What it is:
- Beautifully presented. I mean, that cover is elegant and alluring, and under the slip cover is a glorious blue hard cover with a gold pattern such that I am agonising over whether to keep the cover or not. The inside is beautifully presented as well. The photography is delightful – a mix of shots in the restaurant, shots of the people, and shots of the food. The recipes themselves are well laid-out, with the ingredients in a black-lined box, and clear steps to follow for each recipe (although sometimes the small type isn’t great). Each recipe also has a little story in italics at the start; the stories are sometimes funny, sometimes nostalgic, sometimes practical. And there’s a little insert of cocktail recipes too.
- Largely accessible. Like Indian Made Easy and The Saffron Tales it has a section called “What’s in the cupboard?” which has clearly become The Thing You Must Do When Talking About “Ethnic” Food. This section has info about everything rom freekah to date syrup and information about spices and nuts. Most of the recipes I’ve looked at have ingredients that, today, in a multicultural city or with access to the internet a home cook would have access to. The final mini-bio, of Yossi ‘Papi’ Elad, instructs the reader not to consider “recipes as sacrosanct – they are creations of human beings, so use your imagination” – a blessing that I really appreciate, since I don’t always have the right things to hand. Some of the recipes do, of course, require time and skills – but not all.
What it isn’t:
Some of the recipes I’ve made have been flops, and they have mostly been my fault, so I’m wearing that and definitely not blaming the book. But others… they’ve worked, but they just haven’t been super exciting. I haven’t made any dessert yet, and some of them do look intriguing, so maybe that’s where I’ll find the lurve.
I’ll discuss the recipes in detail in tomorrow’s post.