Friday, June 17, 2011

Mediterranean Food of The Sun

I am always pleased and grateful that the number one influence on my palate and cooking are the flavors and ingredients of the Mediterranean.  Having lived overseas as a child on the Med and then returned again and again throughout my lifetime, it's no surprise that this style of cooking and subsequent dishes are what I consider comfort food.  Give me vine-ripened tomatoes, olives, garlic, olive oil, fresh basil and a goat or feta cheese and I can make you a week of dishes you won't recognize twice. 

Given this confidence factor I was a trace surprised when I sat down to come up with a menu for debut communal dinner at Big Red Sun on the 9th of July and had nothing. Bupkus.  Other than jamon and Manchego.  This most definitely wouldn't suffice. click here for more information.  Since we're partnering with a Tequila company I wanted to make the food more Costa del Sol less Mexican.  We live in LA.  There are a lot of great Mexican restaurants and our dinners are meant to promote something more experiential so I went hunting for recipes that piqued my interest in preparing them and promised my guests a goreous dinner.

I was soon overwhelmed by the websites and the tactile stimulation one misses when online.  I wanted a great big beautiful cookbook replete with glossy photos to peruse that would point me in the right direction.  I didn't have the right one.  And then I remembered the box of cookbooks my mother had given which belonged to my beloved brother, David, who died in February.  For obvious reasons, I had not been able to look through the box yet as it broke my heart thinking about how much my brother loved to cook and what an inspired chef he was.  I decided today was the day and asked him for a little encouragement on the way.

What I found was a cookbook that is so perfect and rich with recipes and photos that I had to call my mom right away and explain, "David just saved my dinner."  The book in question is called "Mediterranean Food of The Sun" by Jacqueline Clark and Joanna Farrow published by Hermes House.  It's a big hardbound colorful extravaganza that showcases recipes from every region of the Mediterranean highlighting Middle Eastern and European dishes.  This has become my favorite cookbook and in so many ways completely refreshing and original in a day and age when cookbooks have become manuals for making the most quotidian recipes like mashed potatoes, sandwiches, and soups.  How many times do you need to see these i print? 

So with the highest recommendation possible and if you are a lover of all things Mediterranean I suggest you check out this beautiful book.   The bonus on my end is that I've got my brother in the kitchen again and over 500 pages of recipes to enjoy with him as I plan to make each and every one in homage to his memory. 



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