665 of 684 people found the following review helpful
St Otto of Lenghi , we love you.,
This review is from: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (Hardcover)
Moro, Jamie, Diana (Henry) ... I've bought all those books this year, excitedly scanning through them and bookmarking the pages of lots of yummy looking recipes to try. But how many have I actually got round to trying? Probably one or two recipes per book. They inspire, excite and suggest other ideas, but as for slavishly following the recipe, nah - you can kind of work it out for yourself.
But St Otto is different - every meal we've eaten this week has been a revealing and faithful recreation of his great works on the streets of London. Admittedly I was already a convert. Ever since his huge, puffy piles of meringues beckoned me into the tiny Notting Hill shop about 4 years ago, I have been hooked. St Otto takes simple, everyday ingredients you use all the time at home - broccoli, chilli, garlic and olive oil, for example - and somehow transforms them into something magical that tastes so much more than everyday. You come out of their shops thinking 'How did they do that? How did they make that aubergine taste so smoky? Why don't my mushrooms taste like that when I fry them in olive oil? Why is their lemon and pistachio cake so squidgy?
Well, the cookbook generously reveals all. Garlic and lemon are likely to be involved (they start by saying that if you don't like lemon or garlic, you should skip to the end) - but there are no weird secrets underpinning the Ottolenghi magic. No intricate labours of love. This is easy to prepare food that is perfect for relaxed meals with big groups of friends.
They just have an extraordinary understanding of which flavours and ingredients work well together and how to combine them in just the right amounts (usually more generous than you are used to) to create something that piques your interest as well as your tastebuds. You can spot that they lived an interesting life as journalists and philosophers before following their love of food, as the book is a joy to read, with a style that is as warm and relaxed as the food itself. These are people you want to come and sit down at the table and share the food with you.
If you like modern, light and singingly fresh food that draws on the best of the Middle Eastern side of the Mediterranean, this is the book for you. If you think you already know how to knock up easy meals like roast turkey breast, couscous salad and french beans with hazelnuts without needing to invest in a cookery book, thank you very much, then it's even more imperative that you buy this book as it will lift both your everyday meals or cooking for friends to new heights. As for me, I'm off to check the price of Kenwood Chefs so I can recreate the joy of their meringues or brioche in my own home too. Praise be!
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 8 Oct 2008 17:38:34 BDT
emma who reads a lot says:
I love this review. This is like my favourite cookbook review ever. Can't you review everything?
In reply to an earlier post on 1 Jan 2009 13:39:16 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 12 Feb 2009 18:28:55 GMT]
In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2009 18:29:11 GMT
Posted on 7 Mar 2009 14:25:35 GMT
Lora J. B. Fullagar says:
Thanks for taking the time to write such a thorough review, much appreciated!
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Apr 2009 22:16:48 BDT
victoria sponge says:
Hello Emma who reads a lot....What a lovely thing to say! THat has really made my day! I wrote the review ages ago (when the book first came out) and haven't been back to read it since. But I really meant every word. Ottolenghi is just fabulous. I made their turkey and sweetcorn meatballs with red pepper sauce for a party recently and although they don't sound that delicious (turkey meatballs sounds so schools dinnerish) the dish was just amazing.THere really is an Ottolenghi magic. So hope the review did actually persuade you to buy the book and that you are a convert too!
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Apr 2009 22:17:55 BDT
victoria sponge says:
And dear Mr Dumpty
No, not related. Wish I was, then they'd cook for me everyday!
Posted on 7 Jun 2009 10:37:41 BDT
D. Taylor says:
Posted on 17 Jun 2009 19:15:51 BDT
X. F. says:
D. Taylor - I think that's a little unfair. No, sorry, I think it's a lot unfair. Customer reviews are only ever personal opinions, and surely you can take enthusiasm with a pinch of salt if you like without being so mean. However - why am I focusing on grumpiness when what I really want to say is thank you for an interesting and inspiring review. I hadn't heard of Ottolenghi before, but I'm certainly going to find out more.
In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jul 2009 11:10:40 BDT
CJH France says:
I think this is a informative and well-written review. Far better value than any snide remarks about PR hype or putative relationships to the book's author/s. Based on VS's review (and others) I've just added the book to my basket. Thanks to all who've taken the time to share their opinions about the book.
Posted on 5 Mar 2010 17:22:32 GMT
D. T. McDonnell says:
This perceptive review addresses a major issue I have with cookbooks, namely, paying good money for recipes that most good home cooks can do instinctively. How many of us have been seduced by beautiful photography only to discover, on closer examination, that the recipe is something we could drum up ourselves? That this book goes beyond the ordinary tempts me into buying. In fact, I'm about to press that button now. Thanks.