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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silvena Rowe reinvents the food of the Levant - again, 4 May 2011
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This review is from: Orient Express (Hardcover)
Following on from last year's innovative Purple Citrus & Sweet Perfume, Silvena Rowe's "Orient Express" is subtitled "Fast food from the Eastern Mediterranean". By "fast food", don't expect too many recipes which can be quickly whizzed up - many will require time such as overnight marinading, setting in the fridge and so on. The phrase here refers to the fact that this is the kind of grub which you would expect to find on sale at street stalls and markets and delis for instant consumption, but here almost recreated anew by Ms Rowe with exotic and daring flavour combinations plus a good dose of cross-cuisine fusion too. Much here is suited to mezze style eating, ideal summer food, especially for barbecues.

The division of the book is by highlighted ingredients and flavours. So we have, with some sample dishes which have already caught my eye (apologies to seafood lovers here - I don't eat seafood myself, but be assured that there are plenty of seafood recipes in here too):

Za'atar and saffron
- Duck and black sesame za'atar kleftiko
- Spiced lamb filo cigars with za'atar and pistachio cream
- Orange and za'atar marinated halloumi with tomato and za'atar dressing

Chilli and cumin
- Duck, halloumi and green chilli spring rolls with sweet potato and almond skordalia
- Suzme and chilli marinated chicken shawarma with aubergine and red pepper salad
- Lamb moussaka rolls
- Spiced pork and cumin sausages with fennel and preserved lemon salad
- Spiced duck rillette with courgette and chilli pesto

Sumac and fresh herbs
- Chickpea, sweet potato and spinach cakes with creamed parsnip and coriander dip
- Pistachio dukkah-crusted duck with sumac onion jam
- Skordalia cavolo nero cakes topped with shredded duck confit and pomegranate
- Crushed broad beans and avocado with Parmesan and sumac biscuits
- Cardamom duck with orange and sumac infused sauce
- Lemon balm sorbet, black sesame macaroon crumble and lemon balm oil

Cardamom and honey
- Honey mashed broad beans with capers and spring onions
- Pistachio and cardamom lamb manti
- Kadaifi wrapped goat's cheese and cardamom figs with thyme flowers
- Honey and ginger roasted apricots with ricotta on green peppercorn and za'atar spiced filo
- Nine spice lamb with honey, red onion and fig compote
- Lemon thyme infused burrata with honey, berries and balsamic vinegar
- Orange and honey glazed aubergine rolls with apricot and cottage cheese

Cinnamon and flowers
- Lemon vanilla custard baklava with orange blossom syrup
- Roasted figs with orange blossom, passion fruit and mint sauce
- Rose water infused saffron and cardamom spiced lamb wraps with tahini sumac mayonnaise

The photography of dishes is excellent - not all recipes have a photograph, but most do. The book is well laid out, one recipe to a page for the most part, with clear instructions.

If Silvena Rowe keeps this up, she'll knock Diana Henry off the top spot of my favourite food writers. What delights will she come up with next?
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 May 2011 23:19:59 BDT
[Deleted by Amazon on 12 Apr 2012 15:58:14 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 5 May 2011 08:55:11 BDT
E. L. Wisty says:
Thanks Silvena!

I have so many other Eastern Mediterranean cookbooks now which are so similar to each other. With Purple Citrus and now with Orient Express it's like you are single-handedly re-creating Eastern Mediterranean food. Only got this new book yesterday and it's not necessary to have made anything from it yet to realise that there are many sensational and inventive dishes in here.

I don't get up to London much these days but would definitely like to get to Quince sometime.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 May 2011 13:09:13 BDT
meerkat says:
Lovely review - I'm waiting for my copy of the book to arrive and am now even more excited! I hope to get to Quince when it opens next month...completely agree with you about how Silvena is reshaping how we think about mid eastern food.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 May 2011 13:23:01 BDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Jul 2011 08:45:05 BDT
Sarah says:
it might be a lenghty review............... a long list of the recipes ?? Or do I miss something??

Posted on 25 Mar 2012 13:31:23 BDT
Sax 'n' snax says:
Personally I am getting a bit fed up with this apparent love-in between E.L and Silvena. I do not see too much 'phenomenal' knowledge on show (as another commenter has said, the review is mostly a long list), and I am finding the way that Silvena seizes each opportunity for self publicity for her restaurant tiresome. Bah!
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