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The Barcelona Cookbook: A Celebration of Food, Wine, and Life Hardcover – Jun 16 2009

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Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 36 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By Alex B. Min - Published on
Format: Hardcover
We (my wife and I) collect cookbooks for many reasons, but you know you've hit the jackpot when a certain book is simultaneously fun to read with great stories; sprinkled with useful tips and hints throughout; contains photos that make you want to pluck the food off the pages to eat; inspires you; and, oh by the way, is full of delicious recipes that do not require a degree from Le Cordon Bleu or the Culinary Institute of America to prepare.

First and foremost, we think for a cookbook to deserve a decent rating, the recipes have to work. Everything we've tried has been scrumptious thus far. Each recipe is well laid out, starting with a short introduction on the dish. Ingredients for the recipe follow and are listed logically. Easy to understand steps that make sense for any average home cook follow the ingredients.

If your mouth is not watering by the time you're done reading the recipe for "Sherry-Braised Short Ribs with Autumn Vegetables" that starts on page 95, you may not have a pulse. Even someone who can barely boil water should be able to follow the recipe for "Albondigas" (Spanish for meatballs in tomato sauce) on page 110 and easily make succulent meatballs worthy of serving to any guest. The "Roasted Beets with Cabrales and Toasted Walnuts" cold tapas on page 31 is simplicity itself, but with a "secret" trick (using a certain type of vinegar to accentuate the beets) that make the dish transcendent. I could go on and on and on.

Beyond the well laid out recipes that work, the anecdotes in the book such as "The Meat Guy" (starting on page 158) are amusing and fun to read. We don't know this meat guy, Mark Berlin, but after reading about him, we know we want to meet him someday and get our meat from him.

Whether you cook or not, if you love food, this is a great book and a must have!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Buy this book now. You won't be disappointed. June 14 2009
By Ninette Enrique - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have an extensive collection of cookbooks, including cookbooks in Spanish which I bought in Spain, but this cookbook has brought great Spanish and mediterranean cooking into my kitchen like no other. In addition to the fabulous photography and excellent writing and explanations about wine and party menus, what is striking about this book is that it accomplishes both simplicity and sophistication in all its recipes. This means that these recipes should be accessible to any home cook and to anyone who loves to entertain in style (but with low stress). I'm not a big drinker, but the cocktails like blood orange margaritas, clementine crush, and red and white sangrias, are too tempting to pass up. Some of my cookbooks end up downstairs in my bookshelves, but this one is going to stay with a coveted few in my kitchen.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Barcelona cookbook Dec 6 2009
By SJ Lee-min - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Barcelona review
What I like most about this book is that the recipes work. There are no crazy insane recipes that require an advanced degree in the culinary arts. I also finally found the best Patas Bravas and chimichurri sauce recipes. These are so common, but it's hard to find really good recipes like the one in this book. Even if you don't cook, the book is full of beautiful pictures and delicious stories so it's fun just to read as a collection of stories.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great Spanish Food, and More, Cookbook Sept. 3 2009
By Charles G. Thompson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A cookbook about Barcelona? With recipes of all those great things I ate when I was there this spring? When I first heard about 'The Barcelona Cookbook' that's exactly what I thought. Then when I received it for review I discovered that it wasn't that at all. Instead it's a cookbook based on a Connecticut restaurant group: Barcelona Wine Bar and Restaurants. The concept is tapas and wine; the restaurants have been around since 1996. The book's subtitle is: A Celebration of Food, Wine and Life. When co-owners Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer opened their first restaurant they decided to name it after the city of Barcelona because of its vibrancy, and colorful lifestyle -- its 'cosmopolitan, pan-European' feel. They wanted to evoke the feeling of eating in a restaurant along the Mediterranean coast. However, the dishes served in the restaurants, and the recipes used in the cookbook, are not solely Catalan or Mediterranean. Mahr-Batuz and Pforzheimer have traveled to Spain often so the dishes on the restaurant menus come from all over Spain, or are Spanish-influenced; Mahr-Batuz is originally from Argentina so there are Argentinian influenced dishes as well.

When I first read through the book I was surprised and pleased to see that Chef Pforzheimer gave credit to Chef Jeremiah Tower, and the Stars restaurant chefs, for teaching him hands on skills he would later use in a successful career as a chef and restaurant owner. Being that I also worked in and have an association with Chef Tower and Stars it was a comfort to see that. I knew right away he had a good cooking pedigree. I was also happy to see that Chef Pforzheimer's menu choices are influenced by what is available from local farmers and farmers markets. Another area I believe in strongly: living life locally.

I have found with other restaurant cookbooks that the recipes don't always work. It can be difficult to translate dishes made in a professional setting to the page for the home cook. Professional chefs cook differently than the home cook; they also have different equipment at their disposal. I didn't find that to be the case in the recipes I tried from 'The Barcelona Cookbook.' The recipes worked just fine. I chose to try recipes that I had recently eaten in Barcelona -- to see how they measured up. One of my favorite dishes on that trip was patatas bravas -- olive oil fried potatoes served with a spicy mayonnaise. It's a very simple dish and the cookbook's recipe for 'Catalan Potatoes Bravas' measured up perfectly. I was momentarily transported back to my favorite tapas bar in Barcelona. Being that it is currently summer I have been overwhelmed with farmer's market produce; needing to use up all those pesky organic tomatoes I made the 'Barcelona Gazpacho.' An easy recipe to follow and execute, and the added touch of a garnish of day old bread, scallions, cucumbers and green peppers made this cold soup exceptional. Since meat is almost a national pastime in Spain I decided to try a recipe for grilled steak: 'Steak Paillard.' The recipe includes a delicious bell pepper and tomato vinaigrette that is spooned over the grilled meat, as well as fried potatoes. Simple, basic and a perfect summer evening meal.

To me the book echoes what Andy and Sasa seemed to have set out to do in their restaurants: offer a fun, festive, colorful place to eat well-prepared food, drink great cocktails, and taste good wine. The book has a similar feel. The color photos are plentiful and well shot; a mixture of ingredients, dishes, kitchen and dining scenes from the restaurants, and photos of Spain. The two men state that the restaurants are foremost about entertaining people; sections of the book are devoted to throwing parties. There's a whole chapter on cocktails and wine. Interspersed throughout are little histories and commentaries on Spanish food, wine, cheese, cured meats, trips to Spain, and the city of Barcelona, among others. They also include recipes for a number of stock Spanish dishes: sangria, cazuela, albondigas, zarzuela, romesco sauce, paella, gazpacho, arroz con leche and others. Well explained cooking techniques for many of the dishes are added value. Looking at the dishes, the recipes, and the ingredient lists that include such things as olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, paprika, cured meats, seafood, and saffron rice I could easily smell and taste the food, and was almost transported back to Spain.

The book covers a lot of ground, and if I was going to offer any criticism that might be it; there's a lot contained in its two hundred plus pages. It might also suffer from a bit of an identity crisis in that I did think it was a cookbook about food from Barcelona; and it does veer away from strictly Spanish food to include dishes from South America. Once the reader understands what the restaurants are about that is easily overlooked. And if one is looking for a serious Spanish food cookbook, this is it. It has most of what you would want and need plus more. I do wish there was a recipe for one of my favorite Spanish tapas dishes: Padrón peppers. But there is enough else to make this a worthy addition to any cook's bookshelf.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Delicious recipes! Nov. 12 2009
By Magdalena - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I frequently dine at Barcelona and have always loved the food, so what could be better than having access to some of their great recipes? Even if you haven't experienced the food at Barcelona, this is great way to learn some delicious, exciting, new recipes to try at home.
The book is beautifully illustrated and the recipes are easy to work with, not to mention the food is fantastic. If you're bored with always cooking the same thing, and want try something new, this is the cook book for you.
It's becoming my go-to cookbook.
I Highly recommend it!