April 11, 2014

Two Short Cookbook Reviews: Toro Bravo and Ottolenghi

Shelf Awareness sometimes sends me cookbooks for review; especially around the holidays. These are two I reviewed last Christmas, and I've been meaning to share them with you since! Toro Bravo wasn't as much my style; but Ottolenghi was gorgeous. It made me wish I had the patience to cook that slowly, or that I could just go visit an Ottolenghi restaurant in London immediately. (Although really, it's not hard to make me want to go to London immediately.)

Toro Bravo

John Gorham, chef and owner of Portland, Ore.'s popular Toro Bravo, has created a cookbook/memoir to share details of his life, cooking philosophies and recipes. The first section of Toro Bravo documents his childhood, how he came to be a chef and how he started his Spanish-inspired restaurant. His story is sometimes shocking (and rather profane), but it's also funny and fascinating. Then Gorham delves into the recipes, including spring onions with salbitxada (a Catalan sauce), spicy octopus and prawn stew and a bacon manchego burger. Each recipe has an accompanying vignette about why it's on the Toro Bravo menu--or where Gorham first learned to cook it.

Big bold fonts and bright photographs match Gorham's in-your-face style. Anyone wishing to cook some delicious Spanish food, or who enjoys food memoirists like Anthony Bourdain, will enjoy Toro Bravo.

Rating: 3 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? I wouldn't. His profanity is also very Bourdainesque. 


Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi follow up their 2012 cookbook, Jerusalem, with Ottolenghi, a compilation of the most popular recipes from their four London restaurants. Ottolenghi and Tamimi's respective Jewish and Palestinian backgrounds clearly form the backbone of their cooking and baking, and their style has been infused with British elements that make for enticing dishes.

Luscious photographs document recipes ranging from cauliflower and cumin fritters with lime yogurt and zucchini-wrapped lamb kebabs to a sweet-and-spicy beef and pork pie to peach and raspberry teacakes. The descriptions accompanying each recipe are mouthwatering; the many photographs of Ottolenghi employees and customers bring the food they're making and eating to irresistible life.

Recipes include both weights and measurements and are detailed in methodology. Ottolenghi would make a perfect gift for gourmands and Mediterranean-aficionados alike.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Should I recommend this to my grandma? Sure!

Which cookbook would YOU prefer?

I originally wrote these reviews for Shelf Awareness. And the cover images are affiliate links; thanks for supporting Quirky Bookworm.