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Cook España, Drink España! Review

Spain’s hottest young chef Mario Sandoval, Michelin star winner at just 27 years old, takes us on a gastronomic tour of his country as a celebration of the diversity of Spanish food and wine.

It does indeed travel through all the seventeen autonomous regions of Spain with an introduction to the area by John Radford the award-winning wine journalist and member of the Gran Orden de Caballeros de Vino an honor for an Englishman.

Somewhere in the depths of planning this book, a core elemental seems to have been missed. Great information, fantastic potos, famous names but it’s almost as if two books were at the last momento thrown together as one.

Yes it’s a good read, but it’s not obviously aimed at the new to Spanish Gastronomy group, if so it is not detailed enough. If it’s for the more understanding cook and wine connoisseur then there is also something lacking.

From Andalucia in the south to Galicia in the north and the harsh lands of Extremadura bordering Portugal to the Mediterranean Coast of Valencia Sandoval and Radford pour out their own particular area of knowledge.

Each section has its introduction, a collection of four dishes from traditional with a twist, modern to avant-garde . Many of the ingredients featured in the dishes would not be freely available outside Spain rendering some of the récipes useless.

And others such as white-bean stew with black pudding and chorizo are the very basic fare of my country neighbours, unappealing either in reality or Sandoval’s versión with a profesional photographer at hand.

John Radford has then chosen three wines to go with each dish, without saying why. No tasting notes here or even any alternatives. It seems that maybe the book was planned for English speakers of Spain.

The Wine Tips suggest an everyday wine, a Sunday lunch wine and a Special Occasion wine. I for one will not be having Cocido Madrileño or Chickpea stew with vegetables and assorted meats for a Special Occasion meal with a mega-expensive wine!

It would have been great to see some explanations on why a particular wine had been paired with a particular dish, a few ripe sentences on taste, texture etc. And what it is about that individual choice that the expert says goes so well with each recipe.

Enjoyable in parts, but far from the best cookery book I’ve seen.

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