Monday, August 11, 2008

BOOK: Wine Bar Food

Wine Bar Food: Mediterranean Flavors to Crave with Wines to Match

by Cathy Mantuano and Tony Mantuano

Two summers ago, my mother and sister and I went on a Mediterranean cruise, starting in Barcelona and ending in Venice, with stops in Marseilles, Florence, Rome, Capri, Mykonos, Istanbul, Ephesus, and Athens. I'm not explaining this to gloat, but to show why I love this cookbook. It is divided into sections based on cities and stops around the Mediterranean Sea, with most of the above (except the Turkish ones), but also Milan, Seville, Lisbon. Each city gets a tour with recipes and suggestions. Every time I pick up this book, I relive our cruise.

The cruise left from Barcelona, so we had a night there before we departed. I had a little guide book and we managed to found a restaurant listed in it - I felt like I was on the Amazing Race. We sat outside, eating tapas, and just drinking up the atmosphere. Our waiter insisted we order tomato bread so we did. It was plain, but delicious along with everything else. I've been wanting to make tomato bread ever since.

Some nice Irish tourists next to us took our picture, that's me on the left.

There are two types of cooks: the ones who faithfully follow a recipe, especially the first time and the ones who figure they know what they want and will make changes right away. I am usually the second type, but I faithfully followed the Tomato Bread recipe from this book for our family party. It called for Serrano ham which was my concern. It's a cured bacon type meat which I didn't actually enjoy for breakfast in Barcelona, but I found it in the grocery store so I decided to be true to the recipe. The Tomato Bread was yummy and got the requisite "ooh's" from my relatives last weekend. Once the ham was mixed with the other flavors, it was delicious.

The recipe book is filled with fabulous pictures, great ideas, and suggestions for wines and cheeses and how to use canned foods that might be more readily available in North America. Some recipes look like what you would order in a restaurant but not make for yourself like the Lavender Ice Cream on Briocche from Nice or the Potato Chips with Sea Salt and Rosemary from Milan. But I have a list of recipes I'd like to try, like Fried Eggs with Mushrooms, Garlic and Parsley from Barcelona or the Barolo Risotto from Milan. Fresh vegetables and herbs, good cheeses and wines, and good olive oil are the staples of Mediterranean eating and also coincide with healthy eating. Lots of great recipes in this book mean I will be reliving my cruise and adventure for years to come.


  1. What a fun cruise! I would LOVE to go on a cruise that visits those great places! The cookbook sounds great too. I'm usually not too adventurous in my cooking, but some of those foods sound really delicious (like fried eggs with mushrooms)!

  2. What a perfect way to relive the cruise! I love it. And that cruise sounds like a blast. One of these years... maybe... I'll see some of that part of the world. Maybe.

  3. Lavender ice cream. That sounds delicious! I love the smell of lavender, love purple and love ice cream. Sounds like a great combination to me. But not on brioche (spelling?). Can you email me the ice cream recipe?

  4. laura - It was an amzing trip. Mediterranean cooking isn't real fancy, the ingredients are just a little different, due to availablity, ie lots of seafood.

    suey - you'll get there someday!

    bree - done.

  5. That Tomato Bread sounds delicious and it sounds like you were on a fabulous cruise! And now I am hungry.

    Oh, Orson Scott Card. Maybe that's a good author to read now. I keep picking them up and putting them down lately.

  6. I am not sure if I've seen a picture of you before! Hi, Elizabeth!!!!

  7. carrie k - Tomato Bread: rub a cut tomato on sliced nice bread, like a baguette, until it's soaked and pink. Maybe drizzle a little olive oil. The ones in my picture, add a slice of Seranno ham and I used a little slice of provolone Ta da!

    jill - the funny thing is, everytime I see your picture on lj, it reminds me of me. It might not look like it in this picture, but I think we look similar.

  8. What a fun way to relive your trip with your mom and sister. I had never heard of tomato bread until this year. In Feb. Candleman and I were in Arizona and had tomato bread salad and now you mention tomato bread from the Mediterranean.

  9. booklogged - isn't it weird how once you learn something new, you hear of it in a couple of places? deja new.

  10. mmmm, the cookbook looks delicious, and the cruise sounds fabulous1 I love the picture of you and your family too - you all look so happy! I might have to pick this book up - I collect cookbooks and love trying new recipes. Thanks so much for reviewing this one!


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