There are very few cookbooks I feel lend themselves to being read like literature (not like it stops me when they're not), but they come along once in a while (The French Laundry Cookbook
comes to mind). My latest discovery is New Arabian Cuisine
, a book by a team of chefs from the J.W. Marriott in Dubai. Led by German chef Ingo Maas, they've put together a gorgeous book full of incredible photos and what look like some exciting recipes.
I came to know of the book through one of those cool eGullet opportunities; Chef Ingo was in town to check out some New York eateries, passing through on his way to a Marriott convention in San Fran, and got in touch about cool places to eat in NYC. We had dinner and got to talk about the book and I learned about his background, which is a pretty neat one.
He grew up in Germany, and when he was 19, his uncle told him that Singapore was the place to be. So young Ingo packed his bag and moved there - no job, no place to live, and, most important, no visa. He stayed for a little while and then headed to Australia, where he got a work visa and started working as a cook, then a chef. A few years later, a call came from Dubai, from a chef who was also a fellow German. Ingo headed for the Middle East 17 years ago and hasn't looked back.
The recipes in the book reflect a cuisine he's honed over many years, one that blends regional Arabian flavors with classical Western techniques. The book ends with a series of tiny bites, canapes created for the J.W.'s endless cocktail parties, which really jump-started Ingo's thinking about this kind of food.
Not for begginers, the book is full of recipes that assume you know basic methods for steaming, roasting, and so on, but this is one of the things that makes it read so well - the recipes are not pages long, but instead evoke a clear idea of the finished product. And the photos - oh my word! They were all taken on the roof of the hotel, next to the pool, in the brilliant Dubai sunshine. The food is haute and therefore stylized by definition, but the sunshine keeps it from feeling like a studio product.
I asked Ingo what his favorite recipe is, and he told me that it was the tlitli with the mushroom ragout, because it's also his daughter's favorite. It's first on my list to try, and I think you can see why...
Then again, the duck carpaccio looks pretty good, too...Pictures shared with the permission of Marriott International.
Edited by Megan Blocker, 26 March 2007 - 11:35 AM.