Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Browsing through happiness

My day really couldn't have gotten off to a better start a while back: a delivery guy turned up at my doorstep, dropping off a copy of Muru-restaurant's cook book that I had won in a recipe contest with my gazpacho. I anticipated it would make me go weak at the knees and reduced me to a gooey pile of "oooohs" and "aaaahs" and sure enough it did. I was incapable of intelligent activity of any kind as I pored over the pages and caressed the photos with my fingertips (yes, this is my porn).  

Another contributing factor to the non-stop smile that day that in the end made my cheeks cramp was a note I'd just gotten: I'd finally managed to secure a dinner reservation at the restaurant itself - having for months been the hottest place in town, making tables impossible to get. 

Though apparently there's a new sheriff in town now: a couple of days ago the biggest newspaper in the country gave a historical 5-star-review to Toca, selling out all their reservations for the next three months. 

But with expectations running that high, what am I in for? Based on all the reviews and raves this is bound to end one of my favourite restaurants. If I fail to warm to this place the way the critics, bloggers and diners have, I'll need to start planning exile. Somewhere around Cambodia. But this is what you get when you set your heart on creating a no-fuss bistro serving rustic food from quality ingredients and end up with the most talked-about restaurant in the entire country so popular getting to heaven is easier than getting a table here on a Saturday night. Stay tuned - I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!

The book itself is a joy. Not only is it a collection of awe-inspiring recipes, it's also a collection of beautifully executed photos that a photophile (surely that's a word?) such as myself can't get enough of. Most importantly however, it offers a rare glimpse behind the scenes of this food phenomenon; a rare access to witness what exactly  goes into running a restaurant. It paints a picture of bunch of ambitious and passionate individuals who won't stop halfway; hard-working professionals who are doing their job for all the right reasons. The staff comes across as people who genuinely care about making sure that each diner who walks through their door leaves the restaurant bellies full of good food and happiness. 

So beautifully illustrated by Niko Backström's photos, the recipe follow French cooking, so often these days perceived as old-fashioned and well, just un petit too much. In the light of my plans for the future, currently being finalized, this particular style just might become très familiar -you  just watch this space!

One recipe I'll definitely attempt is risotto nero with scallops - seeing how I always have the ingredients at the ready. Paté is another thing I'll simply have to try - I love, love , LOVE it and always have it when ever I see it on the menu. The book definitely reignited my love of all things offal. Even if the thought of replicating an entire restaurant meal what with its foams and glazes, the book gives plenty of ideas and recipes for sauces, vinaigrettes and sides sure to elevate the dishes already in your arsenal to a whole new level.

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