Tapas with Liam Tomlin is the most heavenly book imaginable. It’s a book to drool over, to sit for hours earmarking recipes and planning get-togethers. It’s all about the style of food Liam likes to cook and the way he likes to eat … with lots of different tastes, textures and cooking styles. It’s crammed with inspiring, exceptionally styled photos of food you just long to re-create.
What this isn’t, is a book for scaredy-cat cooks. Or for those with timid taste buds. It kicks off fairly safely with potato and chorizo tortilla, but before long it’s all braised pig’s head with bacon and egg, and sautéed frogs’ legs with wild mushrooms, parsley purée and truffle dressing. The Basic Recipe section includes walnut tuile and duck liver parfait and bao buns, for heaven’s sake. Delicious? Yes. But basic? Maybe not so much. You need a certain amount of skill and dedication – and time – to follow many of the recipes. Of course there are loads and loads of dishes that are less daunting … the tomato tart with Parmesan catalan, basil and olives is time-consuming but delicious; the pancetta-wrapped prawns with crab and spring onion risotto is possibly our favourite recipe from the book.
Liam, an Irish chef who worked in restaurants around the world before moving to Cape Town where he’s opened restaurants including the original Chefs Warehouse 10 years-or-so ago and more recently Chefs Warehouse Maison in Franschhoek, describes his way of cooking as being focused on technique and on extracting as much flavour as possible to create tasty and well balanced dishes. This is the second edition of his book – the first, self-published, was only available at his restaurants. An exceptional buy for a real foodie. Penguinrandomhouse, R399.