Friday, December 07, 2007

Cookbook Watch - Mesa Grill & Isabel's Cantina


Swedes love "latin" food. Well, here, we pretty much call it tex-mex. And let me tell you, Swedes love their "tex-mex". Which means, in a nutshell, tacos. And sometimes nowadays burritos and fajitas too. Let me tell you what's NOT common, at all: beans. And there are no corn tortillas to be found. And no fancy corn chips - just regular yellow ones, with or without cheese flavor. There are a few different kinds of salsas, but very few chillies to be found in most stores. However, to get an idea of how popular this is, I'd say that most Swedish families eat "tex-mex" at least every month. Which is quite a lot for a country so far from Mexico, and with absolutely no Mexican immigration.

We like a little more variation, but we usually stick to quesadillas and guacamole. (When you have such a winning concept, why not stick to it?) Always with lots of fresh coriander - cilantro - the wonderful little herb that I fell in love with when I lived in California, and then couldn't find here. Well, now I can, it's everywhere. Thankfully.

Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook book jacket

Ok, this post isn't about my love for latin food or cilantro, but about two new cookbooks that I'm really excited about. The first one is Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill cookbook. I don't really have any concept of who Bobby Flay is, and I'd never heard of Mesa Grill. But let me tell you, I'd love to have dinner there. Since I probably never will, I'm glad I have the cookbook. This really seems to be the genuine restaurant dishes, and I do like that in a restaurant cookbook. And a lot of it sounds so incredibly delicious! The genre is apparently more southwestern than mexican - honestly, it's not that distinguishable to me, but then again, I'm far away. There's no doubt what I'll make first though: Queso Fundido. That's melted cheese, my friends! With MORE melted cheese! And a spicy vinaigrette on top. It has to be amazing. (And now I'm hungry!)

Isabel's Cantina book jacket

The second is Isabel's Cantina by Isabel Cruz. This is a really cool book - there's a lot of focus on fresh and healthy eating, and it's a bit more accessible than Mesa Grill. It's stuff that I could easily make at home - and I can't wait to play around with the recipes here, everything sounds absolutely delicious. It's also fun with its slightly crossover styles - Isabel Cruz noticed that a lot of cuisines are slightly similar - like mexican and thai share a lot of ingredients and spices, and she plays on this with her recipes. Definitely interesting!

Both books are really beautiful - the photos are great, the layout is nice, and both are packed with interesting recipes that I really want to try. Both would make really good christmas presents for the eager home cook. If I had to choose, I'd go with Isabel's Cantina as it seems slightly easier, and edgier. But it's a very close call - that's for sure!


Ann-Louise said...

I know that Sweden is far far away from Mexico but it´s just such a shame that we're missing out on such delicious food! I also lived in California for several years and grew completely addicted to it. I've complained about the absense of a good mexican resaurant in Gothenburg before and I'm still waiting for one to open!

Anonymous said...

I love Bobby Flay! His style is a little bit more Southwest than Mexican... but from watching his show on the Food Network, all this seems to mean is that he includes a lot of fruit in his savory dishes and stays away from the gloppy, cheesy, beany texture of most of our "tex-mex." He does a lot of really simple grilled meats with chutneys like mango and peach... if he's included any grilled dishes in his new cookbook, definitely try them. They're to die for.