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Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art Hardcover – October, 2005

39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In 1975, when Miguel Ravago and Tom Gilliland opened Fonda San Miguel in Austin, a restaurant featuring authentic Mexican cuisine was a daring idea in a city where Tex-Mex food reigned supreme. As they overcame the challenges of importing ingredients from Mexico in 55-gallon drums, and attracting customers who expected a No. 1 Enchilada Dinner on the menu, a loyal clientele of adventuresome eaters began to develop. Food critics discovered the restaurant and printed rave reviews of the fresh-lime margaritas and Chef Miguel's subtle and complex dishes. Tom, a longtime aficionado of Mexican art and culture, brought furnishings and fine art from Mexico to give diners the experience of being transported to Mexico while they ate. Today Fonda San Miguel consistently ranks as one of the Southwest's top restaurants for both food and ambience.

Published to celebrate the restaurants's three decades of success, Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art presents more than one hundred recipes from the restaurant's menus over the years. The selections include many of Fonda San Miguel's signature dishes -- Ceviche Veracruzano; Enchiladas Suizas, an old favorite from Sanborn's department store in Mexico City; Cochinita Pibil and Pescado Tikin Xik, both Yucatan specialities; and Carne Asada, steak sliced and grilled in the traditional Tampico style. From appetizers like mouth-watering Chihuahua-style chile con queso to the cajeta crepes and other delicacies, the home cook can now prepare a delicious assortment of the restaurant's most popular dishes from Mexico's diverse regional cuisines. Supplementary sections contain tips on buying and cooking with the various chiles and other ingredients, like huitlacoche and nopal cactus, as well as information on basic preparation techniques, equipment, and mail order sources.

Full-color photographs illustrate special dishes as well as capture the romantic hacienda-style decor of the restaurant's lush tropical courtyard, custom-made punched-tin light fixtures, and hand-painted stuccoed walls. representative works from the impressive Fonda San Miguel art collection are also pictured with notes on the artists.

About the Author

Tom Gilliland is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and the Law School of the University of Texas at Austin. He also studied law at the Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City as well as at the American Institute of Foreign Trade (now the Garvin School of International Management)in Glendale, Arizona. A co-founder of two restaurants, San Angel Inn in Houston and Fonda San Miguel in Austin, he is an active member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) and a generous supporter of many Austin organizations. At Fonda San Miguel, Tom has hired the "front of the house" staff for many years and directs the interior design and art collection.

Miguel Ravago first learned to cook from his grandmother, a native of Sonora, Mexico. A co-founder of San Angel Inn and Fonda San Miguel, he has been a pioneer of regional Mexican cooking for more than thirty years. Miguel co-authored Cocina de la Familia with Marilyn Tausend in 1997, which won a Julia Child cookbook award in 1998 and has also been published in Spanish. He is a longtime member of the IACP.

Virginia B. Wood, a native Texan and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, began her professional cooking career as the first pastry chef at Fonda San Miguel restaurant in 1977. She went on to operate her own wholesale dessert and catering company for many years before becoming a food journalist. She is now the food editor at the Austin Chronicle and is also a member of the IACP and the Southern Foodways Alliance.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 238 pages
  • Publisher: Shearer Pub (October 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0940672774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0940672772
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 10.2 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Hollis Wayne on February 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I used to live near the Fonda San Miguel restaurant soon after it opened in Austin, back in the late 70s. One evening of dining, one bowl of corn soup, one avacado & shrimp appetizer and one memorable dinner later, I was hooked for life --- on the food, the presentation and the architecture. Now I live quite some distance away and still go there whenever I get the chance. When I heard, via an interview on our local PBS station, that there was going to be a cookbook full of the fabulous recipes, I advance-ordered it! After receiving it last fall, I ordered several more as Christmas presents for the faraway friends who also think it's the best food & dining experience in Austin. None of us have been disappointed in what we found inside the beautiful covers of this book. The food pictures, the photos of the art that hangs in the restaurant (along with the explanations of where these pictures came from), the stories about the people and how it all began, and best of all, the recipes ... it's all quite wonderful. In the few short months I've had this book, my own cooking has been transformed, and I anticipate years of exploring the delights of the tasty meals found within this amazing book. The corn soup, carne guisada and San Miguel Omelet have become staples at my house already, with occasional forays into the other savory dishes. The recipes are easy to follow and the explanations of where to find and how to prepare the more exotic ingredients are very helpful. The gorgeous pictures are all the motivation I need to try some of the unfamiliar dishes. Bravo to Tom and Miguel for making this fine book happen!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Erik Sherman on May 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The cookbook Fonda San Miguel: Thirty years of Food and Art seems to be one of those titles you see from time to time, when an established restaurant puts together a collection of recipes and a publisher hopes that name recognition will move copies. But open the cover, try some of the recipes, and you find a culinary gem.

Fonda San Miguel is a well-regarded restaurant in Austin offering Mexican cuisine. Author credits are co-founders Tom Gilliland (runs the front of the house) and Miguel Ravago (the chef) as well as "text by" Virginia B. Wood, whom is an Austin writer. The foreword is by noted Mexican cuisine expert Diana Kennedy, who apparently is a friend of the founders and whose work has inspired some of the dishes.

From first glance, the book is visually sumptuous: all color photography of the recipes and art in the restaurant with attractive design, hardbound. And here comes the first of my few quibbles: even though the publisher, Shearer Publishing, may have bought the rights to the photography, or even done it in-house, it should have given full credit to the people responsible for the actual photographic and food styling work. There also should have been better photo editing; I noticed a few out-of-focus images, one of which seemed planned and appropriate although the others looked like mistakes.

The recipes, though - marvelous. I tried four for a family dinner: guacamole, Sopa de Elote (a smooth corn soup served with roasted chiles and cheese), Adoba Sauce (pork marinade made with ancho chiles, garlic, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and black peppercorns), and Comote Y Piña (baked sweet potato puree with pineapple). The results were uniformly excellent.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Tamara on January 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I do not cook- until now. We visited this restaurant in Austin and were so impressed by the beauty of the location that when I went home, I went online and purchased the cookbook. My only intention was to be an "armchair cook" until I read how easy most of the recipes are! I'm shocked to say it, but everything has been easy and delicious. Try it, you'll love it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Terry Anderson on November 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Being an ardent and long-time fan of Fonda San Miguel Restaurant, an Austin, Texas, institution, I eagerly awaited the release of the cookbook by the co-founders and owners, Tom Gilliland and Miguel Ravago. The book is on a par with the restaurant on every level. The photography is spectacular. The photos made me salivate and brought the vibrant tastes of Fonda's food instantly to my mind's tongue. The introductions were like having a conversation with Tom and Miguel - a most intimate book. For those who have never dined at the restaurant this book will be your introduction to the delicious and intriguing foods of interior Mexico. The recipes are well written and easy to follow for cooks of all levels of expertise. With the popularity of Mexican cooking today, the ingredients are easy to procure, so now everyone can have a marvelous personal taste of Fonda San Miguel.

Terry Thompson-Anderson, author of Texas on the Plate
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By debra crosby on December 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'm ashamed to say that, although I live in Austin, I have only just recently discovered Fonda San Miguel, but once I did, I was hooked. The food is delicious, and the atmosphere is warm, inviting and beautiful. Now, with this excellent cookbook, I can enjoy the food at home. The recipes are creative and actually not difficult to follow, and seldom require exotic ingredients that are difficult to find. I am now cooking this delicious interior Mexican food at home, which I have never attempted to do before. Being a vegetarian, married to a carnivore, I am often challenged to make meals for the two of us -- no problem with this cookbook. There is enough in here for me to enjoy -- and often with just a little creativity, I can alter a recipe for myself -- and my husband loves his meat-based dishes as well. The book is aesthetically gorgeous, with photography that captures the colors of Mexico, as well as the beauty of the restaurant and of its food. Great gift for anyone who appreciates interior Mexican food, or any fellow fan of Fonda San Miguel!
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