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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Celebrity Adventuring in Spain Reveals the Simple Dishes Are the Best
I have to admit my purchase of this book had less to so with the presence of Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover than the appetizing recipe for slow-roasted chicken on page 245. A quarter-pound of diced pancetta, a quarter-pound of diced pork sausage, two cups of chicken stock and one big chicken...six hours in a pot in a low-heat oven, and you have slow-roasted...
Published on October 26, 2008 by Ed Uyeshima

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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bought the book for only one recipe...and it was changed!
Don't get me wrong, I loved the series - and the book is ok. I bought the book for only one recipe - the paella. The paella from the master paella guy. He made it for 4-6 people and only put in 100g of rice. Even Batalli was amazed at the scant amount of rice and he had to tell us in the series that the norm for pasta is usually 100g per person (he is always...
Published on April 3, 2009 by A. K. P. Wilde


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69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Celebrity Adventuring in Spain Reveals the Simple Dishes Are the Best, October 26, 2008
This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
I have to admit my purchase of this book had less to so with the presence of Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover than the appetizing recipe for slow-roasted chicken on page 245. A quarter-pound of diced pancetta, a quarter-pound of diced pork sausage, two cups of chicken stock and one big chicken...six hours in a pot in a low-heat oven, and you have slow-roasted chicken. That's the kind of easy, rustic cooking that even I could execute. Even though Batali is known more for his Italian roots, he is quick to point out in the book's introduction that his passion lies in Spanish cuisine since he spent his formative years with his family traveling through the Iberian Peninsula. His focus with this pleasing combination travel and cookbook is on the time-honored classic dishes which rely on fresh ingredients more than fancy kitchen techniques. For an in-and-out cook like me, that is the primary draw of this book.

Beyond that, it is obviously a companion piece to PBS travelogue series, Spain... On The Road Again, currently running on PBS of which I have watched only a couple of episodes. While the program is predictably picturesque and oriented to the food they eat, it also meanders quite a bit in following an affable celebrity quartet traipsing all over the country in a semi-reality show format. Batali and Paltrow, already an odd pair, are joined by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and Catalonian actress Claudia Bassols. Their chemistry wavers depending on how they are paired and what the setting is, for example, the sequence on the Santiago de Campostela pilgrimage seemed endless. There is no question that Batali dominates the show, and his tendency toward know-it-all remarks can prove rather grating. The benefit of the book is that his attitude does not seem as pronounced in print, and what you focus on are the interesting travel and food facts all four collect about Spain, as well as a nice photo album of their trip. Granted there are silly sidebars in which each shares personal opinions in true Playboy centerfold fashion about their favorite candy bars, driving music, ice cream flavors, and even what they want to find on their hotel room pillow at night. On the upside, interesting reflections are provided on the restaurants and famous sights they visit like the Alhambra in Granada and the Guggenheim in Bilbao (including a brief interview with its architect Frank Gehry).

The sum of these features certainly makes for a nice coffee table book just in time for the holidays, but the beauty of the book really lies in the surprisingly easy-to-follow recipes for the food featured on the show, and that's what will keep it from collecting dust on the bookshelf. The Gypsy Salad from Madrid (page 326) offers a very Spanish combination of bacalao (salt cod), eggs, potatoes and oranges. The Pan Con Tomate (page 168) sounds like an Iberian-style bruschetta, while Torrijas (page 28) looks like a savory French Toast. The Rabo de Toro from Córdoba (page 195) is like an oxtail stew only with bull's tails if you can find them (though oxtails apparently work fine as a substitute). There's even a dish that Paltrow made up called Gwyneth's Clams (page 82) which consists of steaming clams, garlic, dry white whine and olive oil in a pot. That's it. Even a dish as comprehensive as Valencian Paella (page 316) does not seem so intimidating since not all the ingredients are essential to make this a hit at a dinner party. By the way, I find it intriguing that neither Bittman nor Bassols are mentioned on the cover as co-authors like Paltrow, yet both contribute as much to the running commentary as their more famous companions.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bought the book for only one recipe...and it was changed!, April 3, 2009
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This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
Don't get me wrong, I loved the series - and the book is ok. I bought the book for only one recipe - the paella. The paella from the master paella guy. He made it for 4-6 people and only put in 100g of rice. Even Batalli was amazed at the scant amount of rice and he had to tell us in the series that the norm for pasta is usually 100g per person (he is always comparing everything to an Italian equivalent, which is annoying). Even so, he said it was the BEST paella he has ever had. Many years ago, I was an exchange student in Castellon and this is exactly the paella I used to eat. You eat it out of the paella pan (which in Spanish we just call the paella), which sits in the middle of the table. Even though you are feeding 4-6, the paella pan is enormous - you just want a 1/2 inch thick amount of food - the 100g of rice the master put in was absolutely right. So, I ordered the book out of nostalgia. To my disappointment, Batalli adjust the recipe and includes 2 cups of rice! The scant amount of rice is surely a good secret to know, that and a very big paella pan.
I like Mario, but you have to wonder because the guy has been coming to Spain for decades and wasn't familiar with pisto or the ensaimada in Mallorca... Shame on you Mario for not giving us the recipe from the series! That is what the book is supposed to be about!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Celebrities go adventuring in Spain, February 9, 2009
This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
Mario Batali has several excellent cookbooks he was written. Spain has a delightful and unique cuisine. This book fails to combine the two. I think this book makes an ok coffee table book at best. Many beautiful pictures of pain, food ingredients, scenery, and photos of the author is what the book is mostly comprised of. This book is thin on recipes, and recipes are simple. One recipe for serving pineapple was chopped pineapple, zest of a lime, and 2 tablespoons of molassas. To me, that is a preparation, and not a real recipe.

So if you are looking for a coffee table book and you like Mario Batali, this may be a good choice for you. Beautiful pictures, and tid bits about Spain make this book interesting. If you are looking for definitive recipes of Spain, you need to look elsewhere, this book is extremely thin on recipes.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boy, have they got my number!, November 22, 2008
By 
Maria Dia (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
Spain on the Road Again, the tv show plus book, is a complete fantasy come true. I love it. It may help that I have been to about half the places in Spain that they describe, but it is beautifully done escapism. The recipes I've tried are great. The book is totally worth it, from one who almost never buys cookbooks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go For A Wonderful Ride!, December 22, 2008
This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
Spain, A Culinary Road Trip by Mario Batali (with Gwyneth Paltrow) is, quite simply, a wonderful book. I received it as a gift and immediately plunged in, seeking out those Spanish culinary delights that I've come to love during my annual treks. Much to my delight, I encountered numerous items that I normally wouldn't try. However, given the interesting descriptions, I've decided the next time I'm in Spain I'll be expanding my palate.

The book itself may seem like your typical coffee table tome. Don't be fooled. Sure, the book contains many photographs but they are handsomely integrated with the recipes and text. Batali and Paltrow put the food into cultural context, one of the things I appreciate most about this book. Furthermore, the photos show a bunch of people having a great time. The enthusiasm and love for the people and food of Spain literally leaps off the page. You'll meet ordinary people as well as famous chefs courtesy of this duo.

Of course, I'm an easy sell in this department. During my many trips to Spain, I've come to love the culture. Still, I've seen my share of travel, history, and cooking books. This one is among the best. In some ways it brings to life portions of H.V. Morton's A Stranger in Spain. If you are even remotely interested in the subject, don't hesitate to plunk down your cash. You will not be disappointed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Recipes, Recommended Restaurants, and a Travelogue of Spanish Cuisine., April 6, 2010
This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
"Spain: A Culinary Road Trip" is the companion book to the 2008 PBS series "Spain: On the Road Again", in which chef and restaurateur Mario Batali, New York Times food critic Mark Bittman, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, and the multilingual Catalan actress Claudia Bassols criss-crossed Spain in search of great cuisine and sight-seeing. Mario Batali was the impetus behind that project, and he is the author of this book, which is a cross between a cookbook, a travelogue, and ad for Spanish tourism. There are 13 chapters, each corresponding to an episode of the television series and exploring a different city or region, beginning and ending in Madrid.

About 70 recipes are included. Most are simple, with only a handful of ingredients. This isn't a bad thing, as these dishes are inviting, relatively easy to prepare, and preserve the freshness and lively flavors of their primarily ingredients. Some cooks might have preferred to have a smattering of more complex recipes mixed in, however. There are a lot of seafood recipes, some vegetarian, and some meat. Dessert recipes are scarce. And Batali couldn't resist including a few dishes that are not for the squeamish (and not for vegetarians or pescetarian), like "cochinillo asado" (sucking pig) and "frito mallorquín" (containing lamb heart and liver).

Batali writes a little about each location the foursome visited: the restaurants, people they met, places they shopped, culinary specialties they savored, etc. Beyond the recipes, this is useful as a reference for those restaurants and artisanal products that you may have seen in the television series. So if you plan to visit Spain anytime soon, you will be able to find some of the great food that left you salivating. Conversations and quotes from the intrepid foodies are interspersed throughout. There are hundreds of color photos of food, people, and places. In the back, you'll find a list of restaurants and hotels, a recipe index, and an index of people and places.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars picture book, March 3, 2010
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This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
I loved the TV program but the book kinda let me down. I didn't find the book to be a very entertaining read and the recipes are just OK. On a positive note, the pictures are absolutely wonderful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars so much better than i expected it to be, October 12, 2010
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This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
i actually bought the book by mistake whilst looking to buy the dvd collection spain on the road . what a mistake to make .Its brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book about Traveling and Eating in Spain, November 22, 2008
By 
Doug "dcb" (Holladay, Ut United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
A lot of time and energy went into this book with beautiful pictures and remarkably fun dialogue and stories. If you've already visited Spain, this book will make you want to go back. If you haven't been there yet, I'm sure you'll want to put Spain at the top of your list. Part of the fun is the teasing and laughing between the characters, Mark, Mario, Gwyneth and Claudia. It is obvious that they had the time of their lives over there and all of this fun and enjoyment of food translate very well into the book.

If Mario says it's the best place in the world for food, that's saying a lot. I've noticed that Mark, the minimalist on the NY Times has translated his experience into some of his current column.

Pick this book up to read about the culinary world of Spain or give it as a nice gift for Christmas or in lieu of a bottle of wine next time you're invited to a party.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love this Book, April 25, 2009
By 
Lena "lena_dahling" (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spain...A Culinary Road Trip (Hardcover)
I have to be honest, this may not be the greatest cookbook, recipe-wise, in that it doesn't have a lot of them and it's mostly filled with pictures and other stuff, but if you've seen the show and sat, mouth-watering, like I have, you'll love this book for capturing the same adventurous, exotic, and ultimately succulent recipes for you to revisit and try on your own. I know for sure that I will not be recreating most of these recipes, but the ones that I will are just so amazing that they more than make up for it. I see this book more as a treasury of good food, good times and a healthy way of life we should all be living, and it makes me smile just flipping through its colourful pages. For that reason, it's one of my favourite cookbooks.

Other faves:
Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone: Recipes to Put You in My Favorite Mood
Gordon Ramsay's Sunday Lunch: And Other Recipes from the " F Word " : And Other Recipes from " The F Word "
Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook
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Spain...A Culinary Road Trip
Spain...A Culinary Road Trip by Mario Batali (Hardcover - October 21, 2008)
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