The U.S. has been slow to embrace Spanish cuisine, and there are only a few ambitious Spanish restaurants even in New York (I'm thinking of Casa Mono, La Fonda del Sol, Aldea, Tia Pol, Sala One Nine and Boqueria).
So it's a pleasure to have a new one join their ranks. As in Spain, Spanish restaurants in America generally fall into one of two very different camps: rustic, with casual interiors and simple dishes based on traditional ingredients such as ham, shellfish and lamb; or avant-garde, with high-concept dining rooms and menus that use the full complement of molecular gastronomy pioneered by Adrià. Bar Basque, part of the China Grill Management group, leans towards the latter approach in ambience, but straddles the line when it comes to the menu and wine list.
Two new cookbooks embody dramatically different approaches to food and wine. Both appeal to me, but their juxtaposition suggests a major fault line in our current culinary culture.
The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook features photos of celebrity chefs and recipes for barbecue, burgers, comfort and casual food; Grands Crus Classes: The Great Wines of Bordeaux, with recipes from Top Chefs of the World pairs the 85 classified growth châteaus with dishes that are classic in approach, featuring beef, lamb or poultry with reduction sauces.
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