Doà±a Tomà¡s is a book of recipes from the Oakland, California restaurant that bears the same name. It was written Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky (along with Mike Wille), who have cleverly combined the Spanish equivalent of their first names to title the restaurant.
The book begins with an inspiring forward written by Richard Rodriguez--Thomas Schnetz' uncle--where he makes interesting comparisons between Julia Child, who was quoted in her New York Times obituary as stating that she â€œcan live without Mexican foodâ€, and Diane Kennedy, expert cook and writer on Mexican cookery. Mr. Rodriguez goes on to give a brief history of Tex/Mex and Cal/Mex food and how it led to Doà±a Tomà¡s. Not surprisingly, he also finds Diane Kennedy's work more interesting than Julia Child's and after reading and cooking from this book you may also.
While this may be somewhat of a straightforward recipe book, the initial chapter titled Bà¡sicos (basics) offers useful information on ingredients, equipment, and techniques. The average reader will find the explanation of ingredients useful cachaà§a (a Brazilian spirit distilled from sugarcane), and canela (true Ceylon cinnamon) are a couple examples.
Physically this is not a large book, but the mouthwatering photos (by Ed Anderson) burst with vivid color, which makes one's mind and palate drift to the sun drenched cuisines south-of-the-border. Some of the recipes are accompanied with photos, and there are also inspired photos of various scenes and items from the restaurant itself.
The recipes are divided into five chapters: Desayuno (breakfast), Almuero (lunch), Ensaladas y Botanas (salads and sides), Cena (dinner), and Caldos y Lados (broths and sauces). The recipes are well written and easy to follow. None of them seem too difficult to recreate in the home kitchen. One of my favorites is Huevos Divorciados (fried eggs with tomatillo and tomato salsas). It's simple to make and also offers a good example of the mouth-watering photography. It also shows the author's clever sense of humor translated literally the title of the recipe means, â€œdivorced eggsâ€ the photo shows the eggs with green salsa on one and red salsa on another, clearly divorced.
At first glance this book may seem to be just another coffee table cookbook (which it would do nicely), but after reading it you'll find it a welcome addition to even to most serious cook's library. And while it is obviously an advertisement for their restaurant, it has achieved its purpose, because after browsing through the book you will no doubt want to dine at Doà±a Tomà¡s.