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Tolarno Bistro: The Life, Times and Recipes of a Remarkable Restaurant [Hardcover]

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Item Number 352090  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   272
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.7" Width: 7.6" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   2.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 28, 2008
Publisher   Allen & Unwin
ISBN  1741149568  
EAN  9781741149562  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This superbly illustrated volume celebrates the extraordinary and colourful history of one of Australia's best loved, iconic, and most influential restaurants - the Tolarno Bistro, Melbourne. "Tolarno Bistro" is packed not only with 130 of the very best recipes from throughout the restaurant's life - from the 1960's to the present day, including their renowned Hamburger - but also with tales of the many patrons that have passed through its doors, from the world's top celebrities right down to the average Joe, as well as intimate photographs taken by successive proprietors over the years.

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More About Iain Hewitson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Iain Hewitson is the proprietor of Tolarno Bar and Bistro. He is the author of "The Huey Diet," "Huey's Greatest Hits," and "Tales and Recipes from a Travelling Cook,"

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Business & Investing > Industries & Professions > Hospitality, Travel & Tourism   [492  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > Gastronomy > History   [310  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > General   [7182  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Cooking, Food & Wine > Regional & International > European > French   [104  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Decent, but not much original except the Australian contexts  Oct 10, 2008
Tolarno Bistro was a famed Melbourne dining institution from 1964 to 2006. This book is written as a testimony of the now closed bistro - the first offering faithfully French bistro fares in Australia - by its last owner Iain Hewitson, a well known TV chef in his own right in the country, and his good friend food commentator Bob Hart of the Melbourne Herald Sun. In general, the history section was written by Hart while recipes are compiled by Hewitson.

Hart has successfully weaved the story of the bistro from its opening in 1964 with Georges and Mirka Mora as the first owner, then the famed Melbourian Leon Massoni, and eventually Iain Hewitson and Ruth Allen, together with a list of classical bistro recipes such as onion soup, steak au poivre, braised veal shanks, steak tartare, lemon tart, chocolate mousse, and new dishes developed by Hewitson at the bistro including the Tolarno burger. Recipes wise they are not particularly original, a fact Hewitson explicitly acknowledged, and he does point out to readers a great many recipes are from Maggie Beer (of Australia), Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, Patricia Wells' Bistro Cooking, among others, although there are Hewitson's touches here and there about how to source the best ingredients and prepare the dishes properly.

The human interest story is another matter. I learned a great deal about the contexts of which the Tolarno bistro set, from a still-largely Anglo-Celtic and decidedly traditionalist Melbourne of 1964 where mayonnaise was still prepared in the old British substitute recipe of condensed milk mixed with vinegar, to a post-colonial multiethnic cosmopolitan Melbourne of 2006 where the Chinese food offered at the likes of the Flower Drum restaurant could compete favourably against even the best back in Hong Kong and China. I read with delight about how Mirka Mora, a good artist in her own right, decorated the walls of the bistro with images of angels, geese, serpants, flowers and other fantastical creations, about how Messoni years meant flawless consistent services, and about the funny tale at one point during the early Hewitson years that everyone only wanting the Tolarno burger that Hewitson threatened to abandon the name altogether and rename the place Huey's Burger Bar. All are enjoyable reads by themselves.

It must be noted as with almost all testimonial/memoir types books written by insiders, this book glosses over episodes of blues of the bistro (I'm not an Australian myself, but I gathered things were awful at the bistro after Massoni sold it in the late 1980s and before Hewitson and Allen took over), and decidedly, the other side of the story of Hewitson shut the shop for good in 2006 is of course conveniently left out - some souls pointed out rather than the landlord hiking the rents, it was Hewitson who refused to refurbish the premises. Just to let reviewers know, and this is all over the media in Melbourne, the premises where the bistro stood has been renovated and taken over by another blue blood Melbourne restaurateur Guy Grossi and is now a casual dining establishment called Mirka at Tolarno serving a mix of generic Mediterranean-inspired and retro classical cuisines, and this of course is veering outside the scope of this review.

But back to this book: in general, I recommend you to source instead Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook for a more complete introduction to standard bistro recipes, while John W. Fischer and Lou Jones's Bistros and Brasseries holds a lot of promises as well. Some explicitly French bistro cookbooks include The Bistros, Brasseries, and Wine Bars of Paris by Daniel Young, and Paris Bistro Cooking by Linda Dannenberg. If your interests lies somewhat in localized bistro-inspired cooking, and US West Coast cookbooks or Australian cookbooks will suffice but I would especially recommend Bistro by Philip Johnson, American Bistro by Diane Rossen Worthington, and Bistro Laurent Tourondel by Laurent Tourondel are the best books to pursue. I would say this book probably offers a few memorable reads along with Hewitson's tips, but even this could be found among scores of similar books. But if you are from Australia or New Zealand, the French bistro recipes are already set with familiar locally available ingredients and local cooking terms, so this may suit you as the first reference for cooking French bistro fares.

Not recommended for people living outside Australasia, if your primary purpose is to look for French bistro fares.

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