Book review: Mediterra

By Joe Lutrario

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Mediterra book review Ben Tish

Related tags Mediterra Ben Tish Cubitt House

Cubitt House chef director Ben Tish is on familiar territory with this collection of simple yet distinctive Mediterranean recipes.

Ben Tish’s fifth cookbook differs from most Mediterranean cookbooks because it covers the whole of the Mediterranean basin. The book is divided into Northern Shores - including obvious places like Spain and France but also Slovenia and Croatia - Eastern Shores, Southern Shores and Islands. 

Tish - who is chef director at upmarket pub restaurant group Cubitt House - knows this large and diverse area well having previously overseen the food at Charlotte’s Street Norma, Salt Yard Group and Al Duca in St James’s. As one would expect given the source material, the dishes are in general quite simple and never chef-y (this is a book that is largely aimed at the home cook). 

That said, Tish’s recipes are as detailed as they are carefully written and are often takes on less obvious dishes from the region including fritules (Croatian doughnuts); hariri (a hearty meat and lentil stew from Algeria); and knafeh (a Palestinian celebration cake). Recipes for more familiar dishes tend to offer a twist, for example gnocchi is partnered with bottarga, bay leaves and dried chillies; and fried squid is enlivened with samphire and preserved lemon.  

Other stand out dishes from Mediterra - which follows the success of books on Moorish food, Sicilian food and chargrilled food - include potato, onion and sheep’s cheese torte with thyme, rosemary and slow-cooked garlic; and a rich Provençal-style beef daube with cinnamon and orange that’s served with a persillade. 

Mediterra: Recipes from the islands and shores of the Mediterranean 
Ben Tish 
Number of pages: 304
Must try recipe: Baked crab with Oloroso and marjoram
Publisher and price: Bloomsbury, £26

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