Tuesday, October 5, 2021

What's Good?~~This Romesco Sauce!! #LitHappens

I was provided a copy of What's Good? A Memoir in Fourteen Ingredients by Peter Hoffman by publisher, Abrams Press.  I received no monetary compensation for this post.  All opinions are strictly my own.

What's Good

I belong to an online bookclub, led by Cam of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, called Lit Happens.  When Cam asked if any of us were interested in reading this memoir and creating a recipe found in it or inspired by it, in return for a free copy, I was all in.
Peter Hoffman was owner of the iconic Savoy Restaurant in New York City.  This memoir is written in such a way as to make you feel that you are sitting at a table, enjoying dinner and perhaps a glass of wine, while Hoffman tells you stories about his life.  


These stories are prompted by a food memory and sometimes the stories include lessons and knowledge imparted by Hoffman's experiences.  A recipe for each food memory is included at the end of each chapter.  

I didn't know anything about Hoffman prior to reading this memoir.  I had, of course, heard of the Savoy, but had no knowlege of how the restaurant came to be or who owned it.  During the course of this book, I found that I was liking Hoffman very much.  He is unpretentious, forthcoming about his mistakes and open to trying new ideas and challenges.  I think his restaurant was so successful because if he found that one of his ideas wasn't working...he was quick to change tack and try another method or idea.  

I also liked that he gave history of other aspects of the food industry that formed and shaped his opinions and beliefs.  In Hoffman's story about Maple Syrup he tells of how farmers in Vermont had to turn their sights from cattle farming to sugaring, which had previously just been a pastime for some extra cash.  Having to expand from a part time gig to a full time gig that would provide a liveable income these farmers had to devise new systems that were efficient and yet maintained the same quality.  

I also liked that Hoffman tried his best to use local farmers to supply his restaurant when possible and adapted his menu to achieve this.  

Cheese Board and Wine

There are many recipes that I want try from this book but the first that I decided to make was an adaptation of Hoffman's Romesco.  I was taking advantage of our beautiful fall weather and had invited friends over for a casual, outdoor gathering.  I had some Spanish wines that I had ordered for an upcoming event and decided to make a Spanish Cheeseboard to pair with them.  

In the days prior to this gathering, I got to the memory that Hoffman was sharing about Romesco and knew that I wanted to include this sauce on my board.  I baked up some sourdough baguettes and sliced it up for shmearing with the Romesco while noshing and sipping.

I also served the Romesco with the meatloaf that I served for dinner that day but didn't take any photos of that.  The flavors were very good with the meatloaf and I was kicking myself that I didn't add any right into the meatloaf mixture itself.

I did adapt this recipe, mostly due to the fact that Frank returned home with Anaheim peppers instead of Ancho chile peppers so I roasted and used them instead.  I also didn't have any pimentos so I just left them out.

I have never had Romesco before.  I have no idea what it is supposed to look like or taste like but I can tell you that this recipe with my adaptations was wonderful and met with great approval from those to whom I served it.

I am also linking this review up over at FoodiesRead and Weekend Cooking stop by and see what the others are reading this month.

Sauce, Spanish, Appetizer, Accompaniment
Yield: 2 cups
Author: Wendy Klik


This classic Spanish sauce is wonderful included with cheese and charcuterie board to be smeared on crackers or bread. It is also a good topping for grilled meats or meatloaf.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 30 Min


  • 1 c. whole, raw almonds with skins
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 c. olive oil + amount needed to coat the bottom of a skillet
  • 3 sourdough dinner buns
  • 2 Anaheim chile peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled 
  • 4-5 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 c. red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt to taste


  1. Place the almonds on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 350* oven for 10-12 minutes, until toasted.  
  2. Place the red and anaheim peppers onto a broiling pan and place under the broiler until charred, turning to char all sides.  This should take about 15 minutes or so.  Place the peppers into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.
  3. Pulse the buns  in a food processor until coarse crumbs are formed.  Coat the bottom of a skillet liberally with olive oil and place over medium high heat.  Add the crumbs and cook, stirring, until golden brown. 
  4. Combine 1/2 cup of the olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar in a measuring cup.  Set aside
  5. Return the crumbs to the food processor along with the toasted almonds and garlic, pulse until fine.  Peel and seed the peppers and add them to the food processor along with the tomatoes and puree until all ingredients are incorporated but still has texture.  With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil mixture until blended.  Taste and season with salt as needed. 


Adapted from a recipe found in What's Good, A Memoir in Fourteen Ingredients by Peter Hoffman

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  1. Using almonds in a tomato-based sauce is an interesting idea. I would say it's definitely Spanish! Your cheese tray is very inviting.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

  2. Such a good idea to put this on a cheeseboard!

    1. And thank you for linking up to Weekend Cooking! I really appreciate it!

    2. Thanks Marg...I hope to be back to visit Weekend Cooking each week.

  3. Ironically enough, it was Bourdain that inspired me to make my first romesco sauce (RIP). Good review and I swear I didn't steal your title idea. :(

    1. It is the perfect title...it kind of calls out for itself...

  4. I almost made this from the book because I LOVE Romesco sauce. It's one of my favorites! It looks like yours turned out beautifully and I think I'm going to have to further explore the version in the book.

    1. Great review of the book as well. I also really enjoyed his unpretentious but informative style.

    2. Thanks Nicole. I had never had Romesco before but it was very good.


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