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A Year at Otter Farm [Hardcover]

Mark Diacono
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
RRP: 25.00
Price: 17.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 Jun 2014

'Otter Farm is all about flavour. It starts and ends with the question: What do I really want to eat?'

The taste of a perfectly ripe mulberry was Mark Diacono's inspiration for creating Otter Farm, a unique smallholding in Devon with every inch dedicated to extraordinary produce. Sprouting broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, borlotti beans and chard flourish in the vegetable patch; quince and Chilean guava grow in the edible forest; and pigs and chickens roam freely.

Here Mark shares his colourful, beautiful recipes, all brimming with flavour and with fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit - including a warm salad of Padron peppers, cherries and halloumi, a stew made from chicken, pork and borlotti beans, a curried squash and mussel soup, and cucumber ice cream, quince doughnuts and fennel toffee apples. He charts the seasonal challenges and excitements of rural living, and offers practical advice for cultivating the best of the familiar, unusual and forgotten varieties at home. With luminous photography that captures life in the kitchen and outdoors, this ground-breaking book reveals how even the most exotic and exciting tastes can have their roots in British soil.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (5 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408828618
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408828618
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 19.6 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,646 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark runs Otter Farm, home to orchards of olives, peaches, almonds, szechuan pepper, persimmons, apricots and a vineyard, as well as some more usual edibles.

It's a climate change farm, dedicated to growing the finest food in an age of transition from peak oil. Mark is also Head Gardener at River Cottage where he grows the fruit and vegetables for the cookery school, runs the courses, and leads their continuing drive for sustainability. He's passionate about encouraging everyone to grow even a little of their own food.

Mark has recently completed A Taste of the Unexpected, which includes dozens of the finest foods you can grow and cook for yourself, many of which you may not be familiar with. The book won Food Book of the Year at the Guild of Food Writers Awards 2011.

The River Cottage Fruit Handbook was published in August 2011. His River Cottage Veg Patch Handbook was published by Bloomsbury in March 2009 and won Practical Book of the Year at the Garden Media Awards 2009.

Product Description


Encyclopaedic and accessible ... Diacono paints a wonderful picture of a farm life (Guardian)

Brimming with off-the-beaten-track recipes and novel ideas ... This is a tale of culinary adventure (Sunday Telegraph)

It's thrilling to have Mark Diacono's account of what it is like actually to live the dream . a useful country companion/cookbook (Carolyn Hart, Daily Telegraph)

Excellent . full of gardening advice and palate-teasing recipes, from cucumber ice cream to quince doughnuts (Delicious)

Splendid (Bee Wilson, Sunday Telegraph)

... back at home, I have Mark Diacono's gooseberry salsa recipe in A Year at Otter Farm waiting for me: cooked in vinegar with sugar, then infused with shallots, mint, chives and lime; Diacono suggests serving it with smoked mackerel. I obey. And then I am torn between weeping at what I've been missing, and doing air-punches at the idea that from now on, gooseberries are on the menu. Big time (Emma Townshend Independent 2014-06-20)

Gorgeous (Women & Home Feel Good Food 2014-06-01)

The recipes are short, simple in methodology and easy to follow. The photos ... portray the kaleidoscopic reach of this agriculture venture beautifully (English Garden)

Perfect for the gardener seeking inventive ways of using their produce (Grow Your Own)

Beautiful photographs, and food I can't wait to cook (Saga)

Book Description

Pioneering gardener Mark Diacono's vivid account of living, growing and cooking on his adventurous British smallholding, filled with practical advice, seasonal tales and inspiring recipes.

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Customer Reviews

3 star
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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, inspirational book 14 July 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the first time I have written a review on Amazon but this book deserves attention. I'm writing this after only a couple of weeks of owning the book, but whenever I have a few minutes to spare I pick it up either for some ideas or just to escape into the pages. I had high hopes for the book and it has far exceeded my expectations!

It is a wonderful book, full of ideas both for growing and cooking interspersed with inspirational writing. If you love food, buy it. If you love gardening, buy it. If you love good writing, buy it. Basically, you should buy this book. If you're looking at this book and have got as far as reading the reviews, I recommend that you take a chance as I don't believe you will be disappointed.

The Otter Farm website (and blog) is also worth a look. Mark Diacono is clearly passionate about what he does, caring about the land, animals and plants and appreciating opportunities for growing such a wide range of produce. If I had the land and the time I'd love to replicate what he has done and never need to visit a supermarket again!

You can probably tell that I'm a very happy customer!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a beautiful, funny and inspiring book 4 July 2014
This is a beautiful, funny and inspiring book, one that makes you reach for a pen and paper to start planning what new and exciting things to grow at home. Who knew halloumi, cherries and peas would be so lush?! This would be a perfect present for the gardener and cook in your life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem and future classic 30 Jun 2014
By chris
This is a real gem and I hope destined to be a classic.
I've read all Marks books and they've all been inspirational, even to a city dweller, but this is undoubtedly the best. It has to be the most readable book about growing and cooking I have read - the (often hilarious) anecdotes and seasonal narratives lead seamlessly into a fabulous collection of recipes.
Mark has a style of writing which coaxes and encourages the reader to experiment with growing your own food - he doesn't claim it's easy and is open about the challenges and set backs - but crucially he makes you want to try.
I'm sure we're all going to hear lots more about Otter Farm over the next few years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous book 25 Jun 2014
I first came across Mark Diacono when my husband bought me a copy of A Taste of The Unexpected, which made me run out and buy, sow, beg for most of the plants in it. So I eagerly anticipated this book. It is beautiful to look at, wonderful to read, very funny, charmingly witty. And now I will just have to go and buy, sow, beg for and swap more plants, oh and cook more too! Thank you Mark.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and plenty of laughs 18 Jun 2014
This is such a gorgeous book. It is not only full of really unusual and interesting recipes that make you want to cook AND grow, but it is peppered with funny and moving stories of life on a most unusual farm. Properly funny stories that make you snort too. Mark Diacono is a fabulous writer and there are so many layers to this book. I'll be returning to this for years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Slowly but surely Mark Diacono is changing the way I look at growing things to eat. A Year At Otter Farm is cover to cover with mouth watering recipe ideas and gorgeous photography that made me want to cook and grow new things the moment I stared flicking through the pages. There's something for everyone and there's no better place to start than with 'Charlies Mojito' believe me, make one of these and you be hooked.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Charming & informative 15 Sep 2014
I gave this book to my husband for his birthday and he's delighted with it. Apart from the subject matter being hugely relevant to us (we have hens and polytunnels!), it is beautifully presented and nicely written. There's lots of information but it is also a book to dip in and out of. Having both iPads and Kindles, we don't buy a lot of books any more but this is definitely a book worth having.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious for eyes, green fingers and tummies 24 Jun 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have really enjoyed Mr. Diacono's books as a veg guide, and love his blog. This is a joyful gallop through a year in Otter Farm which makes me want to pack it all in and go and buy a big chunk of land - just so I can use it to play with and make cocktails from. A few harsh realities included in the book (pruning grapes in the wind and rain) stop it being smug and its very witty. Laughed out loud at the bit about Henry the cock being strangled when he was snoozy. This book is as much fun to dip in and out of as to read from cover to cover - I have done both.
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