Without doubt this is my favourite cook book at the moment. It's been siting on my desk for a month, where others have been dumped by the side of the bookcase. Ironically Alan had a great deal of trouble getting this book published, and ended up publishing it himself. This makes the resulting book even more remarkable, because the dishes are fabulous and the pictures make you want to get yourself straight to his restaurants.
The Concept: The book is divided into the following sections:
The Start ~ The Journey ~ Starters ~ Mains ~ Cheeses ~ Desserts, and Basics.
There are a number of quotations alongside beautiful shots of the countryside. The photographer Mark Law, get's his own section - Julia Charles, the nutritionist gets a section - favoured suppliers get a section... This book is a celebration of Alan's journey, and the people who have helped him along the way.
Recipes are well laid out, and Alan offers tips on the preparation of the dish. He also notes where dishes can be pared down to produce an easier home version of a restaurant dish.
Favourites include pressed tomato terrine, tomato jelly, Picadon goat's cheese and Bloody Mary sorbet / the most beautiful Bouillabaisse I've ever seen / and wild strawberry marshmallow, iced vanilla parfait & scented strawberry puree.
The cheese section includes pairings for accompaniments, and offers wine suggestions. It's such a refreshing change for cheese to be included in the menu structure.
Astonishingly there are 233 basic recipes, which include everything from chutneys to accompany the cheese, vinaigrette's, a liquorice sauce, espuma recipes, stock, confit, jelly, ice-cream and everything in-between. It's an incredibly detailed selection, but more to the point, it's an act of incredible generosity on the part of Alan.
Who's going to read it? This book is really a book to inspire cooks - I can't recommend it enough.