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K. Johnston (Hove, UK)
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The Three Chimneys: Recipes and Reflections
The Three Chimneys: Recipes and Reflections
by Shirley Spear
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three Chimneys, Four Stars, 28 Oct. 2008
Just finished reading Shirley's lovely book. My partner and I recently ate at the Three Chimneys and enjoyed one of the best meals we've ever had. Thus the book is a delight both as a souvenir of our visit, and in and of itself. Shirley's reminiscences are a joy to read - I loved hearing how she and her family took their dreams and made them a reality, and her evocative musings on Skye, fresh, seasonal produce, and life at the restaurant. And her recipes are also wonderful - and includes one for the Famous Hot Marmalade Pudding, which, believe me, is divine. The food photography is also good enough to make you salivate.

I have one or two niggling criticisms: for me, the format is too large - it is such a personal book I think it would work better as a smaller, thicker format, like a book you might read and cook from, the editing could be a bit tighter in one or two places (three mentions in as many pages that langoustines are alternatively known as prawns - once is ample), and I think it's a mistake to hold back content for a second book and repeatedly tell the reader so, then leak little scraps of it anyway - this feels like less of a 'tease' and a bit more like cheating the reader of content, or, more simply, poor organisation. Neither works well.

However, that's perhaps a little pernickety when, overall, the book is such a delight to own. I recommend it - and do of course look forward to Shirley's second offering.


The Man Who Ate The World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner
The Man Who Ate The World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner
by Jay Rayner
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another helping, please, 30 Aug. 2008
I have not read too much of Jay Rayner's work in the papers, or his novels, so this is my introduction to the man and his appetite. I completely fell in love with his writing - I think he has the most beautiful, original, and apt turn of phrase of any food writer I can think of today. And so funny! It must take him days to think up some of those lines. They continue to give me pleasure now.

But he has a lot of acute and important observations to make about the fine dining restaurant business, and like another reviewer, I was particularly appreciative of his comments re: Ramsay et al, and global brand domination, and insights into the dubious world of the Moscow restaurant scene. This all sounds very dull - in his skilled hands, it really isn't, it's absolutely compelling, and good to know someone (thankfully a warrior-sized someone) is pointing the finger.

I don't agree that Rayner likes restaurants populated by stick-thin posh types - in fact, he repeatedly asks questions about the nature of who it is that eats in top-class restaurants, and whether or not they are the kind who would most appreciate what it is that they are eating, and paying top dollar for. And he's scrupulously honest about his own membership to this elite club, and what that means about him, and his future eating habits and pleasures.

This reads like a novel in some ways (which makes sense, I guess), in that Rayner goes on a journey, there's a learning curve. He starts out starry-eyed, ambitious, somewhat in thrall to the restaurant auteurs, but falls out of love on more than one occasion with them, with the excesses and wastage that attend fine dining, and with writing about food for a living. He challenges himself. He has revelations. He is humbled. And finally, towards the end, finds a way back to loving to eat, and to doing what he does best.

I find Jay the perfect dining companion. I urge others to seek out his company - and a good few interesting dinners - in these pages too.


My Favourite Ingredients
My Favourite Ingredients
by Skye Gyngell
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my new favourite books, 30 Aug. 2008
I've just finished reading - devouring, really - Skye's new book. As with her first book, she is focused on her twin passions: seasonality and how to use a host of constant store cupboard and fresh ingredients.

Many chef-writers emphasise seasonality, but Skye is especially persuasive and passionate in making a case for the sensuality, and good sense, of seasonal eating, that you are completely seduced. Thus, while we might dread the passing of our all too brief English summer, I'm already salivating at the prospect of what autumnal goodies I can cook from the pages of this book.

Skye never sacrifices her considerable principles about food, and rightly so - she asks us to demand the very best from our ingredients, and to treat them with absolute love and respect, to bring our their very best, and enhance our eating experience. I love her integrity - and it is this quality, along with her great sense of style, and attention to detail, that makes this book such a class act, and Skye a true original.


Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.94

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In love with Lucques, 23 Aug. 2008
I picked this book up in a vast bookshop in New York while keeping out of the rain, and it immediately transported me to sunny Californian climes. Suzanne's recipes fuse a European sensibility for quality and tradition with a Californian appreciation of fresh, light, seasonal market produce, in the mould of San Fransisco's Greens restaurant, and Chez Panisse (from whence author Goin hails). A sample of recipes include:

Swiss Chard Tart with Goat Cheese, Currants, and Pine Nuts
Fava Bean Puree with Oil-Cured Olives, French Feta, and Garlic Toasts
Dungeness Crab Salad with Avocado, Beets, Creme Fraiche and Lime
Sauteed Alaskan Black Cod with Endive and Hazelnuts
Orecchiette Carbonara with English Peas and Pea Shoots
Saute of White Asparagus, Morels, and Ramps over Polenta
Herb-Roasted Pork Loin with Haricots Verts, Spring Onions and Mustard Breadcrumbs
Yellow Tomato Gazpacho
California Seabass Kabobs with Eggplant, Peppers, and Chermoula
Cornmeal Shortcakes with Peaches, Mint, and Soured Cream
Fig-and-Almond Custard Tart
Tarte au Fromage with Lemon Cream and Blueberry Compote

I defy anyone not to be seduced as I was by these recipes - and to resist the temptation to be on the next flight to LA to visit in person.


Pepper
Pepper
by Christine McFadden
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £25.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spicy stuff, 23 Aug. 2008
This review is from: Pepper (Hardcover)
I took a bit of a chance on this one. It was among my Recommendations, and not a title I'd have normally picked up on (or a peck of, either), but perusal in a live bookshop convinced me to buy it. And I have not regretted it. The book is packed full of pepper facts, and a feast of recipes, some of which are surprising, others happily familiar. It is also beautifully produced, which may figure less for some, but is always a winner in my, er, book.


A Year in My Kitchen
A Year in My Kitchen
by Skye Gyngell
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A leaf from my book, 23 Aug. 2008
This review is from: A Year in My Kitchen (Hardcover)
A seductive little number this, so much so that I forced my partner to accompany me to Petersham Nurseries for lunch one sunny summer afternoon recently. It was just as I hoped. The food itself as cooked by Skye and her team surpasses the many tempting recipes featured in the book. I had a lovely starter of scallops on a sweetcorn and chili puree, followed by wild halibut with lentils and chard, followed by a rich chocolate mousse with a caramel sauce - let me tell you, divine does not do justice to the fish and the mousse. Died and gone to heaven. But that's the restaurant - the book was the precursor and now the souvenir of that lovely expedition, and I am spurred on to perfect the recipes at home.


A Table in the Tarn: Living, Eating and Cooking in South-west France
A Table in the Tarn: Living, Eating and Cooking in South-west France
by Orlando Murrin
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great yarn about the Tarn, 23 Aug. 2008
I was initially sceptical about the purpose of this book - I kept thinking, is this just a fantastic marketing exercise, an extended advertisement for a beautiful boutique place in France, something I could find in one of the glossy foodie or travel mags? And in a way, yes - but it is so much more, and so beautifully and engagingly done that I have completely succombed to its many charms. It really is the stuff of dreams - only these guys really did it, and did it with great success. It is a gorgeously put-together book, with seductive recipes - I salivate just reading them through, the mark of a favourite cookbook in the making for me. I look forward to going beyond the page one day, and make a visit to this lovely looking place and sampling its food, particularly the sweet variety.


Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-sour Memoir of Eating in China
Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-sour Memoir of Eating in China
by Fuchsia Dunlop
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fin-tastic Fuschia!, 23 Aug. 2008
Like other reviewers I adore this book, and found it utterly unputdownable. I am one of those strange folk who does not eat meat, but despite this and some initial squeamishness about some of the ingredients Fuschia consumed in her journeyings around China, I became totally absorbed in her mission to try whatever foods came her way. She is a passionate adventurer, and one who never loses her capacity to challenge herself, and to reflect on her experiences. She is a beautiful and engaging writer, and the perfect armchair travel companion. I look forward to her next outing, in China or elsewhere.


The Fish Store
The Fish Store
by Lindsey Bareham
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Fish Store, 23 Aug. 2008
This review is from: The Fish Store (Hardcover)
Lindsay is quite simply one of the finest food writers around, and The Fish Store must be her most personal and perfect offering. It is a delightful mix of recollections and recipes of a lifetime's holidays spent at the Fish Store in Mousehole, a Cornwall gem. There are numerous tempting fish recipes here, but also many luscious seasonal veggie recipes, too. For anyone who loves Cornwall, this is an evocative piece of work, and for those who have yet to visit, it will charm you into making your first pilgrimage.


Enjoy: New veg with dash
Enjoy: New veg with dash
by Nadine Abensur
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nadine is Queen, 23 Aug. 2008
I totally concur with Mr Reynolds. I adore this book for its simple, but imaginative and beautifully realised recipes, using the freshest ingredients. I have loved Nadine's work since the Crank days - the Cranks Bible is an inspiring cookbook too. She totally rewrites the rules on veggie cooking, in part I think because of the many influences - Middle-Eastern and Asian among them - but also because of her effortless style. I'm waiting on a new offering from Nadine: come on, Nadine, where's the lovely new book?!


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