on 5 October 2005
I think this might well be Mr Slater's best book. Not only are the recipes wonderful but the book is a pleasure to read. Slater has the knack of being able to make one's mouth water just by reading a recipe and his directions are easy and precise where they need to be. In addition, the book itself is beautiful with a cloth spine, expensive-feeling paper and the photography is luscious. It would make a wonderful gift for a foodie. A must have!
I'd like to add a review for those of you who are already familiar with Nigel Slater, perhaps own some of his books and wondering if this is 'different' enough from the others to buy. I was in that situation and bought it anyway and I'd like to reassure you that it is well worth it.
The recipes are wonderful - they retain his usual style of home-cooking combining comfort with flair - and there are many new ones in there which inspire me, even though I've already tried many of his other recipes.
The chronological postings are a significant difference from previous books, and a great idea. Just now I can flick through recipes from March, say, which reflect the current weather and available foods. For Valentines day I actually followed both his recipe suggestions from that day, and wonderful they were too. In particular if you're looking for a book with gentle ideas concerning a full menu, this does just that, as on days when Nigel's entertaining (or just greedy!), he'll cook two or three courses, and these give you an instant idea of what goes with what.
Another great aspect is that it combines structured recipes with fragments or ideas of a meal or snack - similar to some of the 'Ideas' in 'Real Fast Food.' So some day's entries have a recipe with full instructions, others are more along the lines of 'I forgot to buy anything for dinner - bag of chips with a beer tonight, then.' This is one of the things which for me makes it great bedtime reading, if perhaps a little heavy to hold up!
In conclusion, Nigel's presented us a new set of recipes, different enough from his old ones to make the book worth buying, but with the same qualities. The day-to-day friendliness of the diary format also has a purpose, which is that you can easily find a menu to fit the current season.
on 13 October 2005
You could read this simply as a "non-cookery" book such is Nigel's writing. Once again, he has the knack more than any other food writing I know of getting you hungry! Certainly confirms him as my favourite food writer. This will always be a great one to dig into to find out what might be in season throughout the year.
on 28 November 2012
I've just bought Kitchen Diaries (2005) and Kitchen Diaries II (2012). Nigel Slater is my kind of cook as his recipes are straight-forward, easy to understand, and generally use ingredients that are either already in our cupboards, fridges and freezers, or readily available to most of us. I suppose I fell in love with Nigel's cookery skills by watching his television programmes. He has such a relaxed way about him, such an ordinary way of speaking to the viewer, such a no-nonsense approach to cooking, that he convinced me absolutely that 'I can do that'. Which actually remains to be seen, of course. His Kitchen Diaries are like that. They are far more than just recipe books. They are, as they state, diaries. The narrative from the author, Nigel Slater, is almost poetic with descriptions of his garden, the plants, the weather, the shops that he frequents, the produce that he so loves. You can sit and happily read these books as if they were simply delightful novels that paint vivid pictures with words. They are treasures to be cherished. Really.
As sometimes is the case with writers publishing a second book, the recipes are not, in this case, a repetition of the first book with a few changes and really just ripping off the buyer. The paper quality is very good in both books, as are the plentiful coloured photographs (by Jonathan Lovekin) of the dishes. There is not, however, one photograph per recipe which might disappoint some but this doesn't really matter to me as Nigel's instructions are so very clear and there are so many recipes to enjoy that I don't think it would have been feasible to have a photo for each one. If I were to have one tiny complaint it is that the photographs have no caption so you have to match the recipe to the image, but the recipe is not far away and generally it is quite obvious at a glance. Nigel Slater has divided his book up into months although not necessarily one recipe for each day of the month, and there is an index at the back too if you are looking for a recipe that uses a particular ingredient.
The 2005 book has 400 pages and the 2012 book has 544 pages in all. With regard to the 2005 book, I bought the paperback (for the sake of economy) and my 2012 book is the hardback version which has a nice satin ribbon for keeping one's place in the book. Both were at a great discount through Amazon. When I went to purchase them the older book in the hardback version was actually a lot more expensive than the hardback of the 2012 book and I don't mind owning paperback books at all, especially quality ones.
I hope my review helps you make your decision. For me, both versions, 2005 and 2012, are great.
on 20 November 2005
Diaries are personal, often intimate, evocative and absorbing. Nigel Slaters book is all of these and more. Much more than a cookery book this takes us on an intimate journey through the year covering the the ordinary mundane daily requirements of preparing food for ourselves and others but also sparkling with ideas and innovation. The food descriptions are central but alongside runs a dialogue between the author and the the reader who grow to share not only a love of food but also an understanding of culinary needs that are ever changing with the seasons and with personal moods. This is not a glossy super-chef offering of gaudy 'impressive' and flamboyant cookong. It is an insight into the man, his life, his beliefs about food and cooking. A real triumph!
on 20 November 2005
As a hardened food lover, and lover of books to boot, Nigel Slater and his Kitchen Diaries are a pleasure to own and use. I find it very dissapointing by some of the opinions raised above. The photography makes this a worthy purchase alone, even if you're not 'into' cooking. The photos here and within are truly beautiful, and compliment the brilliantly written text perfectly. Even if you're not intending to cook the some 300+ recipies, the book makes a great read. Its almost makes you feel like you're getting back to homely comforts and warm fires! The book itself feels wonderful, with a black hard canvas spine set off with a glorious picture of fresh apples - reminscent of apple pie, just like you might have had when you were a child... Please, do not be put off by the above, this book is a treasure.