Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A book helping you to organise some pretty specific occasions and events..., 8 Feb. 2013
This review is from: Friends at My Table: A year of eating, drinking and making merry (Hardcover)
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Length:: 1:55 Mins

Alice Hart is a young (just 28 at the time of writing this) food editor, chef, food stylist...and now author of three of her own cookbooks. 'Friends At My Table' is Hart's third book, aimed at providing the reader with ideas, suggestions and recipes for throwing parties and hosting an array of different gatherings.

The book is principally arranged into the four seasons of the year. The choices of which recipes go where etc are set by the type of occasions during the time of the year - and not by the typically seasonal recipes themselves. Although Hart does try to use fruits, herbs and vegetables whilst they are 'in season' and therefore at their absolute best. Indeed, the book begins with a very easy to use and incredibly helpful 'Seasonality Chart' at the which details what fruit, veg & herbs are 'in season'. This simple two page spread is a delightful little reference guide for those that try their best to use and plan dishes using local produce.

The book has twelve separate menus, which is broken down into three for each season. In these menus you have the recipes for a number of dishes and drinks as well as suggestions and directions for activities, arrangements and organising the event as a whole. This all sounds great, but then when you see the types of occasions the book covers, it does feel a bit too tied to a specific type of event?! Starting off with 'Vietnamese Bridal Shower For 8' and moving on to a 'Laid-Back Country Wedding For 20'. Okay, so much of menus can be applied to your own event/occasion, but the whole way the book is laid out and packaged seems to direct the reader into the ins and outs of these very specific events rather than a more general seasonal occasion (which would probably have been of more help).

The book deals with cooking for, and looking after, large-ish numbers of people. The smallest number of people catered for in the book is for six, whereas the majority are between the eight and twenty range. However, the book does contain some good solid handy tips for cooking in general for such numbers - which can be applied to pretty much any event.

But the book is not just about the food. It also contains a good wealth of information on related activities, such as how to build a Home Smoker for home smoking trout, advice on hedgerow foraging and wild water swimming. Honestly, it's quite an eclectic mix of subjects and ideas all thrust into one book.

Much of the preparation for the occasions and recipes detailed in the book require a hefty investment of time and energy. So be warned, this isn't a 'How-To-Quickly-Pull-Together-A-Banquet' kind of book. Each menu really is a plan, organise, prepare and then execute type of strategy. It's really for those who love to get things prepared and just right.

The book includes a healthy array of drinks suggestions, with two whole pages dedicated to vodka infusions. Alongside this there are some handy, more close to home, family ideas such as for picnics (sweet pepper sausage rolls and picnic potato salad).

The book has a very County Cottage look, and makes for a lovely coffee table read. However, recipe wise, the book isn't that useful on the whole for everyday life (unless you put on loads of quite specific occasions). It's certainly not a book that we will find ourselves reaching for very often, and perhaps a use-once-and-then-forget-about kind of book.

But it really all depends on what your lifestyle is like - particularly in respect of arranging social gatherings.

The book runs for a total of 192 pages.
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Location: Cardiff, Wales

Top Reviewer Ranking: 83