Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An informal gathering..., 29 Jun 2012
This review is from: Friends at My Table: A year of eating, drinking and making merry (Hardcover)
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I hadn't read any of Alice Hart's books before and half-expected this cookbook to be another impress-your-friends handbook aimed at the Home Counties hausfrau, thankfully it's a lot more stylish and fun than that. Overall the book, the suggested occasions and the recipes have a relaxed and informal feel although they're built around some unusual flavours, some slightly esoteric ingredients and, as usual, a fair amount of work for the cook. Predictably, creating informal alfresco dining experiences doesn't mean the chef can take the night off and some dishes have quite significant prep' times. If you're a country dweller then also be prepared to go a-hunting and a-gathering in town at your local deli or ethnic food-store as a few of the suggested ingredients might take a bit of sourcing.

The recipes are gathered into complete menus themed for specific, usually seasonal, events - like a Vegetarian Garden Brunch in Spring through to a Firepit Night in late Autumn. Along the way there are various single or double paged sidebars on associated subjects - like different species of apple, cloud formations, wild swimming and building your own firepit. I'm not a big fan of 'personality' cookbooks where the author feels compelled to share uninteresting tidbits about their lives (real or imagined) with you but I actually enjoyed these small diversions. They're all nicely presented and illustrated and add to the overall character of the book without crowding out the actual recipes.

The food itself is nicely photographed and mostly mouth-watering with a good range of tastes catered for - personally I would have liked a few more vegetarian recipes but that's a different book I guess. Mostly the quantities given are designed for groups of 8/10 so you can half the amounts for a family meal quite easily. You could criticise the book for being a bit 'Posh-Rustic' but that's unfair, really it's about delighting your friends and family with superb food in an informal style - even if that informality sometimes belies the effort involved in the kitchen.
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Location: UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 46