Customer Review

22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully presented, ingredients sometimes difficult to source, 8 July 2010
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This review is from: Hix Oyster & Chop House (Hardcover)
This is a beatifully produced book and simply yells quality. The pages are shiny and the photography very attractive.

Chapters are as follows:
- Introduction
- Oysters
- Bar
- Starters
- Salads
- Soups
- On Toast
- Fish
- Meat
- Sides
- Desserts
- Index

The 3-page introduction is in a handwriting-type font and is basically a short autobiography of Mark Hix, and puts the rest of the book into context. The book is a very personal approach to food and cooking.

Recipes are presented clearly. The title is followed by a short description, the number of servings (usually four for a main course), a list of ingredients and then instructions for assembling the dish. Most, but by no means all, are accompanied by a photograph. The "Meat" chapter has a useful photographic and descriptive guide to different cuts of beef, veal, lamb, pork and venison.

The "Oysters" chapter uses the same template as the Meat chapter. There is a page of Hix talking about oysters followed by three pages about oyster farms. I would have found this a lot more helpful if instead of talking about the farms it talked about the oysters themselves and the differences between them. These pages are followed by photographs of the various oysters mentioned, over 6 pages. Usefully, there is a page about how to shuck an oyster completed with photos. There are then two recipes.

The "Bar" chapter provides recipes for up-market bar snacks (vegetable crips, quail's egg shooters, deep fried salmon skins etc) and a page of recommended drinks which Hix sources from around the UK. All too fussy for me.

The remaining chapters are slightly less fussy and I found some great recipes in these chapters - for example shaved asparagus and fennel with caerphilly, oven-roasted garlic-studded ceps, potato salad with bacon and spring onions, chilled garden herb soup, cockle, parsley and cider broth, wild rabbit and oyster muchroom soup, ling with creamed peas, leeks and bacon, Monkfish cheek and fennel pie, chicken and lobster pie, rabbit and girolles on grilled puffball (just as well I live near Borough Market), lamb chops with cucumber and mint, and beef and oyster pie.

Although the emphasis is squarely on British produce a lot of the ingredients will probably be challenging for supermarket shoppers to find. Ceps, oysters, quail eggs, spider crab, cuttlefish, mutton, grouse, crayfish, wild rabbit, Dorset crab, wood pigeon, huss, ling, courgette flowers, lobster, wild boar bacon, ramsons, sea spinach, girolles, puffball, etc. In spite of having access to Borough Market in London I've had to find substitutes for quite a few of the ingredients.

Many of the ingredients are very expensive. This is certainly not a book for those on a budget. Several recipes (e.g. those based on wild mushrooms) are very seasonal.

Broad beans and split peas are used frequently. I hate both, but that's a personal thing and they are certainly very trendy at the moment.

This is not an everyday recipe book and I'm not sure where the target audience lies. I would very happily eat most of the dishes in a restaurant but I cannot see myself cooking many of them myself due to the expense of the ingredients and the difficulty of sourcing them.
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