6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: On The Menu (Hardcover)
'On The Menu' is a very luxuriously-presented 'My Way' book by from acclaimed Michelin-starred chef James Mackenzie at The Pipe & Glass Inn in England. One has to be blunt, for that is what the book is. But it is a very good book at that.
The reader is taken behind the scenes to learn about what has made Mackenzie tick, how he got around to opening the pub-restaurant and many of the recipes that keep his customers wanting for more. As with other books by this publisher, production values are very high, design and photography are top rate and the content is highly engaging. Those with 'middle-aged eyes' might curse under their breath at a few of the pages, as the designer has perhaps forgotten himself for a time and let style go over substance, but fortunately this is the exception rather than the rule. A little perseverance is required for those with tired eyes, that is for sure.
Once you get past the interesting introduction it is straight onto the food. The recipes are split into key chapters - cow; pig; sheep; fish; shellfish; poultry & game; veg patch and afters - but the accompanying text continues to weave a story throughout, so you would be advised not to just pick and peck at the book if you want to have a total immersion to James Mackenzie's pearls of wisdom.
The recipes themselves are very detailed and well laid-out, meaning that even the average cook could have a go at making some rather involved, complicated recipes without too much problem as long as they follow the instructions carefully. That said, some of the recipes are possibly a bit too fussy for the typical home dinner - such as cow heel stew with ox tongues and horseradish dumplings... although should you then make those dishes perhaps their effective rareness will make them even more special? After all, it would be an anticlimax if you was to just get basic recipes like pizza or sausage and chips from a chef who can do a hell of a lot more!
This is more than a high-end cookbook. It can be a means to a better end if you let it. Sure, you might not feel able to reproduce this restaurant-quality food in your own home, no matter how you try, but the book can and does encourage you to try other ingredients, perhaps incorporate different items together. In other words have a go. For example the fish dishes themselves could equally be isolated and served with a humble salad, the meat dishes transformed for a picnic. You don't have to follow the entire serving suggestion to the letter.
It is hard to explain the feelings when looking at the book. You just feel more empowered than merely copying the recipe to the letter. Not so many books tend to engender that feeling. The index at the rear also pushes you to this, albeit surreptitiously, with its index by key ingredient type, even down to the humble tomato.
Needless to say, this book comes with a YUM seal of approval. The only caveat is don't look at this at the start of your day when you have a long time before your next meal. Patience is a virtue, it is said, but hunger is also something not conducive to focussing on your computer screen. The book's 'sticker price' might be high, but it is worth it. Looking today at some of the online retailers and their discounted prices, the book is even more affordable. Like food? Like cooking? Buy this book.