I really like The Hairy Bikers, even though they are a couple of wallies, albeit extremely likeable and enthusiastic ones!
I never miss anything they do on TV, although it never ceases to amaze me just how silly they are willing to make themselves look, all in the interest of entertainment!
I think though that ultimately what it comes down to for me is (and many other fans of the dynamic duo) that they firstly seem like genuinely nice and funny guys, and that secondly they regularly cook the type of food most people really like; hearty food that isn't too complicated to emulate, but that usually must be made or eaten in moderation because of their apparent desire to stay away from anything healthy.
Another thing that sets The Hairy Bikers cookery books apart from many others, is that it is only ocassionally that they include recipes I would be unwilling to try.
Anyway on to this book, 'The Hairy Bikers' Food Tour of Britain'.
I thoroughly enjoyed the series that this book accompanies, if memory serves me correctly it ran for a total of thirty episodes; it ran each evening, Monday to Friday, for six weeks. I loved the way in which each episode concentrated on a particular region, and the dishes that have been handed down from generation to generation; each episode culminated in a 'cook-off' between The Hairy Bikers and one of the regions more respected chefs, each presenting their own interpretation of a regional dish to a small discerning group of diners to vote for, some The Bikers won and some they lost (which was refreshing to see).
This book follows the same format, and includes a section on every region they visited, beginning with some brief background and then the recipes and cooking instructions fot the two 'cook-of' meals from that episode; there are also additional recipes included of some of the more popular/mouthwatering dishes the show featured from each episode.
The book is well laid out, as always with Hairy Biker books, and is full of beautifully photographed food; I particularly like the way in which they word the recipes, they are always clear, well detailed and 'jargon' free.
My only slight criticism with this book is that I didn't like some of the recipes provided by the regional guest chefs; I think that sometimes in their attempt to beat The Hairy Bikers they produced dishes that were over complicated and not in keeping with the theme of Hairy Biker books, there are several such dishes contained within that I would never try. Apart from this a recommended purchase.
Bought the book because I loved the TV series. Excellent set of recipes. Very easy to follow and made me try out some new stuff. Love the way it encourages you to use British products. Contains both the recipes the boys cook plus the professional chef recipes. Would make a lovely present.
I think the best way to judge the contents of a recipe book is to see how often it gets used. I own many books from various Chefs but none receive the attention this one does. The recipes are delicious, straightforward to cook, easily tweaked if you prefer a different ingredient and offer good home cooking. I especially recommend the Lobsgows; the Beef & Stilton Pie and the Somerset Chicken. 10/10 food goodness from the Bikers.
This book is both informative and entertaining. Recommended as an ideal Christmas Present for all.
The research and travel that was necessary for the production of the book must have been endless and, at times, frustrating. The Hairy Bikers give good insight into the counties that they visit, and make you want to visit them. If you want a good night out at a good restaurant in any given area then this is the book for you.
it is also recommended that you arrange to view the TV series. The cheery disposition of the bikers, and their great cookery knowledge, can readily be seen.
I am really enjoying this book. I have enjoyed the series and the book is a perfect reflection of the tv episodes.
This is a well produced and glossy book with lots of photographs (including one for each recipe, always invaluable) and clear text. The recipes include both those made by the Hairy Bikers and by the chefs that they visited on their travels. The Recipes are well laid out and easy to follow. The book is organized by area, alphabetically, and there's a small map of the UK to show where each area actually is geographically.
Each chapter is introduced with a swift lok at the area visited, with various producers mentioned by name. At the end of the book there is a list of producers and suppliers (telephone / web) followed by an Index which is organized principally by ingredients (e.g. to find a recipe for trout look under "fish").
The recipes are very varied, which is excellent. There's a good mix of meat and seafood, with lots of sauces and vegetable accompaniments. Some of the recipes, like Kevin Viner's Fillet of Monkfish in Cornish Wine with Pickled Celeriac and Cucumber are delicate, finely dressed and very modern, whilst others, like the bikers' steak and kidney pudding, are solid, full-flavoured and traditional. That's a nice balance.
I have two small reservations, both of which echo the tv series. - Many of the ingredients are difficult to source - Many of the combinations delivered on the plate are far too extreme
The first of these is impossible to criticise in any meaningful way because the whole point of the series was to visit different areas and use the ingredients local to those places. It was always going to be a challenge to get hold of some of the ingredients if you live somewhere which doesn't produce similar types of food. That's okay when replacements are obvious, but sometimes they aren't. Seaweed types, for example, which can be absolutely delicious, are either difficult to source or horrendously expensive for those of us who live in London. The same goes for some of the seafood, like cockles, and meats like snails. A very minor complaint.
On the second point I find that the recipes provided, particularly by the authors rather than by the visited chefs, pile too many different flavours and textures onto one plate. That's not really a problem because you can cook the bits together that you think will work well for you and leave out the elements that don't appeal to you. An example is the Gloucester Guinea Fowl with Apple Risotto and Baby Leaf Salad. It sounds relatively straight forward until you look closer. The guinea fowl is divided into breasts with fatty streaky bacon, and thighs which are stuffed with pesto made of basil, rocket, hard cheese, pine nuts and garlic. The apples in the risotto are caramelized and are added to the rice with bacon lardons, parmesan cheese and sage. The baby leaf salad is dressed with orange juice, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard and sugar. That's a right old mix of flavours and far too much for my taste buds. But I could happily isolate one or two of those elements and serve just those on a plate.
For me there are two many foaming sauces, mini mousses and cute little jellies - they are simply too fussy for me.
Having watched the TV series I knew that I would be making those observations before I ordered the book, so I really have no gripes on the subject but thought that they would be worth pointing out.
This book is all about main courses. There are no starters or desserts. That's perfect for me because I don't bother with either starters or desserts at home.
The first two recipes that I have tried worked perfectly - one recipe by the Bikers and the other by one of the chefs that they visited.
If you like to support local producers and enjoy the recipes thereof, as well as visiting places of interest in relation to that theme, then this is a book for you. We take it whenever we travel to different parts of Britain and have used the information as a guide for hotels and local restaurants too, all with success. It is a well illustrated, practical book with all the recipes used in the series presented in the usual Hairy Bikers' style. Would make a good historical reference book in years to come. Would also make a good gift to send to those living overseas: to ex-pats as a reminder of what they are missing or to the locals as an overview of what is out there in our nation.
Unfortunately the Orion team didn't bring a great book together. This is a real shame as it could have been one of the stand-out cookery books of the year.
I think the Hairy Bikers are great, loved the TV show etc etc etc...
There are mistakes throughout the book, and they really should have been picked up before release (and before I bought it! lol)
For example Rupert Rowleys slow cooked lamb: the recipe totally omits the pressed shoulder of lamb - although it helpfully tells you how to make the oatcake crust which should top it!
You can see the 2nd cut of lamb in the background of the picture but the shallow depth of field makes it impossible to easily identify the cut or method used to cook/prepare without having seen the series.
It kinda looks like they dropped bits & pieces to make room for photos which will only serve to frustrate when you wonder why there's a mismatch or what went wrong when you come to assemble the dish.
Anyways, it's a good book but not great and doesn't reflect well on the Bikers.
Hopefully either Orion or the Bikers will correct the errors and make the corrections/omissions or the actual full recipe available to print from a website.
If you have the series recorded on your Sky+ box - don't delete the episodes with meals you want to try before you double check and make notes of any differences/omissions.