The British Larder: A Cookbook For All SeasonsBy Madalene Bonvini-HamelAbsolute Press, £30
Madalene Bonvini-Hamel's debut book The British Larder: A Cookbook For All Seasons is a major piece of work. At nearly 500 pages, it not only gets to grip with seasonal cookery but also offers detailed descriptions and photographs of the author's favourite ingredients, as well as an array of tips and hints to assist cooks of all levels.
Madalene is certainly not the first chef to tackle the question of seasonal cookery. However she attacks the subject with far more vigour than in any other book I've read. Much use is made of the very best of British seasonal ingredients, but it's not just the big-hitters that get their moment; she also introduces some of the more interesting yet obscure ingredients, and takes the reader foraging for a whole array of wild ingredients.
The style of the writing is relaxed while informative - the reader gets to know Madelene, her views, her sense of humour and above all the passion that drives her work. The book centres on the restaurant she co-owns with Ross Pike (or Mr P, as he's known to the reader) and as the pages are turned, you are left in no doubt that this is a restaurant, that likes to do things properly, indelibly stamped with the owners' ethos and personality. So it is with the book itself - Madalene not only writes the recipes but also pitches up as the book's photographer and food stylist too - a very impressive feat indeed and one that is bound to get the rest of us one-trick-cookbook writers a bad name!
I like this book. It takes food very seriously, but never preaches or dictates. It covers such a diverse, wide range of fabulous British ingredients and above all leaves the reader stuck for choice as to which recipe to steal first.
By Paul Merrett, chef-director, the Victoria, East Sheen
â- The British Larder has been shortlisted for Best Women Chefs Cookbook at the 2012 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards
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