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Anthony Demetre and Will Smith have had sensational success at their two London restaurants, Arbutus and Wild Honey, so it's no surprise that Demetre, the chef of the partnership, has underlined their achievements by publishing his first book, based on the dishes that form the core of the restaurants' menus.
Demetre has famously made the restaurants' menu value for money by being canny about ingredient sourcing and fanatical about cutting out wastage, adn the book is jam-packed with dishes that make use of unfashionaable meat cuts, or game such as hare which has been out of vogue for many years. Slow-cooking techniques which extract every ounce of flavour are also abundant.
There are recipes using pig's head, cheeks and trotters as well as pork belly and chops, shin of veal, pot-roasted pheasant, jugged hare and saddle of rabbit all get page-space. Dishes carefully presented and photographed with flair, but also straightforward honesty, which means that there is plently of room for translation to kitchens across industry sectors.
The French bistro moderne movement inspired Demetre but he has always included other cuisine influences in his cooking, including Mediterranean and British traditions, and it's good to see this reflected in the book. Sherpherd's pie, brawn and potted meat have equal billing alongside chicken fricassee or beef tartare.
There aren't any duds in the dishes, but watch out for the hiney and milk junket and the currently seasonal apple and blackberry charlottein the dessert chapter. The chapters, incidentally, fall along fairly conventional lines - fish, soups, poultry and game, etc - but refreshingly, Demetre has given whole sections to pork, beef and veal, and lamb. It works well and begs the question, why not adopt this format for desserts aswell?
An excellent book then, but there is one thing missing. An indication of wine matches with each dish. A distinguishing feature of Arbutus and Wild Honey is the accessibility of good wine. Wine pointers in the book would be a complete representation in print of the principles that have made the restaurants so successful. Maybe in the reprint?