Saturday, January 23, 2010

TENDER VOL.1 - A cook and his vegetable patch
Nigel Slater
Photographs by Jonathan Lovekin

Fourth Estate
- NZ$60

I'm sorry but if you were not given this book for Christmas and you are a keen gardener and cook, and/or an admirer of Nigel Slater, then you are simply just going to have to go out and buy it for yourself because it is totally enchanting, and to boot it is a very fine piece of publishing.
And I have to say that just NZ$60, (it is 30 quid in England!), it is a bargain - it runs to over 600 pages, a big handome hardback book, beautifully desinged inside and out, (designed by BLOK), with gorgeous colour pics throughout.

In the beginning the talented cook/gardener/author tells of moving in to a scruffy London terrace on the eve of the new millenium with its elongated rectangular garden typical of many terraces all over Britain, and of course the soil is typical London clay. He talks of the great lengths he went to to turn it into a healthy vege garden. Inspiring stuff but then he gets on to the real purpose of the book - how to grow vegetables in the garden and then how to use them in the kitchen.

He deals with the vegetables in alphabetical order from Asparagus to Turnips.
And for each one he provides useful advice on varieties, when to plant and harvest etc, a garden diary really, but then he moves on to provide heaps of wonderful recipes - the first one for asparagus is a pilaf of asparagus, broad beans and mint - yummy!
He devotes more than 30 pages to onions, more than 50 pages on the subject of potatoes including 34 recipes - 8 different recipes alone for mash potatoes!

This man is one of the great food writers, he is a joy to read, and this book I am sure will become recognised as one of the great food books of our time. He is a latter day Elizabeth David.

I salute you Nigel Slater, and I warmly thank London-based niece Katy and her husband Ben who gave this gorgeous book to Annie for Christmas.The perfect gift. Next time you are in NZ we will cook you a dish from the book - the luxury cauliflower cheese perhaps?

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