Books: Kitchen Garden Experts
This month sees the released of Cinead McTernan’s Kitchen Garden Experts which landed across my desk in the past week or two. Published by Frances Lincoln in London and featuring some cracking photos by Jason Ingram, Kitchen Garden Experts takes a look at 20 of the UK’s most exciting hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafés, but more importantly, the chefs and head gardeners behind the dishes that wind up on their menus.
While restaurants and cafés in the UK and Ireland have been using their own gardens and gardeners for years, it’s certainly something that’s coming more to the forefront these days as people look to return to and, as Raymond Blanc puts it quite simply in his foreword, “reconnect with the land”.
What’s In The Book
From cover to cover you’ve got about 190 pages or so of gorgeous photos, stories and tips, intermingled with recipes. This isn’t as straight up cookbook, far from it. While you do have two recipes per featured eatery, it’s more about the back story and the tips.
The full featured list includes The Grove, The Ethicurean, The George & Dragon, Padstow Kitchen Garden, L’enclume, The Felin Fach Griffin, The Pig Hotel, The Star Inn, River Cottage, Jekka McVicar & The Company of Cooks, The River Café, Monachyle Mhor Hotel, Vallum Farm, The Scottish Kitchen Garden, Sir Terence Conran & The Albion, The Wellington Arms, Winteringham Fields, Skye Gyngell at Heckfield Place, Wimpole Hall and Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
Each restaurant and café features as a chapter in the book and each introduces you to the grower and the chef, the two key ingredients that make things happen. You can read up on what each likes to grow, why they grow it and more importantly, how they grow it.
The shift in seasons features well and each entry brings with it a growing calendar for particular fruits, flowers and vegetables that all end up on the menu, chapters concluding with kitchen garden secrets from the featured grower and chef.
For those that want to dive straight in and try recreate some of the signature dishes printed in the book, the recipes too provide great reading with metric conversions included for everything.
The Grove’s Beetroot Textures dish combines salt-baked beetroot, beetroot couscous, pickled golden beetroot, candy beet crisps and a horseradish creme fraiche.
For the thirsty chef you could try The Ethicurean’s Duck Flip as an infusion of honey, water, cider brandy, duck egg and lactofermented carrot juice.
Cornwall’s Padstow Kitchen Garden brings a mouthwatering Brill with Heritage Tomato & White Miso recipe while chef Tom Lewis and grower Alan MacInnes of Perthshire’s Monachyle Mhor Hotel include an intriguing Citrus-Vanilla-Cured Vinegar Trout on the menu.
There’s great reading in the book, learning how the different restaurants adapt to their localities and natural environments (soil, weather, garden growth) in order to make and shape the dishes that have made them who they are and picked up a few awards in the process.
If you’re considering a move into gardening, or you’re already there and want to look at how to fuel your kitchen, you can pick up a copy of Kitchen Garden Experts today via Amazon or your local book store.