Saturday, October 14, 2006

Aching for Aikens

I felt that as much as I’d eulogized Tom Aikens first book in my previous post, I had not really mentioned what lay beneath the covers so I thought I should have a better look. The first chapter is quite unusually vegetables and quite rightly Tom states how important it is for us to eat seasonally as, for example he says “Buying asparagus out of season is bad for the well-being of our farmers and the stability and growth of business for the UK market. Basically, just don’t do it.” I so agree with you Tom, I get really annoyed with Peruvian tasteless asparagus or pappy out of season strawberries (M, I hope you're feeling guilty?) when we do them both so well in the UK when in season. And that’s not casting aspersions on Peru; It’s just too far for our vegetables to travel from.

And just as I suspected, it looks seriously good – how does ‘roast asparagus with pan-fried duck eggs and grilled pancetta’, ‘asparagus with asparagus mousse’, ‘cauliflower and grain mustard puree’, ‘carrots and sauternes jelly’, ‘balsamic glazed carrots’, ‘fresh peas with pea shoots, pea mousse and Parma ham’, ‘buttered peas with spring onions and lettuce’, ‘white onion and thyme soup’, ‘artichoke soup with sauternes’, ‘roast baby artichokes with thyme’ and ‘pumpkin, honey and sage soup’ sound just for starters? Or maybe from the fish chapter - ‘roast turbot with celeriac fondant, braised chicken and thyme sauce’ or ‘roast scallops with ham and leek’. There are some fantastic soups, I feel I will christen my new silver Bamix very soon!

The photographs are by John Lawrence-Jones who doesn’t seem to have worked on loads of cookbooks before but I like his clean, precise style. I really like this book, you’re not going to get lots of stories from Tom's childhood or explanations about the origins of a particular dish in the same way as you would in Anna Del Conte’s or Giorgio Locatelli’s, but you’re going to get a different passion – a passion for his perfection and I find this fascinating.

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