“Valentine Warner is a cook, forager, fisherman, and a culinary adventurer. He spent five years working in London’s restaurant kitchens before setting up a private catering company”.
The introduction of this book is incredibly poetical. Valentine sets out to explain how The Good Table is his ‘heart on a plate’. How gorgeous is that?
He explains how the table is the one piece of furniture that represents the home but also one that doesn’t have to be in your own kitchen. A ‘Good Table’ could be ‘any surface where food is eaten or prepared such as a sea wall, a large river stone or a picnic cloth’. He describes a plate of food as ‘a plate seasoned with mood, stories, memories, lives, geography and natural history’. (I told you it was poetic).
It’s clear that he’s passionate about the produce and culinary traditions in the UK and that in order for them to ‘remain an inheritance’ he encourages us all to cook and indeed buy ingredients we don’t know how to cook. ‘Failure contributes to success’ in his view and I’d have to say I agree. He also encouarges us to taste. To see how food changes on it’s way to the table from the kitchen.
The book is beautifully photographed and divided into chapters entitled meat; fish and shellfish; veg and forgaged foods; toast; bread, eggs and cheese; puddings and drinks.
My favourite chapter was toast as a vehicle. I could have something on a different toasted bread for supper every night. In fact I do most nights and it’s these meals that are sometimes the best I make – so this chapter just reinforces that good ingredients make a plate of food anywhere.
I also love the mix of recipes in this book. Some are incredibly simple and super quick like the Lemon Posset, Kale Salad, Raw Brussel Sprouts with Ricotta and Fried Ceps with Chives. Others are more complex but mostly because of the time needed and not the method. He includes many recipes from different countries but even these have a Britishness about them – Tandoori Partridge for example.
All the way through this book there are simple but wise words of encouragement which make this book #unputdownable. Truly – you could make something from here everyday. (But not the eggs in aspic. I’m really not sure why he threw that one in there).
Hardcover: ISBN: 9781845335403: £25
Published by Octopus Publishing