It’s World Book Day on March 1st and we love an excuse to celebrate. Last year we ‘dressed’ as The Drunken Botanist (it wasn’t hard, we just sampled Coxy’s based cocktails for most of the day). This year we’ve decided that instead of ‘dressing’ as books, we’re sharing some. So… here’s just some of the food and drink books that inspire us and help us do what we do. We hope they might help others have a go or start doing something they haven’t yet… and also that people will want to share what inspires them with others. And we’d love to hear from you if there’s books you think we’d like!
Preserving & Pickling
Our two ‘go to’ books for this are The Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen and River Cottage Handbook Number 2 – Preserves by Pam Corbin. Both of these have given us invaluable inspiration and, most importantly for us, they keep it simple. The products we make are all the combination of just a few ingredients (the main one being time) and if we’re unsure of something it’s these books we turn to. These are the ones that are grubby in a way that only books that have lived in a kitchen and have been properly used can be.
For those of you looking for jam making inspiration – not our thing but we admire people who do – try Beryl Woods Let’s Preserve It. A treasure trove of recipe ideas.
Cocktails and Drinks
For us these books divide into two. Those explaining the different botanicals, herbs and fruit that go into the base liqueurs and spirits. If you think about it every type and flavour of spirit or liqueur is plant based. Vodka – potatoes, grains; Sake – rice; Tequila – agave. On the liqueur front Tia Maria – coffee; St Germain – elderflower…, Chatreuse – herbs. In this class two books come to mind. The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart published in 2016 and pretty encyclopedic in the modern drinks it covers and Herbal Delights by Mrs CF Leyel published in 1937 and great if you want more information on what the hedgerows and fields of the English countryside have to offer.
The second is cocktail making. This is a relatively new world for us – we came to making liqueurs from loving creating flavours and making use of the sheer abundance of fruit around us – and something we probably take an unorthodox approach to. However, it’s great to have books to hand that explain the basics, history and developments in cocktail making over time. There’s definitely more to it than we ever thought. We’re currently enjoying The Periodic Table of Cocktails by Emma Stokes; The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual from the bar of the same name and Liquid Intelligence, The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail by Dave Arnold.
General Food & Drink Inspiration
There’s a few here that stand out. First and foremost we have to give a shout out for Delia, without whom who knows where we would be. Probably not doing this. Her Complete Cookery Book was a gift from a Grandmother in the 90’s and is still regularly in use. Next up Anna Del Conte. Anna Del Conte grew up in Italy during WWII and has written many Italian cookery books but the one that really got us is Risotto with Nettles. A memoir of growing up during war time Italy and the food and experiences associated with it. We also love Mark Diacomo’s A Year At Otter Farm for making us want to be better gardeners. Finally, for it’s sheer beauty have a look at A La Mere De Famille – Artisanal Recipes from the Parisian Chocolatiers of the same name. We will probably never make anything in it but it’s nice to think we might!
Over the coming year we will be bringing our books out with us to Markets and Events (a few at a time) so please do come and have a look.