Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray have an unswervingly clear vision of how food should be cooked: they take immense care over the ingredients and cook them as simply as possible. But one vitally important element in the art of preparing good food is one which we have increasingly lost sight of: seasonality. If you cook food in its right season it will inevitably taste better. And that's what RIVER CAFE GREEN is all about. Divided into months, the twelve chapters look at what fruits, vegetables, herbs and leaves, fungi, meats, birds and fish are at their best at any given time, and the recipes reflect this. As the year passes, you are educated into choosing when it's best to use basil or mint; when it's right to use asparagus or bass; how to capitalise on the explosive taste of raspberries because they've been picked fresh and not flown thousands of miles. Fully illustrated throughout, and even larger than before, the book is an education as well as a culinary treasure-trove. (1998-10-01)
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River Cafe Cook Book Green is the latest instalment in its authors' quest for perfection. (That this austerely high-minded project should be taking place in one of London's more expensive restaurants only adds a pleasing Zen-riddle quality). In the first River Cafe Cook Book, illumination was achieved through the wood-fired grill. That was OK, because one of those ridged grill-pans would do at a pinch, though we were left in no doubt it came a very poor second. By the time River Cafe Cook Book Two came out, the famous wood-burning oven had been installed, to the despair of many. In the new volume the focus is on the ingredients, specifically fruit, vegetables and herbs. Quality, freshness and seasonality, of course, have always been paramount at the River Cafe, and are now boosted by, wouldn't you know it, the adjoining organic vegetable garden. Combined with the Cafe's unbeatable network of organic suppliers, this may make some readers wonder whether it's worth trying to keep up any more.
Emphatically yes, must be the answer. The River Cafe phenomenon has always been inspirational, if not aspirational; and the new book is packed with astoundingly good, simple recipes and ideas. It is constructed round the appearance of individual fruits and vegetables in the garden or the market. Perhaps in part to distinguish themselves from the rather many cookery writers who have previously adopted this approach, Gray and Rogers work through the year month by month rather than by season. Thus May brings apricots (Apricot, Lemon and Almond Tart, Apricot Jam Ice-Cream), asparagus (in Risotto, with Anchovy and Milk Sauce, in a salad with gulls' eggs), broad beans (in a Minestrone), melons (Melon and Lemon Sorbet, Melon Marinated in Valpolicella with Vanilla), spring carrots (Braised Spring Carrots and Artichokes, Carrots Marsala) and spring onions (Peas Braised with Spring Onions, Spring Onion and Thyme Pizza). So it goes on, beautiful, simple, delicious. And if our carrots aren't quite perfect, well, we can have a word with our greengrocer, or join an organic box scheme. Or we can just aspire. Not the least achievement of Gray and Rogers is to restore to this simple food the magical allure it possessed when most people knew it only through the early books of Elizabeth David. --Robin DavidsonReview:
Praise for the "River Cafe Cook Book" and "River Cafe Cook Book Two"
"Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers have changed the way we eat." - "The Times"
"You should cook these dishes: they are good, not too hard to follow and presented with an almost puritan economy... The pictures themselves are almost pornographically alluring." - "Guardian"
"The River Cafe is a dish that's perilously close to perfection." - "Independent"
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Book Description Ebury Press, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110091865433