There is nothing as satisfying to me as to have some time to myself, grab a glass of wine, head out to the deck and read. What do I usually read - cookbooks. I must say even thought I get tons of inspiration from the blogs I read, information on the net, magazines and TV shows, I still enjoy my cookbooks. I enjoy any type of cookbook, but really treasure the ones that tell a story along with lots of great recipes. This one caught my eye a few years ago because it is about 2 of my favorite pastimes, cooking and gardening. Now, if it just would have added wine to the cover, it definitely would be a best seller!
If you are like me and enjoy reading cookbooks, here is one I highly recommend. "The Cook And The Gardener" A Year of Recipes and Writings from the French Countryside by Amanda Hesser. The jacket fold reads like this: The ancient link between the gardener and the cook is at the heart of this remarkably evocative cookbook, in which Amanda relates the story of a year she spent as cook in the 17th century chateau in Burgundy. Before long, her culinary life becomes inextricably bound to the seasons of the Yonne River Valley and to Monsieur Milbert, the seemingly impervious, charmingly sly peasant caretaker of the chateau's kitchen garden. The aging Milbert, as much a part of the chateau as its gnarled pear tree and dilapidated pigeon house, reluctantly opens up to Hesser, sharing his gardening knowledge and lore, from the timing of plantings tied to saint's days to highly effective rodent-eradication programs to the secrets of making apple brandy. Ultimately though, the Cook and the Gardener is a cookbook, and Hesser brings a sure hand and a keen eye to more than 240 recipes that will inspire cooks in every season.
I really like the way the book is set up. After the introduction and general cooking notes, the book starts with the Spring Season. She does an essay about herself and Milbert before each Part of the book which is very entertaining. Part I starts with Spring and she gives you Spring Basics, like stock, etc. Then she breaks it down into the Spring months starting with March. The March chapter begins with a list of recipes she prepares during that month. Part II starts the Summer months with the same basic layout. She then follows through with Autumn and Winter. Before each recipe she talks about the lore and ingredients of that dish. At the end of each recipe she follows up with serving suggestions.
For any of you folks out there who love good stories, the French Countryside and wonderful recipes, I highly recommend this book! I have owned it for quite a few years now and I go back to it in every season to see what Amanda is cooking up for that month.
The wine that accompanied me on my trip to Burgundy was not a French wine I am sorry to say. But a neighboring country, Spain, brought it's sunshiny grapes to my table. I popped open a 2005 Osborne Solaz White Wine made from the Viura grape. The winery has been in the Osborne family since 1772 and is still family operated. This was a nicely balanced wine with lovely floral notes, smooth, fresh and fruity on the palate. A perfect match to my book in hand, even though not in the same country.