Cookbooks are the one print media that I can’t imagine disappearing into a collection of electronic means. One look and touch of the Ethicurean cookbook reaffirms my belief that you need solid pictures, bigger than the screen of your phone or e-reader, to see beautiful creations come alive just ingredients away. You also need the space just to appreciate the style in this book and text big enough and a medium robust enough to be able to leave it next to the stove as you cook.
Divided into seasons, the recipes are scattered throughout with stunning accompanying pictures. Maybe too stunning, they were certainly a distraction from my search for sticky toffee apple pudding, more recently served at the restaurant with warm cinnamon infused cream, and duck confit. The former wasn’t in there but there was a section for confit which I found when I glanced through it for a second time. There was also the guessing game of whether Jack Bevan would be bearded or not in the next shot (or what he would be doing).
Aesthetically it is more than pleasing but it’s the food I’m interested in. My daughter’s dad waxed lyrical about how he thought it was so beautiful that he wouldn’t want to harm it by using it in the kitchen and having it get dirty. He doesn’t cook that much yet and I think it can only get better through use. I would have it dusted and greased and pollinated by all the ingredients I would surround it with. (Some of them are flowers.) I would write in the margins the date and names for who I cooked the meals and leave bookmarks scattered throughout for my favourite recipes. What’s the point of a book if it’s not for the beauty of its content.
So, yes, it’s beautiful because everything the Ethicurean seems to do is done well. My daughter and I have celebrated some our favourite events there with her father over the last two years and she has run around the gardens and fallen asleep in my arms while we’ve enjoyed coffee and cider and sticky toffee apple cake with cinnamon cream and looking over the garden and the valleys of Wrington.
We’ve been very grateful to the four friends who set up this restaurant in an enchanting Victorian walled garden in the Mendip Hills. With an ethos of seasonality, ethical sourcing of ingredients and attention to the local environment it is no wonder they have already been awarded the Observer Food Monthly best ethical restaurant in 2011, a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2013 and the Bristol Culture best restaurant of 2012.
Get 20% off if you travel there by bus. There are 120 exciting recipes in this book and I aim to cook most of them (apart from the rabbit ones).
Try this one for medicinal purposes : The Ethicurean cocktail. Includes thyme, vodka and honey.
The Ethicurean cookbook is published today by Ebury Press and costs £25.