Our society has redefined the way we procure our food. Even if we cook from scratch, few of us have the time, space and skill-set necessary to grow our own produce. I see it as an unfortunate side effect of globalization with my friends and family back home in South Tyrol all still have a garden to rely on. For now, at least. Even my 101-year-old grandmother grows some lettuce, peas, onions and chamomile flowers in a tiny but very productive little patch of garden right in the middle of town. Same for my parents who don’t set foot in a fruit and vegetable store all summer or at least until their supply lasts. Luckily for those of us less active in the gardening department, there is plenty of inspiration to be found to help people find their way back into old-fashioned and proven gardening methods. One such effort stems from our friends across the pond resulting in a beautifully written and illustrated book by renowned chef Raymond Blanc who partnered with London’s spectacular Kew Gardens to publish Kew on a Plate. Let’s see what this book is all about! Come and cook with us!
If it wasn’t for David, my friend, neighbor and fellow European (at least until Brexit is decided), I wouldn’t have discovered this book which is currently out of stock in the US. For those not familiar with Raymond Blanc, he is a renowned French chef whose restaurant holds 2 Michelin Stars. He is also a successful author and has presented several BBC series. To give you a hint on why both David and I appreciate Raymond’s approach to cooking, the best dish on his menu, according to himself, is the ‘one that’s in season’. You can see why having access to Kew Gardens turned him into a kid in a candy store. Furthermore, he worked with the garden staff to grow exactly those varieties of produce that yield the highest flavor. And he knows a thing or two about that topic!
In his book, the restaurateur selects a variety of specific fruits and vegetables from carrots to potatoes, rhubarb and gooseberries, apples and peas, and offers tips and expertise in growing the produce, adding flavor notes as well as sharing about 40 mouth-watering recipes including a tasty chicory gratin and a gorgeous spring pea risotto that makes my mouth water.
Many of the featured dishes are not just super delicious, they look particularly delectable. I’ve chosen this classic mid-week French Onion Soup to showcast how simple ingredients come together beautifully when prepared the right way. And who is better to offer advice on that than Raymond Blanc! Give it a try and let me know what you think. Come and cook with is!