Oliver Rowe is an English chef with a passion for cooking seasonal food that’s local to him. He cooked at Moro (so is used to making things that taste good…), then at his own restaurant called The Konstam near Kings Cross. Food for All Seasons took Oliver about eight years to complete. I suspect it was other projects rather than writer’s block or lack of inspiration that interfered, but there’s also no doubt that the completion of the book was a labour of love.
This is as much a narrative of the food calendar as much as it is a recipe book. Photo enthusiasts will be disappointed by the lack of recipe illustration (i.e. none), but for me that’s made up for by the evocative, engaging and thoughtful prose. We get, for example, memories from Oliver’s time setting up his restaurant; of being stung by nettles (and taking revenge years later by learning how to make them into soup); and a good many words extolling the virtues of British asparagus, rhubarb and more.
It’s divided into monthly chapters, with the year beginning in October – just after harvest time – and in each month Oliver highlights a handful of ingredients to get excited about: quince and celeriac in November; nettles and wild garlic in March; nasturtium, capers and courgettes in August. You know the drill.
This is a book that will help people to understand what ‘British’ food is – that is to say: any type of cuisine that uses ingredients grown or reared on these islands (which, by necessity, means seasonal food), and it’s one to make time to chill out and look over.
I’m not sure the recipes will surprise anyone used to making the most of food at the stage nature has made it taste good, but there’s plenty of inspiration for cooking real, slow food.
Take it to bed or sit in a comfy chair each month and have a read, then highlight the recipes you fancy making over the next four weeks or so.
Format and design
No photos, but illustrations and a gorgeous cover by Here Design (who are good at that sort of thing). Will fit as neatly on a bookshelf in the loo or study as it will in the kitchen.
Recipes that tempt
Leek, Cashel Blue and lovage tart; rhubarb and angelica pickle; Jerusalem artichoke soup with crispy breadcrumbs and goat’s cheese.
Who is it for?
Food lovers. Cooks for whom time spent sourcing ingredients or in the kitchen is as enjoyable as the eating itself.