Now as the book isn’t available in the UK yet (Amazon.co.uk list a UK publishing date as 3rd February 2011), we felt that you our readers deserved to know what it was like. Since the Chef Hermes blog first came across Martijn on Twitter we’ve felt a natural affinity with him. Reading his book, which is a beautifully put together piece of literature, just reinforces his belief’s on how food should be treated. To quote the inside cover;
Chef Martijn Kajuiter draws on traditional skills, the finest local produce, and some high technology in order to produce menus of unique character.
Reading through the book, Martijn clearly takes the view of doing very little to the food he produces with influences coming from different quarters, whether it be Fish & Chips, Coddle (a traditional stew, originally coming from Dublin), Bitterbal (or Shrimp balls as they are in English) or Chocolate mousse (served with olive oil & sea salt). Clearly the Michelin inspectors have been impressed, and in 2010 rewarded Mr Kajuiter & the Cliff House Hotel team with a star.
Sometimes the problem when a chef decides he is going to write a cookery book, is that it will generally fall into one of two camps. The one where it is aimed at the fastidious professional chef with their water baths, rational ovens, anti griddles, espuma guns & liquid nitrogen, or the more lucrative domestic market. The Cliff House Hotel Cookbook seems to cross both divides quite cleverly. Although the hotel may hold a Michelin star, the kitchens produce food for effectively two different areas, the restaurant & the bar.
The book is divided into eleven chapters from, ‘Umami and Apples’ to ‘Order out of Chaos’. Many are then sub divided like the chapter on ‘The Garden’ which contains subject matter like vinaigrettes, vegetables, cold sauces & seafood. But the author just doesn’t reel off some of his cherished recipes, no, he gives explanations as to his logical thoughts, which on the surface may be a little avant guard but actually make sense. For example, there is a recipe for a sweet vinaigrette but Mr Kajuiter explains the reason for it;
Think of caramelised apple or chocolate fudge. Both are overwhelmingly sweet and bursting with flavour, but in my opinion they need something sharp. That sharpness will enhance the explosion of flavour and your ability to taste.
While most of the cookbooks coming from such acclaimed chefs like Mr Kajuiter are restaurant orientated, The Cliff House Cookbook differs and stays true to the property from which it has been born. There are hotel chefs & there are restaurant chefs, seldom do the two paths cross. The main reason is that being in a hotel as a chef there are more factors that pull on your time and in a way, you can become more diluted in the end result you deliver to your guests. Yet at Cliff House they seem to somehow have this covered and although there are the nice ‘food porn’ type pictures and recipes, there are also what are considered the more staple and basic foods, such as ‘jam, jellies, drinks & preserves’ with recipes for the less advanced home cook who aspires to cooking quality food. As we flicked through the book, it’s always hard to find a recipe that will appeal to you, the reader. It needs to be something different yet relatively easy to portray in a post, but also capture the recipe’s author and ‘Rhubarb Gin’ does both. Start to finish it will take 10weeks and so won’t be ready for the blog’s 1st birthday, but will be ready for the sunny afternoons on the terrace. We’ll keep you posted.
In conclusion, the Cliff House Hotel Cookbook is a great body of work which encapsulates the essence of the hotel & it’s staff, utilising & promoting the great local produce combining in an outstanding product. So if you received book tokens for Christmas and can hold out till early February, then it’s worth the wait. If not, it is available to buy at the moment on Amazon.com in the US.
We’d like to thank Martijn Kajuiter for supplying the Chef Hermes Blog with some of the images and a copy of The Cliff House Hotel Cookbook for us to review.
Cliff House Hotel,
Republic of Ireland.
Phone: +353 (0)24 87800