Firstly I must apologise for the delay in posting this review, Natalie Martin at Kitch Media PR company very kindly took the time to send me a copy of The Rare Brand Cookbook, & then due to various work & life commitments was unable to post a review.
Rare Brand is a book which champions small boutique producers, the type that you find at the various food festivals up and down the country throughout the year. Several that feature have carved out their niche and come to my attention, mainly because of their presence on the micro blogging site Twitter; two that spring to mind are Wormersley fruit vinegars & Sipsmith gin.
With an introduction from Robin Hutson, of Limewood & Hotel du Vin fame, it sets the tone from the word go. The people whose companies feature in The Rare Brand book are clearly passionate about their products, they’ve taken time to source and hone, perfect and then market in their own way. They’re individuals who are breaking moulds; in much the same way Mr Hutson did when he founded Hotel du Vin.
The photographs I’ve taken to illustrate this post really don’t do justice to Chef Paul Collins’ (former Executive chef at Daylesford Organics & Lucknam Park) work. In a refreshing change Emma Schwarz has made a concerted effort to really include the people that have made this book possible. She has named people that have supplied the props (Bloomingville & Sorbet living), the photographer (Tory McTernan), Graphic designer (Atelier of Alchemy), Wine recommendations (Gulp Wines) & so many more. Even though the Rare Brands Cookbook is easy reading and accessible; I can just imagine readers regularly returning time & time again, which may well be its down fall. This really is my only niggle concerning this tome; for whatever reason, and I’m fearing either cost cutting or following trends, this book has the same type of stiff cardboard outer covers as the New Voices in food range from Quadrille, and in a book which will used on a regular basis it’s going to take its toll.
The recipes, all tested by Chef Paul Collins, are the antithesis of simple bistro cooking, where the ingredients speak for themselves. You’re not going to encounter any cheffy gadgets, just combinations of good flavours, and this is The Rare Brands strength. Emma Schwarz has sort out these little artisan producers who are doing something different, it is to be applauded & celebrated. I mean, who knew there was a Sheffield Honey Company? Then there is the Espresso Mushroom Company, who collect four tonnes of waste coffee grounds from their local cafes, & use it in their product; which is a grow your own kit for pearl oyster mushrooms. Each company then has several recipes highlighting their products and sensitive to their philosophies.
All in all I’d recommend this book for the casual cook, buy it them for Christmas & watch them flick through it for the rest of Christmas day whilst drooling over the beautiful illustrations. A good buy.