Review: Eat London² and Hazan Family Favorites

Eggs On The Roof Reviews

                     

 Eat London² By Peter Prescott & Terence Conran     

                     Published by Conran Octopus

April 2012 – Price £20.00 

The difficulty all restaurant guidebooks wrestle with is how to stay current and authoritative when the food industry is so mercurial. Eat London² hits that problem with its very first entry. Petersham Nurseries Cafe and Teahouse may have been run by the chef Sky Gyngell, ‘one of the top food personalities in London’, but, much to the disappointment of her fans and, presumably, the authors of this book, she’s now left. But this is where Eat London² plays such a clever, smart game. Published to coincide with the London Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee, Eat London² shrewdly offers so much more than a guide to the capital’s great restaurants. Terence Conran and Peter Prescott recommend cafes, bakeries, fishmongers, butchers, food markets and – new to the guidebook game – pop-ups.

Atmospheric photographs by Lisa Linder and inventive recipes from the chefs of the restaurants featured, make this a good buy as a cookery book as well as a beautifully produced guidebook. As far as I’m concerned, it’s worth getting for Rowley Leigh’s recipe for Parmesan Custard and Anchovy Toast alone. Having eaten his exquisite signature concoction at Le Cafe Anglais I’ve puzzled ever since exactly how to replicate it.

Terence Conran and Peter Prescott proudly admit this isn’t an ‘objective’ book. It’s their idiosyncratic view of what makes a great restaurant – ‘quirkiness, wonderful personalities, service, ambience, design, location…’  With recommendations from Twickenham to Brick Lane and Stoke Newington to Southwark, as well as fold-out maps for new visitors to London, it’s a perfect example of what a guidebook should be: beautiful in its own right and full of insights, personality and insider knowledge.

            

Hazan Family Favorites By Giuliano Hazan, Foreword by Marcella Hazan

Published by Stewart Tabori & Chang

May 2012 Price £19.99

Last night my teenage daughter embarked on a complicated dough recipe without checking how long the various stages would take to complete. With school the next morning, she was in bed and fast asleep hours before the dough was finally ready. I promised to finish the baking for her, but at 1 am, still applying the glaze to the admittedly beautiful buns, I was wondering why she couldn’t have opted for a plain old Victoria sponge instead.

Getting your timings wrong isn’t a mistake Giuliano Hazan would let you make. Each of his recipes starts with a brisk ‘time from start to finish’ guide and the instructions are both simple and concise. It’s a book that is characterised by the calm, capable charm that must make him such a reassuring tutor at the cooking school in Verona that he runs with his wife, Lael.

Hazan Family Favorites is as much a tribute to family as it is to food, filled as it is with photographs of Giuliano as a boy, his mother Marcella, his daughters and his wife. Each recipe is accompanied by Giuliano’s memories of eating it as a child, or watching one of his grandmothers cook it. He has a heritage that’s rich in food influences. His paternal grandparents were Sephardic Jews who settled in Italy and then fled to the United States. His maternal grandparents brought the cuisine of the Emilia-Romagna to the table, along with Arab-influenced dishes from his grandmother’s time living in Egypt. The result is a style of cooking that is traditional and yet with a light, modern touch.

A test of any cookery book is do you want to head for the kitchen? I have an overwhelming desire to make Swiss Chard Tortelloni with Tomato sauce immediately. This is a book that I would give to someone who loves to cook, but who wants to become more confident and knowledgeable. At breakfast this morning, I presented my daughter with a plate of her time-consuming buns that I finally completed at 1.30 this morning, along with a copy of Hazan Family Favorites on the side. ‘Can you try cooking from this one next time?’ I asked.

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10 thoughts on “Review: Eat London² and Hazan Family Favorites

  1. I bought the first Eat London and enjoyed exploring with it. I’ve been contemplating buying this for a while and almost per ordered it. Now I’ll definitely buy it. Thanks for the review. GG

    • Thanks Sally. I didn’t begrudge my teenage daughter the 1.30am finish. I love to see children cooking, even when the mess is frightening.

  2. I already owned – and have cooked from – two of Giuliano Hazan’s cookbooks and even the most complicated Italian dishes were surprisingly simple and quick to make thanks to his instructions. And the results were extraordinarily fabulously good every single time. I now have Hazan Family Favorites and have been reading it cover to cover like a memoir before deciding what to cook and bake – although several dishes have been bookmarked. I know every one will turn out perfectly and delicious. And his family’s history is fascinating. A perfect book as you say, for every level cook who wants to serve delicious Italian.

    • This is my first Giuliano Hazan book. I haven’t made the swiss chard recipe yet – I’m planning to grow chard for the first time this year, but I’m far too impatient to wait for my own harvest before trying Giuliano’s recipe

  3. I like the sound of both of these books. The first I want to keep in my car for when my hubby and I get an impromptu babysitter and the mind goes blank about where to go! And the second because the food sounds just like what I want to cook after a horrid commute home. something warm and comforting and “homely”.

    • That’s exactly the kind of food the Hazan book provides, Urvashi – delicious. And I think you’ll enjoy Eat London2

  4. I haven’t read any of Giuliano’s books yet, but have three of Marcella’s, which are my Italian cooking bibles and well encrusted with parmesan and extra virgin olive oil.

    My 12 year old daughter hasn’t yet embarked on bread making, but makes a fine chocolate cake and has even started clearing up after herself when she bakes! I’m impressed with your 1.30 am stamina, don’t know if I’d be able to stay awake long enough, even for the sake of motherly love!

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