Friends At My Table Book Review
Friends At My Table by Alice Hart
What they say:
Alice Hart has perfected the art of feeding crowds, and in her new book she shows not only how to serve people memorable meals, but also how to host all sorts of gatherings in a relaxed and convivial way. From what kitchen kit you’ll need to take to a music festival, how to multiply up the number of servings, or how to get around a shortage of cutlery or plates, the book contains all you need to know about the practical side of making large numbers of people feel comfortable and well fed, taking the stress out of organising, hosting and catering. And to make the occasions even more special, Alice also includes fabulously whimsical ideas for how to entertain your guests. The book includes a diverse selection of party menus for each month of the year, although all the dishes can be taken out of context and served for simpler occasions. Break through February’s gloom with a Honey-roast Beetroot and Carrot Salad served on a mezze evening complete with indoor games for a winter’s night, or throw a beach barbecue in August and impress with Blueberry, Almond and Vanilla Choux Buns, with instructions for beach cricket and how to recognise clouds. Alice serves an eclectic mix of dishes from all around the world, but all are made simple and easy to prepare. And these parties won’t break the bank – being young, busy and hard-working, Alice understands the demands on her generation when it comes to being low on budget, time and space.
What I say:
This book was written for people just like me. People who love festivals and relaxed atmospheres; but demand quality food and sophisticated flavours.
The book is separated into seasons and within each season there are menus for specific events. Examples include, a weekend away with friends, a bridal shower, even a (rather glamorous) camping trip; and yet all recipes could easily be downsized to feed fewer mouths and are delicious enough to be served alone, without the rest of their menu.
The photography in this book has a distinctly vintage, ‘boho’ feel that compliments the relaxed nature of the food. This is not a book of stuffy dinner parties and harassed hostesses, this is a book of stress free foods and laid back entertaining. Hart’s writing is easy and informal and she chooses to include just the right amount of ‘basic information’, to come across as informative as opposed to patronising. Yes I like this book!
There are some oddities though :-S The inclusion of a page of information on foraging is understandable given the ‘eat local and when in season’ ethos of this and indeed most modern recipe books, but the decision to include notes on the names of different types of cloud is a strange one, as is the page on paddling??
That said, the quirkiness of these pages only adds to the book and indeed my 9 year old swiftly pinched my copy and ran to garden to name every tuft of white in the sky. Adorable, though I’m sure it was an activity intended for an afternoon eating mezze.
I would recommend this book, particularly to a modern, sociable cook or an old hippy!!!