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Hardcover The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Notes from the French Countryside Book

ISBN: 0393046680

ISBN13: 9780393046687

The Cook and the Gardener: A Year of Recipes and Notes from the French Countryside

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

A unique blend of stylish cookbook and earthy garden story, here is a collection of 250 recipes derived from a centuries-old French kitchen garden. The stunning debut of a lively new culinary voice, The Cook and the Gardener chronicles a year in the life of the walled kitchen garden at Chateau du Fey and its taciturn, resourceful, charmingly sly peasant caretaker. Using the fruits and vegetables harvested from Monsieur Milbert's garden, Amanda Hesser...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Great addition to a delightful Genre. A foodie must read.

`The Cook and the Gardner' by the young culinary journalist who has added a thoroughly enjoyable chronicle of seasonal cooking and gardening to that very small niche of books joining horticulture with gastronomy. The only other recent volume in this very small corner of culinary writing is `The Arrows Cookbook', a work dealing with the vegetable and herb garden attached to a three season Maine restaurant.Like some other recent books on French life, this book develops a picture of a disappearing phenomenon, the chateau kitchen garden in rural France, tended by a dedicated gardener living on the premises. The chateau and garden is in Burgundy, owned by the renowned Anne Willen, the culinary schoolmistress of La Varenne Pratique. Oddly enough, Madame Willen never appears in this story and her works are cited less frequently than authors with a more historical bent, led by references to works by Elizabeth David. Willen appears primarily as the author's employer. The author's mentor, rather, is the Italian culinary authority, Nancy Harmon Jenkins. It is completely fitting with the antiquity of the context that most references in the book's exceptional bibliography are to works in French and Italian which were published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.The cook of the book's title is the author, herself. The gardener of the book is the garrulous, elderly (mid seventies) Monsieur Milbert who, with his wife, occupies the chateau's gatehouse and who works the chateau's traditional walled garden which appears to be a square of 50 meters or more to a side. The author's story begins in early spring and spans four full seasons at the Burgundy chateau kitchen where her `day job' is responsibility for meals served at the chateau for up to sixteen people at a sitting.Monsieur Milbert on the face of it is a stock Hollywood movie character. He is very slow to warm to the young American interloper, in spite of the fact that they are colleagues in the employ of the same house. Eventually, of course, he begins working with Ms. Hesser and shares with her his thinkings on horticultural matters as she helps him with various tasks to work her way into his good graces. Unlike the Hollywood character, Monsieur Milbert never really breaks from his very, very provincial mindset. The gardener's horticultural practice is the oddest mix of superstition and practical experience. Almost every aspect of planting is governed by phases of the moon. Almost every expectation about future weather is based on a totally unscientific observation of unconnected phenomena. On the other hand, planting, pruning, weeding, and cultivating is based on sound wisdom gained from personal observation and hundreds of years of accumulated experience.The culinary material in the book is ordered entirely by the season and by the location. In spite of the culinary pedigree of the landlord, the style of cooking appears to be derived less from `haute cuisine' than from `la cuisine Regionale'. The

My favorite cook book

Every recipe I have cooked from this book has been excellent! The recipes are not complicated yet the flavor is complex and outstanding and takes complete advantage of fresh vegetables and fruit from the garden (in our case the local farmer's market). The book is organized by seasons and months and the meal suggestions (entree and side dishes) correspond perfectly to the weather outside. The structure of the book also makes it easy to decide what to have for dinner. I am buying several more books to give away as gifts this year!

An Unusually Charming Read

Now this is an unusually charming read! Ms. Hesser gives us insight into a nearly lost world, that of food lovingly, knowledgeably, and patiently produced over changing seasons and then carefully prepared to celebrate and enhance delghtful flavors she learns are coaxed from the earth - information presented in the most charming of stories. The chateau's diverse two acre walled garden was designed to supply all the produce for the estate in earlier centuries and now supplies herself as chateau chef. Ms. Hesser allows us inside her own journey of discovery as she comes to appreciate the art of gardening from Monsieur Milbert, the aging estate gardener, new joy in the seasons and nature, and a newfound connectedness to the origins of the food she is trained to enhance. Here, gardeners will find knowledge your great grandmother knew; old and tried tips and tricks about everything from orchards and vines to mice and radishes and planting with the moon. Cooks will also find an excess of tips and tricks not seen elsewhere. Readers will find a rich story of country life, past and present, a fascinating character in Monsieur Milbert, and a young chef who discovers new richness in her life and work. The mind, heart and senses are expanded here. Those looking for just recipes - though they are good - will be disappointed for this is a story to be read and savored. (by the way, she usually replaces excess butter and cream with olive oil, etc. but granola diet this is not) Who will like this book? Those who love to eat and cook, those who love to garden, those who love history and lost ways of doing things, those who love journeys, professional chefs, Francophiles, real readers, and those us who are yearning for refreshment of the spirit, depth, connectedness, and joy in life. I cannot wait for her next book! Meanwhile this will sit, worth the price, treasured on my shelf to be reread through the years. This is also a book for special gift giving.

Fabulous story within the recipe context.

These recipes are easy to execute with a gourmet result. But even if you do not cook the story that runs throughout the book will make you warm and fuzzy. It's a very worthwhile read on more than one level. Keep writing MS. Hesser!

A Cookbook for the Cook, the Gardener, and the Reader.

I can't remember a work like this that I have thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. As a gardener first and a cook of the treasures my labors produce - this book is truly a prize. I guard my garden secrets as msr. milbert and love the seasonally directed recipes produced by ms. hesser. Her sidebars for selection, cleaning and preparation are to the point. Each recipe reflects the ease of fresh ingredient preparation producing the excellence of simplicity in Nature. This is a book that I recommend and give as gifts.
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