March 22nd, 2012 by Books for Cooks
Matt is a Yorkshire born, British trained, and now Melbourne based Chef and gardener who cooks at his restaurant Pope Joan in inner Melbourne.
Matt’s strong views on the importance of eating locally produced and seasonally grown vegetables are deftly and amusingly put. Scattered amongst the 24 or so chapters on common and less common vegetables (Nettles anyone?) are Matt’s childhood, family (most infamously with his Nan) and professional encounters with what are now his favourite vegetables (or at least 23 of them!). Matt is an ambassador for the Victorian Farmer’s Market Association and his committment to local producers and regional cuisine shines through. Each chapter begins with useful and practical information about cooking and growing or sourcing each vegetable. Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower and even Zucchini are redeemed by simple beautiful dishes. We particularly liked the ‘Salad of Brussels Sprout Leaves, Mozzarella, White Anchovies’, Salad of Cauliflower, Smoked Salmon & Strawberry’ the ‘Frozen Vanilla Syrup-coated Fennel’ and the ‘Salad of Radish, Figs, Walnuts & Blue Cheese’.
Reflected in his Yorkshire upbringing and classical training, Matt’s dishes are mostly British/European or Mediterranean in style and perfectly suited to casual eating, shared plates or even informal restuarants. Despite Matt’s highly regarded fine dining background, this is not a restaurant book. Both beginner and competent cooks will be rewarded as the dishes are never complicated, but there is enough innovation to suit almost anyone. Matt’s plating is elegant but casual and his dishes light but driven by flavour. Lovers of recipes by Yotam Ottolenghi, Karen Martini or Anna Hansen will find this a perfect addition to their kitchen library. Although Matt also champions locally and carefuly raised meat, vegetarians will also be rewarded with innovative and interesting dishes throughout.
Mention must also be made of the beautiful matt photography by Jacqui Melville, and the striking personal design by Studio Racket; we particularly like the uncommon coptic binding and the graphic vignettes