Black Pudding & Foie Gras

Black Pudding & Foie Gras

Black Pudding & Foie Gras entered my life in a round-about sort of way.  I received an urgent call from my son, Anthony, of Face Publications, who had been working with chef, Andrew Pern, of The Star Inn, Harome, North Yorkshire, to create what they both  hoped would be a stunning, world-class cookbook. They decided that they wanted to have complete control over the overall style and content themselves, and so a new publishing company was founded, entitled Face Publications.

Anthony couldn’t help but be aware of my addiction to cookbooks, and asked me to read the book from my computer screen, and then give him a totally honest appraisal of whether or not I felt it was ‘a good read’.  So on a grey, damp March day, I opened up Black Pudding & Foie Gras on my Mac.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, as chefs, brilliant in their own field, are not necessarily good writers.

The award-winning Black Pudding & Foie Gras

But I was transported straight away to Andrew’s early life, growing up on a farm in the Esk Valley, near Whitby.  His descriptions of his early memories of the scent of food, “the waft of bacon frying”, “the tang of blackberries” and “the smell of warm straw as I gathered eggs” entrapped me, bought a smile to my face and spurred me on to read further.

The story of Andrew’s early life is full of food and family memories.  His mother was a great cook, and his grandfather taught him to fish, carve salmon and sharpen a knife on a steel.  Now that’s a grandfather worth having!  The De Pern family originated in France and crossed the channel to England hundreds of years ago.  Andrew recalls how they carried on an ancient  family tradition every Sunday evening, whilst sitting around their dining table enjoying their ‘feast’.  The conversation for the whole evening had to be conducted by all the family, from the very young to the very old, in French, correctly, or there was no food.

When Andrew was nine, his mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which changed his life forever.  Gone were her lovely comforting dishes, jars of homemade dressings and fresh herbs to be replaced by his Dad’s Fray Bentos pies and the ‘fast food’ of the day.

Andrew, aged 9, decided ‘enough is enough’, and read his way through his mother’s dusty, old Robert Carrier food magazines.  Stimulated by exotic recipes such as pates, stroganoff and terrine, and also aided by his Dad’s homegrown produce plus the fish in the rivers and nearby North Sea, and the game dodging in and out of the woods near the farmhouse,  the young chef chose to help  by experimenting on his own family.  His imagination was set free, and, with the odd exception, began to provide great food for himself and his family.  What an amazing start, and as I read this, I realised that his journey to achieve a Michelin star nine years in a row must have begun in his family farmhouse kitchen.

The world famous “The Star Inn” at Harome

Black Pudding & Foie Gras tells the heart-warming and often humorous story of Andrew’s early life, plus takes us on his route through six-form then catering college (the latter with a brilliant lecturer). A stint in France, learning and working in all manner of establishments led to Andrew marrying up his love of local, fresh food with classic French recipes, and then inspiration from the young Marco Pierre White, writing in his by now classic “White Heat” cookbook fired up Andrew’s creative skills to fever pitch.  His story goes on to recall the challenges he faced with wife Jacquie when opening up The Star Inn.

There is a brilliant whole section on ‘Seasons’ in which Andrew shares stories and his thoughts on the natural changes Seasons bring to his life,  and this is combined with superb photography of animals, sunsets, family and friends.  Anecdotes, some cheeky, are warmly written about his local food suppliers, often great characters who are themselves worthy of their own book.

Then we get to the recipes …….

Pressed Terrine of Yorkshire Gammon with Fried Ledstone Quail Egg, Spiced Pineapple Pickle, Mustard Seed Dressing

Andrew generously gives away the secrets of a large number of his signature dishes, which are scattered throughout the book.  Obviously Black Pudding & Foie Gras is featured, and just the description of this makes your mouth water – “Grilled Black Pudding with Pan-Fried Foie Gras, Salad of Pickering Watercress, Apple & Vanilla Chutney, Scrumpy Reduction”.  Other starters include “Whisky In A Jar”, “Elderberry Wine-Poached Hen Egg with Sweet Onions, Autumn Truffles & Hedgehog Mushrooms”, “Crispy Waberthwaite Ham”, “Salad of Dublin Bay Prawns, with Marinated Lowna Goats’ Cheese, Salad of English Pea Shoots, Lemon Balm Mayonnaise”, “Pressed Terrine of Yorkshire Gammon with Fried Ledstone Quail Egg, Spiced Pineapple Pickle, Mustard Seed Dressing” (pictured above) and many more.

A plate of Harome-Reared “Loose birds” Duck with Garden Thyme Mash, Traditional Yorkshire Sauce.

Next – the Main Dishes which include “A Plate of Harome-Reared “Loose Birds” Duck with Garden Thyme Mash, Traditional Yorkshire Sauce” (pictured above), “Traditionally Garnished North Yorkshire Moors Grouse”, “Pan-Roast Tail Fillet of Beef with Braised Shin, Risotto of Fresh Horseradish, Root Vegetables and Ale Juices”, “Roast Monkfish Tail in Aged York Ham with Juniper Cabbage, Dublin Bay Prawns & Port & Wine Juices”, “Hartlepool Natural Smoked Haddock “Cassoulet” with Haricot Beans” (lucky to have eaten this – so fresh and light and full of taste) and a Hawes Wensleydale Herb Crust”.  These are just a few of the Mains in the book.

The Dessert section is to die for.  How about “Ampleforth Abbey Apple Tarte Tatin with Wensleydale Cheese Ice Cream”? “Pimm’s No 1 Jelly with Garden Spearmint Water Ice”.  “Fresh Sinnington Raspberry Stack with Lavender Shortbread”.  Or “Harome Honeyed Creme Caramel with Lindisfarne Mead-Soaked Sultanas”?  Again, many more stunning recipes, all superbly photographed.

This 400-page book also includes sections on the Cheese Counter. Take “Salad of Air-Dried York Ham with Fresh Figs and Byland Blue Cheese with Spiced Chutney” – a recipe that I will definitely be trying out. Or one that sounds so delicious and also easy to cook – “Baked Tunworth with Ampleforth Apple Brandy, Rosemary and Apple ‘Skewers” – 20 minutes to prepare, 10 minutes to cook, 30 seconds to open the Apple Brandy from the fathers of Ampleforth and as long as you like to sit and dunk your apple chunks into the melted Tunworth cheese – that’s one I will be sharing with friends.  Even the Apple Brandy!

Drinks Cabinet includes Andrew’s recipes for “Rhubarb Schnapps” – I confess Rhubarb has never been a favourite of mine, but in Andrew’s hands, even I will try this – “Sloe Gin”, “Damson Vodka”, “Eddlethrope Sloe Gin Flip”, “Spiced Cider”, “Mulled Ale” and the list goes on.  It strikes me that life in and around Harome in early autumn (when all the hedgerows and fruit bushes have been denuded of their berries and fruit) must be full of cheery folk with rosy cheeks all waving their old liqueur or pint glasses over their hedges  and having a happy time.

The recipes come to the end with the Chef’s Pantry.  Within the Chef’s Pantry Andrew gives us his recipes for every kind of  Stock you could wish for, the house dressing (which I use at home all the time now) and the house Hollandaise sauce.

When I finished reading “Black Pudding & Foie Gras” from my computer screen, I sat back and smiled.  This is not just a cookbook.  It is a wonderful, warm story, and it has helped my understanding of using local, seasonal food where possible. It has inspired me to be a better cook, to attempt to cook some of the more difficult recipes.  I was so relieved that I could relay my appreciation of the book back to Anthony.

At last I finally received my copy of the finished article – “Black Pudding & Foie Gras” in all its glory. Larger than I had realised, this substantial book is so beautifully put together, with a tactile soft-brown suede cover that women will love to stroke and men will happily put on display in their high-tech kitchens.  The recipes cater for all standards of home cooks, from the inexperienced, who will learn a great deal, to those attempting (and succeeding) to cook Andrew’s finest dishes. The stunning photos, liberally scattered throughout the book, are guaranteed to make your mouth water. These are taken by award-winning photographers, Antonio Olmos and, sadly, the late Sam Bailey.

“Black Pudding & Foie Gras” received outstanding reviews.  It is now regarded as a classic cookbook, and has received world-wide awards:

Winner:  ‘Best UK Chef Book’, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, Paris.

Silver Medal ‘World’s Best Chef Book’, Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, Paris.

Winner – ‘Book Design’, D&AD, London.

Merit – ‘Book & Editorial Design’, The Art Directors Club, New York.

Top application award – ‘Book Design’, Fedrigoni, Rome.

Brilliant reviews and more information and pictures plus a chance to buy signed copies can be found at the Face Publications site,  or a simple click on Black Pudding & Foie Gras will take you to the Amazon site, for a chance to look inside the cookbook and a chance to buy unsigned copies

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