Favourite Food Blogs (& Cook Books on Wish List)

Favourite Food Blogs ( & Cook Books on Wish List):  There are many Food Blogs to read, some brilliant, some not so.  And Books. Especially Cook Books (for me).  I just wanted to share my recent favourite Food Blogs (and Cook Books on my wish list).  These two food blogs are completely different, one day-dreamingly beautiful with spectacular photography, and the other warm, earthy and very down to earth. Just click on the blog name and make your own mind up.  I love them both.

The first blog is one I somehow just chanced upon, titled ‘Cannelle et Vanille’.  (Click on the title to see the site). This is written by Aran Goyoaga, an amazing lady who hails from the Basque area of Northern Spain, but now lives in the USA.  She is a freelance journalist, a photographer and a food-stylist.  Last year she held a food-styling course in France, detailing the course, the people, the French countryside and food in such a glorious way that I wished I could have been there.   Aran is the most amazing photographer, filling her blog pages with breathtaking photos of food, life, ingredients and her children with pictures so delicate, ethereal and beautiful that you almost feel as if you are in a fairy tale of food.

When Aran returns to her roots, and parents, in the Basque countryside, she details her adventures with words, foods and pictures so tempting and irresistible that I, for one, was tempted to pack my case there and then to visit that fierce but beautiful part of Spain.  Her absolute love of the country of her birth pours out of her Food Blog, and her tales of everyday life are both inspirational and a delight to read.

A great deal of Aran’s recipes are gluten-free, and she has now compiled what looks like a stunningly photographed cookbook, out in October 2012.  This book is entitled “Small Plates & Sweet Treats”, filled with gluten-free, superb recipes, and, in Aran’s words, “Small plates as an homage to the raciones and pintxos which we eat in the Basque country when we share with friends – just like I share with you.”

This is definitely a book that is well-worth waiting for, and will find a space on my bookshelves, even though I don’t necessarily need a gluten free diet.  Aran’s recipes look amazing, and so incredibly tempting, so I will be getting my ‘pinny’ on in my kitchen.

To see more about Aran’s book, and pre-order it from Amazon, click here.

The next blog I enjoy is ‘Eat Like a Girl’, written by Niamh Shields, an Irish ex-pat with a very big smile (and I bet a big laugh) whose been living (happily, she says) in London for over 10 years. Totally different to ‘Canelle et Vanille’, Niamh’s blog is full of warmth, down to earth humour, and lots of comforting recipes. Niamh has won numerous awards for her food and travel blog, probably because she writes entertainingly about food and her travels.  Whatever country Niamh visits, she samples and photographs and documents the local foods and eateries with relish.  A very good blog to follow if you, too, travel a great deal.  Couple this with an extensive knowledge of all things culinary, and you realise why it is an award winning blog.

Niamh travels a lot, in fact a great deal, and the posts she wrote recently about her travels to Croatia (or Istria) were enlightening. The people were friendly and welcoming, the countryside looked magical and Niamh was at one with the earthiness of the local foods    So much of her recipes are fairly low-cost comfort food, but the influence of her travels washes over to her food, and some interesting combinations appear on her plate.

Niamh has also written a cook book, “Comfort & Spice”, which is full of her recipes, which vary from comforting Irish classics, recipes featuring slow cooking of the more reasonable joint of meat, such as Pork Belly, and the more exotic recipes Niamh has chanced upon when travelling the world extensively. There are also some tasty dessert recipes such as Lemon & Ricotta Pancakes with Raspberries, which sounds so fresh and tangy.

To have a closer look at “Comfort & Spice” on Amazon, or order, please click here.

Next, Cook Books.  What am I putting on my ‘Wish List’?   Well, “Mugaritz” is one I would love.  Mugaritz, the Restaurant, is in Northern Spain, not far from San Sebastian.  Not long ago I watched a small video promoting this book, and it looks so beautiful, and the food superb.  “Mugaritz” is by chef Andoni Luis Aduriz, who trained under Ferran Adria at el Bulli, and Andoni’s restaurant was recently voted the third place in the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant Award, so it must be very special indeed.

This book is the chef’s story – the early years and trying to attract customers, then a traumatic time when Mugaritz caught fire in 2010, which totally destroyed his kitchen in one night.  I’m looking forward to Adoni’s story of how they re-built Mugaritz, and must have worked so intensely in such a short space of time to become the No 3 restaurant in the world. There are, apparently, great pictures of both the food and the setting.

There are about 70 recipes in this book, and because of the modern culinary techniques used by Adoni, I’m not sure I will even attempt them in my kitchen, but to read and learn from such a talented chef, who works in such a beautiful setting, will be pleasure enough. And maybe, one day, I will pressure Erik into taking me to Mugaritz, the resurrected restaurant.

To read a review of “Mugaritz”, or have a closer look on Amazon, please click here.

Another book on my wish list at the moment is “Nathan Outlaw’s British Seafood”.  Nathan Outlaw has appeared on UK TV over the last few years, and is the most ‘uncheffy’ chef I have ever seen.  He always looks cheerful and gently happy, more like a big, gentle, ruddy-cheeked farmer or rugby player, but his love of food pours out of him, and now that he has not one but two restaurants in one of my favourite areas of Cornwall, this man can do no wrong for me.

I was amazed when I saw how many topchefs Nathan had trained under (including Rick Stein in Padstow).  Nathan has set himself up on the other side of the river, opposite to his old mentor, Rick, and is at The St Enodoc Hotel, in Rock, near Daymer Bay in Cornwall.  Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, very much a fine dining experience, was the recipient of 2 Michelin stars in 2011, and has received many accolades. Diners can enjoy Nathan’s Tasting Menu, and Wine Matching is also available.  But Nathan and his team decided to open a second, more informal restaurant at the hotel.  This is ‘The Seafood Bar and Grill’, overlooking the Camel estuary.  Here you can have  a snack and a drink during the day, or indulge yourselves and eat a wonderful, relaxing dinner. Sounds like a dream to me.

Nathan’s cook book has received a brilliant review by Ron Laity on Amazon, and includes the words “… and if you love fish cookery, buy this book, it’s the only one that smells of the sea.”  “Nathan Outlaw’s British Seafood” sounds very much like a book that will teach me everything about choosing, preparing and cooking all the main groups of fish, and he has generously shared over 100 recipes, which range from his own comforting family favourites to his superb signature dishes.  Plus food pictures guaranteed to get your taste buds working overtime. I’ll hope I will be a bit more of an culinary expert in the fish department after reading this book.

To read Nathan’s 5 star review, have a closer look or order from Amazon, please click here.

Well, those are my Favourite Food Blogs (& Cook Books on Wish List) for now.  Do have a look at the blogs, they are so very different, but each one has something very special to say. And as for the Cook Books …… have I got room on my books shelves for more? You bet!

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