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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Groove Book Report - Rick Stein's Long Weekends

In his Long Weekend series, TV Chef Rick Stein takes us on some of his favourite destinations for a long weekend including Bordeaux, Berlin, Reykjavik (Iceland), Bologna and Vienna. Expect the usual fabulous local markets, local restaurants and in true Rick style, a few wineries along the way too.  I wonder how we'd do this post-BREXIT!  Either way I'm jealous of the Brits who can just pop over to these places on a whim.  For us, it's a lifelong dream and a massive airfare to get there.

Still, shows like his BBC series Venice to Istanbul are both informative and deliciously adventurous.  His new book certainly sums up the new series well with plenty of notes before each recipe on how he discovered each dish or how the locals should have it - in TV world, of course.

The easy ones are things like Spagetti Alla Bolognese, which is a mix of tomatoes, tuna flakes and Parmesan cheese.  Definitely not the SPAG BOG conncoctions we make here at home.  Even so, I always thought the famous dish was meat, carrots, celery, onions and tomatoes.  Who knew there were other versions?

There are other different dishes, too.  Some include local ingredients that you can get in the UK but not here, like Sardines.  But others you can approximate like Icelandic BreadedLamb Chops and spiced red cabbage.  The cabbage includes blueberries, the only really point of difference.

Some ingredients like cod and sea bass can be swapped with warehou or even terakahi and we can throw in good quality frozen prawns of even fresh clams.  We can't get proper Serrano Ham - for Flamenco Eggs with Tomato and Serrano Ham - but we have some pretty good approximations these days.

This book covers entre's, mains and deserts from a 'day of the week' point of view.  Friday's are quick, Saturday's a bit longer and Sunday's slow, time for the family, etc.  It's also broken up into a chapter for each location, so you can cook something French one weekend, something Scandinavian the next and so on.

Finally, the back section is also a brilliant wee collection of 'Extras' : a good chicken stock, vege and beef stocks, a trick with saute potatoes, Beurre Mane, Sourdough Starter and a whole lot more.

The photos alone will make you yearn to update your passport and book one of those European river cruises or a cooking tour.  They are great and match the dialogue brilliantly.

A brilliant book, if slightly a fantasy for most of us.  At least we can cook for our dreams.

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