Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cooking the Books... A Girl and her Pig

Oh my lordy. Be still my beating heart. When I heard rumours a little while back that April Bloomfield - woman wonder chef - was releasing a cookbook I tried to contain myself. One of my favourite restaurants in New York was the Spotted Pig; the philosophy, the food, everything about it. It was the place you wanted to go when you didn't feel like "going out to dinner" and then you'd eat the sort of food you'd always be happy to eat. She's since gone on to open an oyster bar The John Dory - damn I need to get back to NYC for a visit. Anyway, here it is. It's here. In a book. In my hands and jeepers its a goodin. And the title is possibly one of the most delightful "A Girl And Her Pig". 
This is the book that shows you what you want for dinner before realising that want existed. There are lessons - new dishes to discover, like English faggots. Not sure I'm going to eat them but good to know about them all the same. And I think this is where the book really excels, its the little lessons along the way - its a book that extends your repertoire and gives you a strange and to be honest overwhelming desire to cook a whole pig. Immediately.

She's a chef but one that cooks for the people who eat her food I think rather than any kind of ego which can sometimes be a downfall of chef led titles. She gained her stripes at the time that gastro pubs became the choice de rigueur and worked at the River Cafe. And she's friends with Fergus Henderson and Ruth Rogers and Jamie and all those uber amazing foodie nerdy cheffy people that give you goosebumps because of their amazingness. And I'm not sure why, perhaps its because by page 76 she's up to her elbows in a caesar salad but you get the sense that she'd be a nice person to cook with. And in an ideal scenario have her cook for you...or just share that damn delicious looking salad.

Obviously for me, it would have to be the carnal delights of roasting an entire pig. But I realise there are a few more less equipment heavy recipes in this tome worthy of your cooking time. Simple, beautiful, fresh dishes like these marinated strawberries which have kindly been shared with us here. The addition of lemon and pepper with the balsamic really elevates the sweetness of the strawberries. And it seems we are in the midst of a strawberry glut so its our obligation to make these. And then make them again. There are farmers to help out after all.

I also think the mozarella and speck sandwiches are perfect hangover fodder, or be just the thing when you need something to eat to protect you from the world.

To be honest, all strength to you if you can give this one away without swindling it onto your own shelf but I think this is one for those with a love for gastropub style food. Its for those that appreciate gutsy flavours and food pairings that work well not because the food has been overworked but because premium, quality ingredients work best. Its an interesting intersection of really "British" food with some American influences - a great hybrid of styles. 
I've found the bookstores to be hit and miss in Oz - best to try the larger ones as they seem to have the shelf space for more titles. And of course its online at all your usual suspects, Amazon etc. etc. And you can find out more about April on her website here.


  1. I am so pleased that you have reviewed this book Katrina. I have been curious about it and haven't actually had the chance to look at it in a bookshop. It sounds wonderful...another book for my ever growing book wishlist!

  2. Hi Jane, I've really enjoyed it. Definitely worth adding to the book wishlist. BTW I feel your pain - the list grows, never diminishes.