I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but I love Bath. I
didn’t grow up here, which I think is why I never take it for granted and never
stop appreciating how awesome it is. One of my favourite things about the place
(and there are a huge number) is that it’s absolutely packed with fabulous
foodie culture. Not only are there loads of brilliant restaurants and shops,
but Bath and the surrounding area are also full of clever creative people
making all sorts of delicious produce. It means the city is always buzzing with
something new and exciting, and there’s a huge appreciation here for food and
for independent business.
The Bath Cook Book is a glorious celebration of all of
the above. Produced by Meze Publishing, who have created books for several
other cities (and picked up Best Newcomer at the Independent Publishing Awards
in 2016, no less), it’s a sort of foodie bible for the area, featuring
restaurants, cafes, shops and producers, as well as recipes from each of them.
Full disclosure, each business has paid to be included, and I was worried
before I read it that this would make the book feel like a big advertorial –
but to be completely honest, I think it really works.
Each featured foodie has their own two or four page spread,
to talk about their backstory, their inspiration or whatever else they fancy,
and they’re an interesting bunch. Beth, aka the Free Range Chef, talks about
how saying yes to any cheffing engagement that comes her way has taught her to
embrace adventure and opportunity, while the family behind New MacDonalds Farm
describe their mission to educate their customers about animal welfare and how
it makes for better food. Kettlesmith Brewing Company are all about getting
foodies to take beer as seriously as wine, while my old chum Helen at Taste of Bath is passionate about rounding up Bath’s best produce all in one place, to
fill her fabulous hampers – in fact, several of her carefully chosen producers
pop up in the Bath Cook Book, including Honey & Daughter, a great Somerset
cider company who also make my favourite thirst quencher, a traditional mix of
cider and ginger beer called Stoney Bonk, the Bath Gin Company and In A Pickle
(the clue to both of those is in the name).
As well as the origin stories behind Bath’s culinary
superheroes, the book is also full of titbits of local history and foodie
folklore, making it a brilliant coffee table tome for dipping in and out of.
And you don’t get short-changed on the recipes either. I’ve already bookmarked
several that I fancy having a go at – including The Beaufort’s gorgeously
colourful monkfish and octopus curry (above), and The Bath Cake Company’s maple and
pecan chocolate cake (below) - although I’ve also picked out several new restaurants to
try when I don’t feel like cooking…
The quality of the book is lovely too, with a beautiful
design and lots of gorgeous photos that show off not just the food but Bath
itself. And there are some really thoughtful additions – I particularly like
the section at the back by local company Novel Wines, suggesting a wine to
accompany each different recipe. All in all, this is a lovely little package
that I’m happy to recommend – you can get it directly from Meze Publishing, or
you can buy it from the featured producers themselves, which is a great touch.