This is the debut book from Athena Calderone, a ‘celebrated American interior designer, chef, entertaining expert and creator of an award winning lifestyle site EyeSwoon’ according to her personal blurb. The book contains 100 seasonal recipes for meals that look as gorgeous as I am sure they are delicious. Sometimes the ingredients sound terribly foreign as in grilled fluke (a white fish) or Gemelli ( a pasta dish), but the photographs that accompany each recipe are stunning and bring the food to life in a manner that makes you want to get into the kitchen right away and start cooking. .
Athena describes food as being our greatest unifier, something we can relate to regardless of our backgrounds, passions or palates. I know for me, food preparation and consumption has always been one of the most pleasurable ways of spending time with friends and family.
A cook book such as this is like taking a mini holiday. You can almost smell the salty tang of a summer beach barbeque or the smell of eucalyptus leaves as friends gather around a roaring winter fire.
Athena gives step by step advice on everything from preparation to presentation. Organised by season, each section closes with a table-scape inspired by nature, along with specific table décor and entertaining tips.
These are luscious dishes to make for friends and family. The tips at the bottom of the page give the impression that this is more of a conversation from one friend to another and adds to the feeling of being part of this culinary experience. Coming from a region that prides itself on it fresh fruit, vegetables and wine, the ingredients, if unusual, are the type that can be adapted to whatever we may be able to source. I can’t wait to try the creamy cauliflower soup with dukkah watercress pesto or the cardamom – cognac apple cake from her Fall section as we slowly wind our own way into Autumn.
Cook Beautiful lives up to its name. A beautiful cookbook.
Reviewed by Fiona Frost
Catalogue link for Cook Beautiful