No more pigeon’s milk, ban the ox tongue and keep the foraging to a minimal was the brief for Valentine Warner when writing his new book. To most this would sound easy, but to the chef known for fish, foraging and wild ingredients it was a challenge.
After a conversation with his publisher about the direction of his new book, Val tossed speedy greedy suppers at them. ‘We came to a compromise after I was asked what was an acceptable time for people to have to wait to eat, and we decided that really it was within an hour. The outdoors and foraging are reflected in this book, but it’s very gentle and each recipes fits onto one page’
Valentine Warner is not known for holding back on lengthy lists of ingredients that are more gettable if you live in the woodlands than a local supermarket, but the flamboyant chef has put together a section of recipes that even the least outdoorsy of us can throw together and be very happy with.
Despite being very British, Val has a superb accent, impeccable manors and a cheeky smile, he never set out for this to be a British cookbook. The recipes are gathered from his extensive travels.
“I travel constantly, scribbling in note books, on ciggie packets or napkins, following the smells in the air that take you to a wonderful lean-to with someone cooking on charcoal. When I was little, my parents took me to everything from street stalls to glamorous restaurants so I gathered a real mix of influences. Lots of the recipes in this book are taken from those experiences. I also learnt recipes from other chefs, so there are a few credits in this book.’
The book has some classic recipes. A white fish with parsley sauce and bacon is one of Val’s favourites, well for the winter anyway and his sardines with sweet and sour onions on sourdough is for the summer.
Valentine is passionate about the outdoors, fishing and foraging. He has a superb understanding of ingredients and a wicked sense of humour. He is the only person to make foraging interesting to me, as he told stories of wild blueberries in Canada where he was recently filming and eating Kapakli, an enormous forest grouse in Scandinavia. Perhaps I will even give it a go, but for now I have What to Eat Next.
What to Eat Next by Valentine Warner published by Mitchell Beazley £20 available on Amazon