Terre á Terre is an incredibly successful restaurant in Brighton. It's a restaurant that in many ways has elevated vegetarian food, making it well, sexier. No hemp, no hippies, no sticky tablecloths, no iffy music. It's amazing that there aren't more veggie restaurants like this one, because the concept is simple; to treat food like any other top quality restaurant, sans meat. No apologies and no substitutes. Just well presented and with original thought that keeps people going back again and again.
So I was interested to hear they had released a cookbook as I think they may well be one of the first Brighton restaurants to do so. Cracking it open, I couldn't remember being so excited about cooking from a book. The photography is truly a feast for the eyes. I mean, for one, the food has all been styled vertical, standing proud as punch on the plate. Perspex sheets give the food a glossy, sexy edge, a contrast to the typical styling for this genre where natural, homely and rustic is the norm.
The instructions at first glance will really put the willies up you, especially as most recipes span over two pages, but on closer inspection you will see that the recipes are all broken down into separate elements that you can include or exclude. If you go through it all you'll see that the components themselves are generally not that difficult either, just be careful as some parts will need making ahead and refrigerating, setting or cooling etc.
This is not really my sort of everyday food (or I doubt many peoples) but it really inspires you to hone down your cooking techniques. I see it as an achievable challenge as it is approachable and not some uber-chefs' ridiculous egotistical instructions including lots of equipment that most restaurants even will not own. The copy is warm, friendly and encouraging.
I really wanted to cook the Elephant and Rocket Oil Twice Baked Soufflé which is a twice baked Jerusalem artichoke soufflé, wrapped in hazelnut and rosemary parchment pastry with elephant garlic velouté and rocket oil. I mean look at it:
Unfortunately, and after a bit of advice from the restaurant direct on Twitter, I was unable to get some of the ingredients. But I will conquer this bad boy one day when I can get the garlic in season.
So what to cook? In true end of the pier Brightonian humour, I went for the Bum. A sweet sheep's milk cheesecake, with sambuca-soaked sultanas, served with lemon rosemary syrup and warm walnut biscotti. I chose this as like some of the other recipes, it champions local produce, in this case the amazing Sussex Slipcote cheese. This is in some ways my perfect "Happy Ever Afters" as I'm often torn between a cheese board or something sweet. This combines the two successfully, packing in a hell of a lot of flavours and textures. I'll also be making the biscotti again on their own, just to have around the house for coffee dunking.
This book has really reignited my passion for the restaurant, and I really think will be a book to benchmark vegetarian cooking (hence the italic The in the title). A perfect gift and reading for both vegetarians and carnivores alike.
Terre á Terre, The Vegetarian Cookbook is published by Absolute Press and costs £20.00.
With thanks to Absolute Press for this review copy and all the dreadful Bum puns.