Pierre Koffmann is one of Britain's most acclaimed and respected chefs. Ever since the early seventies Great Britain has had the privilege to experience the cooking of this great French chef, first at Le Gavroche in London and The Waterside Inn in Bray-on-Thames and from 1977 on in Koffmann's own legendary three-star restaurant La Tante Claire. La Tante Claire closed its doors in January 2003. After a few years in retirement (or was it an extended sabbatical?) Pierre Koffmann returned to the stoves in London with the opening of Koffmann's at the Berkeley. I for one was grateful that he did so, because I never got to go to La Tante Claire and his return provided me with the opportunity to sample Koffmann's food after all.
Memories of Gascony is not just any other cookbook, this is a book which tells of Pierre Koffmann's childhood (he was born in 1948) in his beloved Gascony. Stories about the Gascon village of Saint Puy, his family, his grandparents' farm, the traditions, the seasons, wonderful stories that give you a great insight into life and food in Gascony and particularly the village of Saint Puy in the fifties. All these interesting and entertaining tales make for enjoyable reading and they are combined with a comprehensive collection of recipes. In the order of the seasons, the recipes celebrate Gason produce and its culinary traditions. Authentic dishes that Pierre Koffmann enjoyed as a child and that inspired him to become a chef.
As Pierre Koffmann puts it: 'This book is not (...) a comprehensive account of the regional cooking of the whole of Gascony.' It is a personal selection of seasonal country recipes that include: (Spring) Dandelion salad with bacon and poached eggs, Trout with Watercress, Gratin of leeks with Roquefort - (Summer) Leg of lamb cooked for 4 hours, Bayonne ham tart with garlic, Poached egg whites with vanilla custard - (Autumn) Roast hare with mustard and beetroot, Flambéed blackberry omelette, Cep flan - (Winter) Mutton soup with chestnuts, Baked stuffed cabbage, Pork rillettes.
As the Gascons famously have the highest intake of duck and goose liver (and fat!) in the world, Memories of Gascony obviously also features a nice selection of duck and foie gras recipes but eat assured and with gusto: Gascony also has one of the lowest incidences of heart disease in the world.
Memories of Gascony is a perfect addition to my cookbook collection and I would recommend anyone who purchases it to have some of the local Armagnac to hand to enjoy while browsing through (or cooking recipes from) this book. And (Oui, Oui) the recipes for Koffmann's famous stuffed pig's trotter and pistachio souffle are in there too.
Memories of Gascony by Pierre Koffmann, published by Mitchell Beazley (Octopus Publishing Group Ltd), £15 on Amazon UK www.amazon.co.uk/Memories-Gascony-Pierre-Koffmann/dp/1845337093/ref=sr_1_1