Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekend Cooking: The Brandywine Book of Food

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.

The Brandywine Book of Food is more of a coffee table book, more of a collection of mouthwatering descriptions of restaurants and wineries than an every day "what am I gonna make for dinner tonight?" type of cookbook. 

Which is all fine and well and very, very good. There's nothing wrong with a little culinary dreaming every now and then.

The subtitle of The Brandywine Book of Food is Exploring the Culinary Landscape of Brandywine Valley's Country Gardens, Bed and Breakfast Inns, Mushroom Barns, and Boutique Wineries.  Written by Roger Morris and Cathleen Ryan (and photographed by Ella Morris), it captures and celebrates the charm and rich history that is the Brandywine Valley.

For those unfamiliar with this area, it is the rolling hills of northernmost Delaware (Wilmington, Greenville, Montchanin, also known as "Chateau Country") and southeastern Pennsylvania (Kennett Square, Chadds Ford, Unionville, West Chester and other locales in southern Chester County.) There's even mention of a piece of Maryland (Fair Hill) in one part of this book, which the authors admit is stretching the boundaries a little bit but completely acceptable because in these parts, you can literally travel within three states in a matter of minutes.

Nestled between Philadelphia and Lancaster's Amish Country, the Brandywine Valley is a tourist destination in its own right, one that is home to Winterthur, the spectacularly gorgeous in every season Longwood Gardens (one of my absolute favorite places), and undiscovered and unsung historical sites and museums.  The Brandywine Book of Food lives up to its subtitle of exploring these oft-tucked away gems and provides recipes from many (if not all) of them.

As mentioned earlier, the majority of recipes contained in this book are gourmet, decadent, and extravagant.  You're just not going to find the likes of Espresso Rubbed Quail with Sweet Potato Hash and Blueberry Compote alongside Dandelion Salad at our kitchen table.  (As much as I am certain that I would be a fan of anything "espresso-rubbed.")  There are, to be fair, more simpler and familiar recipes in this book, but I didn't get a chance to try them before taking this one back to the library. There is a list of area restaurants, wineries, attractions, and bed and breakfasts included too, as a visitor's guide of sorts if you'd like to sample these delicacies in person.

If you're planning a trip to this area, The Brandywine Book of Food is a book you might want to peruse for the restaurant reviews and recommendations.  (Double check, of course, to see if they are still in business; I know of at least one mentioned in the book where I think the much-celebrated chef is no longer with the restaurant but lives on in these pages.)  This is also a great keepsake to have of a special trip to the Brandywine Valley.  And in this gift-giving season, this would make a nice gift for natives of the area, former residents, or connoisseurs of fine food and wine. 

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Margot said...

You've sold me on this book and the area. It sounds like a lovely place to spend time. I like that, in addition to recipes and menus, there is a list of great restaurants. I definitely want to visit here.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

When you do come visit, Margot, definitely let me know ... we're pretty close to many of the places mentioned in the book.

Beth F said...

You have sold me!!! My in-laws are in the Philly suburbs, I'm in central PA. And why is it I haven't seen or heard of this book? I don't look in the right places at the bookstore. This is a must-have for me. Wow!!

Margot: If you visit, let me know, I'll do my best to drive the 3 hours to see you.

Erin said...

This sounds wonderful! I love cookbooks that are area-specific and combine information about the place with recipes. It adds a whole other dimension to food!