Book reviews don’t usually talk about the cover material, but this one is going to.
It’s a gorgeous cover, not only is it a lovely sky blue it has a kind of soft rubbery texture that is a delight to touch and stroke. This has earned me some ribald comments from my partner to the extent that I now have to stroke it when no one’s watching.
“Italian classics are here like Aubergine Parmigiana, always a quick route to a burnt mouth but so delicious; cod, turmeric and coconut curry; artichokes, coco beans, Cimi di Rapa and aioli; Friggitelli peppers, smoked anchovies and chopped egg.”
The downside is that it picks up greasy finger marks rather easily, so rather in the manner of someone lifting treasure from an ancient tomb I’ve been wearing gloves to handle it.
It is a beautifully designed book, as you would expect from a restaurant at the epicentre of cool Hackney. Towpath is, as the name suggests, on the towpath of a length of the post-industrial Regent’s Canal. By night and in the winter it’s just nondescript units at the base of an old warehouse
Come Spring and it blossoms into life and it seems that all of trendy East London makes its way there – actors, musicians, artists and all the ‘new’ elite. There’s no ‘phone, no takeaway; only outdoor seating and no laptops, as there’s no Wi-Fi. It’s open for breakfast and lunch and often dinner, too. Guests take their chances with the weather.
Except last year they didn’t open thanks to the killer flu.
So, the team quickly finished this book to give people their favourite recipes at home, unsure if this was to be the remembrance book of a place that would never open again, or a stop gap until reopening.
Well it’s now a year later and still no one knows, even though all the seating is outside so what could be safer? Especially as few of the customers are over 80 years old. We shall see.
The book is centered around the Towpath season – March to November. In between recipes for the months Lori De Mori, who co-founded the cafe, is the author of four books about Italian cooking and food culture and tells stories of the place and of her life, which is all very Hackney and enviably cool and wonderful.
Laura Jackson, the chef, puts down the recipes in clear concise terms. Each recipe is unpretentious yet thrilling to think about and ranges across vegetarian, meat and flexitarian.
As you would expect, the cafe has ‘marvellous’ suppliers of the kind the rest of us living in less favoured postcodes can only dream of, but we can still make the recipes.
And what great recipes they are; modern recipes that are all about flavour and unfussy presentation. They remind me of early River Cafe and early Jamie. Vegetarian, fish and meat. There is no lecturing.
Italian classics are here like Aubergine Parmigiana, always a quick route to a burnt mouth but so delicious, cod, turmeric and coconut curry; artichokes, coco beans, Cimi di Rapa and aioli; Friggitelli peppers, smoked anchovies and chopped egg.
Those lucky enough to live close to Towpath will find this a way to recreate good times had and for the rest of us it’s a chance to get a taste of what we’ve been missing.
Let’s hope they can reopen soon.
Try this recipe from the book for Haddock Fish Pie
- Publisher : Chelsea Green Publishing Company (1 Oct. 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1645020126
- ISBN-13 : 978-1645020127