There's not much these days that really makes me sit up and take notice, and pause for thought. Could be because I'm not as young as I used to be, or because I'm a right cynical old moo - or both. Whatever, it's a rare event.
I couldn't help but be intrigued recently by Wendy's enthusiasm at a new book. The recipes she'd tried looked pretty good, too. Oh, and all the recipes were based entirely on vegetables. For someone who's been rather off meat since a nasty dose of the novovirus over Christmas, this looked and sounded particularly promising.
So, in a burst of unusual rashness and abandon, I clicked over to Amazon, ticked the box that says 'yes, take all my money. AGAIN', and waited.
A couple of days later, it arrived.
It's not. From cover to contents, from start to finish, it's simply quite beautiful. It's a hardback, properly bound, complete with ribbon bookmarker - delightful to hold and use. The font is highly readable, and the photos are utterly sumptuous.
The contents are bewitching. Denis Cotter, chef proprietor of Cafe Paradiso, writes like an angel about his food memories, his fascination for vegetables, the joys of foraging, and the marvels of seasonality. He is lyrical, informative, enthusiastic, and entrancing, all at the same time. What a blessed combination.
And then there are the recipes. Cotter spent time cooking at Cranks, the early bastion of vegetarian cooking. One of the reasons he left, he says, is that he became frustrated at the mundaneness of their dishes, and wanted to explore the very limits of what vegetables could offer. Boy, does he succeed.