This unique collection of recipes encapsulates the beauty and simplicity of Provençal French cooking. Taking influence from Italy, as well as North Africa, acclaimed chef Alex Jackson’s recipes are truly delightful.
Through a love of French food and culture, Alex escapes the bustle of his east London restaurant, Sardine, cooking and reading recipe books about the dishes of Provence. Alex serves much adored feasts inspired by his reading and dreaming, and, in this book, he reveals how you too can feast on simple, fresh dishes at home. Organized by season, at the end of each chapter Alex includes a grand bouffe, a set menu for a feast.
The certain satisfaction in cooking a set menu in a restaurant translates wonderfully to the home cook who seeks to escape with our chef, and to create their own bonne fête. It opens up many options—large format dishes, whole fish, and joints of meat, more complicated processes, economies of scale, and above all, a feeling, somehow, that this is the way that eating is supposed to be.
It’s also an exercise in composition, a challenge to ensure that the menu reads beautifully, flows right, and eats even better, as well as an opportunity to shoehorn all the best ingredients of the moment into one evening’s cooking.
Alex has included a selection of recipes for each season, from Bouillabaisse, and Autumnal Grand Aïoli to Aligot Géant, and an Easter feast, most of these menus revolve around a central celebratory dish, and so the joy for the home cook is in the knowledge that their evening will be a success, and certainly much less work, if they cut a course here or there.
Ultimately the soul of the home-cooked meal lies not only in a sense of achievement for the cook, but moreover in the satisfaction of bringing a basketful of ingredients, and a group of good friends, to the table. Recipes will run in seasonal order. Provençal promises to reignite a love affair with French provincial cooking—its multitude of influences, and its focus on seasonal eating, and, ultimately, an attitude to food which centers around sharing and enjoying food.
Alex Jackson’s passion for French cuisine was ignited by a year in Paris as part of his French degree in college, which served as an introduction to what simple French food really was.
After working at Stevie Parle’s Dock Kitchen, he journeyed further south to Provence, where from the surplus of sunkissed vegetables, fresh herbs, good olive oil, and bread his restaurant was born. Sardine is a restaurant with a focus on Provence, but a prism for the sun-drenched cooking of the whole Mediterranean Sea.
With rave reviews from Fay Maschler, Grace Dent, Diana Henry, and Tom Parker-Bowles, since opening in the summer of 2016, Sardine has established itself firmly on the London food scene, and was featured in Vogue in 2017.