Thursday, June 20, 2013

An Exquisite Book

Since receiving this lovely book for review, I've been savoring the photos as well as the recipes. Authors and foodies Bill Staley and Haley Mason have created a book that speaks to all the senses. Not only is it beautiful, but the recipes are wonderful and the advice for memorable party planning is as good as it gets. There are seventeen themed menus from Urban Escape to Tropical Getaway and Harvest Dinner with one hundred dishes perfect for parties and everyday meals. Each page is replete with exquisite photos, most of them taken by the authors. You'll learn about timing so everything comes together in perfect order, also about table decorations that showcase your food. (After reading the book I did a major housecleaning, tossing my stained placemats and frayed napkins, then replacing them with Gather lookalikes.) The first dish I tried was the General Tso's Chicken. While it was time-consuming to make, the flavor made up for any deficiency in that area. To be perfectly honest, I prefer wheat-free tamari to coconut aminos, which to me don't have the zingy flavor I expect. Also, I found the arrowroot to be semi-transparent and gloopy, sort of like wallpaper paste, not a pleasing mouth texture. The Sweet and Tangy Venison Meatballs, however, were superb. Just the right amount of zing and sweetness to tame the slightly gamey flavor of the venison. The baked salmon with lemon and capers makes a delectable statement whether for party or family dining. I haven't tried the chocolate chip biscotti, however, the photos alone are enough to set me drooling. What I like most about Gather is the way Bill and Hayley walk the reader through each aspect of the planning and preparation of their menus so you'll know days ahead of the event exactly how to coordinate the logistics for a no-fail party. Each recipe is easy to follow, and there are abundant tips such as adding medjool dates (rather than sugar) to cranberry sauce to take away the bitterness. The menu events were photographed at the homes of friends so there's a fantastic array of glassware, place settings and decorations to inspire even a novice hostess. This book gets two thumbs up for innovative design, superb layout and photos and truly delightful recipes.

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