Cliff House Hotel, The Cookbook

Cliff House Hotel, The CookbookSTOP PRESS! (Or at least it would be stop press in a non-digital world), a lovely big hunk of a book has just landed on my desk and – although it’s something to come back to in more detail another time – I just have to share my initial impressions of Cliff House Hotel, The Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishers, New York; hardback 238pp, €24.95).

Well-produced books are rare enough at the best of times but, (even if General Manager Adriaan Bartels says in his Introduction ‘little did we know how much work it would involve or how long it would take’), it seems nothing short of a miracle to produce a work of this quality so quickly. Aside from anything else (although built on a site that has been a hotel since the 1920s), this stunning hotel is very new – it is in fact our current Newcomer of the Year - which makes this achievement all the more remarkable.

It is, of course, all down to talent and dedication – how many new hotels have a visionary like the highly regarded Dutch Head Chef, Martijn Kajuter, in the kitchen from the outset (autumn 2007 in fact, before the kitchen was built), and with the total support of a team led by Mr Bartels, who is widely acknowledged as one of Ireland’s most exceptional hoteliers. Add in the creativity of Cork photographer Andrew Bradley and the team at Design Factory (Dublin and New York) who, together, give the book an assured style in tune with hotel itself, and unusual things are only to be expected.

As to the main content – written by Martijn Kajuter and edited by Tom Doorley – anyone who’s experienced the sophisticated food at The Cliff House Hotel will no doubt anticipate recipes like Monkfish with Smoke, but should be pleasantly surprised by the relative accessibility of many of the dishes put forward by this most creative of chefs. However complex the restaurant offering may seem to admiring diners, Martijn Kajuter’s foundation is the wholesome, seasonal produce of the area – notably seafood and good things from their own garden and St Raphael’s Centre in Youghal.

And, while there may be recipes that (however beautiful to look at) few readers will wish to undertake, an impressive range of equally beautiful but much simpler dishes is offered, with correspondingly short and straightforward ingredients lists.

Whether regarded as a coffee table book or a working cookbook, this handsome book is truly representative of both The Cliff House Hotel and its surrounding area. It will no doubt be coveted by many who have visited the hotel - and be at the top of many a Christmas list this year. It also happens to be very kindly priced.

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