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VeganMoFo: Terre a Terre cookbook review

This post is part of the Vegan Month of Food - or VeganMoFo to you and me. To learn more about VeganMoFo, click here

 Terre à Terre is, depending on who you listen to, the best vegetarian restaurant in UK.

I have however only been there once and that, I suspect, is a direct result of the plaudits Terre à Terre receives - the food's so good, why bother about the service? You know customers will be drawn in by the scran like the Bisto kids following the smell of gravey granules.

The time one time I went, I - like most people - found the food fantastic.

I did however find the service annoying - I wanted to lean over and poke our waitress in the eye. She radiated an air of smug, 'I'm doing you a favour simply listening to your meal requests. Now you want a coffee? Oh, you terrible bores'-ness that made me growl inside. 

The food was so good, I still tried to go back a few months later, despite the wallet-bashing prices.

It was 3 o clock in the afternoon. Could I have a table for two? My request was met with a sigh. "Have you booked?" No, I came to a Brighton unplanned. Sigh. "No, we have nothing free. You should have booked."
While a reasonable conversation to have, the Terre à Terre front of house made me feel like I'd walked in to ask where was the nearest GUM clinic was - gauche, faintly embarrassed and imposing unnecessarily on the good people of Terre à Terre.

That was a couple of years ago mind, and the few times I've been back to Brighton for scran, I've been to Food for Friends. The food isn't so good, but the service there is more like a cuddle than a tut, a la Terre a Terre.

Still, when I saw the Terre à Terre cookbook on the shelves of Waterstones, I couldn't resist buying it.  Damn you, Terre à Terre, you've bashed my wallet again.

It's food porn of the highest order - big, glossy pics, elaborately-named dishes and appealing descriptions.

It was still months before I actually got around to cooking from it, mind.


All the fuss. Every recipe involved making three or four separate dishes - it seemed so much work and fannying around. I left the book on the shelf.

Now with Vegan Mofo looming, I took it out again and dived in. I'm too lazy to make the raft of elements in a Terre  à Terre meal, but I can make some of them, and some of them I did.

I made the turtles bean soup, guacamole and tostones from Turtles and Tostones. It was wonderful. I made the soup again. It was wonderful again. Guess what? I'm going to make it again.

Then I made the soba salad and wasabi cashew nuts from Soba Salad. Yep, it was wonderful. Mr Flickingthevs said he'd be happy to have it again. I made it again. Yep, it was wonderful again.

Then I went a bit mad and tried to make a full recipe - the Sodden Soca, with all the bells and whistles and side dishes upon side dishes that define the Terre à Terre cookbook.

I managed three out of four before I gave up. It wasn't the nicest recipe I'd made from the book - the socca themselves were a bit bland - but the tapenade was brilliant.

The Terre à Terre can tend towards the fussy, and so seem a bit of a stretch for me as a home cook. But if you break them down into their component parts, and maybe cook just a couple of them, you'll find it's worth the trouble.

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  1. It's always a shame when the service a restaurant ruins your experience, especially when the food is so good. Your meals look lovely even if they were a bit of an ordeal to make.


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