The cookbook is a strange genre. It can veer between the book that is beautifully designed but impossible for all but the most advanced home cooks to comprehend and the title that offers more achievable dishes but is somewhat lacking in looks. So it’s refreshing to come across La Luna owner and chef Adrian Richardson’s new tome The Good Life, which embraces both the home cook and the design buff.
The volume is focused on the homemade and homegrown. There are plenty of meals that can be whipped up on a weeknight and all sorts of dishes designed for sharing with loved ones. Richardson embraces the seasons with chapters structured around produce and the time of year. Comfort food has a strong presence, from preserves and biscuits to from-scratch pies and puddings. Most intriguing are the ‘Masterclasses’ – detailed step-by-steps for making fresh pasta or tomato passata, curing fish or even cheese making – perfect for a lazy Sunday in the kitchen.
Just as important as the food, however, is the design. The book was art directed by A Friend of Mine, applying the homespun approach of the recipes to the whole package. The typography developed for the cover and chapter headings has a hand-drawn feel, with title page headings rendered not only in ink, but made with dusted flour or even baked pastry. The attention to detail extends as far as the bookmark, made from the same material as the tablecloth on the front cover. Photography by John Laurie again sticks to the theme; everything looks fresh and raw, a far cry from the over-styled tendencies of much food photography.
The Good Life is a rare thing, a cookbook just as pleasurable to cook from as it is to leaf through.
Adrian Richardson’s The Good Life is available at bookstores around the country for $59.99
Check out some behind the scenes action in the making of The Good Life trailer: