Speight's Southern Man Cookbook

Random House, RRP $45

REVIEWED BY KARL ARGYLE AND DEBBIE JAMIESON
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2010

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The Speight's Southern Man Cookbook is more than just a recipe book. It is a mix of tales of Speight's Ale Houses, photographs of southern landscapes, historic titbits and a celebration of everything Speight's.

The recipes are taken from the New Zealand-wide chain of restaurants and are described as "hearty, delicious, quality tucker – with a few beer recommendations along the way".

They include traditional favourites including Shearers Shanks and Blue 'n' Gold (deep-fried blue cod), lots of game food including venison, wild pork, wild hare, and duck, meaty casseroles, pies and steak.

The nod is also given to a handful of soups (including seafood chowder), salads and one pasta recipe.

The introduction to Wild Mushroom and Bacon Fettuccine describes it as an emergency recipe "just in case there are no potatoes – in the whole town". The next page states simply: "Southern men don't eat pasta."

Traditional southern cheese rolls are on the menu although it is a mystery to us why the southern man would need recipes from Petone and Napier. Having said that, the Petone recipe uses reduced cream and onion soup (the way Mum used to make it) and it is gooood.

The Rattray Steak uses Speight's Old Dark, tomato sauce and a few other yummies for a marinade and the entire house smelled divine while it was grilling. We had enough marinade left over for a batch of chops the next night.

Some things are probably better left to the restaurant. The Chicken Parcels in filo with peaches and cream cheese were delicious but took the best part of a day to make. One wonders where the Southern Man would find time between rugby practice and mustering his sheep.

The whole family enjoyed the Oven-Baked Gurnard served with risotto. The recipe was simple, flavours delicate and it was a satisfying meal.

We enjoyed the recipes we have tried and have more on the "to-do" list but they are not slap-up, prepare-at-the-drop-of-a-hat meals with all the ingredients waiting in the cupboard. Some specialised ingredients are necessary and more than one six-pack could easily be consumed in the time some recipes might take.

However, it is a good read and the food is delicious. We only wonder if this book is more targeted at the Ponsonby southern-man than the Swanndri-wearing, ute-driving bloke who prefers his beer in jugs and his oysters raw.

Good on ya, mate.

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- The Southland Times

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