After four months of a grueling travel schedule and a whirlwind (but fun!) book tour, my immune system is shot. Last week, I became sick for the third time in three months, and to say that I was ready to cry over the situation is an understatement. However, in an effort to be positive about the situation, I will say that the silver lining of being sick was that it gave me an opportunity to spend an afternoon reading my friend Michael Devine's fabulous new book, An Invitation to the Garden. Simply put, the book was tonic for my soul.
Michael's book documents the entertaining that he and his partner, Thomas, do in their lovely Kinderhook, New York garden. Michael is an avid gardener who has brought to life the most lovely and lush garden, which is a bounty of roses, lilacs, bachelor's buttons, tomatoes, green beans, and other vegetal delicacies. But Michael doesn't treat his garden merely as a backdrop for entertaining. An avid cook, too, Michael uses both the produce and the flowers that grow in his garden to create simple but elegant dishes that are inspired by his time spent living in France.
The book is comprised of chapters that are devoted to seasonal dinners and soirees, all of which are held in the garden or in the couple's charming tool shed cum bagatelle. There is a Lilac Brunch, a Butterfly Luncheon, a Harvest Lunch, and an Elegant Christmas Eve Dinner, just to name a few. Each chapter features a menu, photographs of the garden, the tablesetting, and the food served, and finally, recipes, which include Strawberries with Rose Water Syrup, Tomato Tartare with Parmesan Tuiles, Poulet Pot-au-Feu, Tomato Soup, and many more.
Among the many published tomes on entertaining, Michael's book is unique in that his style of entertaining is elegant yet completely doable, too. You won't find any contrived or over the top dos in this book. Much like Michael, his book is hospitable, one that those of us who love food, flowers, gardening, tablesettings, and, yes, entertaining will find most welcoming.
To purchase a copy of the book, please visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound.
All photos from An Invitation to the Garden by Michael Devine; Michael Devine and John Gruen photographers.