It's not every day you get an invitation to take tea with an author your admire. Well, not in my world anyway. It was never going to be a cosy one-to-one but it would, I was assured, be a small party. So it came about that one day last week, together with a handful of fellow bloggers, I was welcomed into the home of food writer Diana Henry to celebrate the launch of her new book Salt Sugar Smoke.
This gathering was the chance to chat in a wonderfully relaxed setting to the highly respected, writer of Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons. I wondered whether the passionate, scholarly and humorous writer of half a dozen books, leading articles and Telegraph Stella magazine columnist, would live up to expectations.
Despite the fact most of us had never met, a shared interest in food made for easy conversation over Champagne and cordials. Somehow Diana managed to talk to everyone whilst feeding us all royally on salmon gravlax, cured meat, breads, pickles, chutneys, jams and more. All this done seemingly effortlessly of course because this spread was what Diana's new book Salt Sugar Smoke is all about.
Everything on the table was home made and, excepting the freshly baked bread, prepared ahead. Preserving, in all its forms, is the subject of her latest book and here it was gloriously spread out for us. Diana Henry has said of her love of cooking that it "gives private pleasure and provides pleasure for others" and that sentiment was very evident in the room.
Some of us were known to her, others she had never met, but all were given the warmest of welcomes and treated to the highest of teas. OK, we were there to be impressed but was Diana Henry all that I had hoped? She was exactly as she comes across in her writing. Warm and nurturing and the best person you could want to guide you in the kitchen. As for that new book, you can read my review of Salt Sugar Smoke and decide for yourself if this is a book you want in your kitchen. I can tell you it's very firmly in mine.
Here's another view of this event from the excellent blog My Custard Pie with a Diana Henry recipe for Purple pickled eggs