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Culture, Literature

OX Reads: A Gourmet Selection


The wonderful Kim Harvey, owner of the excellent The Mad Hatter Bookshop in Burford (and Creative Director of The Burford Literary Festival) shares her reading suggestions for books to inspire your summer feasting.

Two of my favourite words in the English language are Food and Drink, throw in the word Summer and my senses go into overload. Thoughts turn to sunny afternoons with a teeth-chatteringly chilled Whispering Angel and Indian print clothed tables ladened with mismatched china dishes filled with the joys of the season; butter-dripping artichokes, garlicky baba ganoush, just-picked peppery radishes and crunchy green salads of beans, peas and samphire. Alternatively, I could be sitting on my sofa watching Wimbledon, drinking fizz and eating my body weight in succulent English strawberries.

The Island Kitchen by Selina Periampillai

If you are dreaming of warm white sands and clear blue oceans then this ravishing cookbook will take you on a journey around the Indian Ocean islands, to taste the flavours of the colourful markets of Mauritius, the aromatic spice gardens of the Seychelles, the fishing coasts of the Maldives, the lagoons of Mayotte and the forests of Madagascar. The pages are packed with delicious dishes like Sticky Chicken with Garlic and Ginger, Mustard and Turmeric-Marinated Tuna, Seychellois Aubergine and Chickpea Cari, and Pineapple Upside-down Cake with Cardamom Cream. Perfect for all occasions from quick mid-week suppers to rum-fuelled gatherings. Even on a rainy English Summer’s day The Island Kitchen will lift your spirits and take you straight to the warm, welcoming kitchens of these beautiful islands.

Lune by Kate Reid

If you’ve ever wanted to master pastries like croissants, Danish pastries or kouignamann, look no further. Lune is a stunning book, dedicated entirely to crisp, flaky laminated dough. In a former life, Reid was an aerospace engineer who worked for Formula One, and her methodical approach and precision are apparent in her pastry work. Personally, I don’t have the hands or the patience for making pastries but I will persevere if only for these two recipes: Pulled Pork Croissant with Chilly Jam (guaranteed to make my partner week and the knees, all six foot six of him) and Lobster Rolls, the traditional brioche replaced by croissant served with dollops of the best homemade mayo and vinaigrette – add a bottle of jolly chilly Gewurztraminer and this could well be my favoured last meal.

30 Years of Cold Coffee: Reflections and Recipes of a Working Chef by Matt Weedon

If you were at The Secret Garden Party during Burford Literary Festival 2022 you will be familiar with the delectable delights prepared and served by multi award-winning Chef, Matt Weedon. During his career Matt has headed kitchens at Glenapp Castle in Southwest Scotland (where he won his first Michelin star) and Lords of The Manor, Upper Slaughter (which brought another). Keen to expand his knowledge of food beyond Michelin-star cooking, he took up positions both as Head Chef and Farm Manager at Fallowfields Country House Hotel in Oxfordshire, getting involved in every aspect of the food and creating beautiful, accomplished, seasonal plates.

Matt is now Head Chef at The Feathered Nest, Nether Westcote and his book 30 Years of Cold Coffee represents a lifetime of working 17 hours a day in rooms with no windows, honing and polishing a craft that can be sometimes frustrating and exhausting – but always addictive. This book is a must for anybody interested in climbing inside the mind of one of the finest chefs working in English kitchens today and we are delighted Matt will return to cook again for us at The Secret Garden Party at Burford Literary Festival 2023 – tickets and info from

“Why is the coffee always cold, because we're always too bloody busy to drink it, but we need it!”

Tasty Pride by Jesse Szewczyk

June is the month when we celebrate love and acceptance, and what better way to celebrate the rainbow of diversity than with good food and a seat at the table for all of us? Beyond the fabulous recipes in this book are the stories behind them, including Bill Yosses’s Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake which graced the White House dinner table during the administration of President Obama – the first US President to voice his support for marriage equality. This book is proof that you can be 100 percent authentically yourself, both inside and outside the kitchen.

Tequila Mockingbird by Tim Federle

Just because booze and books are a fabulous couple and for my old friend Jose Cuervo. Featuring over sixty delicious drink recipes paired with our most cherished novels Tequila Mockingbird is the world's bestselling cocktail book for the literary obsessed. Drinks include; The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose, Love in the Time of Kahlua, Romeo and Julep and my personal favourite Are You There, God? It's Me, Margarita.

You can find all these books at Madhatter Bookshop, Burford or order from our online shop at


nik kershaw
Fri 31 May 2024

Nik Kershaw’s debut album Human Racing came out in 1984 and saw him dominating the singles chart with tracks including Wouldn’t It Be Good, I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me and Dancing Girls. Swiftly followed by The Riddle, Nik spent 62 weeks in the charts and was one of the musicians to play Live Aid in July 1985.

Nell Mescal pwj9ug
Fri 31 May 2024

For the uninitiated, Nell Mescal (yes, sister of actor Paul) is an Irish singer-songwriter who hit the festival circuit hard last summer, playing (amongst others) The Great Escape, BST Hyde Park, Boardmasters and Live at Leeds. This year, she’s headed to Oxfordshire and Alex James’ Big Feastival for August bank holiday weekend. Eloise Lonsdale caught up with her to find out more about her musical style and her recently launched EP, Can I Miss it For a Minute.

Sea Girls Credit Blacksocks qoafap
Fri 31 May 2024

2024’s Truck line-up looks to be one of its best yet, balancing big names with emerging artists and beloved regulars. As an event, it has come to mark start of the summer holidays for its devoted attendees, but how about the acts? We caught up with Oli Khan, drummer in indie-rock band Sea Girls to get the bands-eye view.

Corinne Bailey Rae
Wed 1 May 2024

Corinne Bailey Rae’s Put Your Records On snap-shotted the summer of 2006. Her most recent release, Black Rainbows came out 2023 and it is obvious to hear how much she is relishing the full range of her unique voice and, as I was to discover when we spoke, her extraordinarily lyrical vocabulary.