Mark is one of the country’s foremost food writers, known for his original take on all things edible. His A Year at Otter Farm, published in 2014, won the Andre Simon Food Book of the Year; A Taste of the Unexpected won the Guild of Food Writers Food Book of the Year 2011; and The New Kitchen Garden was published this spring. Mark has also written three River Cottage Handbooks, and is one of the authors of the forthcoming River Cottage Bible. He has won numerous Garden Media Guild awards for his writing and photography.
His unique smallholding, Otter Farm, is home to orchards of – among many other things – pecans, peaches, almonds, Szechuan pepper, apricots, a vineyard and the most delicious varieties of vegetables and herbs. His idea is not only pioneering, it is also beautifully sustainable – taking advantage of climate change to grow low carbon food helps arrest its acceleration. It also means he’s lucky enough to spend most of his time eating, growing, writing and talking about food. Mark has now established his gardening and cookery school at Otter Farm, as well as running the blog relating all its daily joys.
He writes regular features for the Daily Telegraph, occasionally for the Observer, the Guardian and a host of other publications, and has a monthly column in The Simple Things. Mark’s award-winning Otter Farm blog has run for 10 years, has many thousands of followers.
Mark also led the Garden Team at River Cottage, appearing in the TV series, running courses and events at River Cottage HQ. He is one of the authors of the widely popular River Cottage series, of which the most recent is River Cottage A-Z: Our Favourite Ingredients and How to Cook Them, published in September 2016.
RIVER COTTAGE A-Z: OUR FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS & HOW TO COOK THEM – buy it here
The definitive River Cottage kitchen companion. Mark works with a team of experts who have between them an unprecedented breadth of culinary expertise on subjects that range from fishing and foraging to bread-making, preserving, cheese-making and much more. In this volume they profile their best-loved and most-used ingredients. With more than three hundred entries covering vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices, meat, fish, fungi, foraged foods, pulses, grains, dairy, oils and vinegars, the River Cottage A to Z is a compendium of all the ingredients the resourceful modern cook might want to use in their kitchen.
Each ingredient is accompanied by a delicious, simple recipe or two: there are new twists on old favourites, such as cockle and chard rarebit, North African shepherd’s pie, pigeon breasts with sloe gin gravy, or damson ripple parfait, as well as inspiring ideas for less familiar ingredients, like dahl with crispy seaweed or rowan toffee. And there are recipes for all seasons: wild garlic fritters in spring; cherry, thyme and marzipan muffins for summer; an autumnal salad of venison, apple, celeriac and hazelnuts; a hearty winter warmer of ale-braised ox cheeks with parsnips.
With more than 350 recipes, and brimming with advice on processes such as curing bacon and making yoghurt, the secret of perfect crackling and which apple varieties to choose for a stand-out crumble, as well as sourcing the most sustainable ingredients, this is an essential guide to cooking, eating and living well. More than anything, the River Cottage A to Z is a celebration of the amazing spectrum of produce that surrounds us – all brought to life by Simon Wheeler’s atmospheric photography, and Michael Frith’s evocative watercolour illustrations.
PUBLISHERS: Bloomsbury Publishing
PUBLICATION DATE: 8th September 2016
A YEAR AT OTTER FARM – Buy it here.
‘Otter Farm is all about flavour. It starts and ends with the question: What do I really want to eat?’
The taste of a perfectly ripe mulberry was Mark Diacono’s inspiration for creating Otter Farm, a unique smallholding in Devon with every inch dedicated to extraordinary produce. Sprouting broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, borlotti beans and chard flourish in the vegetable patch; quince and Chilean guava grow in the edible forest; and pigs and chickens roam freely.
Here Mark shares his colourful, beautiful recipes, all brimming with flavour and with fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit – including a warm salad of Padron peppers, cherries and halloumi, a stew made from chicken, pork and borlotti beans, a curried squash and mussel soup, and cucumber ice cream, quince doughnuts and fennel toffee apples. He charts the seasonal challenges and excitements of rural living, and offers practical advice for cultivating the best of the familiar, unusual and forgotten varieties at home. With luminous photography that captures life in the kitchen and outdoors, this ground-breaking book reveals how even the most exotic and exciting tastes can have their roots in British soil.
Winner of the Andre Simon Food Book of the Year Award 2014
PUBLICATION DATE: 5th Jun 2014
THE NEW KITCHEN GARDEN — Buy it here
Inspired by a range of gardeners growing food on allotments, on rooftops, in container gardens and in other edible spaces, many of them urban, Mark shows you the full exciting breadth of what a kitchen garden can be.
Whether you have a window sill, space for a few plants by the back door, an allotment or an acre, you’ll find a series of invitations to grow any of almost 200 fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, flowers and vegetables to suit your space, time and inclination.
Everything is here – the tools, the techniques, the ideas and the knowledge – to enable you to realise that vision of your own kitchen garden, wherever you live. There’s also a dozen incredible edible gardens – a rooftop food forest, a courtyard of metre-square raised beds, Charles Dowding’s no-dig garden, a child’s container garden and Raymond Blanc’s heritage garden at Le Manoir among them – their gates flung open by the gardeners to reveal their methods, ideas and techniques, with plans, key plants and photography to accompany.
Mark Diacono – who was head of the gardening team at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage – captures the spirit of adventure and imagination of those growing food in the twenty-first century. He takes ideas from gardens around the world, including that of his own home, Otter Farm in Devon, with its unique blend of orchards, vineyards, forest gardens, edible hedges, perennial garden and veg patch.
No matter whether you have space for a collection of pots or a small farm at your disposal, The New Kitchen Garden will show you how to create the most incredible edible garden you can.
PUBLISHER: Saltyard Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 26th Mach 2015
Buy it here.
Life is too short to grow ordinary food. Why bother spending time, effort and money growing the typical varieties of fruit and vegetables that you can easily buy locally and cheaply and which, crucially, taste pretty much the same whether home grown or shop bought? In A Taste of the Unexpected, River Cottage head gardener Mark Diacono reveals that it is no harder to grow the unusual and utterly delicious than it is the entirely ordinary. On his farm in Devon, Mark grows virtually nothing that you can buy in the supermarkets. There, instead of potatoes, onions and carrots you’ll find gourmet delights such as kai lan, salsify, Chilean guava, day lilies and Szechuan pepper. Filled with practical growing advice and mouthwatering recipes, this inspirational book will encourage you to share Mark’s sense of culinary adventure – introducing you to the finest forgotten flavours, fabulous lesser-known harvests, the tastiest varieties of familiar crops, and the exotic foreign fruit that our changing climate now allows us to grow for ourselves. None of these requires any extra effort to grow than the usual suspects and all of them will bring new flavours and experiences into your garden and kitchen. Exciting and inspirational, A Taste of the Unexpected will redefine your approach to growing your own for good.