Weekly Update

With the legendary Musical Director and Composer, Mike Moran in his studio. Note the platinum record on the wall behind

I am blessed in my life to know a lot of creative people. I especially enjoy live music and a talented young compsoer/singer friend arranged for a group of us to go and brainstorm ideas for music, performance and TV at the studio of Mike Moran.  He has worked with so many big names in the music industry, from composing the music for Time Bandits and other films to working  with the various members of QueenOzzy OsbourneNicko McBrain and George Harrison. He did live recording production and mixing with David Bowie in 1973 for Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture; and also produced various hits for Bowie in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was co-producer, arranger, keyboards performer and co-author of all the tracks on the album Barcelona, the classical crossover collaboration between Freddie Mercury and opera singer Montserrat Caballé (who sadly passed away recently) released in 1988. He produced The Queen Album (1988), Piaf (1994) and Essential Musicals (2006) for Elaine Paige. He appeared in Dragon’s Den series 7 episode 3 as the musical director of a Dusty Springfield musical.  You can read his full biography here but he is the most delightful, talented and humble man.

A very special invitation to Clarence House and the results of my Highgrove Christmas Shopping

The Australian Women’s Club London is providing me with many opportunities. One I just couldn’t resist was a private group visit for 70 of us to the annual Highgrove Christmas Shop in Clarence House. All is in aid of the Price of Wales’ Charitable Foundation so our very reasonable £10 each to enter and enjoy a glass of Highgrove champagne (a special blend by Laurent Perrier), went straight to the Foundation as did profits from sales on the day. They have 6 groups per day, each for 1 1/2 hours, for 2 weeks and then relocate to Highgrove Estate. I was fascinated as I didn’t know how else I may ever get invited to Clarence House. Moreover the camararderie of the group, the fun of finding special gifts and the fabulous quality of everything there with a range of prices. Now I learn I need to go and see the Fortnum and Mason Christmas windows.

Jump ahead to see:

This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
Recipe of the Week

Visit Japan with me in May 2019?
London Jottings
Interesting Reading
What’s On
Techniques and Know How

This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
in Australia & a mention of London

The best of this week’s fruit: blueberries, honeydew melon and watermelon

Plump, purple and flavoursome blueberries are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. Blueberries are currently coming for North NSW, Coffs Harbour and Queensland. And amazing from barrows in London.

It’s an ideal time to enjoy spring raspberries, full flavoured, low cal and so versatile, raspberries are delicious in fruit salad, dessert and smoothiesRaspberries with Ricotta & Passionfruit Mascarpone  

Western Australian & Victorian strawberries are sweet and plentiful. With warmer than usual weather in Victoria strawberries are eating sweeter this spring. Slice and serve strawberries on your favourite breakfast cereal with yoghurt.

Creamy Hass avocados are enticing and naturally good for you. This week a premium quality, medium sized Hass avocado is good value. Again avocados are great value from barrows in London and I have been buying 2 for £1.50.

It’s melon time, with fragrant sweet eating rockmelons from Bowen. White and golden rind honeydew are in season and eating well. 

Crimson fleshed and packed with juice, Bowen grown seedless watermelon is a bargain. Look for specials at your local greengrocer.

High fibre Packham pears are still good quality. Classic poached pears are easy to prepare, taste delicious or add thin wedges or pear to a rocket, parmesan and tasted walnut salad.

Fragrant, sunny yellow fleshed mangoes are sweet eating and plentiful. Supplies are currently from Katherine and Townsville. Mangoes work well in sweet and savoury dishes.

As we move closer to summer nectarine and peaches supplies increase and the fruit gets larger and richer in flavour.

Medium sized nectarines and peaches are starting to arrive at your local greengrocers. Fruit is coming from orchards in Northern NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. 

Harvesting of glossy, vibrant red and rich black cherries varieties is underway is some growing areas. Fruit will continue to improve with size and intensify in flavour as the weather warms up.

Zucchini in its many guises, radish and local garlic.

Kale may be trendy but it packs great value nutritionally and value for money.  Kale can be used in similar ways to spinach, though I don’t really like it raw myself. Add kale to heathy veggie or Buddha Bowls like this Green Veggie, Avocado & Egg Bowls. Pure WOW shares their 30 Best Kale Recipes.

5 kilo bags of brushed, Desiree and washed potatoes from South Australian are a savvy by at $6-$8.

Versatile and tasty fresh Australian asparagus is plentiful and the quality remains excellent so enjoy it boil, char-grill or steam asparagus to serve hot or cold. Whip up a Potato, Asparagus And Tuna Salad.

Premium quality broad beans have a distinct flavour,  complemented by fresh herbs, garlic or lemon juice.

Peppery tasting watercress make a tasty change to lettuce and it’s a rich source of vitamin C. Toss watercress leave into salads Here are two salads to try Watercress, Avocado & Tuna Salad  and Watercress, Green Apple & Seed Coleslaw .   

Cherry and grape tomatoes are plentiful and a thrifty purchase. Also look out for the medley or heirloom tomatoes. These punnets of mixed varieties varying in colours, shapes and flavours are superb eating and have great eye appeal when tossed in a salad. Do try the super flavoursome Marmande tomatoes, they are a little softer in texture but are full flavoured.  Here is a flovelyway to serve your tomatoes warm Roasted Cherry Tomatoes With Parmesan Crumbs

Lebanese cucumbers are firm, crunchy and thin skinned, spring and summer is the peak time for Lebanese cucumbers. Store cucumbers in the refrigerator but away from apples as they will accelerate deterioration.  Whip of a batch of homemade Cucumber, Garlic And Yoghurt Dip  (tzatziki) simply perfect for serving with spicy food or lamb kebabs. Lots of specials instore.

With its tender flesh and mild flavour, zucchini is very versatile veggie. Slice, dice, chop, grate, spiralise. For something different, slice and marinate in soy sauce, and grill at your next barbecue.  Zucchinis can also be added to a stir fry baked in a cake  , serve a zucchini as spaghetti  or add them to a frittata .

Enjoyed for crispy fleshy stems and tender flavour packed leaves Gai Lum or Chinese broccoli is a thrifty buy . Steamed and served with freshly grated ginger and oyster sauce or chop and add to your favour stir-fry.

Now is the time to enjoy the intense flavour of Australian grown garlic.  Also sold on the stem for $6-$10 each, depending on size. It is not the cheapest garlic but you will use less as its flavour is superior. Aussie garlic is in season from October to December. Taste the difference and support Australian garlic growers.

Recipe of the Week

French Bistro-stye Chicken with Smashed Potatoes and Spring Salad

A simple roast chicken is a recipe that everyone should master. This is a happy snap and one one I cooked when trying (unsuccessfully) to teach my friend Kerri-Anne Kennerley how to cook, on her daily TV show,  Mornings with Kerri-Anne where I appeared with her for seven years.

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

1 x 1.2kg – 1.5kg whole free-range chicken
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
50g butter, softened
480g baby new potatoes
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil plus extra for brushing
Bunch watercress, stems trimmed, washed, dried or other greens in season

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C fan-forced). Combine lemon zest, garlic, thyme leaves and butter in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Gently push fingers between the skin and breast of the chicken and push butter under the skin.
  2. Place the chicken, breast side up, onto a wire rack in a large roasting pan. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a skewer. Remove, cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes before serving.
  3. Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted water and bring to the boil over high heat. Boil gently for 15 minutes or until tender and drain. Place potatoes on a paper-lined baking tray and use the back of a fork to lightly crush each potato, just enough that it still holds its shape. Brush potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until crisp and golden.
  4. Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a small jug. Dress watercress with lemon juice and olive oil and serve with chicken sprinkled with salt flakes and smashed potatoes.

Visit Japan with me in May 2019?

Japan has so much to offer in so many ways including cultural and culinary. So much to experience – so best with a fabulous organised tour.

I love people and places and have really enjoyed hosting tours and cruises over the last 3+ years. Now I have something very special to offer.
Japan is now one of the hottest travel destinations and so I have worked with experienced travel agent Mary Rossi Travel to put together this fabulous itinerary, your opportunity to immerse yourself in the cuisine and culture, visiting the major sights along the way. This exploration of the island of Honshu, Japan is for a maximum of 16- 20 people.  Some of the many tour highlights:
•           master the art of sushi rolling in a restored machiya townhouse
•            glimpse into the geisha world during a visit to a traditional tea house in Kyoto.
•            learn how sake is made in a traditional brewery in Kanazawa dating back to 1625
•            explore UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go and its unique thatched roof
•            taste famous Hida beef in Takayama
•            spend the night in a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan).  

We will be accompanied by a local Japanese speaking tour guide who will enhance the journey offering personal insights into Japanese culture and society along the way. Plus I am with you all the time, and we are even joined by Claudia Rossi Hudson, MD of Mary Rossi Travel and her husband Roger Hudson.


When in Paris, or anywhere really, I can’t resist a market. This is the Saint-Quentin Market

When my partner advised he needed to go to Paris for 24 hours for meetings, I immediately decided to go too. 24 hours in Paris – bliss! I quickly posted on social media and off we went on the Eurostar – definitely the best way to travel but better NOT to eat on the train. Getting into the Gare du Nord we ate in a local bistro before retiring to our hotel. Next morning I spent time deciding where I might lunch (thanks to some recent info from friends) and set off on foot. First stop Saint Quentin Market – though I was there before all the stalls were open.
Next minute there is a text from my friend Stephanie Toole, winemaker and owner of Mount Horrocks  saying she and partner Jeffrey Grosset are in Paris and planning lunch with mutual friends. What a lucky result from my social media post. So off we went to lunch at Ze Kitchen Galerie which serves modern French food with Asian influences. Like many restaurants in Paris there is a set price lunch, 41 euro for two courses and 48 for three or 72 for 6 course degustation.

L: Blue lobster ravioli, crustacean, red curry :R: a special of cepes with sweetbreads

An amuse bouche of little pots of celeriac soup infused with lemon grass and other Thai flavours was brought immediately to the table. Subtle, clever and warming on a cold, wet day. We spread ourselves pretty well across the menu. I leapt at the chance of a special comprising cepes and sweetbreads, beautifully presented with a cream-based sauce theatrically poured over it. Three ravioli of blue lobster similarly had a red curry crustacean bisque poured over it. Great classic French technique with amazing balance of flavours, great acid (which assisted with the French wine matches) and restrained use of Asian flavours. This was true of the whole menu which absolutely wowed us.

L: Kriaxera duck, liquorice condiment and R: Suckling pig, harissa condiment

Though the presentation was very similar for mains, with the main ingredients grouped in a circle in the middle of the plates, they worked. I chose Kriaxera duck with liquorice condiment which I really enjoyed. Research shows that Kriaxera duck comes from the French Basque country and was threatened with extinction. It has been entered into the Slow Food Ark of Taste for its authentic, artisnal qualities. It was well-flavoured and amazingly tender, as was a special venison dish.  Just about everyone else went for the Suckling pig, harissa condiment and it too, was sensational, complete with crackling.The use of the word condiment was apt as that how the Asian flavours were used, as a subtle condiment or seasoning and not a dominant element in the dish.

L: Pear, honey ice cream, citrus condiment and R: Gianduga pepper ice cream, miso caramel

We ensured we sampled all the desserts: White chocolate – wasabi ice cream, pineapple, mango – passionfruit; Apple, vanilla-nut-wine ice cream, tamarind condiment; Pear, honey ice cream, citrus condiment and the universal favourite Gianduga (French chocolate) pepper ice cream, miso caramel. I also loved the different and individual plates used for each different dish.
Afterwards I went shopping for French cheeses terrines, girolles and the like. Finally a civilised dinner in the Gare du Nord prior to out departure. Such a wonderful day.

London Jottings

I finally made it to The Shard with its amazing views, for a Visit Wales & Qatar Airlines cocktail party


  • such a diverse and happy week meeting new people and going to new places.
  • looking forward to a weekend away to Pett, for a Guy Fawkes bonfire on Saturday night! I haven’t been to a bonfire since I was a child and my father amazed us with his skill jumping around in front of jumplin jacks. No longer allowed in Australia.
  • being so close to The Ginger Pig and their amazing sausage rolls

Not so happy

  • why aren’t there powerpoints in bathrooms in London?  It’s a nightmare finding somewhere to dry my hair with a mirror!
  • and while we’re at it, the ridiculously complicated mixer taps and odd shower fixtures which abound
  • sad English summertime has ended – it gets dark so early now

Interesting Reading

Angkor Temples, Angkor Archeological Park

I’m thrilled to have not one but two travel stories on beautiful Siem Reap on the first day of launch of the new delicious. travel site. Read my Five things you must do while in Siem Reap.
Also Six places to eat and drink in Siem Reap.

Just in time for Melbourne Cup, celebrity caterer Peter Rowland’s chicken sandwiches

Peter Rowland, Melbourne-based caterer extraordinaire, shares his recipe for chicken sandwiches in Good Food.

 LifeStyle reports on Superfoods that don’t cost a bomb.

On the SBS website Nigella Lawson reveals The cook who changed her Life: Anna del Conte 
Also on the difference between Cold smoking and hot smoking.
Traveller has assembled the views of various writers on The eight best first time travel experiences.
Ignorance is bliss, writes Toni Paterson in The Real Review. Increasing one’s knowledge of wine can be a double-edged sword.
The NSW Wine Awards have been announced. Here is the full listThe NSW Wine of the Year (top wine of show) was the 2017 Mount Pleasant Old Paddock & Old Hill Shiraz, from one of the Hunter Valley’s greatest and oldest vineyards.

What’s On

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas now at  Cockatoo Island November 3 – 4

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas
One of the most controversial festivals on Sydney’s calendar returns with a more mature program of seriously credible speakers at Cockatoo Island. I am especially proud as one of the hard working team of curators is Danielle Harvey (a close friend of my son Blair and mine, and a stellar Charles Sturt University graduate), along with Ann Mossop, and Simon Longstaff AO. All were the driving force behind the festival from its very first year (2009), and the guardians of its legacy as Sydney’s original disruptive festival.

A lot’s changed for the Festival in its ninth year, including switching up the location from Sydney Opera House to one of the most storied islands in our harbour. They’re changing the way you book tickets too, offering a journey of talks and workshops through a Day Island Pass ($79-$89) or a Weekend FODI Island Pass ($143-$159). 

There are some amazing world-class speakers with some sessions sold out, so do book here  or phone (02) 8969 2100.

Time Out lists 58 things to do in Sydney in November.
Amex Eats lists Pasta dishes to try in Sydney.

Techniques and Know How

Learn how to make latte art at home

Di Bella have put together a video on How to create latte art at home.
Women’s Weekly Food advise How to make perfect French crèpes and How to make pizza dough at home

I’m looking forward to a trip to Bristol on Monday/ Monday night
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