Back In The Groove

With Simon Bryant, Patron of Tasting Australia and Karena Armstrong, Co-Festival Director at Tasting Australia opening party in Town Square

Welcome back,

I hope you’ve had a great fortnight since I last wrote – hence my title Back in the Groove. I’ve had a wonderful time attending some of the events of this year’s Tasting Australia. There are two days left of this marvelous festival if you are lucky enough to be in South Australia. Best of all food luminaries from around Australia are visiting and you never know who you might run into. It’s worth going to Town Square which has free entry with pop-up food vendors including  Angler, Hubba Hubba Hummus, The Filipino Project, Gang Gang, Chilli Shack, Forage Supply Co, Fire x Soi 38, Sunny’s Pizza, Phat Head, Ra gini’s Spice, Boston Bay Smallgoods & the Smokin’ Grillers and Barrio, with desserts by Shubui and Lukoumades. There are also six bars serving a range of beers, wines, spirits and cocktails and Veneziano Coffee Roasters make good coffee onsite.

I will be writing more about this elsewhere and will advise when and where stories are published. However, it was so wonderful I wanted to share some of my experiences here.

Highlights for me included my dear friend Maggie Beer’s Legends dinner and an incredible Tasting Australia Airlines trip to Coffin Bay . As a massive supporter of sustainable aquaculture I was delighted to make my first visit to this beautiful, pristine location, touring Kellidie Bay marron farm, with tastings prepared by Jake Kellie, whom we judged as Young Chef of the Year a few years back. He led the kitchen at Singapore’s Michelin-starred Burnt Ends before returning to open arkhé, his new fire-driven Adelaide restaurant which Maggie and I dined in another night. Though high tide prevented us seeing an oyster lease, we tasted them, along with sake on a boat.  More seafood snacks were prepared by Barossa legend Peter Clarke, from Vintners Bar & Grill and at a local beach we sampled vongole crafted by Fishbank executive chef Tony Carroll, not to forget sampling fabulous Coffin Bay Gin made from hand-foraged native botanicals.

Seasonal Sojourn, was a special trip to the Adelaide Hills to visit Ngeringa – a winery and working biodynamic farm near Mount Barker then dinner in the neighbouring UKARIA Cultural Centre and lovely music. We were served snacks and wines as we walked the property and then dinner which came from Tasting Australia festival co-director Darren Robertson (Three Blue Ducks), award-winning pastry chef Lauren Eldridge of Berowra Waters Inn near Sydney and Shannon Fleming – a champion of Adelaide Hills produce through his work at Hay Valley’s Lot 100. 

I also had a fabulous time visiting the Central Markets, other restaurants and spending a day driving to the Barossa to see friends. I am using much of this experience to tweak my planned hosted tour to South Australia and the Barossa (see more below). 

My respect to all Mothers, mother figures and mentors on Sunday. May you all have a wonderful day.


Touring Coffin Bay with Darren Robertson, Co-Festival Director

Read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.

Jump ahead to see:
YouTube Video
Recipes of the Week
Blair Milan Fundraiser
Mother’s Day
New Selector Magazine

South Australian Tour
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

My Mum’s Bran Loaf

OK so this is not the prettiest recipe – but it is yummy. It was my son’s favourite when he visited his Grandma, so in honour of Mother’s Day (more recipes below) here is My Mum’s Bran Loaf. You can find the written recipe here. 

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here for all my videos free including recipes in a minute. Enjoy.

Recipes of the Week

Quail in Chinese Masterstock

Masterstock is one of the great flavours in Chinese cooking. You can buy the spices ready made or mix your own. Once made, you can have it on hand to transform the simplest evening meal – it is glorious to use when poaching whole chicken or even just breast fillets. I love this Quail in Chinese Masterstock
Pears were a favourite of mine when I was a little girl, and now my granddaughter Isabel  loves them too. I find they are a perennial favourite, with all ages so you might like to try Pears in Caramel Sauce.

Poahced Pears with Caramel Sauce

Blair Milan Fundraiser

The talented team of Schapelle, Schapelle have been awarded The Blair Milan Memorial Fund for touring for an unprecedented second time. The aim of this significant award, is to keep the name and spirit of Blair Milan alive while supporting those in the performing arts who follow and who have studied Charles Sturt University. Come along next Thursday 12 May to see this hilarious show, say hello and support the cause. Tickets here.

If you can’t make it you can still donate if you wish either here or by scanning the QR code below.

Some of the 2022 Schapelle Schapelle ensemble

Mother’s Day

With my late mother, Isabel Hall, at a special Mother’s Day lunch at David Jones, in the 1980s

Mother’s Day is a time for reflection for me – about my late Mum Isabel (whom my granddaughter is named for); my eldest sister, eight years older than me who was like a second Mum to me when I was little and remains a good friend;  my children, my late son Blair and my daughter Lucy  in Singapore, and, of course, my adorable grandchildren, Isabel and Rafferty. Lucy and Blair took great pride in always making me breakfast in bed. My favourite memory was when they were little. I was a single Mum by then, and they brought me breakfast in bed – a flower from the garden, a peeled mandarin decoratively placed around a plate, vegemite on toast and lukewarm coffee. They had made it from the hot tap in the kitchen as they were too young to be allowed to use the kettle on their own. It remains one of my greatest feasts and wonderful memories. Precious times. How I wish I could hug them all, not only on Mother’s Day, but every day.

However, with Covid restrictions lifted hopefully many of you can be with your families this year. What is important is not buying expensive gifts. it is a moment to stop and reflect on the role of Mothers in our lives, and not only biological mothers but the many wonderful mad “Aunties” and “Uncles” who are also wonderful role models though they may not have children of their own.  In this I include “godparents” although I much prefer the term used by my daughter of  “guide parent”.  I salute you all.

If your Mum or special person  lives near you, there’s still time to make this day something special. How about cooking up something a little special and delivering for a memorable Mother’s Day! Not all food travels well but I’ve got some great ideas which will withstand a car trip and will help make sure your Mum is feeling the love.

The perfect omelette – mushroom

Something to cook if you are in the same householdThe Perfect Omelette

Deliver brunch in style (and still in the tray) with this baked egg dish. Grab a few for you too! Delicious to eat hot or cold: Prosciutto Egg Cups

These delicious cheesy puffs aren’t an everyday treat plus they travel well in a plastic container.  Mum could even heat them up briefly in the oven (not the microwave): Gruyere Gougére

This is an adaptation of the famous Middle Eastern cake,  but making it into individual cakes makes it easier to just eat one at a time! It is a great recipe for the kids or grandkids to help with the final touches! There’s no ‘wrong way’ to drizzle the syrup and sprinkle over the pistachio and petal topping: Spiced Orange Cakes

Make her something extra special – but surprisingly easy to decorate My Naked Cake

Something sweet Raspberry ripple nougat parfait

Something my Mum taught me as a whole cake, but I changed: Coconut Ice cupcakes

Something savoury which you can make in advance (better rested in the fridge) then cook at Mum’s Crab cakes.

Naked Cake

New Selector Magazine

Full of great information, well-written stories, beautiful photography and lovely recipes, the new Selector Magazine is out. In it you will find:
Talking about the Sweet Life with Alessandro Pavoni of a’Mare at Crown Sydney
Stefano Manfredi and some fabulous pizzaperta recipes including his signature Pillow of Dreams Nutella pizza
Seasonal Honey recipes from me including Italian ricotta cheesecake with honeycomb, Vietnamese pork belly with fragrant salad, Spanish lamb with honey, Honey-roasted root vegetables with chestnuts, semolina-crusted eggplant with honey and chilli and Bee-sting cake.
A visit to Castello di Brolio in the Tuscan hills with Baron Francesco Ricasoli, of Chianti Classico
Celebrating 50 years of winemaking on the Mornington Peninsula
A look at over 150 years of Italian influence on the Australian winemaking landscape in Old Word Vines, New World Triumphs
Farewelling a legend: Tribute to Karl Stockhausen including a quote from me.

South Australian Tour
exciting developments

TOP LEFT: Maggie Beer, Jake Kellie and me, RIGHT: David Franz (Lehmann) and me BOTTOM: at Grunthal Brew and Udder Delights Cheese Cellar and RIGHT: Mark Sexton at SiSea in Adelaide Central Market

I have had to cancel going to South Australia three times before we also needed to postpone the planned original trip. However, now I have been and made a trip myself to many of our planned locations. The big news is, however, that I an therefore able to tweak our visits, making them better, more personal and better still, reducing the cost a little. All the highlights will be there but  I am currently working on a couple of other things including a very special experience with chef/owner Peter Clarke at Vintner’s Bar & Grill after our visit to the Barossa Farmer’s Market. So watch this space.

The information on the website will be updated once reconfirmed. PH 1800 001 778 or email

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Colourful rugs for sale in the medina in Morocco

This trip will see us travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and to Marrakech the red city. On the way you will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, visit a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. You’ll discover the delicacies of Moroccan and French food, dine in local eateries through to upmarket restaurants, and experience the making and flavours of Moroccan dishes during cooking classes. Luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads, sometimes in exclusivity. Only 10 – 12 guests.
Details of the adventure include:

  • Meals as per itinerary: breakfast daily, 9 lunches, 11 dinners with ½ bottle of wine per person at dinner or sometimes lunch
  • Transportation throughout in luxury air-conditioned vehicles with professional experienced English-speaking driver, including related expenses and allowing for physical distancing
  • English-speaking escort
  • English-speaking local licensed guides in Rabat, Volubilis, Meknes, Fes, Marrakech and Essaouira with all entrance fees included to the sites visited with the guides
  • Atlas excursion including mules and the specialist trek guide
  • 3 cooking classes

You can enjoy this experience from AUD $9600 per person twin share (flights from Australia not included). Cost for single travelers is AUD$10,700.

By Prior Arrangement is highly experienced and well-known in Morocco as Principal, Carol Prior lived there for 13 years and has been arranging tours there for over 30. I have confidence in working with them to bring this very special tour into being. Talk to them about the trip, or feel free to email me with any queries. I am excited!
Read Where to Eat Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Rabat.

To enjoy the taste of Morocco at home, try my Chicken, Preserved Lemon & Green Olive Tagine.

Puglia Tour October 2022

Learning hands-on from a Nonna in Puglia

Puglia in the boot of the heel of Italy is still relatively unspoiled. A secret Italians tend to keep to themselves, it is a wonderful place to visit and so much less crowded than Tuscany. Join me and share an unforgettable week of culinary and cultural exploration. Think hands-on bread, cheese making and cooking class; visits to wineries, olive farm, tours of UNESCO sites Alberobello & Matera & other cultural centres with local guides. All sensational meals and wines included. You only need money for the very inexpensive shopping you will find there.

Group size: an intimate 8-16 places only
Lodging in authentic, family-run noble estates and palaces
Operated by: Local Puglia specialist Southern Visions Travel: the leading experiential travel company in Southern Italy
Full brochure

Read more about my adventures in Puglia
Explore Puglia in House & Garden Magazine
Seven dishes you must try in Puglia, Italy in the Sydney Morning Herald
Puglia, the undiscovered heart in Selector Magazine

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