December is here

The team of volunteer judges and stewards at the Sydney Royal Pasta Judging


What whirlwind of a week. The appearance of the Omicron variant of Covid 19 has sent us all into a spin. As I begin to write my son-in-law and grandchildren are one the plane from Singapore, having brought their flights forward twice for fear the mandatory self-isolation will be extended. Fortunately my ex-husband has a home with a large garden and pool, well out of Sydney for them to do their three days isolation. What a blessing. We were so anxious about an enforced separation from my daughter if the borders might close. I know many others are in this situation, or not lucky enough to travel, so am very grateful. Even more grateful as now, one day later they have arrived safely.

At last the results have been released for the 2021 Sydney Royal Fine Food Shows  the longest running national produce awards in Australia. Due this longevity we were able to source qualified, experienced all-NSW judges in this year of lockdowns. We are so grateful to volunteer judges, stewards, fellow Councilors and also our incredible staff for making these competitions a reality after we had to cancel last year. The entrants showed some incredible innovation including gluten-free Chocolate Éclair, organic vintage miso, some outstanding lamb, beef, smallgoods and charcuterie. In Pasta the Natural Pasta House took out Champion Fresh Pasta for its wonderfully light Ricotta & Spinach Gnocchi and Champion Filled Pasta bent to Bianco Kitchen for its stunning Mushroom & Porcini Ravioli.

In an incredibly difficult year for producers 2021 saw 1,243 entries across 58 classes of the Competition with 24 Championships awarded, and a further 137 Gold, 371 Silver and 368 Bronze Sydney Royal medals. These awards were for the following competitions:
• Pasta
• Oil & Olives
• Professional Bakery
• Branded Meat
• Smallgoods & Charcuterie
• Specialty Foods

View the results here and an informative press release here.

A big shout out to the three people, all of whom who have travelled with me before who have already booked for my hosted tour to South Australia. (More below.)

Please stay in the loop on  Facebook and Instagram or email me with any requests or comments. sorry for my brevity this week.


Now 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

Last Week and Next
Things to Read and Share
South Australian Tour
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

Here’s a recipe that is suitable for kids of all ages or as finger food for a party for anyone.  Move over chicken nuggets full of “who knows what?” and here is pure chicken with a light coating, baked not fried: Parmesan Polenta Chicken Strips. You can watch me make them on YouTube here. You’ll find the written recipe hereSubscribe to my YouTube channel here for all my videos including recipes in a minute. Enjoy.

Recipes of the Week


I love radishes – simply served with butter and salt in the French way – or in all manner of recipes for colour and crunch. Here they star in light, refreshing ceviche.
If you like to make your own Christmas gifts, these Cranberry Shortbread Stars are a lovely festive gift and keep well in an airtight container.

Cranberry Shortbread Stars

Things to Read & Share

Adorable guilt-free all Australian goodies to share from Erstwilder $44.95 each

Things to Love
This collection of Australian brooches, earrings, necklaces, enamel pins and tree ornaments at Erstwilder. What a perfect gift – or buy something for yourself.

I just had to order myself this Oyster Shell Gin 

Here is The Broadsheet Christmas Gift Guide 2021 with options from well under $50 to much more.

Food News
I have been reviewing for the Good Food Guide since 1987 – that’s right. I started with Leo Schofield as editor way back then. I have done so ever since, even last year though no guide was published and again this year when it has just come out in a different format. For the first time in its 40 year history, it is a 100-page glossy magazine featuring 350 restaurants, bars and cafes in each of Victoria and NSW but with no scores and no hats. One of the toughest ever years for hospitality in both states made it impossible to fairly rate all the restaurants our reviewers visited both before and after lockdowns. So let’s hope this proves a stimulus for dining out whether it’s fine dining, diverse neighbourhood eats, pizzerias or bars with great food.

Highlights include:

  • 350 restaurant reviews of the best places to eat right now.
  • The It Lists – the hot, the new, the essential spots to enjoy this summer.
  • Road trips – with great food and drink highlights along the way.
  • 50 of the best bars.
  • 50 of the best cafes.
  • The Innovators – shaping the way we dine today and in the future.

The Good Food Guide 2022 magazine was published on November 30 but will also be
on sale from December 7 in newsagents and supermarkets. 

In Melbourne, Byrdi has been named as the only Australian bar, coming in at 56, in the long list announced ahead of next week’s World’s 50 Best Bars. Read more here.

Other people’s recipes to try
A Pork and Veal Lasagne With No Equal, by 1800 Lasagne’s Joey Kellock   
Miso Caramel and Chocolate Tart
Thanks Sophie Hansen for the heads up on these little beauties Julius Roberts’ Bocconcino

Last Week and Next

Summer Fruit Frangipane Tart

It’s been a busy week with only a few things happening for me on social media. The first day of summer and sunshine saw me posting my Summer Fruit Frangipane Tart which is glorious with nectarines but can use any other stone fruit.
Getting in the mood for Christmas as Lucy and I put up my tree, got me thinking about practical and inexpensive gifts to make and share like Gingerbread Tree Stars. A wise friend has advised me that in the humidity of Australia, they are best tied in little cellophane bags to prevent them softening.
Selector Magazine posted my BBQ Tomahawk with Cherry Compote, ideal for those who want something a bit different with cherries around Christmas.
I always get Google alerts when my name comes up and over here you can borrow episode 5 of my Baking Secrets show.

Gingerbread Tree Stars

South Australian Tour
29 March – 3 April 2022

Let Me Take You Behind the Scenes in Adelaide and the Barossa Valley 29 March – 3 April 2022
I gave you, my subscribers,  a heads up last week, and this tour is about to be launched near and far. I’m thrilled with the response so far.
  • Food, wine and quality time with living legends
  • Meet, greet and feast with Maggie Beer
  • Discover a perfect match with tea and wine at Bai Long Store with the tea master and me
  • Enjoy a cooking dem and tapas-style feast at the Central Market with Mark Gleeson and me
  • Think outside the square at d’Arenberg where wine meets art
  • Taste and learn abut Barossa  smallgoods and wines with David Franz Lehmann
  • Hear a private recital of the Baroque Organ
  • Meet former Young Chef of the Year at the newly opened Arkhe Restaurant
  • and much, much more with some surprises along the way. Lots of meals included as they are specially more than 22 (plus Insight travel host and me). Cost is $4,4495 twin share ($925 single supplement)  with lot
If you would like to join me in March 2022 on a close to home journey to explore behind the scenes in Adelaide and the Barossa Valley, follow this link for the brochure, email or PH 1300 780 283.

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

So many exotic things on sale in the medinas in Morocco

It is full steam ahead for my two overseas tours in 2022

Moroccan Culinary Tour begins in Rabat on Friday 23 September til Tuesday 4 October
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. There are only two spaces left but we will run another tour, probably in 2023. If you are interested please contact us? 

By Prior Arrangement is highly experienced and well-known in Morocco and 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.

Puglia Tour October 2022

Eat sea urchins fresh from the water 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. After Morocco I’m going on to host Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata 8 – 14 October 2022. 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

Stay safe, healthy and happy. Keep up to date  on all my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Pinterest and my YouTube channel.

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