Getting Out & About

In the audience of Hamilton

Welcome – and welcome back Melbourne,

It has been so good to see the jubiliation coming from Melbourne since their lock down ended at midnight on Thursday. Great work all of you and enjoy. Even better news this morning with Qantas bringing all manner of international flights forward and shortly no more quarantine for the double vaxxed. There is so much excitement in the air and I am looking forward to travelling again. Like so many others, a highlight for me last weekend was more mundane –  to go to the hairdresser.

This week has been very disruptive with painters in (doing a lovely and very careful job) but they won’t be finished till late next week. So I am constantly moving things from room to room. I am also finalising recipes and runsheet for my Moroccan event this coming Sunday – my first live event in a couple of years. I am very much looking forward to it.

I’ve also been going out. A lovely dinner with girlfriends at China Doll. Terrific food and service and such a relaxing, long catch up. A friend and I went to Hamilton the Musical on Wednesday night. It has been a global sensation but I recommend if you go, that you do some research first. It is hip-hop inspired music and the witty lyrics are delivered as rap, so it can be a little challenging to follow. However, it is a great story. Alexander Hamilton is a little remembered (until now) American founding father. He was a New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention (1787), a major author of the Federalist papers, and the first secretary of the treasury of the United States (1789–95). He argued in favour of a strong central government for the new United States. Fascinating history.

More cause for excitement, is that I am going to my first event in such a long time, to celebrate Champagne Day today. It will be a lovely occasion to celebrate that my Diplome d’Universite du Gout, de la Gastronomie et des Arts de la Table from the University of Reims. along with the information that I got a Distinction for my thesis and in the total marks for exam plus thesis, I came fourth overall.

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My diploma – soon to be framed and put on my newly-painted wall

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

Think of Our Farmers
Last Week and Next
Dining Out – Margaret
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

Moroccan Chicken Breast with Almond Couscous

As only 50 people are able to attend my Moroccan cooking dem and lunch this Sunday, I thought I would share a Moroccan-inspired recipe, not that I am cooking this on Sunday. But this Moroccan Chicken Breast with Almond Couscous has authentic flavours without the long slow cooking so often required. You can watch me make it here in only three minutes. 

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

Recipes of the Week

Thai Style Green Mango and Papaya Salad with Lightly Spiced Prawn

While the weather in Sydney has been crazy – sun shining one minute, hail the next – it really feels like the warmer weather is here to stay with mangoes well and truly available. Therefore, I’m sharing Thai Style Green Mango and Papaya Salad with Lightly Spiced Prawns, a recipe created by the chef at Gaia Retreat when I was there filming Lyndey & Herbie’s Moveable Feast.

Strawberries remain well priced and they are so lovely in this Strawberry Tart. The recipe can be easily adapted for many soft fruits. Try figs.

Strawberry Tart

Think of Our Farmers

Pineapples instead of pumpkins for Halloween?

Let’s get behind our farmers?
Like many Australians, our Queensland pineapple growers have had it tough this year with extended lockdowns and COVID-19 having a direct impact on their businesses.  To help support the industry Pure Gold are asking families to swap the pumpkins for pineapples this Halloween and embrace a fun new Aussie tradition suitable for our country.. 
Pure Gold Pineapples are 100% Australian grown, with over 20 Pure Gold growers across Queensland supplying fresh pineapples to Australia. They have released limited edition Spooky Pines that are available on major supermarket shelves across Australia throughout October. Best of all, unlike pumpkins, carving pineapples doesn’t leave any waste, you can cut it up and eat it or use it in a favourite recipe.

Ideas on how to use the pineapple flesh are here.

Here’s a video which shows you how to make your own Spooky Pine.

Of course there are other brands of pineapple in the market place with new-season harvesting in Far North Queensland. Mind you, pineapples are one crop which is available all year round, just coming from different areas. Piñata Farms are the largest pineapple producer in Australia and are supplied by other growers as well as their own.

What is important for those of us living in Australia, is to buy Australian.

Last Week and Next

Gnocchi with Pumpkin, Horseradish and Spinach

I’ve shared a few recipes this week like  Gnocchi with Pumpkin, Horseradish and Spinach. You can use this sauce with any type of pasta you like – I rather like it with pasta shells as the sauce sits nicely into the shell shape. Also Baked Coconut Custard with Mango to celebrate the mango season, but also as a terrific recipe to go after a meal with Asian flavours.

Selector Magazine have been sharing my recipes on their Facebook page, though you can also search for any of my recipes on their website like Baked Scotch Eggs. Fabulous for a picnic.

Today is also National Barramundi Day so here is a recipe for Vietnamese Barramundi Salad

Aside from that I thoroughly enjoyed the Robert Rosen Glitterati Exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum. I will write abut that next week, when I have had time to look through the companion book I bought. Robert is a friend of some 35 years and now lives in Bali and my friends who came with me and I just loved recognising so many of the people in the photos (as well as a very old one of me!).

Next week: most people won’t be interested in World Trip Day on Sunday – so look out for some happy snaps frm my Moroccan lunch but World Pasta Day is on Monday so that should prove popular. Then Saturday 31st is Halloween.

Vietnamese Barramundi Salad

Dining Out – Margaret

The beautifully designed menu at Margaret

You have to feel for Neil Perry.  This last lockdown in Sydney co-incided exactly with the day he was to open his $5 million 170 seater restaurant Margaret Double Bay, named in memory of his mother. He pivoted, of course, offered his food via Providoor and also did takeaway burgers. But this is what he is meant for: Chef/Restaurateur. Neil has always done shifts in the kitchen in all his restaurants, even when he had many in different cities, as part of a large group.  It was great to see him back, on the pass, daughter Joesphine Perry Clift as accomplished Maitre’d, wife Sam also on the floor and one daughter is back of house polishing cutlery! Truly a family affair.
Very apt, for that is what they have set out to be – a neighbourhood restaurant, something they have achieved very well. Portions are generous, prices are not ridiculous, staff are friendly and there is a pleasant buzz in the room. Everyone was so happy to be there.

L: Steak Tartare with Chilli Paste and Potato Crisps and R: Spencer Gulf King Prawns with Roast Pepper Salsa

The menu is lovingly and thoughtfully put together. Producers and fishermen are acknowledged by name, showing the depth of Neil’s contacts and experience, relationships built up over years. The wine list too, all 22 pages of it, is extraordinary and although some caters to the high end, there are some much more reasonable offerings too.  There’s a fun section too “Wines We Enjoyed During Lockdown”. Or simply try one of 25 by the glass.

My friend and I ordered two entrees and two mains to share plus a side. We could easily have had just one main as we couldn’t finish everything which, sadly, meant we didn’t have a dessert. A good excuse to go back, order less to start and try one.

We were both attracted by the Spanner Crab Agnolotti in Aromatic Crab Broth ($28) but other patrons had beaten us to it.  Instead we opted for  Steak Tartare with Chilli Paste and Potato Crisps ($28) and Spencer Gulf King Prawns with Roast Pepper Salsa ($39). Both incredibly generous, the tartare hand-cut with finesse and care, perfectly seasoned and accompanied by wafer thin, flat baked potato crisps. The prawns from the wood fire were large and plump, cooked just so and highlighted, not drowned by the accompanying roasted pepper and tomato salsa.

We thought we had ordered Bruce’s Grass Whiting with Slow Cooked Zucchini, Chili and Mint ($45) but were subsequently advised that Bruce had not been able to supply the fish, so another fish would be used in the same way. When it came it was simply, but beautifully served with Lemon and Margaret’s Cobram Estate Hojiblanca (which was the presentation for Bruce’s King George Whiting $39). When we asked Neil happily supplied a bowl of the zucchini, cooked to the point of delicious collapse with the gentlest spike of chili and mint. We were happy and would order either way again.

Wood Rotisserie Chicken with Smoked Eggplant and Almond ($45) was a must for both of us as Neil invariably handles chicken well (and most things for that matter). Lovely quality, corn-fed Game Farm chicken, roasted to crispness on the outside, but juicy and tender on the inside, it was presented as a jointed half chicken on the flavoursome silky puree. We were only sorry we couldn’t finish it. Grilled Cos with Sesame and Rice Wine Dressing ($12), while not photogenic, was stunning. Crisp wedges of cos, just charred at the edges underneath a black, but delicious sauce, scattered with sesame seeds.

As I said, we will be back. Next time to entrees, a main, a side and a dessert. Welcome home Neil and family.

L: Fish from the wood-fire grill and R: Wood Rotisserie Chicken with Smoked Eggplant and Almond Dressing

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Colourful tagines in Morocco

Australia is now opening up, with no quarantine so join me on one of 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. This tour is nearly fully booked, so we are considering another tour later in October yet to be determined. If you are interested but these dates don’t suit, 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

A happy group in UNESCO site Alberobello

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

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