Australia is open for business – and tourism

The beautiful South Coast of NSW

A lot can happen in a week and I am delighted to say Australia is experiencing cooler temperatures and some rain. While bushfires and danger remain in some areas, others are relieved. As this is the time of year when many small rural communities make their main income, it is really important we go back and support them and spend money in these regions. So, if you already are in Australia, think about it, or where you might go for the Australia Day long weekend. For overseas readers, do still plan to come to Australia. We need you and you are assured of a very warm welcome.

You can stay up-to-date with Tourism Australia’s bushfire alerts which is updated daily. Read NSW South Coast welcomes back tourists as fire threat subsides.
There is plenty on offer. While
 you may need to alter your itinerary to avoid certain cities or areas based on bushfire movement or smoke challenges, there are a wide variety of spectacular alternatives that offer an extraordinary holiday experience in an incredible country with amazing people – all the while aiding in the economic recovery during this crisis. Travelling to and within Australia now, or in the near future, is a significant way to help Australia in the long term. 

What about a visit to one of our beautiful wine regions?  With Vintage about to commence in the Hunter Valley, it won’t be long before all wineries are a flurry of activity as they prepare for the grape harvest. There are also a wide variety of concerts and festivals in the coming weeks keep an eye. Look on the Ultimate Winery Experiences website for a range of curated possibilities at all prices and their What’s On page for details of upcoming events. 

This year I am going to Murrurundi as Australia Day Ambassador. They have a very full programme planned so if you’re in the region, come and say hello. Details here. As they have been in serious drought, I am hoping to take some of thecurrent heavy Sydney rain with me.

Tourism Australia’s map showing where is and is not impacted by bushfires

Remember- scroll down as this newsletter is full of info wherever you are in the world!

Jump ahead to see:
New Youtube video
This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
Recipe of the Week

Capsicum

Capsicum Recipes
What’s On
More than a good drop
How to’s?
Interesting Reading
Come Travelling with me in 2020?

New Youtube Video

Here’s my latest Youtube recipe Tuna Tataki with Rice Noodles and Sake Dressing.  Watch it here or Full written recipe here. Subscribe to my Youtube channel here to find lots more how to videos and easy recipes.

Strawberries, Peaches and Cherries

FRUIT

Flavour-packed peaches and nectarines continue to be a standout buy from your local greengrocer. Yellow-fleshed and white-fleshed fruit is now coming from orchards in Victoria and South Australia and has a good shelf life. Golden fleshed apricots are also delicious eating. Try these roasted apricots with passionfruit, honey & ricotta.

If you love your strawberries then now is the time to enjoy sweet eating Victorian strawberries. They are highly perishable and recent extreme heat, means they have decreased shell-life so eat soon after buying. This simple ideas is ideal for breakfast or dessert fresh berries in maple & orange syrup.

Tropical tasting red-fleshed papaya is a luscious fruit, enjoy some this week drizzled with fresh lime juice.

Harvesting for Tasmania’s cherry crop is underway. Several different varieties are available and fruit is a good size. 

Plump, rosy-fleshed, figs are the perfect partner to soft creamy cheeses and cold meats. Look for bulk buy specials, ensuring that figs are firm. Figs add sweetness to a salad fig, honeyed walnut & blue cheese salad.

Golden or red-fleshed tangy plums are in season from December to early May. Give plums the ultimate summer treatment, cook them on the barbecue or toss wedges or slices through salads. Poached plums are delicious served with yoghurt or try this poached plum with coconut chia for breakfast. 

Top quality mangoes from Mareeba are plentiful. If you adore mangoes you can pick up a whole tray for $20-$40.

Fragrant, tangy and tropical tasting, passionfruit team well with peaches, nectarines, mangoes, pineapples or berries especially with a scoop of ice-cream. Look for specials on multi-buys ie 8 for $3 at your local greengrocer. This mango, passionfruit & ginger nut crumb with mascarpone recipe is a favourite.

Juicy with a delicate crunch, new season grapes are filled with natural sweetness. Select from Menindee, Crimson seedless, Sultana and Red Globe. Add sweetness to a salad with grapes, try this lovely combination grape, leafy greens & pine nut salad.

Serve wedges of extra sweet rockmelon  with a punnet of antioxidant-rich blueberries).

Radishes, Baby Fennel and Eggplant

VEGETABLES

Summer is the time to enjoy locally grown eggplants. There are so many ways to enjoy eggplant, roasted, grilled, barbecued or baked. 

Golden cobs of Hawkesbury grown sweetcorn are in season. See “all about Sweetcorn” in my January newsletter with lots of sweetcorn recipes too.

Baby fennel, with its vibrant aniseed flavour and crisp crunch, is a perfect addition to summer salads. Choose firm fennel with fresh green fronds.Try this baby fennel, bean & BBQ chicken salad.

Zucchinis are a breeze to prepare. No need to peel, simply slice, dice. grate or, my favourite, spiralize. Their mild flavour makes them a hit with the kids. Add them to pasta dishes like this zucchini, tomato & basil spaghetti with ricotta, rissoles, risotto, cakes and salads or as zucchini pasta. 

At this time of year light, colourful flavour-packed salads are essential. Baby spinach leaves are an easy addition to a salad. Check out these fresh ideas for adding baby spinach to your summer meals. Baby spinach leaves are sold in pre-packed bags or purchase it loose..

Tasmanian grown Karoda carrots have a superb flavour and their bright orange colour indicates they are a rich in vitamin A. This variety is also distinguishable by their shorter and thicker shape.

Summer radishes add a pleasant peppery flavour to salads and crudités. Newer varieties of radish include the watermelon radish, French radish and the multi-coloured mixed bunches. Fabulous for making salads colourful and interesting. 

Discover the interesting flavour and unique texture of okra. Used in Middles Eastern and Indian cookery, okra goes well with tomatoes, garlic, onions, potatoes, lemon juice and lamb. 

Golden fleshed kumara tubers are excellent value. Add diced and roasted kumara to a salad,  make delicious wedges or serve roasted kumara with eggs & avocado salsa.

Recipe of the Week

Five Spice Plum & Almond Crumble Pie

Serves 6 – 8
Preparation Time: 30 minutes + resting and cooling time
Cooking Time: 40 minutes

6 medium (675g) plums, or yellow nectarines
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon five spice powder
2 whole star anise
1 medium orange, finely grated zest and 125ml juice
150g salted Devondale butter
¾ cup (165g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup (60g) ground almonds
1 2/3 cups (250g) cups plain flour
¼ cup (35g) slivered almonds
Icing sugar and softly whipped Devondale cream, to serve

  1. Thickly slice the plums, place in medium saucepan, and add the sugar, five spice powder, star anise and the orange zest and juice. (Top up with a little water if less than 125ml). Place over a low heat and stir gently until sugar dissolves. Bring to simmering point and remove the softened plums with a slotted spoon. Set aside to cool. Increase heat to high and cook the remaining liquid, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes, or until thick and syrupy. Remove from heat to cool, remove and discard the star anise.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar in a small mixing bowl with electric beaters until light and creamy. Add the vanilla bean paste and egg, beat well. Using a spatula fold in the ground almonds and flour to form a soft dough. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead gently (about 30 seconds) until smooth.
  3. Shape the dough into a small rectangle, cut off one third and wrap it in plastic wrap. Wrap the remaining piece in plastic wrap also. Refrigerate pastry for 30 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat oven to moderate, 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Lightly grease a 35cm x 11cm fluted tart tin. Roll the larger pastry rectangle out on floured surface, or between two sheets of baking paper to a 3mm thickness. Carefully place pastry in tin to line the base and sides, trim edges. Place the tin on a baking sheet for easier handling and to ensure an evenly cooked golden pastry base.
  5. Combine the cooled syrup and plums, and spoon into the pastry case. Crumble the remaining rectangle of pastry (and any pastry scraps) over the plums. Sprinkle with almonds.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes until pastry is golden and the plums are bubbling. Remove from oven, cool a little. Serve warm, dusted with icing sugar and whipped cream. Can be stored it in an airtight container in a cool place for up to two days and served cold.

Lyndey’s Note: This pastry dough is rich and buttery, handle it gently and don’t over knead. If it tears or breaks as it goes in the tin, simply press pieces together. Any scraps are perfect to add to the crumble topping. It’s important the filling is cool when you place it over the pastry. This helps the pastry become crisp rather than soggy.

Capsicum

Multi-coloured Capsicum

CAPSICUM
A summer salad essential, crisp, colourful capsicum is packed with beneficial vitamin C.
Add chopped raw capsicum to salads or cut into thin strips and serve with your favourite dip. Very versatile, this veggie is also delicious barbecued, stuffed, roasted or slow cooked in a ratatouille.

GOOD FOR YOU
A top source of vitamin C, with just half an average-sized red capsicum supplying 4 times the recommended dietary intake of this important vitamin.
A good source of beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A and uses for normal functioning of the immune system.
Provides niacin (vitamin B3), which the body’s cells need for the normal release of energy from food.

TO BUY
Choose from sweet red, yellow or orange varieties. The more piquant-flavoured green capsicum is not as sweet.
Opt for plump, firm capsicum with vibrant unwrinkled skin. Store in an airtight bag in the vegetable crisper in the fridge and use within 3 days.

TO PREPARE
Wash and dry capsicum then cut in half and use a small sharp knife to remove all the white membrane and seeds. Cut or slice as required.

TO BARBECUE
Brush prepared capsicums with olive oil (add garlic if desired) and char-grill over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly charred.

Capsicum Recipes

Mediterranean Vegetable Pie

Mediterranean Vegetable Pie
Shakshuka
Spanish Vegetable & Chorizo soup
Cataplana
Roasted Eggplant, Capsicum & Tomatoes
Muffaletta
Salmon with Romesco Salad
Caramelised Capsicum, Tomato & Goat’s Cheese Pizzas
Often called Red Peppers in the UK, here is BBC Good Food’s collection of Pepper recipes.

More than a good drop

Further to my appeal last week to buy wines from Adelaide Hills wineries affected by fire, with direct sales injecting cash flow into their businesses to helping  them survive short term, More than a good drop is giving a voice to food & wine producers needing help in bushfire & drought-stricken regions.

Mastermind Consulting liaising with clients who are still in the fire danger zone and hearing their heartbreaking stories have acted: to shine the spotlight on some of these amazing producers who need their stories told so that the broader community can buy directly, visit them and help the ongoing viability of their businesses.  This louder voice is through a social media led campaign  “More than a Good Drop”.

Even wineries which have escaped fire, have their vines affected by smoke taint in the final weeks before vintage. To learn more about the specific wine and food producers specifically impacted visit Mastermind Consulting “Australian Bushfires how you can help.
Follow ‘More Than a Good Drop’ on Instagram and Facebook and share with colleagues, family, friends and wider network so they can follow and support those most in need. If you’re in need of wine, perhaps these are the producers you can buy from directly when you need to replenish supplies – who knows maybe you’ll discover a new favourite?

How to’s?

Teriyaki Chicken and Udon Noodle Broth

Do you know your vermicelli from your udon? Your soba from your ramen? Knowing how to choose the right noodles for your dish is the key to plating up a show-stopping Asian meal. Women’s Weekly explains Your guide to the best Asian noodles for any dish
And here are The 10 commandments of the real Mediterranean diet

Interesting Reading

Do you chat to the person next to you on a plane?

Urban Adventures’ annual Street Food 50 list celebrates the best street vendors from around the world, painstakingly handpicked by their global network of nearly 2,000 passionate local guides, who include not just foodies but also beer experts, sommeliers and chefs. 
Do YOU talk to the person next to you when you’re on a plane? Traveller explains Why you should talk to the plane passenger you’re sitting next to.
In The Upsider, Winsor Dobbin writes All your questions about canned wine answered. I recently had my first wine in a can at Henley-upon-Tames and was fascinated to hear and taste that this is better quality than the normal wine by the glass.
Travel2Next shares their Bangkok Shopping Guide

Sad reading here but beautifully put by Huon Hooke. Our dear friend and driving force in the success of Australian wine in London passed away on 1 January. I saw her earlier last year and spoke to her several times late in the year but I am only one person of thousands who will miss her. Vale Hazel Murphy AM. She was also lots of fun and we shared many a bottle and meal with laughter.

What’s On

The Charleston Challenge is just one of the activities on offer during The Roaring 20s Festival

In London
Who’s for Dinner shares 5 Great bottomless Brunches in London

In The Blue Mountains
Blue Mountains Roaring 20s Festival is back – celebrating an era of decadence when the Blue Mountains kicked up its heels for a decade-long party at the original Party Palace, The Hydro Majestic Hotel.
Saturday 8 February Hydro Charleston For Charity Dance
Time: 11.00am -12.00pm
Where: Charleston For Charity dance for charity in front of the HM Pavilion at The Hydro Majestic

Cost: FREE (gold coin donation towards Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service.)
Majestic Long Lunch
When
: Saturday 8th February 2020
Time: 12.00pm – 4.00pm
 Majestic  Ballroom at The Hydro Majestic Cost: $95.00 per person
Deco Dinner
Time: 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Cost: $95pp
 The Roslyns-  Pop Jazz Night
Time: 8.00pm – 10.00pm
Cost: $35pp

These events and more – here
In Sydney

The Broadsheet Editor shares The Best Things to Do in Sydney in January
Ten things to do for under a tenner, the one Italian place you should eat at this month, a regional NSW pub to visit and a movie-and-dinner pop-up with spectacular views.

Celebrate the Year of the Rat 20 January – 8 February in Chatswood on Sydney’s Lower North Shore.
The Year of the Rat signifies the re-starting of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals and where better to celebrate than Sydney’s little Asia. Feng shui masters believe there is a giant dragon coiled around Sydney and its head is in Chatswood, which has made it a hub for the Asian community. Certainly it’s where I go for Asian ingredients and Chinese roast duck.
There are culinary and cultural experiences for people of all ages and the website has a visit planner.
See the very full programme here.

Come Travelling with me in 2020?

In front of trulli in UNESCO site Alberobello, Puglia

What are you doing in April and October this year?
I love hosting tours and have done a lot in the last five years. All the organisation and stress is removed while lifelong friendships are made. What’s not to love? I am with my guests 24/7 and am able to offer visits and experiences both on and off the beaten track.
The next tour I am escorting is with By Prior Arrangement to Morocco 16-27 April 2020. We have a maximum of 2 rooms (single, twin or double) left.  This is an extraordinary destination, but one best visited with specialised knowledge and contacts to ensure a happy and seamless experience. Carol Prior of By Prior Arrangement focusses only on Morocco, a country she has known for 30 years and where she lived for over a decade.  I could think of no-one better to plan the tour with.

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$8850 pp shared, or $10,550 single.
Details here
Read my article Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Rabat
Read
Off on The Road to Morocco in this Magnificent Life
Read
Lyndey Takes Us On a, Exotic Food Journey Through the Cobbled Streets of Morocco.

Wonderful sublty spiced traditional Moroccan dishes. The salads (left) really transform seemingly ordinary ingredients like carrots

Culinary Adventures in Puglia 30 September – 6 October 2020.
Puglia is a relatively undiscovered part, in the boot of the heel of Italy, it’s where Italians go for holidays! 

“I loved every moment of the tour, Lyndey is an excellent host, great fun & very  knowledgeable in wine & food while our tour guide, Max, knows the history of Puglia so well, which was great as we visited lovely old towns with amazing old buildings.Our accommodation was 4 to 5 star & wonderful & we had some truly amazing meals & wines.” writes Julie Tulloch, a fellow traveller in May last year.
It was such a fabulous experience, we are repeating it in October 2020 to 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
Price: $5499 per person for all ground arrangements (single supplement $799)
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 
here

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

Sea urchins fresh from the sea, ready to eat and a happy group last tour in Alberobello, Puglia

Keep up to date with my travels on all my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Pinterest and my Youtube channel.

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Lyndey

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