Welcome Back

The courier arrives to take my thesis!


Welcome back and a big hello to my new subscribers. My apologies I have not sent anything out for quite awhile, but as advised in my last newsletter, I have been working on and now finished the thesis I was writing for the residential, post-graduate course Advanced Studies in Gastronomy which  I undertook in France in 2019.  Thank you for your messages of encouragement and support. I emailed it before the deadline, on 30 May and then sent hard copies off by courier the next day. My first time in the office for a very long time, no makeup, just relief that it is all done and I am proud of my achievement. Now to await my results, having already passed the exam in 2019.So much has happened in the interim. I actually flew on a plane – to go to the University of Adelaide to carry out some sensory evaluation panels for my thesis which was fascinating. It gave me a chance to catch up with my dear friend Maggie Beer and her husband Colin and we even had an evening at Tasting Australia Town Square sampling different foods and wines available.

I was on The Cook Up with Adam Liaw on SBS Food again last week. If you missed it, you can catch it on SBS On Demand and the theme we were given was peas. Here is my recipe for Crisp-skinned ocean trout with raw pea salsa (see photo below).

However, just after Easter, I fell on the concrete floor in my garage and have a cracked sacrum which really slowed me down, especially the pain for the first six weeks. However, friends and family rallied around and I am on the mend now and slowly doing some rehab. The Covid-safe Easter Show was a great success and we look forward to a safe return in 2022.

We honoured my son, Blair, 10 years after his passing with a friends and family picnic beside the tree my partner John and I planted in his memory in Sydney’s Centennial Park, with family, friends, colleagues, school and university alumnae and a weekend away with his closest University friends. John and I established The Blair Milan Memorial Fund in his memory. I went to Bathurst to make the 10th annual individual award.  The winners of the Touring Fund two years ago, Schapelle Schapelle had a sell-out season as part of the Sydney Comedy Festival.  In a moving gesture, they dedicated one night to the memory of my partner John. They are so gracious and so grateful and I found it very moving. Thank you team.

I hope this newsletter finds you safe and happy wherever you are – but sending big love to everyone in Melbourne, now in their fourth lockdown. My heart goes out to you. Meanwhile I have had my first vaccination but there is, as yet, no likelihood of my getting to Singapore to see my daughter and family whom I have not seen for 19 months. Lucky we have Facetime. I have decided to delay my next hosted tours to late in 2022 when I trust it will be safe to travel (see below). I’m also doing my best to get back onto

 Facebook and Instagram regularly. It’s short and sweet his week as I have so much to do sorting out so many things personal and professional – but at least I’m back.

Warm wishes from very cold Sydney,

Crisp-skinned ocean trout with raw pea salsa and spiced pea broth

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
Pink Lady Food Photography 
The Joy of Olive Oil 
New Dates for Escorted Travel with me 

YouTube Video

The popularity of bread baking is not abating if you look at social media. I am in awe of the perfectionists. However, if you want the joy and fun of baking bread without the stress, you might like to try my easy No Knead Bread with Olive Oil and Chorizo, You can watch me make it on YouTube here or find the written recipe here.
You can subscribe to my channel here, so you can see my other videos including my meals in a minute.

Recipes of the Week

Avocado Salad

Avocados are right in season in the Southern hemisphere so here is a recipe suited to the Northern hemisphere too, where you are enjoying warmer weather. Avocado Salad – you can bulk it up by adding roasted kumara or roast chicken, turkey or pork or poached salmon or trout.
Read my blog on How to pick the perfect avocado.Lemons are also abundant, and while I have a hot lemon drink every morning, they are wonderful in desserts like this Lemon or Lime Tart.

Lemon or Lime Tart

Pink Lady Food Photography 

Overall winner of the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year, “Taste” by Lin Huaifeng from China

For the second consecutive year, I have been proud to be a judge for the prestigious Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. It has been a torrid two years, with sadly, no judging in person. However, modern technology is amazing. 

In a record year for the competition, over 10,000 images were submitted from over 70 countries around the world. The standard of entries not only displayed incredible technical prowess but the most evocative and powerful storytelling. The global competition celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.
The winners were announced on April 27 2021 in an exciting global event on the Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year which you can see on their YouTube channel.

The overall winner of the whole competition from myriad categories was entered in the section Food For the Family, which I also judged. Entitled “Taste” the photo was taken by Lin Huaifeng from China.

The good news is that now there is a 2021 Virtual Exhibition so that you too can see the  incredible work of  2021 Finalists around the globe. Please allow some time for the gallery to load, and the instructions will appear –  Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year Virtual Exhibition 2021   

The Joy of Olive Oil – Extra Virgin of Course

Labna in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Regular readers will know of my love for extra virgin olive oil. I have written a long treatise on the subject, which is being serialised on the Happy Ali website. You can read The Joy of Olive Oil – Extra Virgin Of Course and The Joy of Olive Oil – Deep Frying.

Completely New Dates for Escorted Travel with me in 2022

Carefree times in Puglia, Southern Italy

It’s been a very difficult time to even contemplate overseas travel.  Looking at what is happening globally as well as in Australia, my tour company friends and I have taken a conservative approach and have, regretfully, delayed my escorted trips to later in 2022. This is the only responsible thing to do but I am so looking forward to them both. I think in a post-Covid or living-with-Covid world it is safest to travel in small, curated groups with reputable travel companies with expertise in their areas. This ensures the safety of all participants, while increasing the fun quotient with local knowledge and contacts. 

Therefore I am delighted to announce the new dates for my next two overseas tours. the final itineraries are not up yet (but previous ones will give you an idea), so do mark your diary for these dates as I would love to have you join me:
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.
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 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. 
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

Moroccan Tagine – just one of the many culinary delights

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