Category Archives: Food

New Year Party Planning

We hope you all survived the fun and excitement that is Christmas Day and now that that is behind us we are continuing the party season with New Year celebrations. Can you believe it is 2020 next week? How is it that when we think of 20 years ago we naturally think of the 80s but, no… it was 2000. Yikes! (makes us feel old…).

To ring in the new year, many people have a bit of a bash and we thought we’d share some of the best books on the market that will help elevate your soirée into something a little more memorable. 

Just a note, some of these books contain ideas for fancy smanzy drinks involving alcohol so please remember to drink responsibly and look after each other as you welcome in the new year. 

Mix Tape Pot Luck by Questlove

What if Questlove threw a potluck dinner, and everybody came? He picked the guests. The guests picked the recipes. The result is the ultimate potluck cookbook. Questlove is best known for his achievements in the music world, but his interest in food runs a close second. He has hosted a series of renowned Food Salons and conversations with some of America’s most prominent chefs. Now he is turning his hand to creating a cookbook. In Mixtape Potluck Cookbook, Questlove imagines the ultimate potluck dinner party, inviting more than fifty chefs, entertainers, and musicians such as Eric Ripert, Natalie Portman, and Q-Tip and asking them to bring along their favourite recipes. He also pairs each cook with a song that he feels best captures their unique creative energy. The result is not only an accessible, entertaining cookbook, but also a collection of Questlove’s diverting musical commentaries as well as an illustration of the fascinating creative relationship between music and food. With Questlove’s unique style of hosting dinner parties and his love of music, food, and entertaining, this book will give readers unexpected insights into the relationship between culture and food.

The Champagne Guide by Tyson Stelzer

This one is for those who like to ring in the new year with some bubbles. This is the world’s most comprehensive and up-to-date guide to Champagne, featuring all the latest vintages. The Champagne Guide 2020-2021 contains fully independent assessments, with profiles and ratings, of over 120 champagne producers and 800 cuvées. Inside you’ll find: Independent assessments and ratings of more than 800 cuvées, all tasted recently; all of the latest insights on the top 120 champagne houses, growers and cooperatives; a Hall of Honour to acknowledge the best producers in Champagne this year; highlights of all the best champagnes of the year at every price and style; updated assessments of the past 24 vintages in Champagne; a chapter on decoding champagne labels and bottling codes along with maps of the champagne villages and vineyards.

Popsicle Party by Louise Pickford

Okay, so this may not be the book of choice for a New Year’s party in the UK but we know those down under will love it. A chilled popsicle, grabbed and shared round languorously from the freezer on a boiling hot day is a simple, nostalgic pleasure. These juvenile treats have clearly not lost their appeal amongst fun-loving adults, and recent trends have seen these childish ices transformed into something far more sophisticated, with fresh natural ingredients and gourmet flavours. Adults and children alike will adore Coconut, Mango and Passion Fruit ice pops: a rainbow of colours and three of your five-a-day in the most enjoyable way. A stash of dairy-free Almond Milk, Honeycomb and Salted Chocolate Pops will always be welcome, while making Buttermilk, Rosewater, Raspberry and Pistachio Pops with whole raspberries set inside would be the most attractive end to any dinner party. It is remarkably easy to make these frozen treats at home, so stock up your freezer and have a posh popsicle ready for any occasion.

The Modern Gentleman by John McCarthy

This compact volume introduces modern gentlemen to some of the greatest pleasures in life, from the very best spirits to the most complex hot sauces to the suavest of accessories. The book is targeted to aspiring bon vivants, modern metrosexuals, millennials, and hipsters eager to become the new gentleman. Content not only includes quick guides to great drinks, foods, and cigars, but also makes the case for why every real gentleman needs a great flask, a classic pen, and a watch that may not be ‘smart’ but will make you look and feel like 007. Features short essays on each subject, with classic illustrations accompanying each, all in a handsome package that will evoke thoughts of a trusted old leather-bound book.

Paper Pom Poms and other Party Decorations by Juliet Carr

We love to add a little decoration or two to jazz up a party and why not try your hand at making your own this year. Discover how to create a spectacular setting for your next party with these 35 fabulous projects. From eye-catching pom-poms to pretty garlands and stunning giant flowers, you’ll want to make every one of these wonderful paper decorations. Begin with the classic pom-poms–popular in the 60s and 70s, but enjoying a stylish revival today. Make them in different sizes and colours for a real impact. Learn, too, how to make honeycomb balls, a star piata, and rosette snowflakes–all beautiful hanging decorations that will look great hung from the ceiling, or in a window. In chapter 2, you’ll find garlands and bunting. Why not try the cupcake garland, using cupcake cases to sit around fairy lights and look like twinkling flowers? Or have a go at the vintage book bunting that would add character at a themed party, or even in your workspace. Finally, create impressive centerpieces – giant roses and daffodils, a coffee filter flower wreath, and waxed floating lilies are among the striking designs. The projects use a variety of paper materials, including tissue, cardstock, and crepe paper, as well as recycled magazine pages and gift-wrap–and no specialist craft experience is needed. Step-by-step photography will show you exactly what to do. You’ll also find out about all the different types of paper available–such as water-resistant tissue paper, and two-tone paper that has a different colour on each side of it–as well as where to buy them. Plus, every template you’ll need is included at the back of the book.

Batch Cocktails by Maggie Hoffman

As anyone who has hosted a dinner party knows, cocktail hour is the most fun part of the evening for guests–but the most stressful for whomever is in charge of keeping the drinks flowing. The solution, though, is simple: batch it! In this fun collection, Maggie Hoffman offers 65 delicious and creative cocktails that you don’t have to stir or shake to order; rather, they are designed to stay fresh when made ahead and served out of a pitcher. Recipes such as Tongue in Cheek (gin, Meyer lemon, thyme, Cocchi Rosa), Friendly Fires (mezcal, chili vodka, watermelon, lime), BirdsnBees Punch (rum, cucumber, green tea, lemon), and even alcohol-free options are organized by flavor profile –herbal, boozy, bitter, fruity and tart, and so on– to make choosing and whipping up a perfect pitcher of cocktails a total breeze.

Enjoy!

Festive Food… part two.

And just like that, it is Christmas next week! Friends and family are starting to arrive from out of town, presents are being wrapped and popped under the tree and the sun is starting to settle in for a long and hot Summer here in Melbourne. 

Whether your family cooks up a big roast dinner with all of the trimmings, or grills seafood on the bbq or even prefers a lighter approach with salads, we have found some great cookbooks with mains and desserts that will wow your guests this festive season. 

This week we’re focussing on the main meal and sweet treats for afterwards, if you were looking for inspiration for starters and tasty beverages, then be sure to check out this blog post here

Prepare to be inspired. 

The Whole Fish by Josh Niland

We all want to eat more fish, but who wants to bother spending the time, effort and money cooking that same old salmon fillet on repeat when you could be trying something new and utterly delicious? In The Whole Fish Cookbook, Sydneys groundbreaking seafood chef Josh Niland reveals a completely new way to think about all aspects of fish cookery. From sourcing and butchering to dry ageing and curing, it challenges everything we thought we knew about the subject and invites readers to see fish for what it really is – an amazing, complex source of protein that can, and should, be treated with exactly the same nose-to-tail reverence as meat. Featuring more than 60 recipes for dozens of fish species ranging from Cod Liver Pate on Toast, Fish Cassoulet to Roast Fish Bone Marrow.

Scandi Bites by Trine Hahnemann

This is the perfect little gift for Scandi fans who want to bring some Nordic charm into their kitchen. With over 60 sweet and savoury recipes for all sorts of snacks, treats, fingerfood, bakes and pastries, it will provide plenty of inspiration for every occasion throughout the year. Doyenne of Danish baking, Trine Hahnemann, shares all her favourite treats in this cute cookbook so that you can make your own delicious cardamom buns, almond cookies, honey bombs, coconut macaroons and smoked salmon open sandwiches, among many others.

Pana Chocolate, The Recipes by Pana Barbounis

Cacao Crunch, Cardamom Dream, Spiced Chocolate Chai, Butterscotch Apple Crumble! Pana Chocolate, The Recipes is the book vegans and health-conscious sweet tooths have been waiting for. It includes 60 beautiful recipes that cover the spectrum: from fillings for your own raw chocolate creations; to fancy but achievable plated desserts using raw chocolate; to traditional desserts that you can make raw; to raw desserts for kids’ parties (think chocolate crackles and honey joys) to breakfast (chia pudding, granola, buckwheat porridge!) The recipes are all raw, organic, vegan, free from dairy, gluten, soy and refined sugar.

Chefs Host Christmas Too by Darren Purchese

Hot on the heels of his highly successful Chefs Eat Toasties Too, Darren Purchese is sharing his take on Christmas with us in his 2nd book in the Chefs…Too series. With Chefs Host Christmas Too there’s no need to be stressed about Christmas – at least not when it comes to hosting and feasting. It’s time to play with Christmas – and we don’t mean having a starring role in a pageant, but being the star of your own show. The approach here is fresh, fun, lighthearted and accessible, with an enticing and cleverly put-together line up of Christmas greats, and new twists on how to prepare them. Chefs Host Christmas Too includes everything you need to keep the throng fed and entertained during this festive time, including family favourites, all the chef tips and tricks, and new takes on some classic fare.

Mary Berry Cooks Up A Feast by DK

Mary Berry makes cooking for gatherings of family and friends easier with over 160 recipes that work well for both small and large numbers of guests. Discover how she cooks for her family and friends during the Christmas party season, and for other occasions and celebrations throughout the year. Her timeless guidance and expert tips will help you cater smoothly and successfully on a small scale for dinners and lunches around a table, or on a larger scale for drinks parties, buffets and teatime. Adapting quantities is made easy. Each recipe provides two sets of ingredients for serving either 6 or 12 guests, plus there is new, detailed advice on how to scale up recipes for any number. Discover tips for preparing in advance and simple shortcuts and cook up a feast the stress-free way.

Just Desserts By Charlotte Red 

You’d butter believe this is the only baking book you’ll need this Christmas! Instagram sensation Charlotte Ree is famous for her simple and delicious sweets … and her love of puns. Her easy, user-friendly creations are designed to taste amazing, rather than just look pretty (though pretty they most certainly are!). Just Desserts showcases 30 of Charlotte’s most popular and delicious cake, biscuit, slice and dessert recipes in one outrageously gorgeous little package. Featuring essentials, such as chocolate brownies, shortbread caramel slice and chocolate-chip cookies through to show stoppers, such as layered berry pavlova and chocolate ganache & blackberry bundt, Just Desserts is the ideal gift for the baker and sweet-lover in your life – even if that’s you!

Enjoy! 

Festive Food…part one

With roughly a little over six weeks to go, the festive season is nearly here. In fact, invitations to parties, BBQs and drinks have already begun. If you happen to be hosting friends and family this year it can often be daunting. Luckily there are a ton of entertaining options; you can keep it casual with a BBQ where everyone brings a dish to share, go all out with a formal sit down dinner or opt for nibbles and ramp up the drinks instead. Tasting tables have been growing in popularity too, these are the ultimate grazing tables for the platter lovers and super easy to pull together.

We have had a little poke around the internet and found six inspiring books that are bound to give you ideas for nibbles and tasty beverages for your guests. 

Pull up a chair, and prepare to get into the festive spirit with these great titles… oh and they make great gifts for those who like to host too… just saying!

Platters and Boards by Shelly Westerhausen

Santa’s little helpers bought me this book last Christmas and I love it. This book has been described as a visual cornucopia of a cookbook with a guide to entertaining with effortless style. Celebrated author and food blogger Shelly Westerhausen shares the secrets to creating casually chic spreads anyone can make and everyone will enjoy (and envy). Organised by time of day, 40 contemporary arrangements are presented with gorgeous photography, easy-to-prepare recipes, suggested meat and drink pairings, and notes on preparation and presentation. Helpful advice includes tips on portioning, picking surfaces and vessels, pairing complementary textures and flavours, plus a handy chart featuring board suggestions for a variety of occasions (from holiday parties to baby showers). Platters and Boards is an inspiring housewarming or hostess gift and resource for throwing unforgettable get-togethers.

Tapas by Ryland, Peters & Small

Bring an authentic taste of Spain to your table with this collection of more than 60 mouth-watering recipes for small plates to share. Traditionally served as a bar snack with a glass of sherry or a cold beer, tapas has become a firm favourite thanks to its wide variety and versatility. Whether you are serving a starter before a meal, enjoying some small bites with drinks, or going all out and filling the table with multiple dishes to feast on, there is no bad time to indulge in these flavour-filled dishes. This book includes all the classics from the perennially popular Patatas Bravas and Spanish Omelette to Chorizo in Red Wine and Peppers Stuffed with Salt Cod. Many of these dishes can be made in advance for ease, so you too can enjoy time with your friends – Buen Provecho!

Vegetarian Party Food by Jessica Oldfield

Vegetarian Party Food is a thoughtful collection of vegetarian and vegan bites perfect for any get-together. Mix and match the recipes to create the ultimate spread for gatherings and dinner parties. The book is divided into condiments, dips, vegetarian, and vegan chapters – including everything from easy no-cook bites like Turmeric and Lime Hummus and Peach Salsa and Cheese Crostini to more complex ones like Indian Cauliflower Bhajis and Hasselback Baby Beetroots with Feta. Put together the ultimate party spread and impress guests with Baked Black Sesame Camembert or Mini Vegetarian Gyros. With quick and easy make-ahead recipes you can have on hand for impromptu gatherings and versatile condiments you can make it batches and use for various dishes, this collection will help you become best host you can be.

Flour and Stone by Nadine Ingram

Flour and Stone is a petite bakery in inner-city Sydney with a large and devoted following for its pannacotta lamingtons, flaky croissants, chewy cookies, dreamy cakes and delectable pastries of every kind. Nadine Ingram and her dedicated team bake with finesse and love to bring pleasure to the city. In this book Nadine shares her signature recipes, all carefully explained and rigorously tested for the home kitchen. Family, in every sense, is at the heart of Flour and Stone – this recipe collection is given in the hope that you will nurture your own loved ones with the timeless, comforting art of baking. These are the treats you’ll want to eat for the rest of your life.

Last Call by Brad Thomas Parsons

From the James Beard Award-winning author of Amaro and Bitters comes this poignant, funny, and often elegiac exploration of the question, What is the last thing you’d want to drink before you die?, with bartender profiles, portraits, and cocktail recipes. Everyone knows the parlour game question asked of every chef and food personality in countless interviews – What is the last meal you’d want to eat before you die? But what does it look like when you pose the question to bartenders? In Last Call, James Beard Award-winning author Brad Thomas Parsons gathers the intriguing responses from a diverse range of bartenders around the country, including Guido Martelli at the Palizzi Social Club in Philadelphia (he chooses an extra-dry Martini), Joseph Stinchcomb at Saint Leo in Oxford, Mississippi (he picks the Last Word, a pre-Prohibition-era cocktail that’s now a cult favourite), and Natasha David at Nitecap in New York City (she would be sipping an extra-salty Margarita). The resulting interviews and essays reveal a personal portrait of some of the country’s top bartenders and their favourite drinks, while dozens of cocktail recipes and stunning photography make this a keepsake for barflies and cocktail enthusiasts of all stripes.

Wine for Normal People by Elizabeth Schneider

This is a fun but respectful (and very comprehensive) guide to everything you ever wanted to know about wine from the creator and host of the popular podcast Wine for Normal People, described by Imbibe magazine as “a wine podcast for the people.”

Millions of listeners have tuned in to learn a not-snobby wine vocabulary, how and where to buy wine, how to read a wine label, how to smell, swirl, and taste wine, and so much more! Rich with charts, maps, and lists-and the author’s deep knowledge and unpretentious delivery-this vividly illustrated, down-to-earth handbook is a must-have resource for millennials starting to buy, boomers who suddenly have the time and money to hone their appreciation, and anyone seeking a relatable introduction to the world of wine.

Enjoy!

What happens in your brain when you taste food?

Ever wondered what happens in your brain when you taste food? With fascinating research and hilarious anecdotes, neuroscientist Camilla Arndal Andersen takes us into the lab where she studies people’s sense of taste via brain scans. She reveals surprising insights about the way our brains subconsciously experience food, and shows how this data could help us eat healthier without sacrificing taste.

Monday Inspo

Now this is some advice we are happy to take on board!This week on the blog we’re diving into the delightful topic of festive food and will be bringing you ideas for platters, tapas, nibbles and drinks to wow your guests this party season.


Wanting to get away from it all? We have your holiday inspiration sorted.

The sun is starting to shine a little brighter and with a little more heat in Melbourne (today is expected to be 32 degrees) which signals that the festive season is looming and diaries may be starting to fill with weddings, parties and family bbqs. For those of you living in the Northern Hemisphere where Winter is starting to knock on the door, a getaway may be in order. We’ve scoured the ever growing travel genre of books and have found some of the most enticing books covering the wonderful world of travel. 

So get your suitcase and passport at the ready because we think these titles may just convince your inner traveller to head away for a well deserved break. 

Epic Hikes of the World by Lonely Planet

With stories of 50 incredible hiking routes in 30 countries, from New Zealand to Peru, plus a further 150 suggestions, Lonely Planet’s Epic Hikes of the World will inspire a lifetime of adventure on foot. From one-day jaunts and urban trails to month-long thru-hikes, cultural rambles and mountain expeditions, each journey shares one defining feature: being truly epic. In this follow-up to Epic Bike Rides and Epic Drives, the Lonely Planet Team share our adventures on the world’s best treks and trails. Epic Hikes is organised by continent, with each route brought to life by a first-person account, beautiful photographs and charming illustrated maps. Additionally, each hike includes trip planning advice on how to get there, where to stay, what to pack and where to eat, as well as recommendations for three similar hikes in other regions of the world. 

Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom

The average adult spends about a third of his or her waking time alone. Yet research suggests we aren’t very good at using, never mind enjoying, alone time. Rising to the challenge, travel writer Stephanie Rosenbloom explores the joys and benefits of being alone in four mouth-watering journeys to the cities of Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York, in four seasons. This is a book about the pleasures and benefits of savouring the moment, examining things closely, using all your senses to take in your surroundings, whether travelling to faraway places or walking the streets of your own city. Through on-the-ground observations and anecdotes, and drawing on the thinking of artists, writers and innovators who have cherished solitude, Alone Time illuminates the psychological arguments for alone time and lays bare the magic of going solo.

Literary Places by Sarah Baxter

Bringing together engaging text and stunning hand-drawn illustrations, Literary Places (Inspired Traveller’s Guide) takes readers on an enlightening journey through the key locations of literature’s best and brightest authors, movements and moments. Explore the plains of La Mancha with Don Quixote, take a Holden Caulfield tour of Central Park, or roam the Yorkshire moors with Cathy and Heathcliff. Author Sarah Baxter explores literary locations from around the globe, including vibrant urban centres, tranquil creative sanctuaries and places that inspired classic stories. The evocative text outlines each location’s history and culture, combined with biographies of the authors or stories from the literary works that make the place significant.

Hungry by Jeff Gordinier

Feeling stuck in his life, New York Times food writer Jeff Gordinier met Rene Redzepi, the Danish chef whose restaurant, Noma, has been repeatedly voted the best in the world. A restless perfectionist, Redzepi was at the top of his game but looking to shutter his restaurant and set out for new places, flavours and recipes. This is the story of their four-year culinary adventure. In the Yucatan jungle, Redzepi and Gordinier seek the perfect taco and the secrets of mole. On idyllic Sydney beaches, they forage for sea rocket and wild celery. On a boat in the Arctic Circle, a lone fisherman guides them to, perhaps, the world’s finest sea urchins. Back in Copenhagen, Redzepi plans the resurrection of his restaurant on the unlikely site of a garbage-filled empty lot. Hungry is a memoir, a travelogue, a portrait of a chef, and a chronicle of the moment when daredevil cooking became the most exciting and groundbreaking form of artistry.

Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh

Captured with wit and warmth, energy and zest, one woman ‘s attempt to circumnavigate the globe in eighty eventful train journeys. When Monisha Rajesh announced plans to circumnavigate the globe in eighty train journeys, she was met with wide-eyed disbelief. But it wasn’t long before she was carefully plotting a route that would cover 45,000 miles almost twice the circumference of the earth coasting along the world’s most remarkable railways; from the cloud-skimming heights of Tibet’s Qinghai railway to silk-sheeted splendour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Packing up her rucksack and her fiancé, Jem, Monisha embarks on an unforgettable adventure that will take her from London’s St Pancras station to the vast expanses of Russia and Mongolia, North Korea, Canada, Kazakhstan, and beyond. The ensuing journey is one of constant movement and mayhem, as the pair strike up friendships and swap stories with the hilarious, irksome and ultimately endearing travellers they meet on board, all while taking in some of the earth’s most breathtaking views. From the author of Around India in 80 Trains comes another witty and irreverent look at the world and a celebration of the glory of train travel. Monisha offers a wonderfully vivid account of life, history and culture in a book that will make you laugh out loud and reflect on what it means to be a global citizen as you whirl around the world in its pages.

My Tiny Atlas by Emily Nathan

As much an armchair travel companion as a guide to planning your next trip, My Tiny Atlas contains 300 lush, surprising, and stunning photos, along with stories about far-flung locales and tips for experiencing a new location like a local. From Tiny Atlas Quarterly, one of the most trusted sources for authentic, unusual, and inspiring travel photography, this book takes you to every continent and all corners of the world, from Paris, San Francisco, London, and Buenos Aires to the Arctic Circle, Tanzania, Tahiti, and Mongolia. My Tiny Atlas visually explores new destinations with an intimate, insider’s view, not of the usual monuments and tourist attractions, but of the real people, mouth-watering food, verdant flora, bustling streets, wild animals, epic views, lazy rivers, architectural gems, and other details that make you feel what it’s like to truly be in another place, whether or not you ever leave home.

Enjoy!