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  • 07/17/13--23:58: Lantern Authors
  • Lantern is an imprint of Penguin Books specialising in beautifully crafted illustrated books with a focus on food, travel, gardening, lifestyle, interior design and art. We pride ourselves on working with creative people who are able to read the zeitgeist and present enduring ideas.

    author_listing_image: 
    author_bio_image: 
    author_category: 
    Garden
    Kitchen
    Life & Style
    Travel
    Last Name: 
    Lantern Authors

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  • 07/18/13--18:35: Literary luncheon with
  • Lucio Galletto, author of The Art of Pasta

    Over a delicious lunch, inspired by Lucio's splendid Art of Pasta book, listen to Lucio as he discusses how "food and art for me are like the air I breathe". As part of the Byron Writer's Festival, the lunch will be set amongst the luscious rainforest setting at the Byron at Byron resort. Price $100
    Contact Byron Writer's Festival Box Office
    P 1300 368 552

    Literary Luncheon
    Kitchen
    Sunday, August 4, 2013 - 12:00
    NSW
    Lucio Galletto

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  • 07/18/13--18:44: The power of art & image
  • featuring Lucio Galletto, author of The Art of Pasta

    "The combination of great food, great service and great art on the walls is one of the best dining experiences you can imagine", says Lucio. Share the passion with Lucio in this discussion with other authors and artists, as they discuss the power of art and image in their lives (part of the Byron Writer's Festival).
    Contact Byron Writer's Festival
    1300 368 552

    Conversation on art & artists
    Life & Style
    Friday, August 2, 2013 - 10:30
    NSW
    Lucio Galletto

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    The Rialto fish market in Venice is an amazing place, bursting with local seafood as well as specialities from neighbouring seas. It’s a fantastic source of inspiration for a chef! In this recipe, the crisp asparagus works beautifully against the creamy texture of the lightly seared scallops and the smooth beans.

    Method
    1. Place the beans, salt, garlic, thyme and ½ tablespoon of olive oil into a large saucepan and cover with three times their volume of water. Place over medium heat and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about 40–45 minutes.
    2. A few minutes before the beans are ready, add the asparagus and tomatoes to the pan and gently stir through.
    3. Pat the scallops dry with paper towel, and season with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. Sear the scallops in batches until brown, about 1 minute on each side. Remove the scallops from the pan and drain on paper towel.
    4. Using a slotted spoon, divide the beans, tomatoes and asparagus among serving plates. Arrange the scallops on top. Drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parsley.
    Guy Grossi
    Serves 4

    200 g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight

    1 tablespoon sea salt

    1 clove garlic, halved

    2 sprigs thyme

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    100 g thin asparagus, trimmed

    300 g tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1 cm pieces

    24 large scallops (without roe)

    sea salt and cracked black pepper

    extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

    2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

    Love Italy

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  • 07/22/13--20:30: Blueberry jam tart
  • In the Valtellina, buckwheat is used in many preparations and there is always plenty of buckwheat flour on hand to make pizzocheri, so it is no wonder that it finds its way onto the dessert menu! This rustic tart is delicious as is, but is even better served with double cream.

    Method
    1. To make the pastry, cream the butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the plain flour, buckwheat flour, salt and egg, and mix just enough to incorporate. If you prefer to knead the dough by hand, work it for about 5 minutes. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for at least an hour.
    2. To make the jam, place the blueberries and lemon juice in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and pectin well and then add to the berries. Cook over low heat for a further 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until a jam-like consistency has been achieved. Allow to cool.
    3. Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease a 20 cm tart tin.
    4. Roll the dough out to a thickness of 2–3 mm. Cut out a 30 cm disc and five or six strips 24 cm long × 2 cm wide.
    5. Line the tart tin with the pastry disc, then rest it in the fridge for 10 minutes. Pour the jam into it and criss-cross the strips over the top.
    6. Cook for 40–45 minutes until golden.
    Guy Grossi
    Serves 6-8

    PASTRY

    150 g unsalted butter, softened

    100 g icing sugar

    160 g plain flour

    125 g buckwheat flour

    ½ teaspoon salt

    1 large (60 g) egg

    BLUEBERRY JAM

    500 g blueberries

    3 tablespoons lemon juice

    500 g caster sugar

    10 g pectin

    Love Italy

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    This beautiful dish will really make an impression. Slow-cooking the veal allows plenty of time for the porcini sauce to become intensely flavoursome. Shoulder is a great cut for this dish as it is gelatinous, meaning it won’t dry out during the long cooking. You can prepare this ahead of time and just warm it when needed. If you don’t have a casserole large enough for the veal, you can cook it in a roasting tin, lightly covered with baking paper and foil.

    Method
    1. Cut three lengths of twine 20 cm long and place them, 5 cm apart, on a chopping board. Lay the veal shoulder on top, with the inside of the shoulder facing up. Season with salt and pepper, and lay the rosemary and sage leaves down the centre. Tie with the twine to secure the veal.
    2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat and sear the veal until golden. Set aside.
    3. Soak the porcini in plenty of warm water for 20 minutes. Strain the porcini, reserving 1 litre of the soaking liquid.
    4. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole and sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until slightly coloured. Add the porcini and sage, stir for a few minutes, then deglaze with the wine and bring to the boil. Add the veal and season with salt and pepper. Pour in the reserved soaking liquid and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 2½ hours or until the tip of a knife can be inserted easily. 
    5. Take out the veal and remove the twine, then carve and serve with the sauce.
    Guy Grossi
    Seves 6

    1 × 1.6 kg boneless milk-fed veal shoulder

    sea salt and cracked black pepper

    2 sprigs rosemary

    5 sage leaves

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    PORCINI SAUCE

    100 g dried porcini

    2½ tablespoons olive oil

    1 onion, diced

    3 cloves garlic, chopped

    1 large handful sage leaves, chopped

    200 ml white wine

    sea salt and cracked black pepper

    Love Italy

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    A lot of research went into our burger restaurant – and here’s what we learnt:

    • Choose the best-possible quality beef, and use a cut with a good fat content.
    • Keep the seasoning simple, so as not to overpower the meat.
    • Cook the patties chilled from the fridge so they keep their shape and don’t overcook.
    • Only cook them to medium-rare, to retain the flavour and juices.
    • Mould the patty to about the same diameter as the bun – it will shrink slightly during cooking, but ultimately you want to get a bit of everything with each mouthful.
    • For the best flavour, cook over a hot chargrill, ideally a wood- or coal-fired barbecue; pan-fry only as a last resort.
    • Make sure the grillplate is hot and clean.
    • Mould the patty to about the same diameter as the bun – it will shrink slightly during cooking, but ultimately you want to get a bit of everything with each mouthful. 
    • Choose the right bun: sourdough can be too tight and firm, while brioche can often be too rich or soft. A freshly baked white roll is generally the best option.
    Kitchen

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    If, like me, you are obsessed with food, you will attest to the eternal quest to enrich your life with amazing eating experiences. While I could blame my crazy idea of moving to the country on watching too much of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage television series, or reading the writings of Alice Waters and Paul Bertolli in the Chez Panisse cookbooks, somewhere along the way I had an epiphany. It dawned on me that the majority of the food I was eating in restaurants was days, sometimes weeks or even months old, the product of an industrial farming system that values high yields and amenability to transport and storage above flavour. Remember that as soon as something is harvested, it begins to deteriorate, so I realised that if I wanted to experience a fruit or vegetable at its best, I needed to get as close to that point as possible.

    Ironically, I grew up in the country, but as a teenager all I ever wanted to do was head to the city, because I thought that’s where it was all happening – the bright lights, the bustling restaurants – and by then I had my heart set on becoming a chef. I have heard it said that to be a good cook, first you have to be a good eater, and as a young lad it seemed I was always hungry; hollow legs, I think they called it! The other career inkling I had was teaching. However, I felt I could always go back to university if this cooking thing didn’t work out. Life has such a funny way of making things happen that one would have never thought possible, such as combining the two. 

    After beginning my chef apprenticeship in Griffith in south-east New South Wales, I found my way to the kitchen of Sam Vico at Caffe Bassano. It was here that I learnt to cook Italian food with heart, to cook seasonally and simply, honouring the ingredient. In the last year of my apprenticeship, at the age of twenty, I left for Sydney to work for Tetsuya Wakuda at his restaurant, which was then in the inner-western suburb of Rozelle. At the time, I didn’t realise the impact this would have on the rest of my life. We worked long, hard hours in a small kitchen, and faced a whole new level of expectation and discipline – an experience that has held me in good stead ever since. Of course, there was also the opportunity to sample some amazing produce: I will never forget the time a box of white Alba truffles arrived straight from the airport, or the summertime crates of farm-fresh white peaches that drove everyone crazy with their sweet, luscious fragrance. 

    In that same kitchen I met one of my best mates, Luke Burgess. Like me, Luke was an apprentice chef, and we bonded on the first day, forging a friendship that has stayed the distance across career paths and states. He even introduced me to the love of my life, Séverine. To this day, Luke still influences the way I cook and is a constant sounding board for advice. 

    He has also taken all the photos for this book, capturing our daily life at The Agrarian Kitchen in a way only he could.

    It was during a two-week break from Tetsuya’s that I had the opportunity to spend some time assisting a food photographer. A whole new world opened before my eyes, one in which I could satisfy my two passions, food and books. (Those of you who have visited The Agrarian Kitchen will know that my passion for cookbooks is definitely bordering on obsession!) Over the next seven years I worked on a freelance basis, cooking for photo shoots and television shows, and writing some of my own recipes for food magazines.

    In 2004 Séverine and I got married, and after our honeymoon I started at Australian Gourmet Traveller. For three years I held the enviable position of food editor at the magazine, working with a team of talented people to create recipes for its glossy pages, a job that for many would have been the pinnacle of a career. I, however, was quietly developing the notion of moving to Tasmania, the only slight flaw in the plan being that I had never actually been there . . . Fortuitously, Tourism Tasmania extended an invitation for someone from the magazine to attend their Ten Days on the Island festival, and of course I jumped at the chance. When I got there, I was as wide-eyed as a kid in a candy store: I spoke to chefs who told me stories of abundant wild food foraged from forests and hedgerows, and sampled produce grown and raised in the purest air in the world. If moving to Tasmania had been just a dream up until then, after that brief visit it became a mission.

    It took a few years of on-and-off searching with a few false starts before we found the right place, and we had almost given up hope when the Old Schoolhouse at Lachlan came up. I guess I had an image in my mind of the setting I wanted for our new life, and the closer I got, the more boxes I was ticking off. The village of Lachlan is nestled in a valley, with hills rising up on all sides like an amphitheatre. The property itself is surrounded by mature deciduous trees – elms, oaks and poplars – and, given it was autumn, their leaves painted the ground golden. The house sat in the middle of five acres, somewhat smaller than I was initially after, but I was won over by how perfect the building was. Like all country schools built around that time (Lachlan school dates from 1887), it consisted of two main parts, the school rooms and the headmaster’s residence. The old classrooms had been divided by a wall with a large sliding door and the light streamed in through huge banks of windows at either end. My mind was working overtime as I stood and stared out of the kitchen windows to the mountains beyond. Could I imagine people cooking in here? Armed with photos and video footage, I returned to Sydney intent on convincing Séverine that this was the place for us.

    Several months later, we bought the warmest woollen doona we could lay our hands on and set about moving to one of the coldest parts of Australia in the middle of winter. It didn’t take us long to understand that heating was a necessity. We burnt through our first tonne of firewood in about a week before we realised we didn’t need to keep three fires burning. Anyone with an old house will empathise, for they are impossible to keep warm. Our kitchen floor had updrafts that would rival the latest-model air conditioner; as we huddled around the open fire, our toes were being blasted by Antarctic winds that whistled through the floorboards. For the next two months, apart from keeping warm, Séverine and I spent our evenings putting together a submission for a government-sponsored tourism promotion grant we had found out about. Each night we put our four-month-old son Tristan to bed and beavered away into the wee hours, laying our dream onto paper in order to convince other people this thing had legs – and ourselves that we were not totally crazy. 

    By early 2008 we had eaten into most of our savings, and things were looking a little dire as we anxiously awaited the outcome of our submission. When we finally heard that our application had been successful, it felt like winning the lottery! Over the next nine months, the small domestic kitchen was removed, the floorboards were replaced and the classrooms re-painted from top to bottom, then a wood-fired oven and a new commercial kitchen were installed. And that was just the inside. Outside, a car park was constructed and a paddock was transformed into the beginnings of a garden. 

    We officially opened in November 2008, and it all went smoothly, even with the haphazard charm that tends to accompany the first day of any new venture. During our first year of operation, it was just the two of us: I would teach the class and Séverine would wash up, in between caring for Tristan. She would put him down for a sleep in time to help serve the meal and pour the wine. If we were lucky, he would sleep through until the end of class . . . and then be wide awake until much later at night, but we figured it was a small price to pay.

    On my arrival here, I was a complete novice when it came to the nitty-gritty of actually growing things. I was, to quote my father, ‘green behind the ears’. Well, as it turns out, all I really needed to do was to get the green from behind my ears and into my thumbs. At a time when so many of us yearn for a more meaningful connection with the natural world, I like to think that what we are offering is a taste of the very nourishing experience of tending a garden and raising animals. For me, The Agrarian Kitchen represents the chance to share the simple pleasures of cooking and eating in tune with the seasons, and the rewards of a life lived close to the earth.


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    Chicory is the cold-weather equivalent of lettuce – something crisp and refreshing to offset a meaty braise. The characteristic bitterness of chicory, which is muted by the winter chill, also serves a higher purpose, helping our bodies to digest the rich foods of winter. In this dish various chicory leaves are teamed with soft polenta. At The Agrarian Kitchen we are lucky to be able to grind our own polenta from home-grown corn, which sends the corn flavour off the scale. Unless you are really pushed for time, I recommend traditional polenta over the instant version, which is pre-cooked and tends to be blander in flavour with less texture. This dish makes a lovely starter or a side dish to go with a beautifully chargrilled medium-rare steak.

    Method
    1. For wet polenta, combine milk and 300 ml water in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium–high heat. Whisk in polenta, then reduce heat to low and stir using a wooden spoon until mixture is smooth and not gritty, about 1 hour. Stir in parmesan and season to taste with salt and pepper.
    2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add bacon and walnuts and sauté over medium heat until bacon is browned and walnuts are toasted. Add vinegar and sugar and stir over heat to dissolve sugar.
    3. To serve, spoon polenta onto plates, scatter with chicory leaves and spoon over bacon and walnut dressing. Serve immediately, with plenty of grated parmesan.
    Rodney Dunn
    Serves 4

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 × 300 g piece smoked bacon, cut into 1 cm strips

    100 g (1 cup) walnuts, coarsely chopped

    2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

    1 tablespoon brown sugar

    400 g mixed chicory leaves, such as radicchio, witlof and endive

    finely grated parmesan, to serve

    WET POLENTA

    300 ml milk

    115 g polenta

    60 g finely grated parmesan

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    The Agrarian Kitchen

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    Baked custard is comfort food. Sure, it can be cooked in individual dishes for an air of sophistication, but I think it is best shared from one large dish. Poached in honey syrup until tender, pears are an elegant fruit for winter desserts; the syrup takes on the pear flavour, which is concentrated further by reducing the syrup before serving.

    Method
    1. For honey pears, combine honey and 200 ml water in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to the boil. Add pears and bay leaves and reduce heat until barely simmering. Poach until pears are tender, about 1 hour. Using a slotted spoon, remove pears and set aside. Increase heat and simmer until poaching liquid has reduced to a syrup, then return pears to pan and turn to coat in syrup.
    2. Preheat oven to 150°C. Combine milk and vanilla in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and bring to just below simmering point. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl, then pour over warm milk and stir to combine. Remove vanilla bean and scrape seeds into custard. Pour custard into a 1-litre-capacity ovenproof dish and scatter with nutmeg.
    3. Cover dish with foil, stretching it taut, then carefully prick foil with a fork. Place dish in a roasting tin and fill tin with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake until custard is set but still wobbles in the centre, about 50 minutes.
    4. Serve custard warm or cold with honey pears and syrup.

     

    Rodney Dunn
    Serves 6-8

    750 ml (3 cups) milk

    1 vanilla bean, split lengthways

    3 duck eggs or 4 chicken eggs

    6 duck egg yolks or 8 chicken egg yolks

    250 g caster sugar

    freshly grated nutmeg

    HONEY PEARS

    120 g (¹⁄³ cup) honey

    4 small pears (about 150 g each), peeled and halved lengthways

    5 bay leaves

    The Agrarian Kitchen

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  • 07/22/13--21:53: The smokehouse
  • The decision to build our smokehouse arose from the desire to produce our own smoked hams and bacon. What we didn’t anticipate was the new world this would open up for us to experiment with smoking other meats, fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables. 

    Smoking is most prevalent in countries whose colder climates need a helping hand to dry meat or fish for preservation. In this time-honoured craft, animals fattened from the abundance of autumn were slaughtered and salted, then hung high in the fireplace chimney where cool smoke wafted over them, slowly drying out the meat and coating the outside in antibacterial smoke particles. This allowed meat to be kept over the winter months without refrigeration. 

    Only cold smoke (below 36°C) preserves; hot-smoking, although delicious, also cooks the meat or fish, which then needs to be consumed immediately or refrigerated. The cooler the smoke, the better the result. Maintaining a low temperature is also crucial for food-safety reasons, as warm smoke will promote the growth of bacteria. Commercial smokers cool the generated smoke, enabling their use year-round, but our rustic version means that smoking can only be done in cooler weather – effectively late autumn, all of winter and early spring.

    Often mistaken at first glance for the outhouse, our smoker consists of a concrete firebox, which generates the smoke, and the smokehouse itself, which holds whatever is being smoked. The firebox sits slightly lower than the house and has a sliding metal door that controls the amount of air reaching the fire – the key to generating smoke is to allow the fire just enough air to slowly smoulder. The smoke travels along a concrete pipe into the middle of the smokehouse, where vents at the front and back draw the smoke evenly through the space. 

    Hardwoods are the smoking wood of choice, as softwoods tend to produce a bitter, acrid smoke. Heated debates rage over which wood is best, and we are constantly experimenting with local sources: we currently use the chipped prunings from our fruit trees and clean shavings of Tasmanian oak, myrtle and sassafras from a cabinetmaker friend.


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    Part art and part science, making your own bread is immensely satisfying. Nothing beats learning alongside a master bread-maker, but the following guidelines from the founder of Tasmania’s Agrarian Kitchen will help you to get started.

    • Good bread depends on good flour. If you’re really keen, a grain mill is a worthwhile investment. Otherwise, for the freshest flour, seek out a supplier of flour milled from biodynamic or organic grains that has a high turnover. Bread flour (sometimes called strong flour) has a higher protein/gluten content, enabling it to develop a stronger structure and hold the gases given off by the yeasts as they ferment to give a nice light bread.
    • Some of the bread recipes we use at The Agrarian Kitchen include a pre-ferment stage, where a portion of the yeast and flour is mixed to make a dough and then left to ferment overnight before being added to the final dough. This results in bread with better flavour, due to the long, slow rise of the pre-ferment.
    • Kneading the dough is what causes the gluten to develop and become stretchy; ‘knocking back’, a quick knead to deflate the dough once it has risen, also aids in this process. For the best results, knead your bread dough well and when knocking it back, follow the recipe instructions carefully.
    • Professional bread-makers tend to give the quantities of all ingredients in their recipes, including liquids, in grams. This not only makes for more accurate measurement, but also makes it easier to scale the recipe up or down.
    Kitchen

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  • 07/22/13--22:18: Baked beans
  • Proper baked beans seem to be popping up on cafe menus everywhere. They are simple to prepare as long as you remember to soak the beans overnight and, once you’ve made a large pot, they can be refrigerated and reheated when required. They are wonderful with a poached or fried egg on top. They have become a staple part of our ‘Whole Hog’ class, served as breakfast on the second day. We utilise the pork bones, roasting them first and then cooking them with the beans, so they give up those last morsels of sweet meat nestled close to the bone.

    Method
    1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
    2. Heat olive oil in a large flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring continuously, for 8 minutes or until soft, then add all remaining ingredients except salt and pepper and toast.
    3. Pour in 1.5 litres water and bring to the boil, then cover and cook in oven for 4–5 hours or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally and adding more water as required.
    4. Remove bacon bones or pork hock and shred meat from bones, then return meat to beans and discard bones.
    5. Season beans to taste with salt and pepper, then gently reheat and serve with toast.
    Rodney Dunn
    Serves 6

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 onion, thinly sliced

    3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

    2 × 400 g cans chopped tomatoes

    400 g (2 cups) dried haricot or other white beans, soaked overnight in cold water

    75 g (¹⁄³ cup) brown sugar

    2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

    1 tablespoon dijon mustard

    2 tablespoons hot smoked paprika

    1 teaspoon chilli flakes

    1 teaspoon ground cloves

    1 teaspoon ground fennel

    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses

    1 kg bacon bones or 1 smoked pork hock

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    toast, to serve

    The Agrarian Kitchen

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  • 07/23/13--17:57: Starting Out
  • I didn’t consciously set out to design a lingerie collection – it was just something I gravitated towards, because I loved beautiful fabrics. I had collected vintage lace, silks and trims from the 1930s, so I started making silk chiffon knickers and crepe de Chine chemises as gifts for friends –  a bit like trousseau pieces. I had a friend, Nikki Andrews at Mode magazine, who asked me to bring some pieces in, and before long I was taking orders from editors and other staff, then going back to my studio and making them up. I did all the sewing myself. When I first started, I was making about one piece a week. It soon grew to about five pieces, then twenty-five pieces a week, as word spread. 

    My first real break came when Susan Owens of The Sydney Morning Herald wrote a piece on my lingerie. At the end of the article she said: ‘If anyone is interested, please send a self-addressed envelope to receive a catalogue.’ How times have changed –  it’s all about the database now. I received literally thousands of letters from people wanting me to custom-make lingerie pieces for them. I started trying to sell my lingerie to retailers, but there just wasn’t a market for it in Australia at that time. I was trying to create luxury pieces that would last a lifetime –  it was all about the cut, and mixing silk with beautiful, antique laces. I sometimes meet people today who tell me they have kept those early pieces as heirlooms as they are so beautiful.

     


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  • 07/23/13--18:11: How the Magic Happens
  • When I design a collection there is always a story. I never start by thinking a particular collection is going to be modern, or graphic or whatever. I begin with a story in mind  –  I imagine the mood, the time, the place, who will be wearing the clothes, who else might be there. I look for something that will define the collection. Those ideas might not always be obvious in the final collection, but that is how it starts. Anything might inspire me  –  fields of flowers, a flock of birds, old mosaics, or even a row of striped deckchairs.

    I get a lot of inspiration from travel  – not because I am consciously looking for ideas, but because I am always aware of my surroundings, and open to new experiences.

    So in Italy, on the Amalfi Coast, seeing girls on Vespas wearing bright red lipstick and turquoise dresses might inspire me to design a fabric in red and turquoise, because I think that colour combination is sexy and romantic, as women’s clothes should be. I design many of my fabrics myself so the design process is doubled.

     


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  • 07/23/13--19:13: The Paris Shows
  • I will never forget my first show in paris. It was in 1995 and came about at the suggestion of Mary Gallagher, from Harvey Nicholls in London, who had been selling my clothes for a few years. In those early days I used to go traipsing around the world with a suitcase of samples to show buyers in Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong and London. One day Mary said to me ‘why are you doing all that travelling? why don’t you just go to paris and do a show? People don’t really understand how to wear your clothes, with all the different layers, so you need to show them.’

    These days, people take photos with their iPhones and tweet them and put them up on their blogs almost immediately, so many fashion editors don’t come to the shows anymore. This has taken away some of the magic and the anticipation, I think, which is a shame. Nothing compares to actually being at a show.

    The only contact I had in Paris was Stephen Todd, a friend of Seamus’s who wrote for The Australian newspaper, and he offered to help. He suggested I do the show at the Angelina Tearoom on the Rue de Rivoli, next to Le Meurice, and together we put together the show. I still don’t know how we did it – I was just running on adrenaline. Stephen was an amazing support. My show was ‘off schedule’ as I hadn’t been accredited by the Chambre Syndicale (the French body that runs the show schedule). I decided to show against Comme des Garçons, because Rei Kawakubo has a very different sensibility from mine, and I didn’t think we would compete as much for press. I sent out invitations to the press and buyers, and a friend of Stephen’s lent us her wardrobe of shoes, and off we went.

    I showed a collection of my corsets, layered skirts and lace overdresses, and we got some really good press. People knew that we were already selling to Barneys and Harvey Nicholls and I think they were quite intrigued – they are always looking to discover someone new. I did another show later that year, and again had a good response from the press, and other designers on the official list started to complain that I was taking key press away from their shows.


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  • 07/23/13--20:02: Benefits of an Edible Garden
  • Growing your own edibles will benefit your body, your mind, your spirit, your tastebuds, your kids, your wallet, and the environment. Here's how:

    • You will know that the food you are eating is free from harmful pesticides and has not been genetically modified. 
    • The food you grow yourself always tastes so much better than anything you buy.
    • You will lower your carbon footprint and decrease food miles.
    • You will spend quality time with your kids, teaching them the importance of growing things and being connected to nature and its cycles.
    • Gardening is good exercise.
    • Eating what you grow will help you stay healthy and give you a great sense of wellbeing. 
    • You will save money as you won’t need to buy as much, because you’ll be supplementing your diet with food straight out of your backyard.
    • You will feel a great sense of pride and satisfaction from providing food for yourself and your family.  
    • Your gratitude to Mother Nature for her ability to provide food will make you love nature even more, and you will be less wasteful with food when you are growing it yourself – it's a win for the planet and also for you. 
       

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    You can incorporate edibles into your life wherever you live. For many people, the easiest way to do this is to grow them indoors – they look great perched on window-sills and tucked into sunny corners. But don’t let your imagination stop there. I have been totally inspired by my travels to think of new and creative ways to grow edibles in a limited space. 

    In Europe, even the smallest courtyards and windowsills look so inviting, with plants squeezed into every nook and cranny; Japan and China lead the world in green, edible rooftops, while in the developing world people make great use of recycled and raw materials. It’s all about resourcefulness – understanding your conditions and working with what you have.  

    So, let’s get started – the sky’s the limit (literally, the highest rooftop garden I know of is in the Himalayas). If you have a courtyard or balcony, install some containers filled with edibles. If you don’t, try window boxes. Have you thought about planting on your roof? What about verge gardening (council permitting)? If your garden is big enough, you might even consider a greenhouse. Just grab a container and start planting.

     


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  • 07/23/13--20:25: The Kitchen Garden
  • My appreciation for the kitchen garden started with the one we had at home when I was a boy. I was lucky enough to grow up with an abundance of fresh produce on our doorstep – the garden was Mum’s pride and joy, and her Sri Lankan heritage was a big influence on what she grew and how we ate it. The immense pleasure she gets from tending her garden and cooking whatever is in season (and sharing it with everyone she knows!) goes to show how the simple act of growing food can enrich our lives in so many ways (see pages 146–153 for the story of Mama Durie’s garden).

    A successful kitchen garden doesn’t have to be large – you’ll reap the rewards of growing even a few herbs and vegies. Once you’ve experienced the satisfaction of eating homegrown produce, though, it’s hard to resist planting more. My most vivid memory of taking something out of the ground, cooking it and eating it was on a beach holiday with friends. They were growing potatoes and I dug some up, threw them into a saucepan and ran down to the surf to fill it up with seawater. We boiled them and ate them with dobs of butter and freshly ground black pepper – I can still recall the amazing flavour of those spuds. There is nothing quite like the taste of food straight out of the soil, and that’s why growing edibles is so addictive. Before you know it, you’ll be composting, seeking out heirloom seeds and installing a chicken coop! 

    When you start planning your kitchen garden, don’t fall into the trap of thinking it can’t be as attractive as an ornamental one. Just take a look at the Chiswick garden on pages 168–179 – it’s living proof that if you put a bit of thought into the design of a productive garden, the results can be absolutely stunning. 


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  • 07/23/13--21:47: Correction - Silvia's Cucina
  • Please note the following revision:

    Nonna's potato and Marsala doughnuts, page 206
    Use 600 g desiree potatoes.


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