Published in the Bondi View and City News.
If you’re not blessed with an Italian Nonna or a French Tatie who loves to bake, up until now you’ve mostly had to go to professional cooking classes to gather these skills. Professional cookery schools can be a little formal, so if you are yearning for a little more warmth and hospitality, step into the spacious surrounds of Annette Pien’s home kitchen in Dover Heights, just minutes from Bondi Beach. Annette’s a mother of two with a background in food management in South Africa, and catering in Los Angeles. She takes some classes herself as well as inviting specialist guest chefs to “come and entertain and prepare incredible tantalising dishes while sharing their talents with our guests” right in her home. She’s got some well-timed classes in Christmas and Hors d’ oeuvres - after all the silly season is nearly upon us. Classes are $75/head with all food, wine, sparkling water and entertaining company included: (0403) 113 039.
Bondi Brekky of Choice
It seems like half of Bondi is on a health kick. One drinking buddy is currently getting up at sparrow’s fart to swim in water far from temperate; though I must admit the daily Aquabumps image makes it all look fairly enticing. Perhaps that’s what convinced me to try SuperStart, a metabolism boosting breakfast cereal made by life-long Bondi local Justin Smidmore. It’s all premium ingredients, amino acids, minerals and vitamins with a “super low GI of 32”. It’s unlikely to replace my bacon and egg roll, but if you must, it didn’t taste too bad. Find it at About Life or online: www.metabolicfood.com.au
If you’re a recent convert to this healthy diet stuff, About Life is a great place to start. They’ve just won best organic retail outlet in NSW as part of National Organic Week; but even though their stores are well organised, navigating organic, biodynamic, sustainable or even gluten-free living can be tricky. Name another supermarket though that offers a free food consultation tour where a product specialist will show you delicious alternatives to the brands you currently buy (often full of colours, flavours and preservatives) and tell you how to prepare them. Add to that their commitment to providing organic staples at reasonable prices, and marking out locally produced products, and it should be a piece of er… carrot cake.
The Cook’s Bookshelf
The Making of a Chef (RRP $29.95) by Luke Mangan.
Why look to overseas restaurant empire success stories like Gordon Ramsay when we have our own right here in Luke Mangan. His name is synonymous with restaurants including CBD, Salt and Glass Brasserie, as well as plastered on eateries inside three monumental P&O cruise liners and associated with Virgin Airlines. Uncover his road to success in a conversational, down-to-earth and slightly irreverent way. It’s a bit jerky in places, leaving the reader to wonder if an overzealous editor might have yanked a few of the more torrid tales. Luckily you do get to hear about Luke hosting his mother in a brothel, carrying knives into a nightclub, and getting down on all fours to suck 1962 Chateau Lafite Rothschild out of a carpet, in amongst foodie highlights like dining in the private home of Michel Roux. It’s hard not to like a grown man who calls himself a muppet.
French Kitchen (RRP $59.99) by Serge Dansereau
If the word French on the cover of a cookbook usually makes you tremble, give this one a second glance. Bather’s Pavilion chef Serge Dansereau’s book is only French in the sense that the techniques that underpin his resolutely Modern Australian, produce-driven cooking are French. He even buys “whole egg mayonnaise for home for everyday use.” Breathing again? In amongst a few tasty looking soufflés you’ll find a not-too-intimidating Pork and Duck Cassoulet, and a bunch of dinner ideas that might actually happen. Scallops with Leek and Bacon, Beetroot Tart Tatin with Mache and Walnuts and his Country-Style Pork and Walnut Terrine all look doable and delicious.