In March, I was the guest of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2002,
taking part in Masterclass sessions on 23rd and 24th March and generally
revelling in the good food and wine of Oz.
I hosted a number of terrific events while in Australia, including
a fun party at Steve Bennett's new baby, Station 1857 in St Kilda
and a great night at Max's at The Hyatt, attended, amongst others, by
my mother (HI MUM). My thanks to everyone involved for all their hard
work and care in bringing Simple Food to so many people.
I returned as a guest at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival in March 2003 and it proved once again that its one of the liveliest in the world mainly because Melbourne is such a great food city.
I loved being back in town, and strolling along the farmer's market stalls spread out along the Yarra in the gentle autumn sunshine, seeing everyone's faces at the dinner Terry and I hosted at Le Restaurant when they tasted Heston Blumenthal's sardines-on-toast ice-cream, cooking side-by-side with best mate Bill Granger at the Masters On The Move Delicious Double Acts, and just cruising around the great cafes and restaurants of my home town. Put next year's March festival in your diary now!
Visit the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival website for more details
We had a brilliant dinner at Lulu's in Paddington sponsored by ABC
Delicious magazine ( thanks for the great crash-hot potatoes, Alistair!),
and a really lovely 'Delicious Does Lunch' literary lunch at The Westin
in Sydney introduced by the gorgeous Sally Loane.
A special thanks to Leo Schofield who launched the book for me in
Simon Johnson's Woollahra food store with another of his witty little
written-in-the-back-of-the-cab speeches. Leo launched New Food for
me in 1993 and Old Food for me in 1998, so I wouldn't have dreamt
of asking anyone else to complete the trilogy. In fact, I think I
only write cook books so that Leo can launch them.
After returning from Australia, it was soon off to Canada for a promotional
book tour organised by Whitecap Pubishing. First stop, Toronto, a
city with remarkable similarities to my home town of Melbourne, so
I felt completely at home. Toronto has great food and homewares stores,
notably Caban, Queen Street West at Beverley Street, and a treasure
of a cook book store, called, funnily enough, The Cookbook Store,
850 Yonge Street at Yorkville.
I did lots of television in Toronto, and a cooking demonstration for
a few hundred people over lunch at First Canadian Place where I managed
to set off the fire alarms with my teriyaki salmon and bring on the
fire-fighters before having to evacuate 30,000 people from the skyscrapers
above. Thanks guys, hope you liked the chocolate bourbon balls.
Time I left town and headed for Vancouver.
If I thought Toronto was Melbourne, then Vancouver is Sydney. Beautiful
bridges, tall buildings, neon, water, seafood, boats, ferries, and
more water. I was lucky enough to meet James Barber, a foodie institution
in his own right, who took me to Granville Island Market inbetween
interviews, to eat raw prawns and buy bananas ( you live on bananas
doing a book tour because you never, ironically, get to eat).
I did have a great won ton noodle soup at Hon's Won Ton House, but
apart from that, it was bananas all the way.
I can't believe all the great cookware stores in Vancouver - they
have cookware stores the way we have off-licenses in London and milk
bars in Melbourne. Tools and Techniques, The Store for Cooks; Caban
( again); the Gourmet Warehouse and Caren's Cooking School, run by
the roller-coaster-ride Caren McSherry-Valagao.
I loved Barbara Jo's Books for Cooks (1128 Mainland Street) a very
cared-for book store with its own kitchen and own chef - we love you
Adrienne O'Callaghan - that makes it possible to cook an entire four
course meal while chatting to people about your book.amazing.
More cook-dems, more TV interviews, more book signings, more tuna
and white bean toast and time to go home, after a beautiful meal at
a very special restaurant called Ouest and a fine bottle of British
Columbian Pinot Noir.
Click here for more on Madrid
In late March, Terry and I headed for Madrid on assignment for Australian
Gourmet Traveller. Wow. Such great food, people, Jerez ( sherry),
tapas bars, architecture, sculpture, nightlife, daylife - and my favourite
art gallery/museum, the Prado, for a very fine Velasquez moment. Read
about it in Australian Gourmet Traveller in July, and visit the new Travels section for a
few of the best places to eat to whet your appetite for
those heading there over the European summer.