A welcome to winter – and the ultimate winter shoe collection

I’ve talked a lot in previous posts about my love for the seasons and the changes that take place during the calendar year as the days lengthen and then shorten.

My pick of the changes is, firstly, the food, and secondly (a very close second) the wardrobe switch. Last year as spring was rolling in I deviated briefly from my food and travel posts to write about my spring/summer shoe collection. It was such a popular post that I thought today I’d share with you my winter boot/shoe collection, along with some of the top pics from my wardrobe for the coming season.

I’m more excited about writing this post than I was last spring because my winter shoe collection is by far my favourite – for the simple reason that I have a huge weakness for boots.

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Florence, Italy – the jewel in Tuscany’s crown (part 2)

It hadn’t occurred to me when I started writing last week’s post that it would be a good idea to split the tale of this city into two parts. But I soon realised there was simply too much to tell to jam it all into one post.

So here I am with part 2 of my adventure to Florence and very excited am I to share it with you.

I talked last week about our visit to the Palazzo Pitti. Although the Uffizi and Accademia are the big draw cards in Florence, I urge you not to miss the Pitti. But on our last full day in Florence my husband and I decided to make a call between the Uffizi and the Accademia. I suppose we could have tried to do both but decided one bout of queuing was quite enough for one day. Fortunately the rain had cleared and it was a brilliant sunny day.

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Florence, Italy – the jewel in Tuscany’s crown (part 1)

A very big hello to all my lovely followers. I have an apology to make for being absent so long. Life has been busy and a couple of important personal projects have been swallowing up all my time.

A real shame as I haven’t yet had a chance to share my trip to England over the Christmas and New Year period. My husband and I also managed to fit in a short escape to Italy – definitely the highlight. So instead of ‘leaving the best for last’ I thought I’d start with the best.

Florence.

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Meeting Nigella Lawson

It’s a special moment when the opportunity arises to meet your idol, someone you’ve admired from afar for a long time. Of course, the small fear that niggles away is that disappointment may await you. I’m happy to report that on meeting Nigella Lawson there was no disappointment – only a lovely moment in time that I will always treasure.

I have been a fan of Nigella since my twenties. If Audrey Hepburn is my idol from a bygone error then Nigella is most definitely my modern-day idol. I love her style, her approach to food – and life in general, for that matter.

So when my friend Angela asked if I’d like to accompany her to see Nigella: In Conversation I immediately jumped at the chance. What? Nigella’s coming to New Zealand? Do I want to go? Is that a serious question? Of course!

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Long-haul flights and Christmas lights

It’s been a while since my last post, before Christmas actually. A post that was hastily written at the airport before my husband and I boarded a plane for London.

And when your departure point is Auckland, New Zealand it means you’re about to embark on quite a journey. Flying with Thai Airways our flight path was via Bangkok. So we’re talking 12 hours give or take to Bangkok and then another 12 hours to London. It’s a commitment, that’s for sure. But all worth it when you get to the other end. At least, that’s what I try to tell myself as I squirm in my seat trying to get comfortable (a useless endeavour) and trawl through the movies on offer hoping to find something that will slake the boredom.

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Berries with Mascarpone Cream – summer on a plate

I speak a lot about the joys of eating with the seasons. And with good reason. Food, produce in particular, is always at its most delicious when eaten at the right time of the year. I think it would be difficult to find a better example of this than summer berries.

If you dwell in the Northern Hemisphere, think June strawberries and you’ll know what December strawberries mean to us down here in the south.

We’ve been fortunate in Auckland to have enjoyed a surprisingly warm late spring and I was overjoyed to find such beautiful, blushing berries on offer at my local market. When it comes to the food world no other fruit heralds in summer quite like these beauties. The colours, the freshness, some sweet, some tart, but all utterly delicious.

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Panzanella – the classic Italian tomato and bread salad

If you’re a follower of my blog then you’ll know about my obsession with Italy and all things Italian. Particularly the food. The people of this very special place seem to have a magic touch when it comes to flavours and combinations. They can make the simplest dish taste like one of the most delicious things you’ve ever eaten.

Although the Caprese salad has a special place in my heart and is one of the first things I eat when I get to Italy, Panzanella is another classic Italian salad that proves you need not trade flavour and deliciousness for simplicity.

Now that we’re finally marching into summer here in New Zealand tomatoes will be gracing my fruit bowl (yes, they’re a fruit, not a vegetable) throughout the warmer months. And tomatoes are definitely the hero of this dish, along with the fabulous bread. Tomato and bread salad? Thank you, Italy!

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Tamarind Fish & Prawn Curry – the perfect balance of sweet, sour and heat

For some time I have been wanting to post this recipe. But whenever I cook it I can never hold out long enough to take photographs. This curry is a recurring favourite and as soon as it is transferred from pan to plate my husband and I greedily dive in.

It’s one of those curries that really needs to be eaten with a spoon – very pleasing. But that’s not the only pleasing thing about it. It’s the most stunning colour, boasts a beautiful balance of sweet, sour and heat and tastes out of this world.

Need I say more?

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Linguine with Courgette and Bacon – celebrating the summer squash

I seem to be starting every post lately with an apology for my absence from the blogging world. It’s been a particularly crazy few weeks for me so many apologies go out to my lovely followers.

But I’m back and excited about the change of season going on in New Zealand. Spring is nearing its end and we have – hopefully! – a long, hot summer to look forward to.

I love the way food changes with the seasons, how each season has its own offering that gives us something special with which to celebrate that time of the year. Parsnips alone make the arrival of winter worthwhile. I can whip up a large batch of my Spiced Parsnip Soup and close the curtains on the weather.

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