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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A welcome to spring – and the ultimate spring/summer shoe collection

When I first started this blog I named it Food, Travel, Books, Life. I felt the title encapsulated what I most enjoy in life. But I also chose it because I wanted the freedom to write about all sorts of things.

I so enjoy reading the beauty and lifestyle blogs that I follow. They’re great fun and I’ve picked up so many tips. I always feel very privileged to be surrounded by such talented bloggers – I love this little world I’ve become a part of.

There are two things that I get incredibly excited about when the seasons change. The first is food. I’m loving the spring produce that’s available now and can’t wait until the markets are overflowing with blushing summer fruits. Coming in at a close second is the wardrobe switch. Time to put away the jumpers and boots and clean up those toes. I have a particular weakness for shoes. In fact I’ve already had my first pedicure of the season in a desperate attempt to will the warm weather to descend.

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Smoked Paprika Chicken – a delicious nod to Spain

Apologies again to all my lovely followers for my absence the last few weeks. I’ve been working tirelessly on completing the edits for my new novel. I’ve self-published my previous two novels on Amazon (you can check them out here). This time around I’d like to pitch the book to an agent and I’m hoping to have it ready by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

But regardless of how busy I am there is always time to cook good food. Some standards can never be allowed to let slip.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that spring has arrived in New Zealand. Winter this year seemed interminable, not helped by the horrible cough I had for weeks on end. But you need to be a little wary of spring. Just when you think it’s time to whip out the spring/summer wardrobe, Mother Nature decides to remind you that it’s not summer. Not yet. And on those chilly spring evenings I still find myself seeking comfort from the evening meal.

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Spicy Lamb and Butternut Salad

When I was a child salads were a simple affair. That’s not to say they weren’t delicious. Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, cheese, a boiled egg, some nice cold cuts. But we are blessed in New Zealand with excellent produce and when everything is fresh and packed with flavour there is nothing wrong with simplicity.

Sometimes my mother would serve a deconstructed salad. Other times she would make a layered salad. But both were elevated by her excellent homemade dressing. Fast forward to today and my mother’s layered salad with homemade dressing is a recurring request at nearly every family gathering.

Being an adventurous cook I like to push the envelope a bit more when it comes to salads. Especially during the cooler months. Although we’ve now ticked over to September and spring is around the corner summer food feels far away. I’m still looking for comfort. And so I think a salad at this time of the year needs a warm or hot element to provide that comfort.

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