Look at this wonderful haemanthus or blood lily that popped up this week..
But that is by the way. On the long weekend, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, which this year focused on women in the kitchen. My friend Emma organised the tickets to a day of Masterclasses and you choose which of the chefs/cooks you would like to see in action.
The first chef was Zakary Pelaccio (don't worry I'd never heard of him either) who runs a restaurant in New York called The Fatty Crab. He was a bit of a dude, and I love that he puts a lamb on a spit in a laneway behind his restaurant illegally. He has a flair for mixing east and west with brow-raising combinations that work every time.
The pictorial interlude above is because I'm not allowed to pinch any photos of the day, but you can have a look here.
Next was George Calombaris and his delightful mother, Mary. Emma's husband Matt was the MC and it was entertaining to see George and Matt ribbing each other with genuine affection and respect. Mrs C cooked up some homestyle Greek/Cypriot dishes and George did a completely out-there cheffy show off dish which looked impossibly difficult.
These are my rather lovely new chooks. Look at the Jack Russell thinking they look mighty tasty.
After lunch we saw Anna Gare, who you may remember was one of the judges on Junior Masterchef. She was a hoot and we suspect may have had a glass or two of wine at lunch. She has been a caterer in Perth and cooked some lovely dishes that were easy and very accessible. One of her amusing observations was that when it comes to food every family has its PITA (pain in the ...) who is a fussy eater. How true.
The last star of the day was the luminous Nigella Lawson. She really is quite stunning in the flesh and I would say that amazing porcelain skin has never seen a ray of sunshine. I am a fan of hers, mostly because she cooks like I do and has a faithful love of butter (she called it "moisturiser from within"). She was charming, funny and intelligent, and I loved that she said that food had been taken over by chefs and too much fuss was made of technique. Just cook...
The food she cooked was very basic, pasta with vegemite (!), chicken in a pot and a coffee walnut cake. Her comment on the vegemite pasta was something along the lines of "there are people who wouldn't like this, but would you want to feed them?"!
Of course I bought her book:
which has lots of simple homely recipes and some that are positively weird, for example Grasshopper (as in 80's cocktail) Pie. It looks as bad as it sounds. There are good tips for freezing and using leftovers (her chooks would starve like mine, if she had any) and lots of quick and easy recipes.
All in all a great day and a credit to the organisers. There were lots of other presenters who I would have liked to have seen, so will get in early next year.