Home Books Recipe Stash Cooking Tips Blog About Julie Appearances Newsletter Connections

New Publications
New Zealand Reviews
International Reviews
New Zealand Food & Wine, Books About New Zealand
New Zealand and Australia Book Reviews

The French Café Cookbook
By Simon Wright
Published by Random House RRP $99.99
Like the restaurant itself, this book oozes class, sophistication and attention to detail and is testament to the dedication of Simon Wright and his partner Creghan Molloy Wright. Between them they have hoisted The French Café to the top echelon of fine dining in New Zealand. Wright’s story of the rescue of The French Café and its rebirth reveals a fascinating part of Auckland’s dining history. And his background – leaving school in the UK at 15 to work as a sales assistant, to becoming our most revered chef – is something to chew on. You may never cook a thing from this book – it features more than 100 restaurant recipes – but it is beautiful and lavish and simply lovely to behold.

classic e'cco
By Philip Johnson
Published by Murdoch Books RRP $54.95
If you missed out on New Zealand-born Johnson's previous books e'cco recipes from an Australian bistro (co-authored with Kris Riordan) and e'cco 2: more recipes from an Australian bistro, you're in for a treat with this collection of 250 of the best tried-and-true recipes from Johnson and his feted Brisbane restaurant e'cco. His style calls for exquisitely fresh ingredients, cooked with care, and probably falls somewhere in the aspirational realms of cookery for most of us – the sort of things we'll have a go at over the weekend. How do salad of prosciutto, grilled pears, hazelnuts and gorgonzola, buffalo mozzarella with caponata and garlic bruschetta, salmon with pickled red onion, fennel a la grecque and salsa verde and coconut tart with pineapple, mint and crème fraiche tickle your fancy?

My China
By Kylie Kwong
Published by Penguin Books RRP $89.95
Kylie Kwong writes very good cook books, but this one, cookbook cum-travelogue, covering her trek through China to discover her ancestral home interspersed with a collection of 80 new recipes, is the best. It's an outstanding, substantive book, brought to life not just with Kwong’s chirpy and well-informed dialogue, and the commitment of her personal pilgrimage (the villagers pebbling the path in her honour when she visits her grandfather’s birthplace is moving) but with a abundance of magnificent images, which add layers of understanding to the text.

Yes, she admits, it is a book about traveling, but, she adds, 'it is also a book that describes another kind of journey, one that unknots the complex mesh of heritage, family, identity, culture, memory and connection, the sort of journey that enriches lives, regardless of where we come from, or where we now find ourselves.'

By Frank Camorra & Richard Cornish
Published by Murdoch Books RRP $49.99
I'm in love with this book, with its earthy, gutsy food and tactile matt paper, but most of all with the stories, the little asides, the knowledge. There's a palpable vibrancy within its pages, best expressed in the book's title taken from the movement known as 'La Movida Madrilena, the reawakening of the spirit of youth' which occurred after the death of the dictator Franco in 1975. MoVida is also the name of Camorra’s tapas bar in Melbourne. Spanish-born Australian-raised Camorra blends traditional family recipes, many given a contemporary twist, with his own modern creations to much acclaim. The more you read this book, the more you will get out of it. And, here's a trick, if you remove the jacket from the book and open it up, you’ll find you have a rather stunning poster. How's that for a marketing tool!

Turquoise – A Chef's Travels in Turkey
By Greg and Lucy Malouff
Published by Hardie Grant Books
Distributed by Macmillan Publishers
RRP $69.95
Lebanese-born Greg Malouf and ex-wife Lucy have previously collaborated on several award-winning titles and while there is no disputing that they do excellent books, Turquoise is their finest yet: 356 pages of exotic, interesting and challenging recipes, pages and pages of well-researched informative text and hundreds of photographs of food, people and places which on their own tell a thousand stories. The Malouf’s are clear to spell out that some of the recipes are definitely authentic, while others are their interpretations of what they experienced during their Turkish travels. This doesn’t detract from the book, and in fact makes the recipes more accessible. You’ll find Turkish classics such as manti (little dumplings), pide, kebabs, cacik (yoghurt and cucumber) and tarator (nut sauce), but much else which will surprise and hopefully delight.

Secrets of the Red Lantern
By Pauline Nguyen
Published by Murdoch Books RRP $64.99
Pauline Nguyen weaves the bittersweet story of her family's escape from Vietnam and their arrival in Australia as refugees. Fitting in was difficult, especially for her parents, but food was the one thread which held her family together. Refreshingly honest, Nguyen exposes the racism that existed in Australia 30 years ago, and details the long haul to becoming respected restaurateurs.

While Secrets features around 130 authentic recipes and many photographs of finished dishes, it's the family photographs scattered throughout and the story they tell that makes this bookcompelling.

Real Flavours
By Glynn Christian
Published by Hardie Grant Books
Distributed by Southern Publishing Group
RRP $54.99
Here's a reference book of the finest order. Real Flavours, the handbook of gourmet & deli ingredients will be hugely appealing to food lovers not only for its well researched information, but because the teller of the tale, New Zealander Glynn Christian, is no gastronomic slouch. He expresses himself concisely and effectively, too, proffering an opinion on everything. There are no shades of grey with Christian, as off he goes extolling or berating manufacturers and delivering well informed, humorous or cutting asides. It's rare to find such a strong voice that is able to sustain authority and credibility, tempered with warmth and humility, throughout a big book like this - but Christian does it, peppering the text with enough quirky stuff to lighten the load.

He delves into basic foods such as fats and sugars, breads and grains, chocolate, tea, coffee, herbs, vinegars, cheeses, eggs, fish and more, explaining the origins of ingredients, how they are used, how to store them and how to enjoy them. He's big on enjoyment, urging us to eat less, but more of delicious-tasting foods as a way of satisfying our souls. Sounds all right to me.

Although you could curl up in bed with Real Flavours, it's a bulky 560 pages, and an armchair might be more comfortable, a glass of wine within reach. Take it in little bites and savour each mouthful. There's plenty here to mull over ...or wind you up.

By Greg and Lucy Malouf
Published by Hardie Grant
Distributed by Southern Publishing Group
RRP $75.00 Hardback
First printed in 1999, Arabesque, a hardcover ingredients-orientated recipe book, has been given a design makeover and its 336 pages now include an extended range of colour photographs on matt paper (the original edition had fewer colour plates on glossy paper), grouped together in three lots. It is word-for-word the same book, but if you missed it first time around and like learning about the background of food, particularly with an exotic bent, you'll enjoy Arabesque immensely. It's also a great reference book.

   © 2010 Julie Biuso
Contact | Press Room | Site Map