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Postcard From Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Postcard From Dubai, United Arab Emirates

LISTEN HERE I'm guilty of having flown through Dubai numerous times without ever leaving its enormous and busy airport. But this podcast episode has captured my imagination with its tales of diverse international cuisines, Arabian desert landscapes and hidden gems in ancient stone laneways. We hear from Farida Ahmed, who grew up in Dubai and runs a food tour business, that Dubai is much more than its well-known ultra-modern skyline. Farida’s postcard takes us beyond the urban landscape as she explains how we can best explore the city and the desert beyond. Dubai is a relatively small city with a big city feel due to its diverse and immense expatriate population. People from around the world call Dubai home, bringing their own culture and cuisine to the city. To understand that Dubai is not just a modern city, Farida suggests you: explore its historic quarter including the Dubai Museum and many quirky art galleries. take an abra (traditional boat) ride for an affordable tour of the historic Dubai Creek, which divides the city in two and eventually empties into the Arabian Gulf. visit an archeological site discovered in the 1960s that only recently opened to the public, and visit the Dubai Frame at sunset to see both the new and old parts of Dubai as the sky darkens and the city lights up. For a deeper understanding of the indigenous people of the area and their culture, she recommends a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Centre for Cultural Understanding. Farida says it's a good idea to visit Dubai outside of the summer months when it is too hot to enjoy daytime activities. High daytime temperatures also mean it's a city that comes alive at night when it's much cooler, she says. For a unique desert experience, she suggests seeking out a company that has access to a part of the Arabian Desert called the Desert Conservation Reserve. These tours introduce you to the people and wildlife of the desert but only a few companies (one is Royal Shaheen) have access to this protected zone, and they are strictly managed to do no harm to the environment. Farida also recommends taking the opportunity to get outside Dubai for a road-trip to the other surrounding emirates which, while only a short drive away, are all very different to each other. The food scene in Dubai is vast and diverse with food from all around the world. Her recommendations include: Jumeirah Lakes Towers, home to everything from Korean to Italian. The Arabian Tea House, housed in a traditional home that once belonged to a pearl merchant, where you can try the indigenous cuisine. International City, Dubai's unofficial Chinatown, for restaurants that specialise in cuisine from all of China's provinces. Asado, an Argentinian steakhouse in downtown. As general manager of a food tour company, of course Farida recommends a walking food tour as a good way to get access to the more out of the way culinary gems to be found in the back streets of Dubai's old town. There's a lot more in this episode including camel milk chocolate, a coffee museum and the area's first farmed oysters. You'll have to listen to the episode to get the rest of Farida's insider tips on how to get beyond the guide books and tourist traps on a visit to her home town. Perhaps, like me, you'll be leaving the airport when you next fly through Dubai. Farida's Tour Company Frying Pan Adventures also has a podcast of its own, called Deep Fried, in which they explore food history, culture and recipes, and you can follow them on social at Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Say Don't Slay - Why Diners Need to be Kinder

Say Don't Slay - Why Diners Need to be Kinder

We all have that friend who, no matter what life throws at her, however tough things get, puts on her lippy, squares her shoulders and just gets on with it. The hospitality industry is that friend. Despite the odds - the paltry 4% profit margins, (in good times) the constant 'finding-training-losing' staff cycle, the rocketing rents and the utter wrecking ball that that has been Covid, our restaurants are miraculously still here, their owners putting on their show faces day-after-day, to perform, with unfailing grace, a service that greatly enriches our lives. Yet, if social media and online 'critiques' are anything to go by, diners want their meals served with a side of hospitality workers' bleeding hearts - an extra pound of flesh for their fifty bucks. "So often, when those of us in the industry get together, the first twenty minutes is spent de-briefing, trying to heal each other's wounds and put each other back together again," says Naomi 'Nims' Zavackas, chef and former owner of the highly regarded Jam Pantry in Greenslopes, Brisbane. Concerned this unrelenting onslaught of negativity has reached tipping point and worried for an industry that’s already on its knees, Nims is making it her business to educate the posters of negative reviews with her "Say don't Slay" campaign. Running throughout May it’s designed to open a dialogue between diners and hospitality workers, to give diners an understanding of the deep and long-lasting impact a negative social media post can have not just on hospitality workers’ livelihoods but their mental health. "Every time a restaurateur gets a media notification, they panic about what's coming in, what kind of abuse is coming their way and how they might be about to be ripped to shreds online," Zavackas says. And the nail in the coffin is that there is very little they can do – the process of taking down malicious posts or reviews is lengthy, with the onus of proof resting on the venue. "Say don't Slay" is taking on the type of negative feedback that when delivered online after the fact, negates the opportunity for any customer issues to be rectified in-house," Zavackas says. Rather, the campaign encourages diners to address any issues they have face to face when at the venue. “If diners don’t feel they can do that, then a respectful email later, telling them what happened. Nine out of ten times they’ll get a positive response from the owner and offer to fix it.” To date over 100 venues have signed up with more coming onboard. On May 15, participating venues will participate in 'No Comment Day' appealing to diners via social to speak to the staff face to face if they are in the venue or by phone or email rather if they have an than reviewing or commenting online. And next time you're in your favourite venue, why not tell them what a great job they're doing, then go to their Facebook page and leave a positive review - even the toughest of the tough need a five star hug sometimes. *****

Labneh Cheesecake with Roasted Apricots, Honey and Cardamom by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley

Labneh Cheesecake with Roasted Apricots, Honey and Cardamom by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley

Cheesecake is not, traditionally, a dessert eaten in Palestine, but all the ingredients are: the labneh and filo, for example, the nuts and floral orange blossom. The base was Noor’s idea: blitzing up the sheets of filo to make crumbs. Mixing this with the nuts calls baklava to mind. The result, we think, is distinct and special. Getting ahead: If you are making your own labneh (which couldn’t be easier: it just requires getting organised a day ahead), then it needs to be made 1–5 days before using. To get the 500g of labneh required, you’ll need to start with 850g of Greek-style yoghurt, mixed with ⅔ teaspoon of salt (see page 48 for the recipe). The base and cheesecake are best baked the day before serving, so that it can chill in the fridge overnight. The apricots are best roasted and put on top of the cake on the day of serving. Once assembled, the cake is best eaten the same day. Playing around: Rose water or vanilla extract can be used instead of the orange blossom water, if you like. If using vanilla in the filling, use 1½ teaspoons of vanilla paste or the scraped seeds of ½ a vanilla pod, in addition to the vanilla extract already there. Lots of other fruits – stone fruits or otherwise – work as well as the apricots here. Peaches, plums and cherries are also good, as are strawberries. As ever, with nuts, other nuts can be used apart from those we suggest: Brazil nuts, for example, or macadamia nuts. They both work well in any combination in the base: just keep the net weight the same. Serves ten to twelve Base · 5 sheets of good-quality filo pastry (about 110g) · 90g unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing · 40g walnut halves · 60g pistachio kernels · 1½ tbsp plain flour · 50g caster sugar · 10 cardamom pods, shells discarded and seeds finely crushed in a pestle and mortar (or ¾ tsp ground cardamom) · 1 tsp ground cinnamon · ¼ tsp flaked sea salt Filling · 500g labneh (either shop-bought or 850g of Greek-style yoghurt, see headnote and page 48, if making your own) · 500g ricotta · 210g caster sugar · ⅔ tsp flaked sea salt · 5 eggs (2 whole, and 3 with yolks and whites separated: you will only be using the yolks of these) · 2 tsp finely grated orange zest · 1 tbsp orange blossom water · 1¼ tsp vanilla extract · 1½ tbsp cornflour Topping · 75g runny honey · 2 tsp orange blossom water · 40ml orange juice · 6 cardamom pods, shells on, seeds roughly bashed together in a pestle and mortar · 350g ripe apricots, stones removed, cut into 6 wedges · A small handful of picked mint leaves, to garnish (optional) Preheat the oven to 160°C fan. Grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm springform baking tin and set aside. To make the base, lay out one sheet of filo on a clean work surface. Measure out a third of the butter – this will be used for brushing the sheets – and set the remaining 60g aside for later. Brush the sheet until well coated, then top with the second filo sheet. Continue in this fashion until all the filo and butter has been used up, finishing the last layer with a coating of butter. Transfer the filo stack to a parchment-lined baking tray and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes (or longer) before breaking apart into large shards. In two batches, place the shards in a food processor and blitz for about 10 seconds, to form fine crumbs. Place in a medium bowl, then add the nuts to the processor. Blitz for about 20 seconds, until fine but not powdery. Add the nuts to the filo along with the flour, sugar, spices, flaked salt and remaining two-thirds of butter and mix to combine. Tip the mixture into the base of the lined tin and press it down firmly and evenly so that the whole base is covered. Bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. To make the filling, clean out the food processor and add the labneh, ricotta, sugar and salt. Pulse for just a few seconds, to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the eggs, egg yolks (the spare whites can be saved for something else), orange zest, orange blossom water, vanilla extract and cornflour. Pulse for about 15 seconds, to combine, then pour the mixture into the cake tin. Bake for 60–70 minutes, or until the cake is beginning to take on some colour around the edges but still has a slight wobble in the middle. Remove from the oven and leave to cool at room temperature for an hour before refrigerating for at least 4 hours or (preferably) overnight. On the day of serving, preheat the oven to 200°C fan and prepare the topping. Put the honey, orange blossom water, orange juice and bashed cardamom pods into a small saucepan and place on a medium-high heat. Cook for 4–6 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture has reduced by half and is beginning to form a thin syrup. Spread the apricots out on a parchment-lined baking tray, on their side, and drizzle over half the syrup. Bake for about 8 minutes, turning the apricots over halfway through baking, until completely softened but still retaining their shape. Remove from the oven and set aside for about 30 minutes, until completely cool. Just before serving (or up to 1 hour, if you want to prepare ahead), release the cake from its tin and transfer to a round serving platter. Top with the apricots – there should not be any overlap – and drizzle with the remaining syrup. The bashed cardamom pods can be used for garnish as well – they look nice – but these are not to be eaten. Scatter over the mint leaves, if using, and serve. Extracted from FALASTIN: A COOKBOOK by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley (Ebury Press, $49.99). Photography by Jenny Zarins.

Episode 67: New Zealand Experiences You Shouldn't Miss

Episode 67: New Zealand Experiences You Shouldn't Miss

LISTEN HERE Whether you’re headed to New Zealand or just dreaming about a future visit, you’ll want to listen to this ExtraVirgin Food & Travel episode. We were lucky enough to have the extremely knowledgeable Stephanie Holmes on the podcast for this episode on New Zealand. A British-born, now Auckland local, Stephanie is the travel editor of The New Zealand Herald and presenter of the podcast Trip Notes, so is perfectly placed to talk us through the can’t-misses of Aotearoa. Pic: Miles Holden

Of course, we only got to scratch the surface of this incredibly diverse country, but we did get to hear about some pretty special places from Stephanie, including the hottest restaurant in Auckland, (where you’ll have to book months in advance) a secret bar, can’t-miss art exhibitions, where to ski and the best walking tracks, luxury stays, wellness retreats and wineries, as well as where to see the country’s iconic kiwi. Pic: Chris McLennan We hope you find this chat with Stephanie as inspiring as we did. You can follow Stephanie at @holmesstephanie on instagram, listen to her on her podcast Trip Notes or follow the New Zealand Herald insta account at @nzhtravel Pic Miles Holden Just some of the sights and experiences Stephanie talks about include: Wellness retreats: Aro Ha and Camp Glenorchy Accommodation: Cape Kidnappers, Kauri Cliffs, The Sofitel,Auckland, The Park Hyatt , Te Awa Glamping Art & History: Auckland Art Gallery, Wellington's National Library a Food & drink: Hiakai,, Ada, Daisy's Walking : Routeburn Track, Hollyford Track Links to some of Stephanie's New Zealand Herald stories Camp Glenorchy Hiakai and dining in Wellington Aro Ha Retreat Cape Kidnappers Kauri Cliffs Wellington

Postcard From Madrid, Spain

Postcard From Madrid, Spain

LISTEN HERE In this captivating dispatch, we hear from Australian-born writer Juan-Carlo Tomás who explains why he loves life in Madrid. Juan-Carlo takes us through a typical day in the life of a Madrileño. And there's plenty to love - from coffee, long lunches, and siesta to museum visits, tapas and late, late dinners. Juan-Carlo moved to Madrid to explore his family history, improve his Spanish and explore its food and other cultural attractions. To get to know the city and understand its nuances, he initially moved to a different neighbourhood - or barrio - month by month. Juan-Carlo says the bustling historic marketplace is the community heart of each neighbourhood and is an excellent way to get to know your neighbours. People come to shop, chat, share snacks and drink a little wine or Sherry. Juan-Carlo's favourite markets include: Mercado de la Cebada, the old barley market in the Barrio de La Latina, for its fish market and its location in the oldest and most romantic part of the city Mercado de Anton Martin, a much smaller market in Barrio de las Letras, that boasts some of the most exciting food to be found in Madrid Mercado de Santa Maria de la Cabeza, in the south of the city in Barrio Arganzuela, where elderly residents pass their time at cafes, and tourists are rarely seen. And Mercado de Vallhermoso in Barrio Chamberi in the north where cutting edge Michelin-starred food sits side by side with poultry sellers, spice shops and fishmongers. You’ll have to listen to the episode to hear which city market he says is a popular tourist trap to be avoided, and about the dishes that are emblematic of Madrid, but also where to get an authentic Aussie “flat white” for when that’s just what’s needed. A popular Madrid pastime in the late afternoon, after the markets close, is to stroll and visit one of Madrid’s world-famous museums, and Juan-Carlo shares a hot tip on a unique and moving museum experience that can only be had in Madrid. There’s plenty more in this episode to whet your appetite for Madrid, the Spain of royalty, romance, literature and drama, and where jamón is a food category of its own. Click here to listen.

Episode 66: Have Bike Will Travel

Episode 66: Have Bike Will Travel

LISTEN HERE Award winning travel writer Tracey Croke is a fan of 'roughty-toughty' travel - adventurous, off-the-beaten track journeys, preferably taken on two wheels. In this episode of ExtraVirgin Food and Travel Podcast we talk to Tracey about how her love of bike travel developed and her international adventures, including cycling among the wildlife in Botswana, travelling the Masar Ibrahmi Al-Khalil in Palestine, traversing the Wakan corridor in Afghanistan, and crossing the Talas Range in Kyrgyzstan. We also chat with Tracey about how to approach bike travel if you're a beginner, including buying a mountain bike and getting bike fit as well as the best rides in Australia. We also ask Tracey about her international bike travel wish list. You can check out some of Tracey's writing on bike travel in a new book: Ride, Cycle the World watch her on her Youtube channel and follow her adventure at @traceycroke on insta pic Toby Maudsely pic Toby Maudsely pic Toby Maudsely

Spicy Chinese-style Pork Ribs

Spicy Chinese-style Pork Ribs

From Our Kitchen to Yours by CWA, Vic Serves 4 2 kg pork spare ribs
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sweet sherry
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
½ cup (125 ml) soy sauce
½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper
thinly sliced spring onion, to serve Cut the ribs into serving pieces. Combine all ingredients, except the ribs and spring onion, in a small bowl. Place ribs in a dish and pour over marinade, turn to coat, then cover and let stand in the fridge for several hours, or overnight if possible. Turn ribs occasionally. Preheat oven to moderately hot (210°C). Place a wire rack over a baking dish and place ribs on rack, reserving marinade. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes, or until well browned. Baste the ribs with reserved marinade frequently during cooking. Garnish with spring onion and serve with steamed rice. Images and text from From Our Kitchen to Yours by The Country Women’s Association of Victoria, photography by Cath Muscat. Murdoch Books RRP $36.99.

Where The Wild Things Roam - An African Adventure

Where The Wild Things Roam - An African Adventure

A warthog is blocking my way. Of all the animals I could have encountered on the walk from my villa at Sabi Sabi Reserve to the main lodge, he’s possibly the least dangerous, but his unnerving stare, pugilistic stance and the stained ivory tusks that look like they could pierce my calf as easily as a knife through butter convince me to take a wide berth. And so I detour off the path and speedwalk through the knee-high sun-bleached grass, eyes darting and heart thumping, hoping like hell that something more fearsome isn’t going to spring out on me. It turns out there's far less peering through binoculars and a lot more up-close encounters than I was expecting on safari. Really close encounters. With safari lodges generally set right in the animals’ habitat, guests are just that and expected to look out for, and give way to their wildlife hosts. My first sighting happens barely half an hour after touching down on the airstrip at Kapama Karula, a private reserve set between South Africa’s Blyde River Valley and Kruger National Park. Walking into my villa, I set my bags on the floor and look up, freezing at the scene being played out behind the cinematic floor- -to-ceiling expanse of glass. What I learn later are a ‘tower’ of giraffes are browsing the thorns of a tall acacia tree just outside my villa. We regard each other - I'm transfixed by the long muscles in their elegant necks contracting and expanding as they chew, they are alert but not overly concerned it seems. We stay like this for four, five, six… heartbeats more and I reach for my camera and click a few times before they decide they’ve had enough of my voyeurism and set off in one perfectly choregraphed catwalk stalk. There are two herds of around 40 African savanna elephants on Kapama’s reserve, and that afternoon, we come across a family of them wrapping their dextrous trunks around trees, resounding cracks piercing the silence of the bush as they pull them down. Unexpectedly, one breaks off from the herd, and still chomping on her prized bough, fans her ears and starts heading towards us at a trot. “Sit still, sit still,’ Matthew our guide whispers “she will pass by”. But she doesn’t. She comes to within an arm’s length of the jeep, where we sit like statues and regards us as she continues to chew, so close we can smell her grassy breath and see the individual bristles on her skin. Finally, deciding we are no threat, she moves off, the rest of the herd following. We also see lions lounging around a waterhole with their young, looking like harmless overgrown domestic cats taking a sunbath and and bush bash through to a copse, where we’re fortunate enough to witness mating leopards, the deep growl as the male mounts the female reverberating through our bodies like the bass at a rock concert. Once these animals would have been ‘fair game’, for not just hunters, but poachers. These days many reserves like Kapama and our second safari destination, Sabi Sabi have their own armed anti-poaching units who patrol the high-risk areas protecting endangered species, and with them, the livelihoods their existence brings to many of the local villagers. SABI SABI Set within one of South Africa's oldest and largest proclaimed reserves– Sabi Sands Wildtuin, Sabi Sabi consider themselves custodians of the bush around them and champions of sustainable luxury. The terracotta-hued 'Earth Lodge', the most indulgent of their 4 camps, houses a bar, restaurant, spa and library and made from natural materials and colours of the land, blends in with the surrounding bush. Accommodation is in luxe villas literally built into the earth, their mud roofs like giant anthills, barely intruding on the landscape. As it’s unfenced, the wildlife roam the reserve as they please. Elephants have been known to come to drink or bathe in the villas’ plunge pools; one of our group has to extend her workout at the glass-walled gym when an elephant herd decide to hang around outside, and staff tell us a slightly alarming story about a lion who dragged his kill onto the lodge’s rooftop to devour at his leisure. - Which is why I’m relieved to encounter nothing less fearsome than Pumbaa and his family on the walks back to my villa. Our drives however, with a tracker and a guide give us the opportunity to safely observe slightly wilder wildlife. We come across a very laid-back pride of lions and every possible version of antelope, from curly-horned kudos to the elegant impala with its striped rump. We take our morning coffee close to a large herd of grazing zebras and thanks to some skilful tracking, find a white rhino and her baby. ZIMBABWE You won’t find any rhino in neighbouring Zimbabwe’s Zambesi National Park, just a short plane trip from South Africa, but you will find plenty of hippos. Just 15 minutes from the incomparable Victoria Falls, Drift Lodge offers the ultimate ‘glamping’ adventure on the reed-fringed Zambesi river and the perfect end point to an African adventure. The lodge’s mission statement: “We have borrowed this land from the elephant, impala, birds and buffalo and we are dedicated to treading as lightly as possible on their beautiful patch of earth,” is evidenced in the sustainable practices of the property and prolific wildlife. Elephants tramp through the camp on their way to the river for an evening drink and troupes of vervet monkeys, the wide-eyed young riding their mothers backs, holding on with tiny determined fistfuls of fur scatter at our approach. A sunrise boat trip, when the Zambezi’s surface is mirror-like and the sun tints the riparian landscape gentle hues of apricot and peach is an evocative time for an aquatic safari. Our knowledgeable guide enthusiastically points out many examples of the colourful birdlife guaranteed to excite twitchers as well as crocodiles hauling themselves up to the bank to sunbathe in the warmth of the morning's first rays. It's the hippos, however. we want to see. The statistic about hippos killing more humans in Africa than any other animal is a truism you’ll hear often repeated and we circle groups of them, known, as ‘crashes,’ with caution. They yawn, not a response to the early morning, we’re told, but a territorial warning gesture, eyeing us, before slowly sinking under the river's brown surface leaving just a trace of bubbles. The following day is our last and there’s an excursion to the legendary Victoria Falls where the Zambesi empties with athunderous fury down sheer cliffs. Even if this time of a long dry season, it's an awe-inspiring sight, the perfect endpoint to a once in a lifetime trip. And then it’s time to farewell mother Africa. As the plane banks above the bush, I reflect that while the focus these days may have away from tourists intent on ticking off ‘big’ lists and towards education and conservation, there’s still an all too human life-changing thrill in seeing the velvety spotted coat of a leopard, the baggy grey of an elephant or massive stained incisors of a hippo. Even more rewarding is knowing that Africa’s caretakers are doing their best to ensure that they’ll be here for future generations. This story was originally commissioned by Virgin Voyeur Magazine before the pandemic put international travel on hold. Natascha Mirosch was a guest of Sabi Sabi, Kampala, Old Drift Lodge and South African Airways.

Postcard From Invercargill, New Zealand

Postcard From Invercargill, New Zealand

LISTEN HERE In this week's Postcard episode, we hear from Invercargill, New Zealand's southern-most city. It's a timely postcard, given the opening of the Covid-19 travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand this week. Linc Pottinger fled his hometown as a young adult only to find himself drawn back and enamoured of its four-seasons-in-one-day weather, student town energy, and gateway proximity to incredible natural attractions including Stewart Island and the Fiordland National Park. Linc shares his favourite way to eat the local delicacy, wild bluff oysters, and explains why he’s glad to call Invercargill home once more. His reasons include enormous natural beauty, quirky historic traits and some of the world's best auto and transport museums and festivals. You'll hear why Invercargill is the home of women's suffrage, and why the locals call it the "City of Light and Water". We love hearing from our Postcard guests about why they love where they live, and hope this Postcard From Invercargill inspires your wanderlust - or at least lets you armchair-travel for a short while.

Episode 65: Sustainable Seafood - How to Choose, Cook and Enjoy Responsibly

Episode 65: Sustainable Seafood - How to Choose, Cook and Enjoy Responsibly

LISTEN HERE We wanted to know more about sustainable seafood: how can we be sure the seafood we buy is sustainable, Is it best to buy local, and is frozen okay or should you insist on fresh? So we turned to the "sage of seafood", John Susman of Fishtales in Sydney, Australia who has more than 30 years' experience as a seafood providore, marketer and educator, and is across all the seafood trends - only to discover how much we didn't know about sustainable seafood and the world's fisheries. John started his career in seafood working with fishmongers in the seafood markets of Paris before realising he could bring what he learnt in France to the Australian seafood industry. John explains that while much of the world's fisheries are indeed in danger of being over-fished, Australia and New Zealand, with their stringent regulations, set the global standards for sustainable fishing. This means we can be confident when choosing Australian or kiwi seafood that it is sustainably fished. He also explains what sustainability brand marks to look for when choosing seafoods from other countries. According to John, while fresh-caught seafood is amazing to eat, we shouldn't be afraid of frozen seafood that's been perfectly handled and stored at the correct temperature. Listen to the episode here to learn more, and get his top tip for getting the most out of your seafood budget, as well as avoiding waste, by adopting a nose to fin approach. John shared his favourite quick and affordable seafood recipe and talked about The Australian Fish and Seafood Cookbook, which he co-wrote with friends who happen to be the country's most respected authorities on seafood. Considered the definitive guide to cooking great fish and featuring 130 recipes, acclaimed seafood chef Neil Perry says it's "the only book you'll ever need on the topic". We hope you enjoy our chat with John - and learn as much - as we did.

Quick Stew of Mussels, Vegetables and White Beans

Quick Stew of Mussels, Vegetables and White Beans

Once you’ve prepared the vegetables, you’ll be amazed how quickly you can whip up this really interesting, really filling one pot wonder. It’s a great dish if the boys are over to watch the cricket or footy. From: Australian Fish and Seafood Bookbook Ingredients: 4 tablespoons olive oil 2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped 1 medium carrot diced 1 leg of celery diced 50 grams pancetta, diced 1 small onion, finely diced ½-1 medium red chilli, more to taste 2 kilos fresh live Kinkawooka pot ready mussels, drained ½ cup white wine 1 x 440 gram can Italian diced tomatoes 1 x 440 gram can cannellini beans, drained About 12 basil leaves, finely sliced ½ cup chopped flat leaf parsley Heat a large pot on your wok burner to very hot then add half the oil and the carrot and celery. Remove with a slotted spoon to a small bowl as soon as the vegetables soften which will only be a matter of minutes. Add the remaining oil, pancetta, garlic, onion and chilli and cook until the onion softens and the pancetta begins to colour then add the white wine and tomatoes. Add the drained mussels and stir to coat then place a lid on the pot and bring to the boil. Shake the pot occasionally and when the mussels begin to open add the cannellini beans, cooked carrot and celery, basil, parsley and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, gently folding so the beans don’t break up. Ladle into big bowls and serve with crusty bread. Serves 4.

Postcard from: Puglia, Italy

Postcard from: Puglia, Italy

LISTEN HERE Have you ever wondered where Italians go to holiday in their own country? The answer is Puglia, an unspoiled southern region of Italy at the 'heel' of the boot. With the Adriatic on one side and the Ionian sea on the other, it has miles of ruggedly beautiful beaches, while the interior has fortified hilltop towns overlooking olive groves and ancient conical 'trulli' houses. In this episode of ExtraVirgin Postcards, we talk with Silvestro Silvestori, who owns cooking school "The Awaiting Table," operating out of the gorgeous baroque city of Lecce, as well as holding classes in a castle 40 minutes away in the countryside. Silvestro, who's currently waiting out Italian lockdown in the castle, tells us how a little of the history of Puglia and the Salentino peninsula, talks about the local cuisine and wines and gives us his recommendation for of his favourite places to try some traditional dishes of Puglia. Some of his restaraurant/trattoria mentions include: Nonna Tetti in Lecce Bros Lecce's first Michelin starred restaurant L'Altabaffo in Otranto Mare Chiaro in Gallipolli