A few of my favourite foodie things

The Best of Alison Holst at Christchurch City LibrariesNew Zealand Book Month has given me cause to reflect on my fave New Zealand reads. While I’m at a loss to decide which fiction title is my number one, there are three non-fiction works that catapult to the top of my list. New Zealand fiction could be described as dark, raw and cynical but Kiwi cookbooks are some of the most accessible, easy-to-read and downright yummy cookbooks on the planet.

My first cookbook ever was given to me by my mother when I left home. It was The Best of Alison Holst now known fondly as “The Red Bible”.  I’ve used this book as many times as I’ve had hot dinners. My first copy became so splattered and manky after the first ten years it sat oozing oil and shedding breadcrumbs on the bookshelf. Although I knew I had to throw it out, I just couldn’t bear be without it. Fortunately, this best selling legend was reprinted a couple of years back and I grabbed another copy from the bookshop. My new copy is fast becoming as loved and battered (literally) as the first.

When I was going through my yuppy stage, I bought a slim volume called Smart Food for Busy People by Annabel Langbein and this book made a huge impact on me.  From the time I first opened the pages it started work its magic in my kitchen and I loved what it did for my culinary repertoire. The recipes had the new New Zealand vibe I was experiencing in restaurants at the time – crisp textures, emphasis on fresh produce, an influence from Asian cuisine, light and healthy food with flavour. I cooked recipe after recipe and wowed friends and family. Of course Annabel has gone on to host her own very successful television show and produce more quality, up-to-the-minute cookbooks but Smart Food is still my favourite.

Richard Till's Kiwi Kitchen at Christchurch City LibrariesRichard Till opened Espresso 124 on the Strip before it even became the Strip. It was the restaurant on Oxford Terrace around which all the others gathered as the food scene exploded into life in Christchurch in the late 80s. We loved Espresso 124. The food was brilliant, the atmosphere was charged and you could see Richard every Friday night hurling pans around the kitchen and dodging flames as he seared perfect steaks. The man’s a legend. His cookbooks capture his authentic Kiwi style and no-fuss approach to great food.

These are my favourites and there are plenty more – Al Brown, Ray McVinnie, Peter Gordon, Celia Hay, Julie Biuso, Fleur Sullivan … New Zealand has some of the best food writers on the planet. No doubt about it.

War & rock n roll & a fab prize – The Press Christchurch Writers Festival

How is this for a fabulous literary night out? On Tuesday 14 May, The Press Christchurch Writers Festival brings you Sir Max Hastings and Sylvie Simmons:

Sir Max Hastings: Accounts from Abroad
Sir Max Hastings is an author, journalist and broadcaster whose work has appeared in every British national newspaper.
(Search our catalogue for Max Hastings’ books).

Search catalogue for All hell let loose   Search the catalogue for Editor   Search catalogue for Finest Years

Sylvie Simmons: Stories from the Life of Leonard Cohen
‘I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen’ is the definitive account of an extraordinary life. Sylvie Simmons, biographer, shares stories, insights and songs in this evening of recollections on Cohen.
(Search our catalogue for books by Sylvie Simmons)
Search the catalogue for I'm your man  Search catalogue for Neil Young

Not only do you you get to listen to these authors, there is a Auckland Writers and Readers Festival Competition. The prize includes:

  • Three nights’ accommodation and breakfast at Hotel de Brett, Auckland for two.
  • The nights are: Thursday 16, Friday 17, Saturday 18 May.
  • A Take Ten concession pass, which can be redeemed for 10 tickets to any core festival sessions (excluding special events and workshops)
  • Two additional tickets to the NZ Listener Gala Night, Thursday 16 May, 2013
  • Value: $1,430

Visit The Press Christchurch Writers Festival to book tickets for the sessions, and enter the competition.

Boys in the library: Picturing Canterbury

Schoolboys in the non-fiction section Canterbury Public Library

Schoolboys in the non-fiction section Canterbury Public Library ca. 1953-1960

A home companion : my year of living like my grandmother – New Zealand e-book month

Wendyl Nissen is well-known as a straight talking journalist whose career has seen her edit top-selling magazines, produce ground-breaking television documentaries and take on talkback radio callers without batting a heavily made-up eyelid.

But what happened when she let three chickens called Marigold, Hillary and Yoko into her life on 24 October 2008?

A Home Companion details Wendyl’s year-long journey towards self sufficiency and life as a green goddess.

The book details each green goddess discovery as it happens – both the triumphs and the disasters – while Wendyl slowly sheds her corporate life and takes to wearing yards of muslin, leather sandals and forgets to straighten her hair.

A Home Companion is the book for any woman who finds herself yearning to get her hands covered in soil, rid her house of nasty chemicals, nurture her family and become a green goddess – even if it’s just at the weekends.

You can read A home companion as an e-book from our Overdrive collection.

A home companion is also available as a paper book.