Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Art of Travel NEW 2010 Tours

Once again we are honoured to be collaborating with Albert Hennick, an inspirational yoga master from Adelaide.
This week combines a sublime vacation in one of Bali’s unspoiled intimate seaside locations with expert, empathetic, dynamic personalised yoga instruction for all levels of experience; resident chef, Sussa’s healthy delicious local cuisine, from the land and sea; opportunities for excursions that take you to the heartland of Bali, and access to activities that are invigorating and exciting: local markets, traditional villages, holy sites, weaving and basket-making families, scuba diving and snorkelling, white-water rafting, natural healing practitioners and massage……
Book Now as only a few Spaces Remain!

Cooking with the Raj: 30 October – 11 November
Join Marieke who shares with you the history and nuances of Indian cuisine in a mix of days that might include a discussion, a demonstration or a hands-on class and meeting with the scions of Rajput clans who are custodians of priceless culinary family traditions.
Highlights include Cocktails “at home” with the Jodhpur Royal family, Rani Chandresh Kumari, a politician;
A night at Lake Palace Hotel in magical Udaipur with a royal barge "Gangaur" party on Lake Pichola.
Two nights at Devigarh Palace with hands-on cooking classes with their Executive Chef exploring spices, the cuisines from the four corners of India and Ayurvedic dietary principles. A further two nights at the very special, luxurious tented camp of Chhatra Sagar where the family manage their own organic farm that provides superior produce for delectable cuisine. The program ends in Jaipur at Rajvilas with an elephant picnic safari, and time to explore this fascinating city.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”. – Marcel Proust

Spaces are still available in the following 2010 Tours

Pearls of South India: Cultural Gems: 21 August - 2 September

The best‐selling travelogue 1,000 Places to See Before You Die describes the river kingdom of Kerala as “staggeringly beautiful,” and it is. However, the “Pearls” sojourn also travels to the utterly charming old French enclave of Pondicherry where colonial civilization has melded with a special spirituality, to the unique Chettinad region renowned for its food and romantic architecture as well as passing through the majestic Ghats, spice and tea plantations to cruising the magic Backwaters, visiting private estates and families as well as some of India’s most vibrant temples.

Can any of us anymore live without chorizo or white anchovies in our pantries? We invite you to explore with us on this tour how Spain is taking the world by storm with its cuisine, wines , design, style and architecture. From beguiling Barcelona we wander on to Bilbao, San Sebastian and la Rioja and end in the prettiest mountain village in Majorca, a stone’s throw from the Med. We dine at two of the top ten of this year’s most awarded restaurants. And sail the sparkling Med for a day, dining on fresh seafood.
The only non‐Spanish thing we do is eat early. We will avoid late dinners and indigestion and eat late lunches instead. Sleep in adorable accommodations from a Condé Nast’s Hot List metro hotel to a boutique Relais et Chateaux. Savour the Spanish zest for life and discover her marvellous wines and gorgeous landscapes.

Join me in this charming region of France for Autumn with its promise of wild mushrooms, chestnuts, apples, particularly succulent scallops and oysters, rich cheeses and game meats. This magical week in a gorgeously restored chateau allows you to immerse yourself in la Vie en Normandie with Cooking classes based on local market produce, visits to Rouen, Deauville, Monet’s Giverny, Honfleur, and dining in some superlative restaurants.  This makes for a most memorable week and a culinary vacation beyond expectations. We collect you from and return you to Paris where we also offer a 2-day extension that explores the gastronomic secrets of this stunning city. Book Now as only Two Spaces remain!

Postcard from GUJARAT

Why Visit?

Travelling almost anywhere in India raises the most marvellous paradoxes and conundrums, no less so Gujarat, that has the vast salt marsh to the north bordering the Sindh desert, a long coastline and borders to Rajasthan and Maharashtra, but has roads less travelled by tourists, and many tribal communities who continue traditional lifestyles, despite the pressures of modernity and rapid change and population expansion.
For  a small slideshow go to>

Important to all travel in India is to remain open to the unexpected and the serendipitous. This recent trip was blessed by several instances of good fortune and surprises beyond that which can be planned for.

The food in Gujarat is almost universally outstanding and one of the most interesting of Indian regional cuisines, much dominated by the most inventive vegetarian dishes not found elsewhere. Throughout the trip, guests kept being delighted by the variety, the lightness and the subtle sweetness of dishes offered. No two thalis were ever the same, though there were certain in-season dishes that were requested often: methi thelpa ( a local flat bread made with fenugreek leaves), and crispy bhindi (tiny ladyfingers/okra).

Whilst staying with the gracious family of Utelia whose wonderful ancestral home is still undergoing restoration after the earthquake, we were able to join members of the usually shy and reticent Jat community who assemble but once a year for four days in the desert to honour their Sufi saint.  This was the good luck of timing and the standing with which our host is regarded in this community.

At Dwarka, the most western and one of Indian Hinduisms four most holy cardinal points of pilgrimage we were accompanied by our guide, Durga’s family priest who presides over records of all the visits made by his family before him. To make darshan at the temple and take prasad was as close as a visitor might get to the holy rituals of a devotee visiting the abodes of the gods, as his family has done generations before him.
The legendary city of Dvaraka was the dwelling place of Lord Krishna and modern day Dwarka continues to draw pilgrims from all corners of India bearing a flag that must be blessed at the temple and carried back to their own community.

Throughout Kutch, we were introduced to an astounding array of crafts, decoration and arts still practiced at a very high levels of excellence. Indeed at Patan, the Patola Salvi family’s young son who had taken an engineering degree and had brothers who had trained respectively as architect and physiotherapist, sat at the looms and spoke of his family’s 700 year unbroken record of producing the highly skilled mind-snapping silk double ikat weaving. He spoke of it in devotional terms and gave credence to the idea it would continue even though much now depends on patronage and a willingness to pay princely sums for such superb hand woven and complex cloth. A saree length might take 6 months or more to complete, depending on the number of colours used and complexity of design.

Other highlights:

The Calico Museum established by the Sarabhai family in Ahmedabad has a priceless treasure. Even though it is managed and run by the most eccentric and bizarre rules, it cannot be missed. For those who like their museums more orderly and who love the world of textiles then Shreyas Folk Museum is also a must see.
Our preferred hotel in Ahmedabad is The House of Mangaldass, an experience without compare. This charming property is still so redolent of the family who created its unique rooms. The suave owner and scion of the illustrious family whose house this was, is also an avid collector of textiles and has plans to renovate the building next door into another branch of the hotel that will boast his personal collection of textiles as decorative themes for the new rooms due to open next year.

Extremely rich in Archaeology, Lothal is a well-preserved site of the later Indus Valley Civilisation;
the Temples of Somnath, in Junagarh district, Sarkhej Roza, Jhulta Minar and Sidi Sayed Jali in the heart of Ahmedabad (Gujarat’s largest city) are wonders of medieval architecture; the Sun Temple in Modhera (90 km north of Ahmedabad) and Rani ni Vav (Stepwells, north of Ahmedabad) are both exquisitely preserved monuments of former kingdoms.

Join us 30 January 2011 for the next Tour to this wondrous region

From the Chair: BOOKS

There is hardly a William Dalrymple title I have not read since he has been writing these last twenty years. Having had the good fortune to lunch with him after the 2009 Jaipur Literary festival, at which he disclosed his next work, I awaited Nine Lives, his seventh book, with the most eager anticipation. Instead of writing from the perspective of authorial experience, the allure of the exotic and being the hero of his own narrative, he had committed himself once again to a travel book, but this time written so that individual voices and stories of spiritual quest would shine. I was not disappointed. From the moving opening story of a young Jain nun and how she manages her terminal illness within the precepts of her community to “the most unreformed — and startling — of his subjects , the hardcore Tantric sadhus he encounters at the cremation ground of Tarapith in Bengal, living with jackals and vultures amid half-burned corpses and skulls and engaging in acts of ‘transgressive sacrality’ involving alcohol, hashish and ritual sex, Dalrymple remains self effacingly insightful about and deeply enamoured of the sub continent on the brink of rapid modernization.

Ruaridh Nicoll surmises: “That this book also makes its political points more powerfully than any newspaper article, while quietly adjusting a reader's attitude to faith, builds its importance. It meets Dalrymple's own criteria…., displaying a deep knowledge of the culture, yet is intimate with each interviewee. This is travel writing at its best. I hope it sparks a revival.”

THE WILDER SHORES OF LOVE published 1954 by Lesley Blanch, a scholarly romantic and truly original travel writer who ran counter to the many mores of her generation and gender.
“There have been many women who have followed the beckoning Eastern star” says Lesley Blanch. She writes about four such women in The Wilder Shores Of Love — Isabel Burton (who married the Arabist and explorer Richard), Jane Digby el-Mezrab (Lady Ellenborough, the society beauty who ended up living in the Syrian desert with a Bedouin chieftain), Aimée Dubucq de Rivery (a French convent girl captured by pirates and sent to the Sultan's harem in Istanbul), and Isabelle Eberhardt (a Swiss linguist who felt most comfortable in boy's clothes and lived among the Arabs in the Sahara).

They all escaped from the constraints of nineteenth century Europe and fled to the Middle East, where they found love, fulfillment, and “glowing horizons of emotion and daring”. Blanch’s first, bestselling book, it pioneered a new kind of group biography focusing on women escaping the boredom of convention. During recent travels this classic was re visited. I first read it perhaps 3o years ago and it sent my heart racing and wanting to take off. It still does.

Foodie Tidbits + Ephemera

Having convened two Symposiums of Australian Gastronomy in 1991 and 1998, respectively in Geelong and the Grampians, and always regarded it as Australia’s most significant and perspicacious forum for the intelligent and far ranging discussion of food, food philosophy, culture and politics, I was heartened to see its recent return to Adelaide. Held mostly biennially for the last 25 years, and in November convened by Dr Roger Haden, this was the seventeenth symposium, dedicated to “Gastronomic Economics”, a fitting subject given the current zeitgeist. I was very sad not to attend but look forward to the publication soon of the entire series of proceedings since its inauguration in 1984 at University of Adelaide’s Research Centre fro the History of Food + Drink website.

I am not party to the background of why their Masters program in Gastronomy has been suddenly closed, but it feels an immense loss. This graduate program, a collaboration between the University and Le Cordon Bleu Institute provided a multidisciplinary approach to the study of gastronomy, encompassing history, anthropology, sociology, geography and many other disciplines within the general area of humanities and social sciences, as well as economics, nutrition, agriculture and wine studies. It was one of the few international programs for a masters in Gastronomy.

In Brooklyn in October, newsagents carried another very sudden death notice, for the venerable 70-year old American Gourmet magazine published by Condé Nast, victim of straightened economic times and advertising budgets. The considerable intelligence of its editor, Ruth Reichl, who had brought to the fore such controversial and contemporary issues to do with farming, genetic engineering, and trans fat to an erstwhile indulgent audience, her general resistance to the trend of personalities and brands, and her commitment to long thoughtful, literary pieces, is unlikely to ever be replicated again in a popular food magazine.
In today’s marketplace the old dowager perhaps looked quaint and anachronistic, and I as I had not really bought an issue in over a decade, perhaps even irrelevant but I will never forget the excitement of her arrival in the 70’s when our magazine recipe resource in Australia amounted to Women’s Weekly, and the magazine connected us to the worlds of chefs, wine and travel.

Towards the end of summer two legendary establishment restaurants also closed, Tavern on the Green and Café des Artistes (opened in 1917 and owned by the Langs since 1974) where 20 years ago I enjoyed the lavish floral displays and asparagus sold by the spear within its opulent walls so removed from the tumultuous streets outside. Despite their longevity they were further casualties of the economic downturn and signal for the end of the 20thC.

Art of Cuisine CLASSES

Marieke will again teach interstate this year.

Early May: Sydney classes at Accoutrement. Spaces are filling fast. Tuesday evening 4 May is a demonstration class and Wednesday morning 5 May will be a hands-on session. The theme is Cooking in Autumn and dishes will include Pimientos padrón, Kim Chee (a brilliant and tasty probiotic), Seaweed Salsa, Steamed Silky Tofu with Shiitake Mushrooms and Blackbean Sauce
Buckwheat Risotto with pippies, seafood and crispy fish, a Fish Tagine finishing with an
Apple and Armagnac Croustade with Armagnac ice cream.
Anyone passionate about food is of course already cooking seasonally. Even more apt is to source local and organic produce. Autumn is a time of 'mists and mellow fruitfulness',
producing an inspirational abundance of foods that lend themselves to ‘real’ and slower cooking. Ayurveda and TCM share the view that our diet prepares us for the upcoming season and at this time we need to eat warmer, spicier, sweet and sour foods and make a gentle transition to cooler, shorter days.
With a legion of followers, Marieke always enthuses cooks with her innovative, accessible and achievable dishes that abound in flavours inspired by her garden and her extensive world travels.
For reservations contact Sue or Jenna at

Winter: Saturday 31 July and Sunday 1 August sees Marieke travel to Adelaide to teach Indian Masterclass at the new and truly charming Sticky Rice Cooking School at Stirling in the Adelaide Hills. The 4-5 hour hands-on class will be limited to ten students who then have the opportunity to invite their partners back to join in the evening banquet with lovely wines.
The class focuses on the technical and challenging elements of an extensive Indian menu that draws on the cuisines from private families and royal cooks from all corners of the fascinating sub continent. Dishes will taste truly of India and not of the generic international restaurant variety of predictable flavours.
For reservations contact Claire at

Classes with Marieke return to Rye and will be scheduled for later in May. Dates to be announced soon.

I loved the food on Sunday. Such beautiful flavours again. I do so respect your ability to do this, and to put the whole thing together in such a way that we all feel we can run off and do the same, ignoring the education, the years of experience, the intelligence and a small thing called talent that lies behind it all. Nevertheless, off I'll go and we will see what happens. Louise M
The cooking was inspiring on Sunday - a big thank you. I walked the Prahran market yesterday with recipes in hand...... They are now looking very dog eared!! I stocked up at the Asian stall. My Kimchee is on the go..... I hope it tastes as good as yours. Sometimes something like that takes a couple of goes to get it right! I will have to hold back on the delicious sweet treats … Although I will make the fig salami to use my figs and hazelnuts. Your recipe was much better than the one I have used in the past.
Sarah H

From Art of Cuisine Kitchens: Autumn RECIPES

Tomato Cooking Tips:

•    For a surfeit of tomatoes. I pack large baking trays with the tomatoes and sprinkle, sea salt, white pepper and some sugar. Tuck is some thyme and plenty of garlic cloves left whole. Pour over some olive oil and roast for a couple of hours. Pass the tomatoes through a mouli and bag into rectangular containers for the freezer. This makes the most superior tomato paste, come puree and base for soups and braises during winter.
•    Tomato Tea. In a food processor, blend 3-4kgs of tomatoes in batches and tip into a very large stock pot. Add a mirepoix of lemon grass, ginger, galangal, lime leaf, curry leaf, spring onions, chilli and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and a touch of sugar. Barely cover with cold water and bring to a simmer for an hour. Turn off the heat and allow to infuse another hour. Tip all into a very large sieve placed over a clean pot and allow to drain freely for several hours or overnight. Taste for seasoning. This is a sublime consommé in its own right. It can be lightly jellied and set with seafood. It can be poured over roasted crab/prawns shells for a magical seafood broth. It can be boiled to reduce to a jam like consistency for a total tomato concentrate.
•    For Roma tomatoes: split tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place onto a flat baking tray lined with bakers paper. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, sugar and sumac. Place in a low oven for at least a couple of hours until tomatoes have the texture of moist dried fat apricots. Delicious as a base for a tomato tarte, or a salad.
•    An incomparable Salad. Pick tomatoes fresh from the garden and NEVER REFRIGERATE. Slice and intersperse the varieties and different colours onto a large platter. Sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground white pepper and a scant sprinkling of sugar. Drizzle a fine sherry vinegar. Top with a chiffonade of basil, a crumbling of Shanklish (a yogurt based semi-dried cheese rolled in oregano) cheese. And finest extra virgin olive oil. Prepare up to an hour ahead of service so the exquisite juices develop. This makes a surprising change from the classical Mozzarella or Bocconcini-  based salads. Shanklish is a Syrian or Lebanese cheese made from goat’s or cow’s milk, formed into orange-sized balls and coated with the tangy spice mixture za’atar.

Let Them Eat Cake:
Dutifully laying chooks, and thereby an abundance of eggs has turned me back to baking as a way to use up such treasures.
Those oversized, over-iced and over decorated cakes you see about cafés these days are anathema to my idea of what a fine cake should be about:  elegant, moist, intensely flavoured with a modest portion offering immense satisfaction. For a friend’s recent birthday I resurrected an old Alice Waters recipe for marzipan cake that came out of the oven saffron coloured. It was deemed luscious, even by the youngsters.
This cakes also keeps well for up to a week, well covered in the refrigerator, but like most cakes is best the day it is baked.

Almond Torte

1 ¼ cup c sugar
250 gms soft crumbled pure almond paste (marzipan)
280gm unsalted butter
1 t vanilla essence
6 eggs at room temperature
1 c plain flour sieved with
1 ½ t baking powder
¼ t salt
50 ml amaretto

•    cream sugar, almond paste and butter until white and fluffy….about 20 minutes
•    once base is creamed add eggs one at a time
•    fold in flour and amaretto
•    place into shallow 28cm cake tine lined with bakers paper
•    bake 1 – 1 ¼ hrs in a medium hot oven (170 degrees C) until top is golden and centre has set.
•    cool in tin, running knife to loosen edges. Unmould when cold. May be refrigerated, covered up to 7 days.
•    to serve, dredge with icing sugar