Another Christmas gift guide… for the foodies

So, I was watching Sunrise yesterday morning before work, and heard that this weekend is meant to be the BIG one for Christmas shopping, both online and in store. And while I’ve finished my Christmas shopping already (yes, I know, freak), I’ve been thoroughly enjoying all of the holiday gift guides that are popping up on my dashboard – because once Christmas is done, the birthdays continue, so the ideas are still much appreciated!

So just for funsies, I thought I’d also contribute to the 50,000 gift guides already circulating for the big weekend of shopping ahead! I’ll have a few over the next few days to help get you all sorted, but let’s start with a book list for the foodies – here are some of my favourite food-related books and cookbooks…

Clockwise, from top left…

1. I Quit Sugar: Simplicious by Sarah Wilson
What’s it all about? Healthy food, simple and essential, full of nutrients and low on sugar. It’s about making life easy for yourself, reducing waste and increasing sustainability by buying and cooking in bulk, freezing and preserving food, and using scraps.
Buy it for: The time poor, yet health and budget conscious.

2. Eating Well by Australian Women’s Weekly
What’s it all about? Shunning the bulls#!t diets and cooking with real foods, while catering for those of us with food intolerances (like the gluten and lactose intolerant) as well as those who’ve made special diet choices (like the sugar free and paleos).
Buy it for: Anyone who has special dietary requirements.

3. La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy by The Italian Academy of Cuisine
What’s it all about? I’ve had this book for years, and it’s one of my absolute favourites. It’s the most stunning and complete collection of Italian food from every part of the country, often with multiple recipes for the same dish, each with minor variations according to the different regions it’s made in.
Buy it for: Anyone who loves Italian food and doesn’t need photos in their recipe books.

4. T2 The Book by Maryanne Shearer
What’s it all about? By the brain behind T2, it tells the story of how the empire today came to be. Also, great tea infused and inspired recipes, tasting notes, and history.
Buy it for: Your favourite tea aficionado (or nanna)

5. L.A. Son by Roy Choi
What’s it all about? I bought this book while I was travelling in American last Christmas, and I absolutely bloody love it. It’s part memoir, part cookbook, detailing his life from childhood to the edge of his meteoric rise to foodie fame.
Buy it for: Your legitimate foodie friends and anyone who likes a good not-so-old-fashioned underdog story. And food.

6. Flavours of Melbourne by Smudge Eats
What’s it all about? A breathtaking photo documentary on Melbourne’s streets and laneways, with a focus on the food found around them. Lots of signature recipes, too, from Melbourne’s big names in food, like Gingerboy’s sesame crusted kingfish tataki, Chin Chin’s crying tiger, Chuckle Park’s pulled pork rolls and Caterina’s Cucina’s baccala con polenta fritta.
Buy it for: Anyone who loves Melbourne’s streets and laneways, street art and incredibly diverse food scene. It’s like the ultimate Melways with all the good stuff.

7. Mug Cakes by Leslie Bilderback
What’s it all about? 100 easy recipes you can throw together and cook in a matter of minutes. All you need is a coffee mug and a microwave.
Buy it for: Anyone who appreciates quick and simple, or is prone to having a bad day and looking for solace in cake.

8. CWA Classics by the Country Women’s Association
What’s it all about? All of the classics – the cakes and slices, biscuits and preserves, puddings and tarts. This is the ultimate baking bible, for me, and because it’s CWA, the recipes are all super simple and never-fail.
Buy it for: Classic cookbook collectors, those who have been baking for years, and those who are new to baking and likely to be intimidated by lengthy recipes.



Also gift guiding…
for the tea lovers
for the travellers
for the classic bookworms

Shop here: Kitchen Witch Cookbooks, New Orleans, USA

Kitchen Witch Cookbooks
631 Toulouse St, New Orleans

It’s lucky we had to leave the hotel at 4.30am this morning, or they’d have been dragging me out kicking and screaming; New Orleans managed to completely capture my heart in a few short but extremely full days.

I’ll be writing about this visit for a while to come no doubt, because there are a lot of things to love about it! One of the things I loved was the small stores, a lot of them quite specialised, absolutely gorgeous and run by the loveliest people, just like Kitchen Witch.

They’ve been around since 1999, but moved locations into the French Quarter after Katrina, to contribute a little to the re-building of the city, and have been thriving ever since. As the name implies, they’ve got a bunch of cookbooks, purveyors particularly of the old, out of print and pre-loved variety, covering everything from Cajun to cookies, and all at very reasonable prices.

The gentleman I met on my visit, who I presume was Philipe, was very helpful. We also had a good laugh at his sign calling for Australian Vegemite donations – I hate the stuff, husband loves it!

It’s a gorgeous shop, a must visit for the keen home cook, and a great place to pick up some local specialty recipes!

Shop here: Kitchen Arts & Letters, New York, USA

Kitchen Arts & Letters
1435 Lexington Ave

I first heard about this place on The Layover New York, one of Bourdain’s shows. A gorgeous little bookshop combining all my favourite things – books and food and different countries and cultures – they stock over 12, 000 books and will happily track down any they don’t have for you. And it’s not just cookbooks, either. There are old, out of print volumes, technical tomes and food history, too.

Founding partner Nach Waxman was on hand for my visit and was more than kind and gracious, offering not only to show me around the store, but offering also to hold my coat while i perused the shelves; an absolute gentleman!

I could have spent quite a lot of time (and money!) in there, but tried to control myself and ended up just leaving with the two books, Bourdain’s “A Cook’s Tour” and Roy Choi’s “L.A. Son.” I was also informed that not only are they happy to track down any other titles I may be after, they will also happily work with their international customers to find the best possible pricing for overseas shipping. It was truly an experience in there, the way it should be, feeling not just like a customer, but an old friend dropping in to visit : )

Shop here: Books for Cooks, Melbourne

Books for Cooks, Fitzroy, Melbourne

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

This is one of my favourite shops in all of Fitzroy – books, about food and cooking, as far as the eye can see.

An independent bookshop owned and run by genuine food lovers, it is a gorgeous little, floor-boarded, Victorian building, filled literally wall to wall and floor to ceiling with over 30, 000 titles. They have both new and used books covering everything from cookbooks to food writing, food history to food science, and even foreign language cookbooks.

The newer ones are a little pricey to be honest, but the real treasure trove is the old and used books – you can find some real gems there if you have the time to dig through them all! Well worth a visit, and make sure you leave plenty of time, because you’ll need it!