One of the best meals I've ever had was on the Venetian island of Murano. It was the mid 90s and we were halfway through a Contiki-like tour. It was a beautiful early afternoon, the sky was blue, we'd spent the morning exploring the canals and nooks and crannies of this beautiful city.
Remember those days? While COVID has cloistered us all, it's still possible to travel thanks to those cookbooks which have the ability to transport us to distant shores. They have to be more than a collection of recipes, there has to be an element of story-telling about them.
Here's a few of my favourites.
Venezia: food and dreams, by Tessa Kiros. Murdoch Books, 2016. $39.99. So many of Tessa Kiros' books are magical collections of recipes and memories and magic. This book takes me straight back to the meal in Venice.
Thai Street Food, by David Thompson. Lantern, 2013. $49.99. It's hard to imagine a more knowledgeable and inspiring guide to the vibrant world of Thai street food than internationally renowned chef and Thai food expert David Thompson. Join him on a leisurely stroll to the curry shops and stir-fry stalls of Thailand.
Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Ebury Press, 2012. $49.99. Jerusalem sets 100 of Yotam and Sami's inspired, accessible recipes within the cultural and religious melting pot of this diverse city. With culinary influences coming from its Muslim, Jewish, Arab, Christian and Armenian communities and with a Mediterranean climate, the range of ingredients and styles is stunning.
Casa Moro, by Samuel and Samantha Clark. Ebury Press, 2011. $39.99. The Clark's Moro restaurant was born out of a desire to cook within the wonderful traditions of Spanish and North African food and to explore exotic flavours little known in the United Kingdom. Casa Moro evokes their extensive travels and a sense of home.
Rick Stein's Secret France, by Rick Stein. BBC Books, 2019. $49.99. Who wouldn't want Stein's job? Choose any cookbook of his, or indeed watch any television series, and it's almost as good as being there. Here he meanders along the back roads of France, meeting interesting people and making simple, delicious meals.