jonette george

White with one: Coffee Encounters

Yesterday afternoon, at about 3pm, I almost had a nap. Problem was, I was sitting at my desk at work. Not really a good look, nodding off in the office…

Once I would have excused myself and shuffled down to the local coffee shop for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Now though, it’s not that simple. I don’t drink coffee anymore. My name is Mandi, and it’s been over two years since my last cup of coffee…

coffee encountersI’ve come to appreciate a lovely cup of tea, but still come mid afternoon most days I miss my coffee – the smell, the taste, the search for the best bean. And so, when Jonette George and Tyson Hunter’s gorgeous book Coffee Encounters – Adventures to Origin (Smudge) arrived at my home, it was a little bit of sweet relief…

Coffee Encounters will take you on a journey through the most exotic coffee farming regions within Latin America and Indonesia, whilst visiting Italy along the way.

Meet some of the most charismatic, passionate and innovative people in the world, and you will be amazed to learn just how much goes into that little cup of coffee you enjoy each morning. Learn to love your coffee for all the right reasons.

It’s a stunning combination of elements, including captivating profiles of people, visits to farms and regions across the world, and of course, a beautifully clear picture of the bean itself and it’s end product, coffee.

coffee harvestingNo one misses out, from the farmer, the harvester, the trader and the barista, they all have their part to play in bringing this revered beverage to the masses.

“You can grow, source, roast and deliver quality coffee beans, but it’s the barista that oversees the final execution of every cup of speciality coffee. As more and more discerning coffee drinkers learn the journey from crop to cup, more and more are viewing baristas with greater respect, and in turn, the country’s baristas are training more intensely and providing higher quality coffees.”

It’s absolutely fascinating to see the lifecycle of coffee and to learn about the relationship people have to each other in bringing about a really top quality product.

coffee beansPersonally, I was absolutely thrilled to find out more about Australian coffee plantations. I once had a wild dream that I’d like to grow coffee beans in a nice warm corner of the country, but was pretty sure it was near-on impossible. Coffee Encounters does a beautiful job of profiling the clever and passionate people who are ensuring this industry has a place in Australia, overcoming challenging climates and issues of scale tto produce a top quality, local product.

In short, I so pleased to be able to enjoy coffee vicariously though this book, as I add it to my growing collection of Smudge Publishing coffee table books. Well worth a look!

Find out more about this book, and other Smudge titles here…

 

Past, Present, Future: Flavours of Urban Melbourne

In usual style, Jonette and Daniele have been eating well…

Their latest publication, Flavours of Urban Melbourne (Smudge Publishing) is true to form – full of gorgeous photographs, inviting restaurant profiles and inspiring recipes from some of urban Melbourne’s finest.

Urban Melb 1

‘Flavours of Urban Melbourne’ showcases the profound ebbs and flows of styles and cultures within the café and restaurant culture in this capital city of food.  East meets west, meets north and south.  A fusion of cultures flourish together, as well as side-by-side.  It is hard to put a finger on the pulse, let alone describe the free-fall movement that the city’s suburbs are experiencing today.​

It might be difficult, but not impossible, and Jonette and Daniele have done an amazing job at putting their finger of the eclectic mix that makes urban Melbourne such an incredible place to explore.

For me, this book achieved three things; it fondly reminded me of stunning suburbs I frequented when I was younger, it highlighted the embarrassment of riches available in my own Bayside suburbs, and lastly provided brand new ideas about what to do in suburbs I’ve never had the opportunity to visit.

Urban Melb 3Kicking off with a little history and an ode to coffee, the book then separates out into Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western suburbs.

The highly cultural, inspirational and linguistically diverse suburbs of Melbourne have a poignant past, a vibrant present and a wealth of opportunities moving into the future, with many different population groups making their presence felt…

Flavours of Urban Melbourne is sure to have something of interest for all readers. Personally, I was drawn to the delicious range of cafes – I think I’ll do a bit of a tour with the boys for the next few weeks!

Urban Melb 2I must admit that I’d hoped to find a few of my local favourites, but didn’t find many Hampton spots listed. Of course though, on reflection I realised that that wasn’t really what I needed from this book. What this guide offers is new ideas! New ideas, new places to visit – established venues full of history and achievements, as well as new endeavours staffed by inspired hosts, barristers and chefs.

This big, gorgeous book has been sitting on my coffee table for the last month or so, and I’ve very happily picked it up many times over to take a look at photos of the establishments, their food, the surrounds and most interestingly, the people who enjoy this rich urban life.

If you’d like to find out more about Flavours of Urban Melbourne visit Smudge Publishing online, and check out their range of books. 

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Produce to Platter: Daylesford and Surrounds

The wonderfully talented Jonette George and Daniele Wilton’s have been at it again, this time exploring the food and wine bounty of Daylesford and its surrounds in Produce to Platter: Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, Ballarat and The Pyrenees (Smudge Publishing).

Produce to Platter: DaylesfordI’ve reviewed a few books from this team now, and one of the things that I’ve enjoyed most about Jonette and Daniele’s books is that they highlight the fact that we here in Victoria enjoy an absolute embarrassment of riches! We’ve so many stunning regions, both urban and rural, all of which are unique and abundant with produce and also skilled chefs and wine-makers who can in turn bring great food and wine to our tables.

The Daylesford region is a fine example…

Defining a region and highlighting its features is the privilege of only a few. When Jonette George and her daughter, Daniele Wilton, decided to write a book about the Macedon Ranges region, they were confronted with a challenge. Within two hours of each other, they discovered 3 distinct regions, bursting with outstanding produce and wine.

Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges blurs boundaries with the Ballarat and District wine region, which in turn blurs into the Pyrenees. With such  thriving regions like pigeons in a row, the girls decided to create their own treasure box, and showcase the three-in-one.

Producers, providores, viticulturists and chefs are all featured in this guide to the regions, with local produce exulted and wine revered. Signature recipes with full page food shots are mingled amongst pages of stunning photography of the regions. Stories, history and local anecdotes abound in yet another Produce to Platter sensation.

As with their previous guides, this latest is a satisfying blend of description, photography and tantalising recipes. It begins with a well-considered history of the region and a welcome from fellow foodie Rita Erlich. It shares with us the secrets of local markets, local growers and famous restaurants, including the likes of the Lake House, Frangos and Frangos and the Lydiard Wine Bar.

It’ll come as no surprise to my friends and family that the inclusion of Daylesford Cider Company was my favourite…

But why cider? What was the impetus to make this interesting drink? Surely it had something to do with its long history but also because his family came from Somerset, the home of cider for many generations. Cider was the topic of discussion in his family for many years growing up. David points out that cider actually originated in the Middle East where the first apple trees appear to have been cultivated more than two thousand years ago. Indeed, cider seems to have been an important drink the evolution of societies, playing a strong role in both France and England. The drink even made it across the pond as Pilgrim settlers brought the tradition to America in the 17th Century. Of course, those same traditions made their way to Australia and continue to be propelled by cider makers such as Mr. Stagg.

…but I also loved reading about cottage restaurants, country al a carte dining and cafes and bars of all shapes and sizes.

I’ve spent a little time in the Daylesford and Ballarat region, but it’s only now that I realise that I’ve only just scratched the surface of this amazing culinary area. Looks like it might be time for another weekend away…

You can check out more about Produce to Platter: Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, Ballarat and The Pyrenees at Smudge Publishing.

Stay tuned to the blog on Friday to find out how you could win a copy of the book for yourself, with the launch of a massive book give-away!

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Produce to Platter: Yarra Valley and The Dandenongs

A little while ago, I was fortunate enough to enjoy Jonette George and Daniele Wilton’s Flavours of Melbourne and Produce to Platter: Mornington Peninsula. Both were beautifully compiled and have now been followed up by the equally impressive Produce to Platter: Yarra Valley and The Dandenongs (Smudge Publishing).

I practically leapt at the chance to review this guide, mainly due to the fact that I LOVE this region! The Yarra Valley and The Dandenongs will always hold a special significance for me, it’s where Matt and I spent our honeymoon fourteen years ago, this week.

Matt and I have returned to the region many times since, the most recent visit being only a fortnight ago. This guide only works to make me want to visit again and again, they’ve include so much to tempt me.

“Drive along the highways and bi-ways of the Yarra Valley to discover a unique cosmos of regional vignerons, wine-makers and chefs making use of the bounty of local produce supplied from farm gates, small shop-fronts, artisan craftsmen and boutique enterprises.

Full-colour photography showcases this food and wine region to its stunning best – and stories about the vineyards, restaurants and producers take you behind the scenes to discover the secrets of the locals.”

It’s a visitors guide to one Victoria’s finest wine regions, as well as offering plenty of ‘take-home’ treats, recipes from some of the region’s most inspired chefs. There’s Parmesan gnocchi with zucchini flowers from De Bortolli’s chef Heath Dumesny, followed up by Duck confit with spinach pancakes from Margaret Van Der Meulen from Seville Estate. To finish, something sweet from Jam Lady Jam with Richard Hauptmann’s Brioche Loaf.

As well as beautiful photography and descriptions of places I remember fondly, such as De Bortoli, St Huberts and The Yarra Valley Grand Hotel, Produce to Platter: Yarra Valley and The Dandenongs includes many wineries, restaurants and farms I’ve not yet visited. Inspired, my next visit will be sure to include stops at Oakridge Wines, Yarra Valley Gourmet Foods and Sticks Yarra Valley.

“Set on a bucolic 90 acres at the base of the Christmas Hills, the winery [Sticks Yarra Valley] provides guests with a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere to enjoy their visit as well as a memorable view of the Yarra Valley.”

This stunning book will not only serve as a travel guide (in paperback, it’d easily fit in your luggage to accompany you on your journey) it is also a gorgeous book to have sitting on your coffee table or in any kitchen. Its wonderful photography (by Charlie Brown) has captured the spirit of the valley and the hills in its lush green Spring months and its brown and orange autumnal glory.

I can tell you now, my copy is going to get well used, and I’m sure that yours would too.

You can check out more about Produce to Platter: Yarra Valley and The Dandenongs at Smudge Publishing.

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Serious reading time…

I’ve taken a few days off here and there over the last couple of weeks, for school holidays and more recently to do some spring cleaning. I’m surprised by just how good it’s made me feel – happy kids and a house so tidy I hardly recognise it.

But now it’s time to get back to the books – the reading pile is wonderfully, insanely, delightfully high and it’s time to catch up on a few titles.

Here are the books that I’ve got on the go at the moment…

First up, I’ve almost finished Overseas, by Beatriz Williams (Allen and Unwin). This book has taken me a little while to get my head around, but now that I have I’m really enjoying it. It’s hard to categories, but I think it could be described as romantic, sci-fi, chick-lit.

Yep, that’s about it, and now that I’ve gotten used to the mixed-up genre I’m quite invested in Kate and Julian’s multi time zoned love affair. I’m hoping to finish this in the next day or so, so I should have a review up some time next week.

Yesterday morning I almost left the house without a book (god forbid) and on the fly I picked up my copy of Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Penguin). I’ve read this story a few times, and reviewed it earlier this year, but I’m doing a quick re-read in preparation for this month’s TBYL Book Club.

I hope you’ll join us in a read and a chat about this beautifully sophisticated novella. Might also be a good excuse to organise a movie night…

This weekend, I’m looking forward to taking a good look at Smudge Publishing’s latest offering in Produce to Platter, Yarra Valley and The Dandenongs, by Jonette George and Daniele Wilton. I loved their previous two guides (here and here) but this one is particularly close to my heart – Matt and I spent our honeymoon in the Dandenongs and the Yarra Valley, and to this day it remains one of the best holidays of my life. I love the familiar names and locations in this guide, and can’t wait to discover some new gems in the area.

Now, I’m whispering the title of this one… shhh, I’m sneaking a peak at The Siren, by Tiffany Reisz (Harlequin Spice). Off the back of the 5o Shades ‘phenomenon’ this novel has been widely read and reviewed.

Apparently it’s a little darker, grittier than Shades and by reputation, better written. It’s a first in the genre for me, but I can’t wait to give it a look…

And lastly, once I’m done with all these wonderful books, I’m going to wizz through Marianne Delacourt’s most recent Tara Sharp novel, Stage Fright (Allen and Unwin). All rock and roll and private investigation, this ‘action-packed and fast-paced’ novel promises to be a ‘rollicking good read.’ I’m really looking forward to getting into this one, sounds like a lot of fun.

These five books will satisfyingly scratch the surface of my stack of novels, and I am really looking forward to having the chance to get some really serious reading time in the next couple of weeks.

What are you reading at the moment? Do you have a lot of other titles on the list?

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Longing for the weekend: Produce to Platter

Last month, I was really lucky to be able to offer copies of Produce to Platter, by Jonette George and Daniele Wilton (Smudge Publishing) to two lucky readers of TBYL News: All Things Bookish…

It’s a stunning book, featuring the most choice treats to be found on the Victorian Mornington Peninsula:

Friends, families, vignerons and producers welcome you to the Mornington Peninsula.

You will find a treasure trove of gourmet delights and indulgent wines as you travel the back lanes and the country biways throughout this region.

Local chefs share their favourite recipes and open their doors for a peek. Vignerons welcome you to taste their lovingly prepared wines, distinctive of the terroir of their soil and this region…

Produce to Platter is quite the ‘triple threat’. It’s a practical guide exposing incredible hidden treasures, it’s a recipe book sharing favourites from an amazing range of regional cooking luminaries and thirdly, it’s a beautiful collection of photography.

Images are from Charlie Brown and a range of talented local photographers, the collation offers an true sense of the region’s landscape, produce and people.

My copy is a coffee table book, and it’s always being picked up and flicked through. It distracts me from my work and makes me long for lazy weekends spent shopping, eating and drinking in regional Victoria. You can also pick up a copy in softcover, perfect to take with you as you explore the Peninsula, it’ll help you not to miss a thing.

You can find out more about this gorgeous book at the Smudge Publishing website.

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Sample the Flavours of Melbourne

Today’s review is very timely, for a few reasons…

(1) I’m laid-up, and need to live vicariously through others;
(2) Hubby and I really need to go on a date soon, it’s been far too long;
(3) In my opinion, winter is the perfect time to explore Melbourne, and there’s no denying that winter has arrived…

So, as I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time lying on the couch, I’ve been flicking through the pages of Flavours of Melbourne, by Jonette George (Designed by Daniele Wilton, and published by Smudge Publishing) and I’ve been making mental lists of sophisticated outings and laneway explorations.

Flavours of Melbourne is a gorgeous coffee table book that beautifully highlights the very favourite restaurants and bars in Melbourne’s laneways and rooftops. It includes fantastic write-ups on Melbourne; its history, and its highlights and makes it abundantly clear why Melbourne is considered to be so very ‘liveable’.

Some favourite inclusions for me would have to be Cookie and Pelligrini’s in Bourke Street. Now on the list of ‘things to do’ is Madame Brussels and The Croft Institute, and although I’m painfully aware of the fact that to check out every spot that caught my eye in the book would take more weekends than I’ve got at my disposal, I’m loving having such a wonderfully long list of ideas.

It should be said that George and Winton’s book is more than just a restaurant guide, of which there are many. There are a couple of things that set it apart… firstly, they’ve included a very special range of recipes, provided by some of the top chefs working in Melbourne. For those weekends where you can’t secure a babysitter, you’ll not miss out, you can recreate the Melbourne experience in your own home. A Calamari with Chickpeas and Radicchio entree from Guy Grossi and Matteo Tine, perhaps followed by a main of Braised Pork Belly, Drunken Potatoes, Steamed Baby Bok Choy and Star Anise Caramal from Seamstress chef Anthony Humphries and then finish off your stay-in evening with a devine dessert from Nikki Smith from Punch Lane, a Rhubarb and Custard Tart with Ginger Ice Cream.

The second thing that makes this book special is the photography – it’s bold, large and original. It paints our city’s nooks and crannies in an incredibly flattering light. I particularly loved the inclusion of lots of colourful and edgy Melbourne Street Art, from front-cover and throughout. This inclusion, wonderfully presents our urban gallery in all it’s glory.

Flavours of Melbourne will be a book that sits on my coffee table for a long time yet. It’ll take me time to work through, and it’ll provide me inspiration when I get out and about again, one day very soon. I marvel at the fact that every time I pick up the book and have a flick through, I find something I’d missed before. Quite a bit like Melbourne itself really.

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I’m thrilled to be able to offer TWO readers a copy of Smudge Publishing’s Flavours of Melbourne!

All you need to do is:

1. Leave a comment on this post, or

2. Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment,

…and tell us about your favourite restaurant or bar, or your favourite recipe. I can’t wait to hear your recommendations!

I’ll draw two winners at random on Thursday 7 June 2012. As usual, you’ll have 4 days to claim your prize or I’ll redraw.

If you’d like to find out more about Jonette and Daniele’s book and their other great titles, you can visit Smudge Publishing here.

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