The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

THIS un­likely duo of celebrity chefs has been de­scribed as ‘‘ Delia Smith meets Easy Rider ’’, which is a lovely im­age. Dave My­ers and Si King — the ‘‘ hairy bik­ers’’ of television cook­ery fame— are as far re­moved from earnest stu­dio-set food­ies (Gary Rhodes in­stantly springs to mind) as one could imag­ine. Th­ese big, bearded Brits travel the world on their trusty mo­tor­bikes look­ing for fun food ex­pe­ri­ences. The clos­est equiv­a­lent would be that hit pair of the late 1990s, Clarissa Dick­son Wright and Jen­nifer Pater­son of TheT­woFat Ladies fame, who ca­vorted around Bri­tain by vin­tage Tri­umph Thun­der­bird mo­tor­cy­cle and side­car, up­hol­stered in man­nish leather bike jack­ets and in­dus­trial-duty gog­gles.

Pater­son has passed away (hap­pily eat­ing lard and dou­ble cream to the last, one sus­pects) and the pop­u­lar show is no more. En­ter The­Hairy Bik­ers se­ries, which dis­plays a sim­i­lar sense of fun but with a more em­phatic travel con­text. Their new book of more than 100 recipes, set amid a jour­ney to In­dia, Ar­gentina, Bel­gium and Morocco, is TheHairyBik­er­sRide Again (Michael Joseph, $49.95).

You might won­der, as do I, what Bel­gium is do­ing in that ex­otic mix, but its in­clu­sion gives My­ers and King an op­por­tu­nity to present a recipe for blind finches in beer gravy, a con­coc­tion that has noth­ing to do with mi­nus­cule birds bear­ing white canes, thank heav­ens. The hairy bik­ers like their hops, which could ex­plain Bel­gium’s place in the book.

The best recipes are those from In­dia: all clearly ex­plained and ro­bust in feel, in­clud­ing a veg­etable biryani that’s said to feed ‘‘ four hun­gry bik­ers or six nor­mal peo­ple’’. Best washed down not with a foam­ing pint of ale but a ba­nana, car­damom and vanilla lassi. Botan­i­cal:In­sid­e­theI­con­icBrasserie by Paul Wil­son (Hardie Grant, $85) is a beau­ti­fully pre­sented vol­ume of recipes from Melbourne’s Botan­i­cal restau­rant, which over­looks the bloom­ing beds and her­itage trees of the Royal Botanic Gar­dens.

This chic eatery is a Melbourne in­sti­tu­tion — lov­ingly known as the Bot, ac­cord­ing to di­rec­tor Fred Schep­isi in his fond in­tro­duc­tion — and scene of many a jolly lunch merged into din­ner.

I imag­ine Melbourne din­ers will be the prin­ci­pal au­di­ence for this book but its recipes by Wil­son look lus­cious in­deed, well or­gan­ised into sec­tions of break­fast dishes, starters, mains, desserts and sub­sidiary cour­ses. Some of the recipes look con­vo­luted for the home cook— pot-roasted chorizo-stuffed pork rack with Span­ish flavours, braised beans and spiced ap­ples, for in­stance, has a for­bid­ding col­umn of in­gre­di­ents — but oth­ers are hap­pily con­cise. More than any­thing else, here’s a vol­ume to make any keen foodie rush to book a seat at Botan­i­cal and eat and drink well amid those great green grounds. Alexandra James

En­gine dou­ble: The hairy bik­ers

Green acres: Botan­i­cal fare

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