Stock­ing thrillers Su­san Kuro­sawa Sharon Fowler


op­tions on foot in Tus­cany, Provence and Ire­land. Of the 50 Syd­ney ex­cur­sions, Henry says her best dis­cov­ery is the Her­mitage Fore­shore Scenic Walk near South Head, with its “stun­ning har­bour and city views”. From book­shops and ABC shops. $24.95. The global jus­tice or­gan­i­sa­tions New In­ter­na­tion­al­ist, Ox­fam and UNICEF all have cat­a­logues of gifts from com­mu­nity projects around the world. Among the mix are New In­ter­na­tion­al­ist’s kids’ books with hu­man rights mes­sages and Pu­tu­mayo world mu­sic CDs; Ox­fam’s fair trade Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions and af­ford­able stock­ing stuffers (in­clud­ing em­broi­dered stock­ings in three gor­geous colours); and, at UNICEF, the loveli­est greet­ing cards on earth. www.newint.; www.ox­; or elec­tronic card for the re­cip­i­ent fea­tur­ing a photo and de­scrip­tion of the item pur­chased (sans price) plus space for a per­sonal mes­sage. A goat for milk­ing costs $50 and it could trans­form the lives of a poor ru­ral fam­ily in, say, Afghanistan or Uganda. 1800 244 986; www.use­ This nifty fold-up book light, made from sturdy black plas­tic, is from out­door travel com­pany Kath­mandu. It clips on to pages, is light­weight and slips into a bag or back­pack for easy trav­el­ling. It also can be used as a torch or stand-alone night light and fea­tures a dim­mer mode. $29.90. 1800 333 484; www.kath­ Our favourite books this year are from ac­com­plished trav­ellers with per­sonal pas­sions.

by Amanda Tab­berer (Pen­guin, $69.95) is a sumptuous paean to the au­thor’s adopted home, while Mar­ion von Adler­stein’s (Lantern, $35), in an up­dated, vivid aqua soft­back edi­tion, roves the world’s style cap­i­tals with fash­ion, travel and de­sign gu­rus. In tune with the SBS tele­vi­sion se­ries of the same name,

by Si­mon Cal­low and Paul Bur­rows (Hardie Grant, $49.95) looks at the great Euro­pean cities and their mu­si­cal her­itage: Liszt’s Bu­dapest, Chopin’s War­saw, De­bussy’s Paris and more.

is mad about the Tai­wanese fare served at Blue Eye Dragon in Syd­ney’s Pyr­mont. Now restau­ra­teur Muriel Chen and her mum Jade (right) have re­leased

(Ran­dom House, $45). This beau­ti­ful book is packed with easy-toachieve recipes, in­clud­ing Jade’s sig­na­ture prawn and pork dumplings. The restau­rant is open Christ­mas Day, Box­ing Day and New Year’s Day. (02) 9518 9955; www.blueeye­; www.ran­dom­ Cour­tesy of Jade and Muriel Chen, we have 10 signed copies of

to give away. Put your name, ad­dress and phone num­ber on the back of an en­ve­lope and tell us in 25 words or less why you’d like to win. Send to: Blue Eye Dragon Give­away, PO Box 215, East­ern Sub­urbs MC, NSW 2004. www.koko black. com. A vi­brantly coloured doc­u­ment wal­let from Annabel Trends pro­tects pass­port, itin­er­ary, e-ticket print-outs and other on-the-road pa­pers. This Queens­land-based com­pany’s Exit Travel Es­sen­tials range also in­cludes satchels, totes, ac­ces­sory pouches, toi­letries bags and mo­bile phone pro­tec­tors; avail­able in or­ange, taupe or black swirled pat­terns. From se­lect re­tail­ers across Aus­tralia. $16.95. (07) 5593 4755; www.annabel

ASERENE stone Bud­dha tow­er­ing more than 2m is not the first thing you’d ex­pect to find adorn­ing the pave­ment of a leafy Stir­ling street in the Ade­laide Hills.

This hill sta­tion-style vil­lage, perched above the dry plains of Ade­laide, is bet­ter known for its Ed­war­dian vil­las and English-style gar­dens but, thanks to the en­thu­si­asm of Scot­tish im­port (and Thai food junkie) Claire Fuller, Stir­ling has its own Asian cook­ing school, in­spired in large part by the Queens­land Sun­shine Coast’s pop­u­lar Spirit House.

The three-tonne Bud­dha greets bud­ding cooks as they en­ter the newly opened Sticky Rice Cook­ing School, set 1km off the high street in the spa­cious sur­rounds of a 1940s deli made over in bold hues of red and saf­fron, dec­o­rated with Asian an­tiques and in­clud­ing a gleam­ing new teach­ing kitchen.

When I drop by, vis­it­ing Spirit House chef and tu­tor Kelly Lord is con­duct­ing a lunchtime class in the finer arts of Thai cui­sine and within 20 min­utes I’ve picked up sev­eral handy hints: buy blocks of tamarind (the stuff in jars de­te­ri­o­rates af­ter open­ing); dry shrimp paste in foil over a low gas flame be­fore adding to curry paste; and roast dried chillis, seeds and all, be­fore grind­ing to pro­vide a lovely smoky pow­der, use­ful as a salad condi­ment.

The con­stant chop­ping, pound­ing and grind­ing req­ui­site in Thai cui­sine makes for ex­cel­lent team build­ing and a con­vivial at­mos­phere, and by the time the first course (and first glass of wine) is served the kitchen is alive with laugh­ter. But Lord keeps the class un­der con­trol and mov­ing along at a crack­ing pace.

He has been signed to con­duct a se­ries of classes at Sticky Rice in com­ing months and joins a dis­tin­guished team that in­cludes Kurma Dasa, one of the world’s lead­ing veg­e­tar­ian chefs, Ade­laide-based Genevieve Har­ris (whose ex­ten­sive CV in­cludes two years as ex­ec­u­tive chef at Bali’s Amankila re­sort) and Viet­namese chef Trung Van Tran.

The first year’s pro­gram is still be­ing fi­nalised but ex­pect classes in a range of mostly Asian cuisines in­clud­ing Ja­panese, Ba­li­nese, Nyonya, Moroc­can, Korean, In­dian, Cam­bo­dian, Nepalese and Burmese.

Grow­ing up in a small fish­ing vil­lage out­side Dundee, Claire dis­cov­ered a pas­sion for Thai cui­sine when hol­i­day­ing on Koh Sa­mui 12 years ago. Af­ter mar­ry­ing fel­low trav­eller and Ade­laide-born Mark Fuller, Claire found her­self en­sconced in the pretty Ade­laide Hills with two young chil­dren, work­ing as a busi­ness an­a­lyst for the Aus­tralian Bar­ley Board but har­bour­ing a dream to cook for a liv­ing.

The con­cept of an Asian cook­ing school sprang fully formed one night.

In re­search­ing her ven­ture, Claire stum­bled across a cu­ri­ous in­vi­ta­tion on Spirit House owner Peter Brierty’s blog of­fer­ing cof­fee and busi­ness ad­vice to all com­ers. Within days she found her­self on the Sun­shine Coast.

‘‘ Peter and He­len Brierty were gen­er­ous and bril­liant, show­ing me the ins and outs of run­ning a cook­ing school, how to kit out a kitchen, source chefs, the var­i­ous pit­falls,’’ Claire says. ‘‘ Their son Acland even de­signed my web­site.’’

He also printed the gor­geous pho­tos and ar­rest­ing full-sized door mu­rals of saf­fron-robed monks and an­cient stone Bud­dhas that bring an ex­otic flavour to the Sticky Rice din­ing room and small shop.

‘‘ We are not a fran­chise, there’s sim­ply an in­for­mal link or friend­ship,’’ Claire says.

Stock­ing a small range of cov­etable Asian an­tiques, in­clud­ing Mon­go­lian cab­i­nets and In­dian mor­tars and pes­tles as well as spices and other must-have in­gre­di­ents, the shop morphs into a pleas­ant din­ing room flooded with light (as is the kitchen) from a bank of win­dows run­ning the length of the old deli.

The spa­cious kitchen has been custom de­signed with sev­eral stone-topped prepa­ra­tion benches on wheels and a bank of wok sta­tions.

Classes are con­ducted over four hours (with a max­i­mum of 18 par­tic­i­pants) and in­clude a lunch or din­ner with wine. A typ­i­cal Lord class fea­tures sev­eral recipes and a range of tech­niques es­sen­tial to Thai cui­sine. Our class tack­les pork and prawn spring rolls, Thai beef salad, a red curry of chicken with gin­ger and kaf­fir lime and stir-fried baby squid with Thai basil.

Am­ple time is de­voted to study­ing es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents (uses and stor­age) and the mak­ing of curry pastes and dress­ings. In­for­ma­tion cards are scat­tered around the school, sup­ple­ment­ing the take-home recipe notes.

Lord’s dishes re­flect the Spirit House’s con­tem­po­rary take on Thai cui­sine, but for purists Sticky Rice will also host classes de­voted to Thai palace cui­sine. All classes cost $125, in­clud­ing lunch or din­ner with wine; pri­vate and cor­po­rate classes are also avail­able. More: (08) 8339 1314; www.stick­yrice­cook­

TNW of­fers fun and prac­ti­cal bags per­fect for young trav­ellers. The TNW Cool Stuff Ap­plique range fea­tures trains, planes and au­to­mo­bile de­signs in back­packs, travel bags and wal­lets. The An­i­mal Ap­plique range is avail­able in back­packs, travel bags and coin purses, fea­tur­ing but­ter­fly, kit­ten, cow and ze­bra de­signs. Avail­able from Myer, Toy­world and se­lected phar­ma­cies, gift and toy stores na­tion­ally. From $7.95 to $29.95. (02) 9519 2955;

Deca­dently de­li­cious Santa Bears from Koko Black Chocolate are hand­crafted from 34 per cent milk or 74 per cent dark chocolate. Each Santa Bear takes up to one day to mould and is hand-painted by Koko Black’s team of ex­pert cho­co­latiers with fine at­ten­tion to de­tail. The bears are avail­able in large ($75) or small ($32). Koko Black also pro­duces choc ham­pers and Christ­mas Star mixed boxes, sales of which help sup­port the Starlight Chil­dren’s Foun­da­tion.

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