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. www.shop.abc.net.au. 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. com.au; www.oxfamshop.org.au; www.unicef.org.au. 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.usefulgifts.org. 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.kathmandu.com.au. 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.blueeyedragon.com.au; www.randomhouse.com.au. 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 trends.com.
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.stickyricecookingschool.com.au.
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.