A delightful book, written and self-published by Melbourne GP Pietro Demaio, whose love of the food traditions of his native land is very obvious. His humorous anecdotes about his many culinary adventures in Australia and especially on his visits back to Italy made me laugh, and sometimes even made me cry.
I loved the story about how he finally managed to foil his patients who regularly used to sneak in and steal the entire olive harvest at his Melbourne surgery just before he was due to harvest them. And wherever that island restaurant is, the one you have to swim to get to, I want to eat there. Although Dr Demaio, a non-swimmer, was thrown overboard attached to a rope and towed ashore.
In this book, Dr Demaio covers everything you could possibly want to know about Italian home preserving, with not one, but about a dozen different ways of preserving eggplants for starters. There are also sections on every other conceivable method of preserving Italian foodstuffs, including making sausages and the curing of pork products, and there are even detailed instructions on how to build a wood-fired oven. The only problem with the book is that it has suffered in the editing, and there are too many typos, but this glitch aside, it is a thoroughly enjoyable and very useful cookbook for slow foodies.
Preserving the Italian Way website
A great book for Australian gardening enthusiasts, from horticulturalist Melissa King and the team at Heronswood on the Mornington Peninsula, home of the famous Digger’s Club.
Packed with great information and photos of unusual and heirloom fruit and vegetable varieties, with each section including simple but beautiful recipes from the Heronswood Café. Definitely one to leave on the coffee table and dip into periodically while fantasising about the drought ending so we can grow stuff again.
Kerry Greenwood’s latest Phryne Fisher offering, a compendium of short stories together with great illustrations of Phryne’s clothes, shoes, the contents of her handbag etc. There is also a smattering of recipes, including a deadly champagne punch almost guaranteed to leave anyone legless.
Probably better as an introduction to the delightful Phryne rather than offering anything of lasting interest to hard-core Phryne addicts (with the exception of the divine drawings and the aforementioned killer booze recipe).
A very cute book which uses examples of cat behaviour (with accompanying colour photos on each page) to explain Asperger Syndrome, which it does succinctly and in a sensitive manner. The book uses humour to explain a potentially difficult subject and gets the tone just right, avoiding being preachy or maudlin. Would be useful for explaining the condition to children or relatives who just don’t get it, and of course you can also enjoy it purely for the pictures of the gorgeous kitties.
This is a seriously gorgeous cookbook, by well known South Australian cookery writer and TV presenter Maggie Beer. It collects together recipes from two of Maggie’s previous books, Maggie’s Orchard (1997) and Maggie’s Farm (1993), together with a great deal of new material.
The recipes are arranged seasonally and are based around Maggie’s own favourite ingredients. They are predominantly inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, to match the Mediterranean climate of the Barossa Valley where Maggie lives and works. The recipes are generally easy to prepare, and let the ingredients speak for themselves.
She also includes lots of useful snippets of information for serious foodies, such as where to source the growers and suppliers of the best ingredients, and adds interesting sections on such arcane kitchen arts as preserving, smoking and making one’s own vinegar. Just fabulous, and one of the most beautiful cookbook covers I have ever seen (although keep it well away from any kitchen mess).
Australian movie based on the novel of the same name by screenwriter Luke Davies. Heath takes on another controversial role as junkie Dan, with co-stars Abbie Cornish as Candy, and the fabulous Geoffrey Rush as Casper. In his tribute to Heath, Director Neil Armfield reports that he and Heath got off to a rather wobbly start, coming as they were from completely different directions and with very different ideas about how to play a scene. Heath also told Armfield and Davies that it was a great script, but it had way too many words. The director eventually conceded that the actor was right, and the early takes in which Heath did it his way were the ones that got used. Fabulous film, but the subject matter makes it difficult to watch.
I’m Not There (2007)
Weird Bob Dylan biopic also featuring another brilliant Australian actor, Cate Blanchett, who is currently in line for an Oscar for this. Heath is exceptionally cool as a character who plays a character who plays Bob. Or something like that.
Batman: The Dark Knight – due for release July 2008
However it turns out, this remains the last film that Heath ever wrapped, and will be watched for that reason alone. The director noted that Heath’s character, The Joker, rides a skateboard, and lo and behold, all the young crew suddenly started turning up on set with their skateboards, although if they’d been asked why, they probably wouldn’t have had a clue. That’s star-quality charisma for you.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (in production)
We may or may not ever get to see this, as Heath was in the middle of filming when he died. There have been rumours that the movie will be shut down, that they will use computer animation, that another actor will complete Heath’s role. My first instinct on hearing all this was that the idea of a CGI Heath Ledger walking around onscreen was just too, too much. But then again, Heath was such an out there, edgy, innovative actor, maybe he might even have enjoyed the idea.
Lords of Dogtown (June 2005)
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, a fast-paced, edgy, testosterone-fuelled journey through the mid 1970s surf and skateboarding culture of Venice Beach, California, aka Dogtown. Based on actual personalities and events surrounding the legendary Z-Boys skateboarding team, who revolutionised the sport.
Heath gives a virtuoso performance as the Z-Boys’ mentor, the charismatic but permanently wasted Skip, in all his psychedelic glory. When the movie was released, the real Skip Engblom stated that his wife thought Heath played him perfectly. He then quipped that this was great for him, because his wife now thought she was sleeping with Heath Ledger! Instead of horseriding in this one, Heath skateboards and surfs. Loaded with accurate 1970s surfer-skateboarding culture detail, together with a brilliant 1970s soundtrack. Includes Tyson the famous skateboarding bulldog, who gets a featurette to himself on the DVD.
Fabulous stuff – one of my top three Heath Ledger movies.
The Brothers Grimm (August 2005)
This is on my (ever shorter) list of Heath movies still to see. It got very mixed reviews, but it’s also got Matt Damon, and on the basis of the actors alone, must be worth a look. Heath greatly admired director and former Python Terry Gilliam, and enjoyed working with him so much that he went back for a second round in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, filming at the time he died.
Brokeback Mountain (December 2005)
Heath plays Wyoming ranch hand Ennis del Mar in a career-defining performance. A masterpiece of a movie that generated huge amounts of buzz and earned Heath his one and only Oscar nomination. All the necessary ingredients to be included on any list of Great Movies – outstanding writers, screenplay, director, actors and performances, sweeping landscapes, gorgeous cinematography, haunting music, local detail, taboo subject matter, desperately sad love story. You can watch Heath in this once or you can watch him a hundred times and you will still see something new. Magnificent.
Casanova (December 2005)
A comic romp filmed entirely in the sumptuous city of Venice and surrounds, in which Casanova finally gets his romantic comeuppance (no pun intended). Heath in the lead role does charismatic, unscrupulous, hyperactive and comic hero with an equal degree of skill, successfully extricating himself from all manner of scrapes just in the nick of time. He even gets to ride another horse or two. A host of fine actors also do their bit, including co-stars Sienna Miller as Francesca Bruni and Jeremy Irons as Pucci, the feared Papal inquisitor.