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Ich Lieb Die Liebster

Tandy from Lavender & Lime has added me to her BlogRoll and nominated me for a Liebster Award. Thanks Tandy. I’m appreciative that you thought of me and have enjoyed my blog enough to keep visiting. Every blogger loves visitors, subscribers and readers who leave comments!


A Liebster Award is something that is organised by bloggers. You are set a series of question by the person who nominated you, which you then respond to on your own blog. It is then your turn to set a series of questions and nominate some fellow bloggers to respond. Liebster is a German word meaning beloved or sweetheart. It is a term of affection and preference. Bloggers use the award to pay it forward to other bloggers whom they admire and enjoy and would like to share with their readers.

You’ll see my own responses to Tandy’s questions below. I encourage you to swing past Tandy’s blog to taste a slice of South African life in Gordon’s Bay.

I am nominating some of my new blogger friends:

  • Brisbane blogger Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings – full of interesting bits and pieces, observations, recipes and reviews
  • Gold Coast blogger Liz from Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard – lots of Gold Coast stories and recipe, including many Thermomix adaptations
  • South Australian blogger Joanne from What’s On The List – Joanne comes to us by way of the USA. If there is one word I would use to describe Joanne, it is passionate. Take a look at her blog and you’ll see what I mean.

You can see the questions I’ve set for them at the end of this post. Thanks again Tandy. I hope you enjoy reading my responses.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?
It would be my Mum. My dad died when I was quite young so it was up to her to raise my brother and I. She (and my Dad) told me from when I was very tiny that girls can do anything (and we can). She taught me the importance of standing up for myself and for the rights of others. She also instilled in me an appreciation of how lucky I am to live in a country where I have total freedom to express myself and live my life however I choose.

What started you on the path of cooking?
My mum has always been a cook (my grandmother was not – it was my grandad in her family). Ever since I can remember she was making what would have been considered at the time, to be weird or unusual dishes. Sukiyaki, bakmi goreng, hummus. There was always a new dish to make or try. Sure we had lots of chops and salads but her interest in international foods was a major influence in shaping my tastes and giving me some great skills.

Which three ingredients could you not live without?
Salt – it enhances flavour and can make a dish come alive.
Cumin – the use anywhere spice. Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern. If you have some ground cumin in your toolkit (see below), you’ve got it covered
Lemon – marinate, dress, sauce, bake, G&T. It can do it all. I want to add vinegar too but I’m trying to stick to 3.

Carmargue Fleur de Sel Trio

Which of your kitchen tools would you take with you anywhere and everywhere?
Like many cooks, I do indeed take a little kit with me when travelling. This includes a sharp paring knife, a grater and a bottle opener. If I have the space, I will also always take a non stick skillet. These are things that time again has been of poor quality or missing in holidays rentals or useful when on the road. I also always take my travel coffee plunger.

Do you have any pet peeves in the kitchen?
No teaspoons in the sink. No Tupperware in the dishwasher.

Which meal is your all time favourite?
It changes like the wind. Overall I’d say I lean towards Vietnamese and nothing makes me happier that a Vietnamese crispy stuffed pancake or a lemongrass pork chop noodle salad. The temptations of the Middle East are also strong. Blue Cheese of course.

Which restaurant could you visit over and over again?
Good grief Tandy – you’re making this hard! Without a shadow of a doubt the best restaurant and dining experience I have ever enjoyed was at La Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in the tiny village of Great Milton in the UK. It is owned by many Michelin starred chef patron, Raymond Blanc. Let me tell you, he deserves every one of those stars. Parking our beaten up Ford Focus alongside Ferraris and Bentleys gave some indication of what was in store. The food was divine and I have to say, though I have since sworn off foie gras, the foie gras parfait is an enduringly delicious memory. Food aside, it was actually the impeccable service and attention to detail that won me over. It felt like we were the only people that mattered that day, though the dining room was crowded. Oxfordshire is just a tad far away and the menu price just a smidge out of the regular haunt category so locally, I’m very fond of Ole Spanish in South Bank and Baguette in Ascot.

If you could only have one recipe book, which one would it be?
Probably a Nigella as I find her simple recipes quite inspirational and a basis for my own ideas and recipe development. I’ll go with the classic ‘Nigella Bites’. If I had a spare hand if I was running out the door, I’d also grab Marie Claire ‘Food + Drink’.

Marie Claire Food & Drink

If you could work alongside one chef for a day who would that be?
Hmmm… that’s a tough one. It’s a toss up between Luke Nguyen and Rick Stein. I love the manner of both of them when they are presenting. So relaxed, so enthused and so clearly enjoying themselves. They could both teach me a lot so I think they should have a dance off to battle for the right to work alongside me.

Which ingredient will you not eat or cook with?
I’ll pretty much give anything a go. I’m squeamish about some offal but it has to be said it’s probably because I haven’t grown up with it. I’m sure that I could be convinced by a really good dish. On the fence with fresh tomatoes. Funnily enough, I’ve met a growing number of people who are in the anti tomato club. We must attract each other. Again, it’s the texture. I cook with them all the time though. It goes without saying that cooked carrots and cooked peas must be avoided at all costs and will never knowingly pass my lips.

What is on top of your bucket list?
Travel. Yes, that’s a very broad answer but there are just so many places we want to visit. Japan and Vietnam are next on the international destination list, Tasmania on the local itinerary. Travel has given me many bucket list moments including wildlife spotting on safari in East Africa, a balloon ride over the fairy chimneys in Cappadocia and a helicopter ride over Iguazu Falls in Brazil. Travel can be challenging but it’s definitely for me. A sundowner overlooking the beach is always nice too. Cookery wise: coq au vin (after a bit of disaster in Switzerland).



What is your food philosophy?
Basically, I try to keep some perspective and adhere to some simple principles whenever possible.
* Australian
* Palm Oil Free
* Local & Small Business
* Organic & Free Range
I’m pragmatic and a realist. Supermarkets are a part of my life, whether I like it or not. If I tick any of the above boxes, I’m happy.

Any parting words for the readers?
One can never have enough wine, friends and pork crackling. Be kind to other bloggers. Don’t quit sugar.


And now my questions for Sherry, Liz and Joanne

  • Everyone has had a kitchen nightmare. Tell us about one of yours.
  • Sweet or Salty?
  • What do you think about kale, macarons, salted caramel and pork belly? Are they all they are cracked up to be?
  • What’s on the menu on Sunday nights?
  • What ingredient are you mad for at the moment and can’t get enough of to eat or cook with?
  • What was the first dish you learned to cook?
  • If you were teaching a new cook, what would be the first dish you would teach them?
  • What’s the best meal you’ve enjoyed in the past year?
  • Nigella Lawson or Delia Smith or Maggie Beer?
  • Old or new, big or small, what’s your favourite kitchen tool, implement or appliance?
Tiffin Road Sign, USA
14 comments… add one
  • Joanne T Ferguson March 21, 2015, 7:26 pm

    First of all BIG congrats Fiona…sooooooooooooo deserving of this award by Tania and loved reading all you wrote!
    And oh my goodness Fiona *blush blush* thank you soooooooooooooo much as you have NO IDEA what this means, especially today and now and big congrats to Sherry from Sherry’s Pickings and Liz from Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard…hopping over to say G’day with an American accent now! 🙂 Thank you!

    • Fiona Ryan March 21, 2015, 9:19 pm

      You’re very welcome Joanne. I look forward to seeing whether you are a sweet or salty kind of girl ; )

  • Carole O'Connor March 22, 2015, 12:36 pm

    Fiona it was wonderful to read those kind words about your mum, my daughter too is a fantastic cook, hope she too feels her love of cooking came from all the styles of cooking I tried while she was growing up. Congrats on the award, well deserved I would say. I will continue reading your blog and trying your recipes. PS travel is up there as a favourite thing to do, France for a month last year was the best.

    • Fiona Ryan March 22, 2015, 4:43 pm

      Thanks for your kind words Carole. I’m sure your daughter would agree that you are a big influence. There’s always something to see though isn’t there? We’ve spent some time in France but really only scratched the surface. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime March 22, 2015, 3:51 pm

    What fantastic and interesting answers! Le Manoir is on our bucket list. We are planning barging up the Thames and will spend a night there hopefully at the end of the trip 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan March 22, 2015, 4:41 pm

      Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share with you. Barging up the Thames sounds lovely and definitely staying a night on the barge would be cheaper than La Manoir! (We had to drive back to Hayward’s Heath). Cheers.

  • Heather March 22, 2015, 4:49 pm

    I just learnt so much about you Fiona 🙂

  • Maureen | Orgasmic Chef March 23, 2015, 9:57 am

    Great post, Fiona. I want to go to that restaurant too. I loved your answers.

  • Jan (A gluttonous wife) March 27, 2015, 4:59 am

    I just loved this post ~ congrats on the award and thanks for sharing so much about you!! I’d pay to see Luke and Rick dance off 😉 Rick all the way for me…..Jan x

    • Fiona Ryan April 3, 2015, 12:37 pm

      I think it would be great if Poh was the judge. She’s hilarious too. Thanks for your lovely comments Jan.

  • sherry from sherrys pickings April 13, 2015, 3:51 pm

    hi fiona
    i am finally getting around to checking this out. sorry for not doing so before. it has been hectic and odd lately and i have lost my blogging mojo to some extent but i will try to get back into it so keep an eye out for my return post this week. 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan April 27, 2015, 7:47 pm

      No problems at all Sherry – sometimes life gets in the way. We can’t be ruled by our blogs!

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