4 out of 4 stars
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In Flavours of Australia, Jonette George provides a definitive guide to the country's best gourmet dining, bistros, distilleries, and breweries. The book contains recipes ranging from gourmet to exotic that are sure to tantalize the taste buds, such as shiitake mushroom dumplings, frozen salted caramel parfait coffee cake, and grilled octopus. It includes venues by location, a glossary of native ingredients, and an impressive collection of photographs to showcase the outback and its local cuisine.
George describes the cuisine as diverse, challenging to define, and uniquely flavourful. Her passion is contagious, and I cannot imagine a more comprehensive or visually appealing guide. Although I have not had the pleasure of visiting Australia, if the opportunity arises, this is the book I will take with me. When George highlights a restaurant, she doesn't merely mention her favorite entree or dessert from the menu. She shares the background, location, and specific niche of the venue and features contributions from the owners or chefs regarding their philosophy about food sources and sustainability. For instance, Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy of Three Blue Ducks state, "With regards to eating, we truly believe that if an ingredient is ethically grown, it just tastes better."
In another segment, George extols Longitude 131°, where diners are treated to dinner and a show: "Nestled among rust-red dunes, the gathering of pavilions raises the notion of outback luxury to rockstar heights" and "celebrates the sunburnt country in all its glory." I only wish I could include the accompanying photograph to illustrate the beauty of the iconic natural setting.
Speaking of photography, the quality is exceptional. I have previously reviewed books with grainy photographs that do little to enhance the book's content. That is certainly not the case here; the vibrant photographs George has selected complement her favorite venues. I especially like the diverse assortment that includes images of delicious culinary delights, impeccably-designed eateries, candid shots of featured chefs, and breathtaking panoramas of natural attractions. Although the photographs are from various sources, I am pleased to note that George includes a section citing photography credits.
While there isn't anything I dislike about the book, portions of the PDF format aren't optimal for viewing due to the page spread. However, I imagine this will cease to be an issue in the published format. The book is professionally edited; I noted a single typo. Likewise, there is one humorous instance of borderline profanity. During a panel discussion, Dan Simms from Melbourne's Revel Global quips, "eighty under 35-year-olds turning up on a Monday night to hear myself and others talk about what's cool in wine? That's what's bloody cool in wine."
It is my pleasure to rate Flavours of Australia 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend the book to foodies, wine and beer connoisseurs, and those interested in traveling to Australia.
Flavours of Australia
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