I would travel to the ends of the earth for Analiese Gregory’s food and, indeed, have done (twice) when she was at the helm of Franklin restaurant in Hobart, which has sadly been one of the casualties of the pandemic. This is her first book, the culinary chronicle of a young Kiwi who left New Zealand, cooked and ate around Europe, then Australia, before settling in Tasmania, where she formed a profound relationship with the beautiful wild land around her. And ravishing though the photographs are in the book, this is no bland romanticising Antipodean version of A Year in Provence, or those other dewy-eyed tales of living ruggedly: as Hilary Burden - Gregory’s co-author - writes “…. real beauty - the kind we seek in nature - often comes with a struggle”.
And then there is Gregory’s food itself: pitch perfect, simple but far from basic, and wholly exquisite. True, there are certain recipes that are so tied to the land, that they might not easily translate abroad - possum sausages, wallaby tartare, or abalone fritters, for example - yet this is a book that can’t but inspire. I can testify to the gloriousness of the Potato Galette, the Cashew Miso Cream with Young Vegetables, Tomatoes and Peaches with Honey Vinegar and Burrata Curds, and Chocolate and Liquorice Cake, and there are many more recipes I long to explore in my own kitchen as well. The Green Garlic Oil Flatbread is singing to me, along with the Salt-baked Beetroot with Macadamia and Mulberry (which might have to rely on blackberries chez moi), Pan-Fried Flounder with Dill Pickles and Miso, which I plan to make with lemon sole or plaice. But the recipe I’ve chosen to share with you today is for her quite glorious Manuka Honey Madeleines. Don’t panic! I know that making these with Manuka honey is unaffordable over here, but I made a batch of these with some deep-toned (in flavour and colour!) chestnut honey, and they were fabulous. As she says in the recipe, they are their best straightaway (they dry out quickly) but I can happily report that if you pop one for 10 seconds in the microwave it seems magically to return to its luscious freshly-baked state.
How Wild Things are by Analiese Gregory (Hardie Grant, £22).
Photography: Adam Gibson