29 June 2010

Ladies, an Evening

It's a shame it wasn't 11am and about the right time for morning tea and warm scones, however tucked inside the lovely L'affare on a wintry evening armed with a wine, a sesame seed dipped club sandwich and an audience with Alexa Johnston – the author of the gorgeous “Ladies, a Plate” and “A Second Helping”, was a pretty close second. Millie and I (yes after a very long blogging respite on my behalf!) recently attended the evening with the award-winning custodian of kiwi home baking, Alexa Johnston, run by the Book Council of New Zealand.

It was truly a pleasure to talk baking with the grandmas, aunties, mothers, daughters, granddaughters of Wellington, and of course Alexa – whose exuberance and flair made the evening a lovely homage to the accomplished bakers of yesteryear.

Bespectacled and perched on a bar stool, Alexa told stories about her childhood kitchen experiments,her earlier years flatting with Ray McVinnie and their masterpieces, her love of trawling through second hand bookshops for her much loved community cookbooks, her treasured recipes and their creators, and her obsession with old fashioned kitchen utensils. Alexa had the audience giggling away, and recalling their favourite traditional pud' recipes for her up and coming book “What's for pudding” due to be released in 2011.

The books themselves are collections of traditional kiwi home baking – the kind of fare that graces the tins of your granny, your great aunt and your mum, and the tables of community get-togethers. The photographs are a beautiful portrait of what Alexa describes as an “honourable tradition”, and were all lovingly taken by Alexa in her home kitchen – complete with embroidered tablecloths, floral china and doilies. The recipes are all referenced to the lovely ladies who once contributed them to some community cookbook or other throughout New Zealand history.

Our appetites thoroughly whetted, Millie and I raced back to Millie's for homebaked cookies and tea. A lovely evening – if you ever have a chance to hear Alexa speak, she is really engaging and along with her books, is highly recommended!

A well thought-out evening. And who doesn't like being around people obsessed with food?!!


Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Aw, lucky you! Sounds like an awesome evening. The Ladies a Plate books are SO beautiful - I can't pick one up without wanting to take the rest of the day off and fill up biscuit tin after biscuit tin with baking :)

AnneE said...

I couldn't make it to hear Alexa but I so wish I had, she sounds delightful and her books are a treasure.

Anonymous said...

Very jelous I love Alexs's books sounded like a fun night and very inspirational.

Plum Kitchen said...

What a fantastic blog! Fatal reading it right before dinner (esp as being in AUckland it will be a little while before I taste some of the goodies you describe....)but I just could not stop:) Talk sounds fascinating, I adore these books, and old cookbooks in general, even if some of the recipes can be a bit wacky (mock chicken anyone...?)