A Christmas gift guide… for the foodies

So, I was watching Sunrise yesterday morning before work, and heard that this weekend is meant to be the BIG one for Christmas shopping, both online and in store. And while I’ve finished my Christmas shopping already (yes, I know, freak), I’ve been thoroughly enjoying all of the holiday gift guides that are popping up on my dashboard – because once Christmas is done, the birthdays continue, so the ideas are still much appreciated!

So just for funsies, I thought I’d also contribute to the 50,000 gift guides already circulating for the big weekend of shopping ahead! I’ll have a few over the next few days to help get you all sorted, but let’s start with a book list for the foodies – here are some of my favourite food-related books and cookbooks…

Clockwise, from top left…

1. I Quit Sugar: Simplicious by Sarah Wilson
What’s it all about? Healthy food, simple and essential, full of nutrients and low on sugar. It’s about making life easy for yourself, reducing waste and increasing sustainability by buying and cooking in bulk, freezing and preserving food, and using scraps.
Buy it for: The time poor, yet health and budget conscious.

2. Eating Well by Australian Women’s Weekly
What’s it all about? Shunning the bulls#!t diets and cooking with real foods, while catering for those of us with food intolerances (like the gluten and lactose intolerant) as well as those who’ve made special diet choices (like the sugar free and paleos).
Buy it for: Anyone who has special dietary requirements.

3. La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy by The Italian Academy of Cuisine
What’s it all about? I’ve had this book for years, and it’s one of my absolute favourites. It’s the most stunning and complete collection of Italian food from every part of the country, often with multiple recipes for the same dish, each with minor variations according to the different regions it’s made in.
Buy it for: Anyone who loves Italian food and doesn’t need photos in their recipe books.

4. T2 The Book by Maryanne Shearer
What’s it all about? By the brain behind T2, it tells the story of how the empire today came to be. Also, great tea infused and inspired recipes, tasting notes, and history.
Buy it for: Your favourite tea aficionado (or nanna)

5. L.A. Son by Roy Choi
What’s it all about? I bought this book while I was travelling in American last Christmas, and I absolutely bloody love it. It’s part memoir, part cookbook, detailing his life from childhood to the edge of his meteoric rise to foodie fame.
Buy it for: Your legitimate foodie friends and anyone who likes a good not-so-old-fashioned underdog story. And food.

6. Flavours of Melbourne by Smudge Eats
What’s it all about? A breathtaking photo documentary on Melbourne’s streets and laneways, with a focus on the food found around them. Lots of signature recipes, too, from Melbourne’s big names in food, like Gingerboy’s sesame crusted kingfish tataki, Chin Chin’s crying tiger, Chuckle Park’s pulled pork rolls and Caterina’s Cucina’s baccala con polenta fritta.
Buy it for: Anyone who loves Melbourne’s streets and laneways, street art and incredibly diverse food scene. It’s like the ultimate Melways with all the good stuff.

7. Mug Cakes by Leslie Bilderback
What’s it all about? 100 easy recipes you can throw together and cook in a matter of minutes. All you need is a coffee mug and a microwave.
Buy it for: Anyone who appreciates quick and simple, or is prone to having a bad day and looking for solace in cake.

8. CWA Classics by the Country Women’s Association
What’s it all about? All of the classics – the cakes and slices, biscuits and preserves, puddings and tarts. This is the ultimate baking bible, for me, and because it’s CWA, the recipes are all super simple and never-fail.
Buy it for: Classic cookbook collectors, those who have been baking for years, and those who are new to baking and likely to be intimidated by lengthy recipes.

Chicago’s Christkindl Christmas Market

Christkindlmarket Chicago

Christmas season is in full swing, people! Tis the season! Deck the halls! Eat the pretzels and drink the mulled wine! Unless you’re in Australia, in which case eat the BBQ’s prawns and drink the beer! And pine trees aren’t really cool here – we’re all about giant lego trees instead.  But seriously, how amazing is this?!


Last year’s Christmas saw us in a very different climate to the one we’re used to at this time of year – icy cold Chicago. And I loved it! If I had it my way, I’d have frosty Christmases a lot more often, and I’m particularly keen for a Euro-Christmas soon (the first and last one I had was back in 2002… holy crap I’m so old!), which is actually on the cards… Anyway, reading Becky’s post late last week on Berlin’s Christmas markets reminded me of the Christmas market we got to experience in Chicago, which is a city with a surprisingly high European population. While we were researching things to do over Christmas in Chicago, we couldn’t have been more excited to have found out they had their own little German-style Christkindl Christmas Market!

The market in Chicago first ran in 1996, and has become more and more popular every year since. The history of the Christkind originates in Germany, and she is a fairy-like creature, resplendent in gold robes, a sparkling crown perched on her equally golden hair. Think of her as the prettier version of Santa Claus, being the official gift bearer to German children.


We arrived into Chicago the night of December 23rd, and decided to spend the afternoon of Christmas Eve at the market, along with a few hundred others. It was appropriately cold and a little rainy, the smell of mulled wine and pretzels in the air, beautifully decorated stalls selling intricately handmade Christmas tree decorations, beautifully decorated Christmas cookies, warm hats, scarves and gloves, and quaint little wooden handicrafts. I picked up a gorgeous little glass Christmas ornament, and made it my mission to get it home in one piece. God only knows how, but I actually did!

It might not be something you’d automatically think of doing in Chicago, but if you’re there in the weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s the most fantastic way to get into the holiday spirit, and it’s only made me even more determined to get to Germany to check out the markets that inspired this one!