Books For Cooks dinner with Anjum Anand @ Horn Please, 167 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North. Phone: 9497 8101
Cooks For Books has been hosting dinners for a long time, so I’m not quite sure why this particular gathering sparked my interest.
Perhaps it was down my recent visit to that fine Fitzroy purveyor of fine and foodie reading.
And no doubt it was also about seeing what these affairs are about, seeing as they have a resemblance to the ongoing CTS Feasts.
Anyway, in a fit of spontaneous extravagance, I sign up and here I am at a famed North Fitzroy Indian eatery.
Mind you, the price is way steeper than a CTS Feast – all up, just shy of $100, though that does include a copy of Anjum Anand’s latest book, Quick & Easy Indian.
Seems fair enough – and I am happily anticipating some fine food being eaten and good luck in the lottery of dining companions.
I estimate the dinner is attended by more than 80 guests, including a top table with the author and a bunch of representatives of the retail book business.
I strike it very lucky in regards to company.
On my right are Paul, his niece Laura (both pictured above) and wife Gail.
They’re from the Moonee Ponds/Essendon area and Paul turns out to be as mad a foodie as I’ve ever come across.
We have a fine old time swapping opinions and tips as the night unfolds.
The noise levels are high and the situation challenging in terms of photography.
So much so that in a technical glitch (i.e. operator incompetence), I fail to successfully snap the lovely company on my right – Gail, Angela and their party. Sorry ’bout that!
Likewise, I cannot provide photographic documentation of the lovely entrees (see menu below).
By common accord, though, the “tandoori salmon papadum taco”, with its tangy dressing and beaut fish, is a big hit.
No so much problem with the mains – and very good they are, too, though the butternut squash curry screams “pumpkin” to me, so I mostly go without.
Best of all is a mildly spiced but incredibly rich and flavoursome fish curry (on the right, above).
Before dessert, Tim hosts question session for Anjum, asking several himself and taking several from the guests, including one from yours truly about salt and its relationship to Indian cooking.
Dessert – cardamom, honey and pistachio kulfi on wooden skewers – is mindblowingly fantastic.
So rich and creamy, so alive with powerful, almost overwhelming cardamom flavour!
None of Anjum’s previous books are among my modest collection of Indian cookbooks and she is a new author to me.
Quick & Easy Indian is beautiful to read and look at, though it’s far from traditional.
Its recipe line-up, for instance, includes the likes of quick masala dosas using rice paper, ricotta-stuffed aubergines in tomato sauce and a Goan fantasia in the form of chorizo with white beans and greens.
I’m looking forward to exploring and cooking from this book …