If the stunning cover with its embossed typeface and gorgeously retro greenhouse tea party doesn’t hook you in, the subtitle surely will – recipes and styling for unforgettable parties. And, yes they are unforgettable… most happily – in a good way.
Gone are the days of the predictable ‘dinner party’ – a fad of the 80s and 90s. The noughties have brought upon us an entirely new take on what constitutes fine at-home entertaining, and thankfully, its constituents don’t also contain pomp ceremony.
Australians want laid back, creative and delicious on their entertaining plate – and fashion designer and author Fleur Wood shows us how possible it can be to whip up something truly beautiful without breaking the bank nor the time barrier (nor a fingernail, for that matter).
Yes of course, the shindigs laid out in this lustrous book are highly stylised and seemingly summoned from the end of several stylist/photographer/chef/publisher magic wands – but the content is highly inspirational and easily adaptable for anyone who loves entertaining with fun and fancy.
What I love most about Food Fashion Friends – beyond the overall gorgeousness – is that it’s different. It thinks outside the square dining table and sparks the romantic and whimsical in its reader. Why huddle around a nest of coffee tables when you can perch yourself on a wingback wicker chair in the garden? Why unfurl your grandmother’s vintage table cloth and smooth it over your table top when you can drape it over a thatch of clouds?
Author Wood (one of the country’s most popular designers for women) has clearly used Food Fashion Friends as a showcase for her clothing collections – and why not – her pieces are delicate and delectable and perfectly complement the content, despite inciting serious frock envy. She has also used the book as a sort of quasi-journal with running commentary on how and why she entertains, making the book personal, warm and insightful, despite its high echelon tendencies… I mean, who gets to have Matt Moran over for dinner let alone have him cook it?
High echalon or no, A Menu by Matt is elegant yet fun, relaxed and spunky – and is great fun to read and dive into, knife and fork clattering. The children’s pary – Bonnie’s Birthday – is similarly so – done really beautifully but not in an unattainable, stuffy or overly stylised way. There is clearly romance, fun and love in all these party ideas – a collection of nine in all.
I particularly love A Weekend in the Country – a picnic to celebrate the birthday of Wood’s husband, Nick. With an eye-popping tree studded with 300 giant balloons (every party needs balloons) and a menangerie of kids and farm animals nuzzling for picnic crumbs, this is such a gorgeously relaxed and stunning idea, I need to go outside and put it together immediately.
Being an avid home cook, the recipes provided by Wood are creative, elegant and completely mouthwatering, with a defiant simplicity. I need to make that Rhubarb Meringue Cake like my life depended on it and don’t even get me started on the Roasted Pumpkin Wedges and Pancake Torte with Espresso Syrup and Maple Candied Walnuts. And Baked Bean Vol-au-Vents for the kids? Brilliant.
Fashionistas will adore this book for the superlative blending of fashion with food, and foodies will similarly appreciate a gorgeous gown and picture-perfect settings for a smörgåsbord of divine recipe ideas. Lovers of design and book layout will be in rapture. The book features a high class mixture of paper types from rustic matt high gsm used in Summer Storm to high gloss liquid black in Winter Solstice.
This book could easily have been pretentious but it’s far from it – in fact, at times it feels like a deliberate parody on a theme – the Hot-House High Tea is a case in point… the title does not belie the content in which a gaggle of seriously gorgeous romanticised waifs gasp and groan orgasmically over platters of divinely nostalgic afternoon tea treats. Brunch In The City is similarly dramatised with a late breakfast on a grungey rooftop with a lineup of über moody models who spontanously burst into hilarity, with ravishing smiles flashing.
I personally understand what it would have taken to put together a book like Food Fashion Friends and let me just stand in awe with hands clapping at this beautiful feat… it’s obvious this book is a collection of treats steeped in Wood’s deep passion for great food, gorgeous clothing and entertaining on a whimsical and creative scale. Thankfully, the rest of us also get to share in the multi-layered treats.