Roberta Muir – cookbook author, food writer and manager of Sydney Seafood School – has a passion for good cooking, eating and drinking, and exciting travel in search of all three.
I remember spending the money an aunt sent for my 12th birthday to take a bunch of friends to a local café which made great pies and chips. That was the first time I ‘entertained’, and sharing my discovery of good food with others gave me such a thrill. While I’m not opposed to occasionally curling up alone with a bowl of pasta e fagioli and a good DVD, for me food is really all about sharing. Whether it’s around a beautifully set table, on a picnic rug or writing about my new favourite restaurant … nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing the food I love with other people.
As with many Anglo-Celtic Aussies growing up in the 1970s, wine wasn’t part of my family’s table. But in my late teens, as I realised there was a whole world out there that ate (and drank) differently to us, I began to read the wine columns in the weekend papers, discovered Wolf Blass (grey label), Brown Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon and Houghton’s White Burgundy and started to learn ‘wine talk’. Weekend wine tasting expeditions followed as I set out to educate myself about this delicious and exciting new world … many years later I’ve discovered that I love pinot noir (Aussie or Burgundian), Australian riesling (aged and young), Sherry (especially Manzanilla) and am developing a keen interest in orange/amber wines (perhaps for their Sherry-like notes).
The travel bug bit when I was 16 and boarded a plane for the first time to visit an aunt in New Zealand. A decade later I back-packed around Turkey for 3 months, followed by various driving holidays around Europe and the UK (especially my ancestral home of Scotland). An adventurous mother led me on safari in Botswana and a 4WD adventure through the Canadian Rockies and up the Dempster Highway to cross the Arctic Circle, while a Swiss husband has given me an in-depth appreciation of that autonomous enclave within Europe that few outsiders get. Crossing the high passes of Switzerland in summer, exploring the back roads of Sardinia and Lombardy with the locals while researching cookbooks, a 4WD adventure in Mongolia, and road trips in Iran and the Faroe Islands are just some of my favourite travel memories.