The Best Food & Garden Books of 2013

Here are our top ten food and garden books of 2013, as selected by our resident foodie and gardener Chris Gordon. (Displayed in no particular order.)


Cooked by Michael Pollan

In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores an essential human activity – cooking – which is at the heart of our culture. It seems insane that fresh food is flown in from all over the world when we can produce most of it in our own patch. Pollan’s marvellous book is a call to arms: reminding us of the magic of preparing food.


Stephano Manfredi’s Italian Food by Stefano Manfredi

What would we be eating here in our far-flung country if it wasn’t for our wonderfully diverse population? We have much to be thankful for, including a rich culture of Italian food. As summer approaches it’s time for basil and tomato dishes, for a simple pizza on the beach, for penne with broad beans – oh, the list goes on. This cookbook is the ultimate collection of Italian recipes from the man who has been influencing the way we eat for decades.


The Blue Ducks by Darren Robertson and Mark LaBrooy

Mark LaBrooy and Darren Robertson, owners and chefs at Bronte-based cafe Three Blue Ducks, have collated really easy and scrumptious recipes that share their favourite ethos – and mine – of cooking with only the freshest ingredients, using sustainable, locally grown produce, and (surprise) utilising your own kitchen garden.


Save with Jamie by Jamie Oliver

An ode to the magician of contemporary cooking: Mr Oliver – a man who has surely done more than anyone in the Western world to change food habits, create a vibe around mashed (or does he say mushy?) fresh peas and somehow produce cookbooks that are as equally loved by teenagers as by suburban dads. He thinks we should eat what’s in front of our faces: eat seasonally, eat well. A winner of a book, again.


Asian after Work by Adam Liaw

Here are fresh and fast recipes for all occasions – from dinner parties to Monday nights – and the ingredients are all obtainable (from the garden or the Asian supermarket) and steamingly good. It makes sense in our summer eves to be cooking clean flavoured, one-wok wonders. It is, after all, the season for coriander.


Cultivating Modernism: Reading the Modern Garden by Richard Aitken

Cultivating Modernism is a gorgeous inspiration to anyone with an interest in gardening, design or history, but is also packed full with creative suggestions on how to landscape your own home and backyard. Richard Aitken has sourced images and texts from an array of long-forgotten books and magazines to take us on an armchair tour through the landscape of our modernist gardens.


Edible Garden Design by Jamie Durie

Jamie Durie takes us on an international romp through garden design, with a focus on the various bounties. From a fish farm in Thornbury to a rooftop veggie patch in New York, Durie has managed to create an accessible, beautiful book which is all about cultivating your own food, even around the bathtub.


The Garden at Stonefields by Paul Bangay

This is celebrated landscape designer Paul Bangay’s rousing story of creating Stonefields, one of Australia’s most beautiful country gardens (think of a manor garden). Aside from photographs documenting the evolution of the garden, the book also features extracts from Paul’s diary, making this an intimate and compelling account of dealing with drought and bushfire in contemporary rural Australia.


Small Space Organics by Josh Byrne

Here, Gardening Australia presenter Josh Byrne, a leading connoisseur in sustainable design and urban water management, provides all the dependable information you need to create your own organic panorama. This is the guide book needed for plotting, planting, watering and, eventually, harvesting your own food garden.


Gardening Australia’s Flora

In every collection there should be the final word, and here it is. Gardening Australia’s Flora is an encyclopaedia containing information on more than 20,000 plants from all around the world. Organised by botanical name, the individual entries provide a detailed description of each plant. This is a book for knowledge rather than inspiration. Essential.