Monday, April 30, 2012

Healthy Potato Rosti

I remember reading that some horrifyingly large percentage of teenagers would have no idea what to do if given a whole raw potato.  They had never had to deal with potato in its natural form.  For them, potato was something that came pre-prepared in the frozen section of the supermarket.

This appalled me because I LOVE potato.  The capital letters are necessary.  I can rattle off dozens of recipes.  There is pretty much no week that goes by that doesn't include me eating potato.  I love eating it in so many different ways, but one that I do like to treat myself with is potato rosti.  If I have rosti in a restaurant it is generally a deliciously crunchy, deep fried experience.  In the interest of eating healthily this is clearly not something I would want to eat all the time.  So I had to come up with a way to have my delicious rosti experience without the fat content.  Thank goodness for non-stick pans!  Good non-stick frypans mean that I can enjoy one of my favourite potato dishes with a minimum of fat.

What is your favourite way to have potato?

Healthy Potato Rosti
2-3 potatoes per person
1/2 onion per person (optional)
spray olive oil
sea salt
tiny knob of butter

Coarsely grate your potato and onion over a clean tea-towel.  Mix so that the onion is evenly through the potato.  Now squeeze and squeeze and squeeze to get as much moisture as you possibly can out of your potato.

Heat a non-stick frypan to a medium heat.  Melt your tiny knob of butter, spray lightly with the oil (yes I know the spray can damage the non-stick surface so you can also just pour a tiny bit of oil in) and swirl to coat the pan.

Pile your potato into the pan and push down so you have a compacted circle about 1 - 1.5cm thick.  Cover the fry pan with a lid and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.  You know it is ready to flip when you can see the edges starting to brown.  The lid is important as it steams the rest of the potato while the outside is frying.

To flip, slide your rosti onto a plate.  Spray the uncooked top with a little more olive oil and a light sprinkle of sea salt.  Place the frypan over the plate and flip it all over.  With a bit of practice this gets easy.  Cook for about another 10 minutes till the other side is also nice and golden.

I love to serve this with a steak and a glass of red wine.  Mmmm comfort food indeed!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gratitude for the small things

It seemed extra dark this morning when I woke for my walk and sure enough when I stepped outside I discovered that it was because a thick fog was blanketing the city.  Other than the terrible frizzy things it does to my hair, I adore walking in the fog.  Somehow the world seems quieter, more calm.  The air is cold but refreshing on my face and the scenery is gorgeously mysterious in soft focus.

As I drove to work the fog was starting to break up, turning into a golden haze and where the sun had made its way right through, beams of light were causing the moisture on the grass to sparkle like a million diamonds.

But being the driver of a silver car, I most definitely had my headlights on (in fact everyone driving in fog should have their headlights on - their proper headlights, not just those silly parking lights - but that is a rant for another day).  By the time I got to work the fog was forming a ceiling above me, but the road was quite clear so I had almost forgotten about my headlights.  Luckily for me, my car is one of those that beeps at you if you leave them on so there will be no flat battery at the end of the day.

I felt completely grateful to whoever first thought of putting in that headlight alarm.  It has saved me numerous times.  Some days it is just the little things that make my day.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Australians and New Zealanders regard each other as family.  But like any family there are issues of family contention.  One of these is just who invented the pavlova.  This is a hotly debated topic - whole books have been devoted to where the creation of a meringue base topped with cream and fruit was given its name in honour of the ballerina Anna Pavlova.  It is one of those long standing family arguments with no way of determining an answer, but I think we can all be thankful for the result.

My family is full of foodies, yet there are surprisingly few desserts that everyone really enjoys.  Pav is one of those few, however everyone likes their own version of the toppings, so we tend to serve it in a modern "deconstructed" manner.  Like a production line, each person selects their desired level of cream and/or fruit- or in my sister's case just eats the meringue on its own.

The trick with pavlova is to beat it really, really well.  I found I had issues with my pavs going flat until I got a mix master and beat them much more.  There is usually at least 20 minutes beating time on maximum speed these days when I make a pavlova.  The other tricks are to have your egg whites at room temperature, and let the pav cool in the oven, with the door closed but oven turned off for awhile and then by just opening the door a crack.

Ideally a pavlova has a crisp outside shell filled with a soft marshmallowy filling.  Traditionally a pavlova is topped with whipped cream, then arranged with strawberries, kiwi fruit, banana and passionfruit, but you can really top it with anything you like - S is a big fan of shaved chocolate.

All beaten up and ready for the oven


6 egg whites at room temperature
375g caster sugar
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tsp white vinegar

Beat egg whites until very stiff.  Gradually add the sugar, vanilla and vinegar.  Continue to beat until very thick.

Pile your meringue on an oven tray lined with baking paper (or a pavlova plate if you have one).  Remember they usually spread a bit.  Smooth roughly into a circle adding any decorative swirls you like in the meringe then bake at 120 degrees for an hour.

Cool in the oven with the door closed for quite a long time, then just open it a crack

Just before serving top with whipped cream and fruit of your choice (usually mixed berries marinated in cointreau and a little sugar in my family).

Yes, I opened the door too soon, hence the cracking.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Today is ANZAC day, a day to remember all those who have served our country in the military, particularly those who gave their lives.

For me, ANZAC day is about remembering sacrifice, but it is mostly about a hopeful prayer that the generations to come do not need to live in the fear that their loved ones will be lost to war.  It may be a futile prayer, but I continue to make it and to hold out hope that humans, all around the world, will find a way to live as one people, diverse in our beliefs, cultures and traditions, but singular in our respect of the lives around us.

And while we work to that epiphany I will keep making ANZAC biscuits - after all some good can come from war.

ANZAC Biscuits
(from the Australian Woman's Weekly Old Fashioned Favourites Cookbook)
Makes about 25

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
125g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 160oC.  Grease oven trays and line with baking paper.

Combine oats, flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl.

Combine butter, golden syrup and water in a small saucepan, stir over a low heat until smooth, stir in bicarb soda.  Mix into the dry ingredients

Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls, place about 5cm apart on trays, flatten slightly.  Bake about 20 minutes, cool on trays.

I really like golden syrup, so I tend to add an extra tablespoon and reduce the brown sugar a bit.  I also only bake for 15-17 minutes because I like them more chewy!

How are you celebrating ANZAC day?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Flute Bakery Post

It has been a while between posts about The Flute Bakery.  Don't think this is because I've gone off them, they are still 100% my bakery of choice, particularly for special events, it is just that we have been through somewhat of a birthday drought.

But luckily one of my colleagues was good enough to be born several years ago and so we could celebrate with a cherry, vanilla, chocolate cake.  A light chocolate sponge, topped with vanilla mousse, a layer of morello cherries and covered in rich chocolate mousse made for an amazing interpretation of the old Black Forrest Cake.  Needless to say, it disappeared quickly.

And with only one macaroon on offer competition was fierce.  The birthday boy and the macaroon addict agreed to share it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cupcakes Galore

Last night we celebrated my sister's birthday in style.  Over cocktails and mountains of delicious middle eastern finger food everyone laughed and chatted the night away.

My contribution to the night was dessert in the form of cupcakes.  Even after the mountains of delicious finger food I was happy to see that the cupcakes went down a treat.  I made two types, super chocolate and orange and poppyseed.

The chocolate ones are probably my signature cupcake and are regularly requested.  I use this recipe but for cupcakes add a packet of choc bits and bake them for 14-20 minutes depending on your cupcake size.  It makes about 15-20 large cupcakes (depending on how large they are) and about 40 small cupcakes.  Once iced, I always refrigerate these cupcakes as it sets the icing and makes the cupcake go more dense and fudgy.

The orange and poppyseed cupcakes were from this recipe which is worth the read just for the hilarity of the writing.  It was the first time I'd made this recipe into cupcakes and it made 21 large cupcakes which took 30 minutes to bake.  It is a flourless recipe, but beware, baking powder usually contains gluten so it isn't a perfect option for someone with a serious gluten intolerance.  The recipe doesn't have icing, so I made a pretty standard cream cheese frosting of:

125g butter
250g cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups icing sugar
orange zest to taste

You just beat everything together and it makes an extremely tasty frosting.  For me the secret to this however is to use light cream cheese.  It just makes for a better tasting, easier to spread or pipe frosting.

Seeing as the cupcakes were for a special occasion I had a lovely time piping icing and decorating them.  But the best part of making anything like this is watching everyone enjoy them - oh and getting the leftovers to take home.  S and I will be having a yummy afternoon tea today!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Autumn Colours

The days are growing ever cooler.  Frosts have arrived, along with the first few fogs.  But we continue to be blessed with the divine intense blue skies and warm sun that makes autumn in Canberra just beautiful.  And of course, my obsession with coloured leaves continues.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Happy Birthday at Soju Girl

Today my little sister turned 30.  I'm somewhat blown away by that.  I was fine with turning 30 but my little sister?  That just doesn't seem possible.  I have such clear memories of her as a very little girl, not to mention our awkward teenage years where my mother would despair at our fights before we matured into great friends.  30 seems so grown up, and judging from our conversation today over lunch about issues of managing staff, investment properties, house-hold appliances, plumbers etc we are grown up.  It is just that in my head she is my little sister and surely little sisters don't turn 30 do they?

Tonight Mum is cooking birthday dinner as is tradition, but 30 is a special birthday and there is more than one meal opportunity in a day, so my sister's husband, brother-in-law and I took her out to lunch at the Canberra restaurant Soju Girl.  The website describes the food style as modern South-East Asian and Japanese dishes but I would say that this is one of those restaurants that owes a lot to the creative freedom and inventiveness that is so present in so much of modern Australian food.

The dishes are designed to share, so we chose to share three "small plates" and two "large plates".

Our first small plate was zucchini flower, sushi rice, soy mirin and it was fantastic.  Each zucchini flower was stuffed with deliciously piquant rice, then lightly battered and fried giving it a beautiful crisp texture.  The soy mirin dipping sauce complimented it perfectly.

By the second plate I remembered to take photos and the Tiradito of King Fish, Yuzo, white soy, raddish was very photogenic and completely delicious.  This was probably my favourite of everything we ate (although it was all wonderful).  The flavours were so delicate and beautifully balanced.

Our final small plate was soft shell crab, som tom salad, citrus dressing.  I'm a fan softshell crab and the crispy deep fried batter was delicious, making this a joy in the mouth.  The flavours were complex and the salad a beautiful accompaniment.

Our two large plates were the beef cheek penang cashew curry and the coconut braised duck yellow curry which were accompanied by kaffir scented rice.  Both curries were beautiful.  The meat was fantastically cooked, it broke apart at the touch of a spoon and the sauces were rich and delicious.  There was a good array of vegetables in both curries which I particularly liked.  Fresh asparagus and snap peas lightened the meal along with generous garnishes of fresh herbs.

Our 5 dishes was a perfect amount for lunch for the four of us and with softdrinks and a beer and a coffee came to just under $40 a head which I thought was very reasonable given the quality of food.

Soju Girl is half restaurant, half bar with an extensive cocktail and wine list and a range of beers on tap.  It is quite open plan, so I wonder how noisy it would get when the bar side is full, but it is definitely somewhere I would be keen to return to.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Poached Quince

I sometimes wonder how people figured out that you could eat various items of food.  I mean who first decided to separate eggs and find out that you can whip egg whites till they become stiff?  What about plants like taro that are toxic when raw?  Who thought "lets just cook this poisonous plant to see if we can eat it then" - and who tried the cooked stuff first?  And who was it upon finding a rock hard, misshapen quince thought, if I cook this for several hours it will become delicious?

Well I think in all these cases we can thank those pioneering first cooks and even more to the taste testers who they employed, because the results have been used to wonderful effect by cooks over the years since.

I have been hearing about the wonder that is a quince for quite some time now.  While I was familiar with quince paste as an ideal cheese accompaniment, I hadn't tried the fresh fruit.  They have a limited season, so I was very pleased to actually remember them when I was at the green grocers.  Quince are not the prettiest of fruit.  Craggy would be a good description.  And the white flesh discolours almost instantly when exposed to air.  But after several hours poaching they turn the most gorgeous dark pink colour and the hard - I mean be careful not to cut yourself with the kitchen knife hard - flesh becomes soft and tender.  It really is an amazing transformation.

I poached 3 quince, by making a poaching liquid of a litre of water, a cup of sugar, a vanilla bean and a pinch of cloves.  The quinces I peeled under running water, then cut into 8ths and cored.  I simply popped them in the boiling liquid, turned it down to a gentle simmer and left them alone for 2 hours.

I've had some warm with ice-cream, but have mainly been enjoying them with my museli and yoghurt or porridge for breakfast.  They went particularly well with porridge - just a sprinkle of cinnamon and no sweetener other than the fruit was perfect.  Faux Fuchsia has a wonderful sounding cake made with them over on her blog.

I have to say, I'm not 100% convinced that the quince can replace rhubarb compote in my mind as my preferred cooked fruit, but then again, I'm not that keen on cloves so I might try the recipe again leaving them out.  Still they are a very yummy addition to my breakfast and they are just so pretty.  Plus they keep in the fridge just fine for at least a week and you can freeze them no problems which does make them rather ideal for cooking up in big batches.

Have you tried quince and what did you think?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Koko Black

I went quite off chocolate for Easter.  I know, what terrible timing.  There was chocolate everywhere and for some reason I didn't feel like eating it.  Luckily I have my mojo back which meant I could really enjoy a visit to Koko Black for a catch up with a friend.

We were lucky enough to score the comfy couches (my only complaint with Koko Black is that due to its size there are very limited couches) and settled in for a great catch up.  I love that about Koko Black, you rarely feel rushed by the staff, even after you have finished your delicious treats, they continue to refill your water glass and make you feel welcome.  It is only if there is a line of people glaring at you to move that you really feel you must leave.

Diabetics and those on a diet, look away now because I chose the chocolate cake plate and while I offered it to the boys to taste, I ate pretty much all of it. 

A tiny intense chocolate cake, a swirl of velvety chocolate mousse and two shortbreads garnished with a swoosh of chocolate emblazoned with nuts.  The plate looks small, but  believe me, it is plenty!  Everything was delicious, the mousse was particularly delicious when piled on the shortbread - its silky texture contrasting with the crisp biscuit. 

Worried that I wasn't ingesting quite enough calories in one go, I washed it down with a hazelnut hot chocolate.  We sat, talked and ate.  It was a perfect way to spend an afternoon

Friday, April 13, 2012

Misty Morning

Each morning when I wake early to go for a walk, I struggle to get out of bed.  It is cold now.  I need gloves and the grass is crunchy with frost.  However the effort is rewarded when the sun rises over the mountains, turning the frost into a sea of silver and gold, and illuminating the mist rising from the lake.  This was my walk this morning.

I hope your day started with such glorious, heart lifting sights as mine did.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brioche French Toast with Maple Syrup Pears

Years ago I was discussing french toast with an American colleague.  "Really good french toast" she declared "must be made with Hawaiian Sweet Bread."  I had never heard of such a thing, so I in turn insisted that the best french toast is made with brioche which she had never heard of.  Some time later I made her brioche french toast at which point she declared that brioche was in fact Hawaiian Sweet Bread (I contend it is the other way around) and agreed that yes, it does make the best french toast.

I have no idea where this recipe came from. I have some vague idea of something in a magazine, but I think I have made it and played with it enough over the years that I think I can claim it as my own.

As french toast goes, this recipe is rich.  This is a recipe for a Sunday brunch, to be eaten slowly whilst sipping tea and reading the paper in the sunshine, before lazy walk.  In my family it is a public holiday meal, usually eaten closer to midday and filling enough to tide you over till dinner.  However you eat it, I think you will find it is delicious.

Note: This is one of those recipes that I generally make by chucking things in a pot, so all measurements are approximate and can be altered to suit your taste.  For example when making this for my aunts I would triple the amount of cinnamon and halve the sugar!

Brioche French Toast with Maple Syrup Pears
serves 2

2 pears (I prefer burre bosc or william)
50g butter
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 thick slices of brioche
2 large eggs (3 if they are small)
1 large tablespoon caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
a good shake of cinnamon

Peel, quarter and core the pears.  Slice each quarter into 3-4 slices lengthwise.

Melt the butter, maple syrup and cinnamon together in a large pot until simmering, add pear slices and stir to coat.  Simmer over a gentle heat until the pears are soft and cooked through and the sauce is syruppy (about 10-15 minutes).

Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla.  You really need to whisk the eggs hard to break them down so they are quite runny.  Put the brioche in a shallow tray and spoon half of the egg mixture over them.  Turn the brioche and spoon the remaining egg over so that they are completely soaked.

Heat a large non-stick fry pan over a medium heat and melt a little butter so it is sizzling.  Add the brioche.  It will be very soft and tear easily, so be careful when picking it up.  Cook till golden brown then flip and cook the other side (the second side will cook much faster).  You don't want to cook too fast because you want to cook all the egg that has soaked through the brioche.

Serve each person two slices of brioche topped with half the pear and the syrup.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Winter is Here

Our dog Bella used to wander along and then suddenly flop down. We always said it was like she thought " I want to sit down ... NOW".  Sure most of the time she would do the usual dog sniffing inspection before seating herself but other times, almost mid-stride, she would decide that now was the moment to be seated.

Winter arrived like that this year.  One day I'm walking along the beach in a t-shirt and shorts, splashing in the water, the next I'm reaching for the winter doona and turning the heating on.  And I'm not being in any way metaphorical.  It was warm and sunny on Sunday, it snowed on Monday.

The cold arrived so fast that it caught us by surprise.  S and I ended up wearing a strange assortment of clothes as we each kept adding layers while we tried to figure out the weather.  Somehow it didn't occur to us to turn on the heating, instead shocking each other when we touched freezing noses and hands.  You see in Canberra the rule of thumb is that you don't switch the heating on before ANZAC day, I lasted one cold day before I caved and flicked the switch to the wonder of a warm house.

However I didn't even last one day before I swapped out our lightweight summer doona replacing it with the thick, snuggly, winter one.  Bedding is one of the few areas where we do not agree.  You see I'm a doona girl.  I love the freedom, the loose, light, fluffy, yet warm feeling of a doona.  S prefers layers of blankets, heavy and thick, he likes the solid feeling and the ability to peel one layer back at a time to get to the perfect temperature.  We have compromised on a doona with a sheet and extra blankets at the end of the bed, however, I suspect I won that compromise.  Still even S had to admit, as the temperature dropped, being cocooned in the soft, fluffy layers of our bed was just gorgeous.

Are you a doona or a blanket person?  And did winter catch you as much by surprise as it caught us?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Holiday Traditions - Part 3

I hope everyone had a gorgeous Easter long weekend.  As predicted mine was spent with my family, relaxing and eating.  Oh, how we ate and ate.  We ate so much that on Sunday night Mum announced we had run out of food (a slight exaggeration) and I replied it was ok because I was so full I was perfectly happy to have only an apple for dinner.

There were cakes and sweets aplenty.  My favourite cake of all time, the Austrian guglhupf, a strawberry topped frangipane tart from The Flute, an amazing bread and butter pudding made with brioche.

Breakfasts were leisurely affairs that included hot cross buns (of course), croissants and my legendary brioche french toast with maple syrup pears (recipe to come later in the week).

There were smorgasbords for lunch and delicious dinners including herb crumbed fish and Greek inspired slow roasted lamb.  I think it is safe to say that we ate well and ate often.  Luckily the weather was mostly gorgeous so we could take long walks to help cope with the calorie intake.

Somehow we ended up with quite a Greek theme for the weekend.  Mum decided that along with our Greek themed roast lamb dinner (from this month's Women's Weekly and it was delicious), we should try the Greek game of cracking eggs together which had been dyed red.  The person's egg which doesn't crack gets extra luck for the year ahead.

We knew the basics, but not really the actual rules, so there might have been some creative interpretations.  For example I don't think throwing the eggs off the balcony at the end is usually part of the game.  It was however, very funny.

All in all it was a divine weekend and I've emerged the other side feeling happy, relaxed and slightly fatter.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How Easter Bunnies Are Made

This morning my brother-in-law demonstrated to us all how Easter bunnies are made.

Happy Easter everyone.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Holiday Traditions - Part 2

Recently S and I were doing some tidying, trying to declutter.  "What is in this box?" he asked.  "Easter decorations" I replied.  With that he gave me a look that in one glance said, "I'm never quite going to understand this obsession with decorating the house for religious festivals that you don't follow and filling it with extra things that require dusting and storage".

What can I say, I love pretty things and I have some very pretty Easter eggs (plus I'm the one that does the dusting).  I love to fill an old silver bowl with the eggs that I've inherited, collected or been given over the years.  My favourites are the intricately painted Russian looking ones.  They are just gorgeous and so detailed.  They have come from all over the place but Oxfam does seem to have them most years.

I also have a number of cute little fluffy yellow chicks scattered about, and somewhere in the house (although we couldn't find where we put them during the tidying) there is a pair of mechanical bunnies that dance to Mambo Number 5.  Not sure how Easter-y they really are, but they sure were an amazing find by my mother last year.

Of course, decorations would not be complete without a bowl of Cadbury solid milk chocolate mini eggs.  Their rainbow coloured foil wrappers have been a part of Easter for as long as I can remember.  Whether or not you rate Cadbury chocolate as edible or not, you can't knock the decorating aspects of a pretty foil wrapper.

Do you decorate for Easter?  And if you do, do people consider you as crazy as my partner considers me?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Holiday Traditions - Part 1

My family is not religious, however in a society that is based on Christianity, we have developed our own traditions that tie in with the major festivals (and therefore public holidays).  Most of them revolve around three key elements: family, friendship and feasting.  At regular intervals during the year, these religious festivals mark for us a time to reconnect with those we love and doing so invariably involves mountains of delicious food.

Ask me to think of Easter food and the first item that comes to mind is (surprisingly for a choco-holic like me) not chocolate Easter eggs, it is hot cross buns.  I'm a traditionalist.  Leave your chocolate chip / mocca / white chocolate and cranberry buns to someone else, for me it is fruit all the way.  Although I will say I do prefer them when they are light on the mixed peel.

I like my hot cross buns warmed in the oven, then slathered with butter that melts into puddles.  Nothing else, no jam or honey, just butter and a nice strong cup of tea to wash them down with.

I know that I can get hot cross buns from about the 28th of December, but I like to save them till just before Easter to preserve the specialness.  I've been enjoying them for the last two weeks and they are super delicious.  I come in from my morning walk, often chilled at the moment, turn on the oven and soon have pipping hot cross bun before me.  As comfort food goes, this rates highly!

So tell me, what are your Easter traditions?  And how do you like your hot cross bun?

Monday, April 2, 2012


You know that kind of excitement which makes you do a little jumping dance in the middle of the lounge room?  The anticipation that wakes you up in the middle of the night.  The news that you want to tell EVERYONE, even if you know they aren't interested?  Well I know that feeling because I have it bubbling from every pore in my body right now.

You see on the weekend S and I booked our flights to Europe!!!!  We are heading over for his brother's wedding in Denmark but will also be having a holiday.  We will definitely visit Paris, London and Copenhagen, the rest of the itinerary is a work in progress, but such exciting work.

I've been to Europe once when I was 15.  I visited Paris and a little of England, including London.  However my memories are vague.  S has never been to Europe.  With less than 3 months till we go, there is loads of planning to be done but I couldn't be more happy to fit extra activities into my day.

So if you have any recommendations of things we must see/do, please comment away!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Hunger Games - The Movie

I would not describe myself as a fashionista, however I am prepared to make a bold prediction - braids will be big this season.  Judging from the girls (and women) coming in to see the movie version of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen's choice of hairstyle is setting a trend.

I loved The Hunger Games, I got the first one over Christmas and devoured all three books.  I loved reading something so compelling that I struggled to stop reading at night.  They were books that had me hanging on to every word and then thinking about them long after I had finished reading.

It is always with some trepidation that I approach the movie of a book I've loved.  The transition from page to screen is not an easy one.  Novels contain such depth that condensing them into a few hours of screen time is fraught with danger.  And then Margaret and David, my go to movie reviewers, gave it a terrible review.

However I was not deterred. This morning I headed along to the movies with a couple of friends.  I was ready to be disappointed, but hopeful that it would be great.

I really enjoyed the film.  If you haven't read the book, following some aspects like the back story of Katniss' family will be difficult.  Minor details were changed, for no real reason as far as I can see and various aspects of Katniss' inner struggles were not even close to being portrayed.  But overall it was faithful to the story.  The actors were great, the costuming brilliant.  The vision of the Capitol and the Peacekeepers putting down the people are definitely set to lead into the next two movies and it is clear that the film makers took inspiration both from Roman gladiatorial battles and Nazi propaganda material.  The fight scenes were somewhat blurred and slightly difficult to follow, but I think that was mainly done to covey what was happening whilst maintaining the M rating. 

I think it would be an enjoyable movie even if you hadn't read the book, but having read it, the understanding you bring makes it a great movie.  I think anyone who loved the book would not be disappointed.  It certainly lived up to expectation for me.