A Bite of the Big Apple by Monica Trápaga Published by: Penguin Lantern $39.99
When she was little, my daughter was a devotee of the iconic children’s ABC TV series Playschool and particularly loved the “pretty lady with the hushy voice”. The lady was Playschool presenter Monica Trápaga and the “hushy voice” was my daughter’s attempt to say ‘husky’.
Well, times have moved on. My girl’s now at Uni and Trápaga divides her time between Sydney, where she runs a vintage emporium called Reclaim, and her Brooklyn home. In the Big Apple, she indulges her passion for jazz singing, entertaining, looking after her extended family and cooking up a storm.
It seems in many ways a divine existence, which Trápaga recounts in her cookbook, A Bite of the Big Apple, co-written with her daughter Lil Tulloch. It’s a big-hearted, rambling compendium, in which they take us on a culinary journey through NY, its multi-cultural influences, markets and produce. At the same time, friends are recalled, life-affirming experiences are recounted and many recipes are shared (I can vouch for the Lavender Lemon Pound Cake).
Part of the book’s charm lies in the gorgeous, colourful collages that accompany each recipe designed by Trápaga herself and the food photography has also been taken by family and friends. Unlike the fast-paced nature of New York itself, this is a meandering book to savour slowly. Dip in and out, try a recipe here and there, reread a diary entry. The only jarring note is the final section, which recounts Trápaga’s home decorating philosophy – this sits uneasily with her search for the ultimate dessert and her obsession with spring lamb.
I’ll be interviewing Monica Trápaga in the next edition of 3mbs’ book programme, Page Turners, where she’ll be talking more about her Big Apple culinary adventures.
Read it: If you enjoy wholesome cooking, and a glimpse into the inner heart of New York.