The Blue Ducks | Review

The Blue Ducks – Mark Labrooy & Darren Robertson – Pan Macmillian Aust – 197 pages, RRP $30-$40


Content | Mark and Darren gives us a book with recipes (possibly that  which is featured at their famous Three Blue Ducks restaurant in Byron Bay), additional knowledge on sustainability practices in growing a vegetable garden, keeping chooks and useful information for those into beekeeping.

The books introduction is short, which is good for a book like this, centered on the authors plans to own a café-like place run like a restaurant with very little money. With each chapter/area of this book there are a few pages dedicated to relevant topics (i.e: with seafood there are some pages on selecting seafood and seafood sustainability). The book is broken into Water > Land > Garden sections, classifying food groups into the environments they come from rather than what course they fall under.

Photography/Layout/Design | Not every recipe has an image (which is kind of a pet hate of mine), but I would say 70% of the recipes do have photographs and the food styling is indicative of a beach-like atmosphere, bright colour’s, stressed-wooden textures lots of aqua blue hues.

I understand food styling. I understand elements added to an image to make it look more appealing. For example ‘Our Green Chicken’ (page 67) you rub the chicken with a green marinade and as it cooks it will char and darken becoming a dark brown/black (just like chargrilling anything), they have then smeared extra un-cooked green marinade on the chicken to make the chicken have a fresh green colour. This is somewhat acceptable. However…

I’ll give you two examples of recipes that feature ingredients in the photo integral to the dish,  which add to the aesthetics of the image and  are not actually in the recipe. ‘Toasted Muesli, The Way We Like It’ (pg 93) asks for goji berries, but it looks like there are dried cranberries in the image, there are dried figs and dried apple in the image but not in the recipe. ‘Roasted Vegetable Salad’ (pg 132) has roasted zucchini in the image but not the recipe. Seems like no biggie, but if the green of the zucchini adds an appealing element, influencing you to make the salad, you may be disappointed with the visual outcome.

Recipes/functionality | The recipes are hit and miss. The meat recipes are pretty good, the ‘Kick-Arse Steak Sandwich’ (pg 41) is pretty kick-arse and has become my go-to staple for a steak sandwich. The ‘Muffins’ (pg 96), which looked amazing in the photos were a massive let down, they tasted dry and bland (as the basic batter is unsweetened and heavy) and I had to double the sweet topping for the next batch in order to get more flavor in every bite. The Bronte Fish Cakes (pg 33) are alright, a little dry, but it’s okay if you have sauce to go with them which is mentioned in the serving suggestion.

The photos and styling in this book serve the books beach atmosphere, look delicious but some reciepes have not translated to these mouth-watering images. The meat section recipes are generic but have resulted in good flavors. I would by weary some recipes in the sweet grains section.

Check out The Blue Ducks restaurant here

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Suggest Audience:

  • Everyday cooks wanting mid-week meals
  • Those interested in a cookbook with gardening and sustainability tips and tricks.
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