Saturday, January 17, 2015

This Week's Compost


The Moody Blues first album was titled Days of Future Past which serves as an apt enough title for this week’s compost.


Easy as Pie

Brian Wansink writing in New Scientist, January 10, 2015, summarised findings from research he has undertaken into how to ‘tweak our homes, workplaces, schools, restaurant dining and grocery shopping so we mindlessly eat less instead of more’, to reverse how we mindlessly eat too much.

·        Big plates mean big portions. We eat 22 percent less from a 25 centimetre plate than from a 30 centimetre one. And we eat 18 percent more when plate colour matches the food.

·        When the glass is on the table, people pour 12 percent less than if they were holding it in their hand (it’s to do with how the eye judges volume from different angles)

·        Women who keep cereal packets visible on kitchen shelves weigh on average 9.5 kilograms more than those who put them away. Those who leave fruit out weigh 3kg less than those who don’t.

·        People serve themselves more food if it’s within easy reach.

·        Serve form the stove or benchtop/counter rather than the table and you are likely to eat 19 percent less.

·        People serve themselves 14 percent less with smaller spoons.

·        A dish described as ‘crispy’ on a menu will have, on average, 131 more calorie than a non-crispy dish. Add 102 calories for ‘buttery’ but deduct 60 for ‘roasted’.

·        Diners near the window order more side salads and fewer drinks.

·        People sitting closest to the bar drink more than those further away.

·        People who sit tucked away in a cosy corner booth tend to tuck into more deserts.


You have been warned.


Cooking by numbers

Niall Firth, also writing in New Scientist, January 10, 2015, describes a prototype cooking app – ChefWatson -  which is a partnership between IBM – they provide Watson, their

‘superbrain’ computer – and Bon Appetit – they contribute a 9000 recipe based tagged by ingredient, type of dish and cooking style – whereby Watson ‘creates a statistical correlation between ingredients, styles andrecipe steps to create new recipes. Firth tested it: ‘In a creamy pasta dish (I had opted for the ‘elegant’ style’) crème fraiche had been replaced by milk. Another time, with a high experimental setting, Watson tole me my tuna bake needed half a kilo of goose meat. I declined.’


Well, I am up for the challenge and have completed an exhaustive two question survey on the test site to see if I too can be an experimenter. Should I get the opp, I will of course report on the recipe and its execution.


Paleo diets to wacky wines: some fads we’d like to leave behind in 2014

Kale gets KOed. Jamie gets jammed. Paleos get pummelled. Your turn...


Starbucks adds flat white: A 'wet cappuccino' or a small latte? Controversy brews

‘Workshop Espresso barista Levi Hamilton said the flat white was neither a wet cappuccino nor a dry latte.

"The real difference is the amount of froth on top. Cappuccino actually translates to 'cap of foam', so it has the most amount of foam.’


Would you buy a coffee from this nong? As for the Starbuck’s description of what they are about to foist on the US public...


What drives our wine choice – taste, or the price tag?

‘For consumers, the results imply that price may or may not infer quality. In other words, consumers should be wary of using price as a sole indicator of a wine’s quality. This implies that better informed buyers could potentially identify bargains in the short run. In this context expert wine guides potentially play an important role and I have developed a web-based tool called the Australian Wine Price Calculator to help identify under and over-priced wines.’


The conclusions of the study are not rocket (or wine) science; I find them intuitive. But gee, I love the calculator. The Durif I wanted to buy, grown in the Clare Valley, vintage 2011, drinking cellaring year 2021 with a quality score of 94 should be on the shelf at the local bottle-o for $31.53, so I am off to battle-o it out with the mob down the road who want to charge me $35. Now, someone needs to app the calculator (yes, I did just verb app – someone had to).


The sauces that fell from favour

‘Remember when we thought tartare sauce was the height of sophistication? Makers of voguish barbecue and piri-piri would do well to remember that all fashionable sauces have a shelf-life …’


I think including garum in here is a tad red herring (or in this case grey anchovy) as the other four are of somewhat more recent provenance. And I would dispute that ‘brown sauce’ is ‘completely essential’ to a ‘bacon sarnie’ which I assume is a bacon sandwich for which I an argument could be made for tomato sauce as essential or barbecue sauce (unless that is what is meant by brown sauce here?). White sauce I think has fallen out of fashion here which is a shame as a good white sauce has its place- on cauliflower for one. Chipotle sauce on the other hand is getting far too much attention; give me a good chilli chocolate mole with my pork any day.

Cadbury Crème Egg recipe change angers chocolate lovers

‘It's the recipe change which has shocked chocolate lovers across the world.’


Really? I love chocolate and I couldn’t give a stuff.


Breeding flies and edible plastic: the kitchen of the future

‘So how does the Fungi Mutarium work? At its most simple, bits of plastic are placed into egg-shaped containers made from agar, the fungi is inserted and consumes the plastic, and the result is edible mushroom material.’


There goes the Tupperware party!


Food Security Organisations

I thought I would draw your attention to a couple of the sites I follow that focus on food security issues.







Paul van Reyk

253 Trafalgar St.

Petersham 2049

PO Box 221

Petersham 2049

Ph: 0419 435 418



‘"You must never lose your beautiful sense of outraged injustice. alright? Keep it informed and challenge it, but never lose it."


First Dog on the Moon


Friday, January 2, 2015

This Week's Compost

An early edition so you can enjoy some of the stories in Helen Greenwood’s contribution


YEAR IN EATER 2014 . The Year's 15 Best Longform Food Stories

Courtesy of Helen Greenwood, this didn’t quite make it into the NYE edition, but as all of you are like the rest of Australia no doubt still on summer hols – happy reading J


And thanks Helen for putting me on to another site to indulge myself at/on/with.


Chris Crowley’s story of Denise Chavez is a great slapdown for the badboy chefs of the food world. Lance Richardson’s piece should not be read in the dark. John Reed’s is darkly humorous, not really a food story I guess in the same was as Arsenic and Old Lace wasn’t a food film. Romig’s is a fascinating portrait of an Indian restaurant entrepreneur, found of the Saravana Bhavan chain in Chennai and now in many cities where Southern Indian communities have been established, with one in Parramatta listed on the website which I haven’t visited, and clearly not related to the Hotel Saravana Bhavan in Croydon, which had sad to say taken a turn for the worse.


Kanga pies

We’re two adventurous mates with a passion for food and love of travel. Back in 2010, we both lived in Australia and discovered the deliciousness that is an Aussie meat pie. It was the perfect setting: Sun, sand, beach… and pies! Quickly adapting to the land down under, we found it very convenient to grab a pie after a surf, or after the bar. Soon, we were like the locals stopping at the local bakeshop for a takeaway lunch pie.’


A Sri Lankan foodie mate of mine in Toronto (Canada not NSW) tells me she loves the pies from here. The range is quirky and a couple of pics are a turn off but ‘Go you good things!’ say I.


The Vintage Menu Collector: 25,000 Restaurants by One Woman

“Her principal method of acquisition was to write to every restaurant she could think of, soliciting menus. When letters failed, she often marched into a restaurant and pleaded her case in person. She also placed advertisements in trade publications like The Caterer and The Hotel Gazette, but just as often, published news of her collection prompted outright contributions of specimens from around the world.”


I guess I still have time to start my collection J



The question that won't die: is the meat pie Australia's national dish?

‘The official AFC Asian Cup Facebook page seems to have decided a question which has agonised Australians for years by declaring the meat pie our national dish.

The page has put together the “national dishes” of the countries participating. Snuggled among machboos for Kuwait and sushi for Japan is the meat pie for Australia.’


The discussion thread is a hoot, like all those who leapt to defend Australia (kangaroo and emu) as not being the only country to eat its national emblems, examples contra being France (poultry) and Wales (leeks) I know Wales isn’t a country but you get the point), and the one who suggested Australia’s national dish is Kylie Minogue.