Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Suddenly there are three upmarketed pub within ten minutes walk of me. Well, the pubs have been there all the time I have been here but in the past year each has gone through major makeovers to attract the increasingly younger, childed families now in the area, and young craft beer heads.

They have also all upped the ante on pub food but without going the whole gastropub route. The pic above if from West Village which used to be the White Cockatoo. It's called a Stockman's Board, and yes, it's a remodelled ploughman's lunch.

As Adelaide swelters, South Australian man cooks a steak in his Holden Monaro
Couldn’t resist kicking of this holiday Compost with this. John Newtown, does this finally meet your criteria for an Australian food invention J

The secret ingredient in Geoff Beattie’s rich dark fruit cake
‘Geoff looks up once more to that face in the portrait on his wall. “I believe she sees it,” he says. “I believe she sees everything we do in this house. She sees us here. She sees everything I make. She sees everything I do.” And his secret is here. For 24 years he’s been cooking for her. It’s always been her. And she deserves nothing less than perfection.’
Ta to John Newtown

Cry me a cocktail: the unpalatable rise of body food
‘Experimental food artistes Bompas and Parr are offering a workshop teaching London punters to concoct bitters containing real human tears. Music and candles will be provided to make participants sad or wistful – whatever it takes – and then the resulting tears will be blended with neutral alcohol and various herbs to create the perfect Christmas gift for an acquaintance you wish to frighten. ‘

Makes me wish Gay you had made those sausages out of her own blood.

Winemakers turn to wild fermentation
If wild ferments give so much better results, you might wonder why winemakers ever moved away from them. There are reasons. Pure yeast cultures were developed to make winemaking easier, with more predictable and consistent results. This was and still is the best way to mass-produce large volumes of inexpensive wines. Pure yeast cultures (just one strain of yeast conducts the entire fermentation) provide greater reliability than wild ferments (in which there could be hundreds of strains). Wild ferments can produce strange, even bizarre, aromas and flavours. It seems to make sense, though, that single-yeast ferments produce simpler wines.’

A mate of mine is brewing his own beer and making sourdoughs down in Vic and I wondered again about indigenous yeasts in Australia that must surely have got into early alcohol and bread making in Oz. I went on line and found this article. Does anyone out there know of any research that has been done on indigenous yeasts?

Remote Indigenous Gardens Network
‘RIG Network is a national, cross-sectoral networking, research and outreach initiative. We link people, projects and resources to support better practice and undertake projects to help build better local food production initiatives that can deliver social, health and economic benefits to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.’

Don’t know if any of you follow this mob but it’s a great project.

‘Since 2005 Alimentum has been delighting readers with stories, essays, and poems that use food as a kind of must to inspire memory, ideas, humour, joy, melancholy and reflectoion.’

Barbara Santich put me on to this site. It’s a mixed bag with some quirky pages like the Jukebox (songs about food) and Recipe Poems. Nice to dip into.

Friday, December 4, 2015


Mazi Mas
John Newton and I had a terrific meal at the 5th Mazi Mas Sydneydinner. It's a team of four women who work with partner organisations to support women refugees and asylum seekers get experience and training in hospitality.

Our meal was a combo of Persian, Pakistani and Sri Lankan and was absolutely delicious with highlights for me being Ghormeh Sabzim a Persian stew of lamb and fenugreek leaves, Gow Maluwa, a Sri Lankan dish of cabbage sautéed in unroasted spices (mainly coriander) and fresh green chillies, and handmade squishy and crunchy gaz i.e. Persian nougat. Mind you, the Kachay Qeemay Kay Kabab's were also right up there with these, as was the Persian saffron ice cream which accompanied the nougat (both pictured above), and the Chicken Karahi and the Kashke Bademjan (roasted eggplant with walnut and whey).

It was great to chat with the women as they brought our courses to the table about the food, their experience in Mazi Mas and what their plans are - not all of which involved taking up commercial cooking as a career.

Check out their website mazimas.com.au

We plan on going again J

Food, Interrupted
The problem with food is we care too much. Take the example of Diane, a 48-year-old office manager who took part in a study of eating habits in 2010. She believed food was entirely about pleasure and imagination, a matter of “what I like and what I fancy,” she told an interviewer. She obsessed over the variables that might interfere with her enjoyment—as a gourmet might critique the texture of a sous vide chicken breast or frown at the seasoning of a broth. The temperature of her food was particularly important. Diane invited the researchers to a café nearby so they could see her navigate the menu, or rather navigate its dearth of appetizing options. When dinner was served, she ate rapidly but didn’t finish. She would only eat a cooked meal, she explained, when it was still piping hot. So Diane was a picky eater.’

I’m going to make a big call here and say that to call Diane ‘a picky eater’ and to suggest, as the content of this review does, that it was all to do with her food upbringing, is to leave serious questions of Diane’s mental health unexplored. I look forward to reading Bee Wilson’s new book ‘First Bite’ having enjoyed ‘Consider the Fork’, but I hope it is more substantial than this review suggests.

Gut Thinking
On the other hand, Diane may also be suffering from a particularly barren gut microbiome that is leading her to choose only foods her gut microbes want to eat.

‘But we now know the gut itself, and also the microbes inside it, manipulate what we crave, painting a much more complex picture of the forces that determine the way we see food.’

An excellent article that continues my fascination as life in and on Planet Paul. Chloe Lambert writing in New Scientist 21 November 2015.

I have a pdf copy of the article if you are interested.

In search of Ibn Battuta’s melon
From John Newton:
‘Paul – Aramco world is an online magazine published by the no doubt wicked Saudi Arabian crude oil company. Nevertheless the magazine is magnificent and this issue contains a wonderful story called Ibn Battuta's Melon. Not sure if it's possible to separate the story from the rest of the mag, but scroll down to it.’

Indeed a quite wonderful article on the search for said melon in places with too few vowels in their names. I so want to try qovun qoqi, dry rolled melon studded with black raisins. And all praise to the melon vendor woken at 3am to produce the most likely candidate...me, I’d have had some harsh words for the local who thought it important enough to wake me from a hard earned sleep to satisfy some crazed foodie’s craving for a melon, no matter how famous it was.

Chinese food and the joy of inauthentic cooking
‘While many of his professional peers may hope to “transport” their diners to some obscure corner of Asia, Talde writes, his food, inspired by taquerias, gyro shops, diners, burger spots, and Chinese takeout, “is meant to remind you that you’re home, in that strange and awesome country where we live.”

Thanks to Alison Vincent for directing me to this smile making poke in the eye of authenticity which as we know is a flawed and ultimately useless concept...we do, don’t we?  One of my fave lines in Shakespeare is from King Lear when Edmund declares ‘Now Gods, stand up for bastards’. I am happy to stand up  for bastard foods even when they go horribly wrong for out of them have come such treats in Sri Lankan cuisine as my dad’s lamb should smore and my mum’s Milo wattalappam J

A woman is making bread with yeast from her vagina and live blogging it
‘For most women, a bout of thrush usually results in a couple of days of insatiable itchiness and a trip to the chemist.But one woman, feminist blogger Zoe Stavri, rose to the occasion (as any good baker does) and used her excess yeast to, ah, make a loaf of bread. You know what they say? When life gives you thrush, make sourdough.’

I’m pretty sure that’s not what my women friends would say. I haven’t followed this story further; I kinda feel weirdly prurient though my interest is in hearing how the bread turns out [Sure, they say, and you used to read Playboy for Gore Vidal’s essays on US politics]. If anyone out there has been following it, I would be pleased to hear an update. There was some discussion along the lines of ‘yeasts ain’t yeasts, Sol’. Can anyone throw light on that question?

The myth of ‘easy cooking’
‘Food editors are, for the record, acutely aware that their (mostly female) readers want sophisticated meals but feel that the complex recipes offered by chefs are incompatible with their harried lifestyles. So, they make efforts to simplify and streamline, without ever admitting the one thing that cooks really need to hear: that real “easy” cooking, if that’s what you’re after, is far too simple to sustain a magazine and cookbook industry. It relies on foods that can be purchased at a single point of sale and involves a bare minimum of ingredients and a small repertoire of techniques. It leans heavily on things your mom taught you. There are no garnishes of thyme leaves in simple weeknight dinners, and no appetizer salads. Homemade breakfast smoothies are many things, but they are not an “easy” alternative to one of those squeezable yogurt things that you can eat with no hands in the car.’

The argument isn’t new, but it’s wittily made. What interested me tho was that I read it at the same time as I read a critique of ‘smart’ homes  - those ones where fridges talk to you and so on – which argued quite cogently that homes are really being made ‘smarter’ for men as what domestic labour is left will still generally fall to women (in the heteronormative household, that is) - http://bit.ly/1lAWI50