If, mid-afternoon, your brain starts to slow down and your eyes are going all squinty from peering at your computer screen, it might be time to take a little afternoon tea break. Here’s a fun little tea-making gadget that will capture your imagination – the Sharky tea infuser from Argentinean designer, Pablo Matteoda. With a mesh underside, the Sharky tea infuser releases tea into your cup, while the sleek silver, air-filled fin floats above the waterline, which means there’s no fishing around for a sunken teabag at the bottom of the cup. What a great excuse to put on the kettle.
Radiohead did it with “In Rainbows”, Girl Talk did it with “Feed the Ainmals”, and now restaurants are doing it with food. According to the Evening Standard, a London restaurant is tackling the recession head-on by scrapping bills and letting customers pay what they want for this month. Peter Ilic, who owns the Little Bay restaurant group, will not present a single food bill to diners, leaving it up to them to decide how much the meal and service is worth. It isn’t the only restaurant doing this. Lentil as Anything in Melbourne also uses this idea and says “when it comes down to it, we just want to promote the very underutilized concept of trust”. Ibis Singapore are using it for hotel rooms, Good Magazine are using it for subscriptions, Free Culture used it for conference registrations and the Columbus Dance Theatre uses it for theatre tickets. I’m thinking I would like to use it for affordable housing.
Just how good can a cupcake be? Visit newly opened Poppy Cakes at Emporium, order one of their ‘Red Velvet’ cupcakes and find out for yourself. They do sell seven other cupcake flavours but I couldn’t tell you what they’re like. I can’t get past the gorgeous, deep red, vanilla heaven that is ‘Red Velvet’. It seems I’m not alone either as it’s the only style that owner Theo makes as a whole cake. This menu of delicious little cakes doesn’t stray too far from classic vanilla and chocolate flavours. It doesn’t need to. Placing spectacularly top quality ingredients like Neilsen Massey Madagascan vanilla and French Valrhona chocolate in the right hands is a recipe for greatness. Both are considered the finest of their respective food categories and it certainly shows in the end product! As averse as I am to a cliché it must be said, the proof is in the pudding. There I said it. It just is, and it gets better! Dining in provides opportunity for the perfect accompaniment to your cupcake experience by way of the Mariage Frere tea menu. As you’d expect, classic English Breakfast and Earl Grey are on offer but your tastebuds will thank you for being a little adventurous ordering a cup of Marco Polo, Wedding Imperial or the green Fujiyama. Trust me! In store you can order 1 or 100 cupcakes, depending on how early in the day you visit. Order in advance and you can have whatever your heart desires. They’ll even deliver, giftwrap or cater functions and events.
Foxtel’s Lifestyle Food channel devotees will be all too familiar already. The UK’s most popular cooking program ‘Masterchef’ is already a hit here with most foodies, so word of the Australian version travelled quickly last year amongst us. Masterchef Australia is apparently Channel 10’s big hope for 2009 – blah, blah! Who cares about that? As long as we have a similar format; two judges (one of whom on occasion states his willingness to marry a pudding), regular, everyday (sometimes crazy) people cooking off against each other with surprise ingredients, a cooking challenge in one of Australia’s more well known restaurants and the finale, a final cook off consisting of a two course meal of the contestants choice, then I’m certain we’ll all be happy. My fingers are crossed! Contestant applications for the show closed on January 9th and the auditions have already begun. (more…)
You wouldn’t have them on your weekly shopping list, not even the foodiest of foodies would either. It’s also safe to say that most Australians would not even know what they were. I’m referring to truffles. A type of fungus that grows underground, typically among the roots of oak and hazelnut trees. As quoted by famous French food writer Brillat Savarin, “The French black truffle is considered the finest of the edible fungi and has a place in gastronomy alongside saffron, caviar, foie gras and the finest of wines. (more…)
Imagine having a cow in the backyard. Or on the balcony. Slightly impractical, but that’s where Herdshare steps in. Herdshare is crowdfunding for wannabe cattle farmers. People can buy a share in a cow and pay a local farmer to board, care for, and milk the cow. The shareholder then obtains (but does not purchase) the raw milk from their own cow. Which neatly gets around the food standards regulations banning the sale of unpasteurised milk products for human consumption. The arrangement allows consumers to buy a share in a cow for about $50, plus a monthly agistment fee – yielding about seven litres of milk a week (or less, plus cheese and butter). Even better, it’s tweaking the food production paradigm, enabling consumers to become food producers. And farmers, instead of being primary producers, are paid to care for animals that are no longer theirs. The first Herdshare has hit Brisbane. It’s early days, and prices are expected to fall as demand grows. I’ll drink to that.
Ottolenghi, The Cookbook is definitely one of the stand out cookbooks of 2008. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi wrote this cookbook in response to popular demand from loyal customers of their Notting Hill Deli/Patisserie also named Ottolenghi. After reading the first sentence boldly stating “If you don’t like lemon or garlic… skip to the last page.”, I instantly knew this was the book for me! Focusing on light, super fresh food, the recipes have a Mediterranean influence with a distinct Middle Eastern edge. Fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and pulses are the star ingredients in many of the dishes (vegetarians will love this cookbook) and the recipes are nothing too fancy or over complicated, just great flavour combinations that are also visually stunning. Fresh herbs feature heavily throughout too. Fennel, cherry tomato & crumble gratin, Cauliflower & cumin fritters with lime yoghurt, French beans & snowpeas with hazlenut and orange are just some examples. Non-vego readers are definitely well catered for with dishes like Harissa-marinated chicken with red grapefruit salad, Pan-fried sea bass on pita with labneh, tomato & preserved lemon and Beef & lamb meatballs baked in tahini. A third of the book is dedicated to their passion and love for patisserie with recipes for cakes, cupcakes, tarts, biscuits, meringues and savoury breads and pastries. If you love cooking and eating fresh, healthy and happy food than you need this cookbook!
Once referred to as poor man’s pâté, rillette (pronounced ree-yet) is a deliciously rich sort of ‘meat paste’. Unlike pâté that is made from livers, rillette is made from only meat. A poor man’s pâté because originally only cheaper, less attractive cuts of meat would have been used. Perfect for picnics, snacks or hors d’oeuvres, the best way to eat it is with good bread and cornichon. The vinegary tang of the cornichon perfectly balances the richness of the meat. Rillette can be made from goose, duck, pork (more traditional), rabbit, salmon or sometimes a combination of two (as a general rule – pork goes with everything). Rillette is made by slowly, slowly cooking the meat over a very low heat in water and its own fat seasoned with herbs, spices, garlic and sometimes wine. For example, duck would be cooked in duck fat (and probably some pork fat). When cooked to the point of falling apart, the meat is then drained, shredded and stirred into until a paste like consistency. Store bought, it is generally sold in glass jars or ceramic pots. There are plenty of recipes online if you fancy trying to make your own. Here’s one I like the sound of… Rillette recipe.
Making your own Christmas cakes or puddings this year? It’s most likely that your recipe will require glacé or candied citron and other glacé fruits. This can be quite confusing as candied citron is also known as cedro. As its name suggests, citron (or cedrat lemon) is a member of the citrus family and looks like an oversized lemon or lime. It’s rarely used in its natural form as the intense sourness makes it unsuitable for eating. It’s most common in the Mediterranean and is unique in that the rind is actually the most utilised part of the fruit. If your recipe calls for citron then what you’ll need is cedro, the candied (or glacé) peel of the citron fruit. Apart from being candied, it is also the source of the note ‘Citron’ used in parfumery. Here’s a great recipe for a Carribean Christmas Cake.
We have had a lot of enquires about where to purchase the luscious French macaroons that graced our July ‘Eat’ issue cover. Although the macaroons are not available in Australia, the famed creator, Pierre Herme, has released a cookbook that reveals all the hidden secrets of the perfect macaroon, and more. Showing readers how to recreate the stunning pastry masterpieces, which range in flavour from green tea to black truffle, Pierre Herme’s book – Macaron – is a comprehensive guide to delicate and delectable French gourmet delights. Recommended for confident cooks and pastry specialists, the book tells you everything you ever wanted to know about macaroons. Please note that the book is currently only available in French.
We’re just about at the end of their short season, so enjoy them while you can. Some people say that they are hard work because they need to be double peeled (their outer casing can sometimes be bitter and tough in texture so is best removed). I say it’s worth the effort. I’ve also heard that the best way to eat these little gems is when they are very young and can be eaten, pod and all (like snow peas). However if you’re like me and don’t grow your own at home then it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever find them this young. When buying look for firm, bright green pods without blemishes. To cook, simply remove the beans from the pods and blanch in boiling, salted water and then refresh in ice-cold water. To double peel, make an incision in the outer casing, peel it back and squeeze the vibrant, green inner bean out. 1kg of pods should yield about 225g edible beans. They are brilliant used in salads, pasta or risotto using complimentary ingredients such as aged, sharp cheeses like Pecorino & Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon, olive oil, garlic, bacon, chicken, butter, proscuitto, fresh oregano & thyme, anchovies and asparagus.
Entering a supermarket these days is an ethical workout. With each item on my list, I try to consider the packaging used, the practices and resources used in its production, how far it has travelled, whether it supports the local economy, whether it fairly supports the producer, its health value and appeal, and its dollar cost. So, as a seafood lover, I’m ashamed to say that my main consideration when buying fish and seafood is freshness. But I’ve just picked up a copy of the Sustainable Seafood Guide. Produced by the non-profit Australian Marine Conservation Society, the guide and accompanying pocket-cards help consumers wade through a mire of considerations to make purchase decisions that support sustainable fishing practices. So, what’s the bad news? Southern bluefin tuna and scallops are overfished, while Atlantic salmon and barramundi are farmed using unsustainable practices. Choose whiting, bream, flathead, calamari and tropical trevally instead. Incorrect labelling in the marketplace is rampant, so it’s worth asking. The good news is that as consumers, we have an awesome amount of power. We can help improve the health of the oceans by voting with our wallets. And encouraging others to do the same. Check out the guide. And think twice about ordering those prawns for Christmas – give the guide instead.
A man I knew only as Mr John Macrossan (and my favourite customer) passed away recently at 78 years of age. I still recall our first meeting some time ago and our lengthy chat about our favourite cheeses. I would see John once every two months or so and each time we’d discuss our mutual interest further. Over time I came to know him by name and also his warm, friendly and down to earth manner. If asked, I would describe him as a very tall man with friendly eyes, a permanent smile and always enthusiastic! I look back fondly on our lengthy discussions in front of the cheese fridge and wonder if our paths would still have crossed were it not for our love of good food! Lastly, a quote from John himself – ‘Life’s too short to eat only Quickes Cheddar’. I couldn’t agree more John! We’ll miss you dearly…
Low GI, low fat, high fibre, low carb, preservative free, natural preservative – there is a lot of food lingo floating around that describes what people eat in contemporary society. Traditionally, the food pyramid drew the line between ‘good’ food and ‘bad food’, but recently there has been many ad campaigns in between, which are blurring the boundaries between the two. It is no wonder that food has become linked to our emotional state and we may experience feelings of guilt when eating ‘bad’ foods. All You Can Eat explores these concepts by portraying individuals eating their favourite foods. The closely cropped images focus on the subjects’ faces, as guilt battles pleasure in the ritual of consumption. All You Can Eat is on show at the Brisbane Powerhouse until October 26.
Describe your cooking style at home? It is not very different from what I do for the magazine – very produce-driven, with quite defined flavours. Often I build dishes around one or two key ingredients. At the moment I am taken with blood oranges but they will soon be gone and I will be moving onto lovely summer tomatoes. I often find that condiments, pickles and preserves that one has on hand are a wonderful way of taking a simple thing in different directions. I am a huge fan of the Spanish Forum vinegars, which I swear one could drink. Another favourite is a good Italian vincotto, which I like to use in sweet and savoury recipes. Good anchovies, olives and capers also give one huge mileage in the kitchen.
The map village EAT/DRINK ‘best place’ awards 2008/2009 celebrate Brisbane’s favourite eating and drinking hot spots. We want you to tell us what’s what when it comes to eating and drinking, and it doesn’t just mean the food or drink – it means the whole package. We want the creativity, the experience, the ambience, and the flavour all to be taken into account when you tell us who you think deserves to be considered Brisbane’s best. Please vote for your favourites! The first 100 people to vote will receive a free double pass to map magazine’s exclusive premiere screening of Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona at the brand new Palace Barracks Cinemas on December 3. Plus, the person to vote for the most winners will receive a wickedly indulgent prize pack from Little Creatures Brewing valued at $240 (and for those who come close, there are also five runner-up packs). Voting will take about 8 minutes and will be open until November 7.
Sophia Young recently visited Brisbane’s Black Pearl Epicure Cooking School and shared her secrets for “Stylish Entertaining”. Sophia is the Food Editor of Vogue Entertaining & Travel and her menu was made up of truly delicious Mediterranean & Middle Eastern inspired recipes, using only beautifully fresh produce and top quality ingredients. We were treated to a summery asparagus salad showered in wild ligurian olives, capers and grapefruit segments that looked like pink jewels. Butterfly boned quail was marinated in cumin, coriander, cinnamon garlic and sweet paprika then grilled and served with Koshari, a simple dish made with onion, feta, dill, parsley and mint, basmati rice and green depuy lentils. (more…)
Extraordinary French Tea House ‘Mariage Frères’ is a definite must see for any tea enthusiast. With three tea rooms in Paris and four in Japan its beginnings date back to 1660 when Nicolas Mariage travelled to Persia, the East Indies and the Moghul Empire as part of trade delegation. His descendants continued to deal in tea until 1854 when Henri & Eduoard Mariage founded Mariage Frères as we now know it. Specialising in sourcing high quality, rare tea from all over the world they are also considered masters of blending (melange). They take beautiful, delicate teas and blend them with intriguing spices, fruits and flowers also from all over the world creating amazing, unique blends. Their most famous secret is the mysterious blend ‘Marco Polo’, a black tea flavoured with Chinese and Tibetan fruits & flowers. With an aroma reminiscent of strawberries and cream, its velvety, soft taste really is like nothing else. A new addition the list of favourites is the divine ‘Wedding Imperial’ blend. The golden Assam tea leaves wed the sweetness of chocolate and caramel notes perfectly.
The excitement of choosing a birthday cake out of The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book was one of the most memorable parts of any birthday celebration. Would it be the train, the butterfly, the pirate, the piano or the zoo cake? Whatever it was, the decision was well thought out and every option considered very carefully. WebUrbanist has recently profiled 20 creative, artistic and geeky cake designs for those who may want to revive animated cake design, now that they’ve grown up. iPhone cakes to Rubik’s Cube cakes and Pac Man patty cakes, these cake designs are hilarious. Particularly funny is the Death Star (nothing quite like a Death Star on your birthday), simulated Star Trek cakes, baby aliens and Microsoft Vista cakes – which many of you would like to put a knife through. My personal favourite would be the simple but effective Rubik’s Cube cake.
Ever struggled making perfect poached eggs? If so then you are not alone as it’s a frustration I often hear about. So, I’d like to introduce to you all – The Poach Pod from Fusion Brands. It’s a culinary wonder tool and it’s been a best seller in my store since its arrival last year. You’ll make perfect poached eggs every time, guaranteed. It’s made from silicone (food safe silicone of course) and is heat resistant up to 357°C. The little pods float on top of gently simmering water in a saucepan, like lily pads in a pond and when done just pop out a perfectly domed shaped egg. They’re microwave and dishwasher safe and because of the silicone, non-stick. For those who think outside the box you can also use them for desserts or really anything that requires gentle poaching. They come in a pair and cost $19.95. Please remember though that whenver using eggs in any dish, the fresher the better!