Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I know you like photos- so here are a few!

I think the Rotary spit roasts at the Bream Creek Show could learn a thing or two about a pig on a spit from this little Italian fella - big pig, small man! YUMMMMMY meat! Thanks piglet! you were really yummy!

A Bosnian cheese that is poured curds and whey - the whole lot, into a calf stomach and smoked...a few months later they cut it open and there you have it!

this is a 700kg cheese at the Slow Food Salone del Gusto!

Dad pretty proud of his spread, - or the scotch...I think its the scotch actually!

Had a great arvo with dad, we had no plans, and just roamed...amazing how many places that I had been wanting to visit that we just stumbled across without a map...naturally Pierre Herme was one of them - oh the macaroons are good...in my opinion, better than Laduree's (where I took Joey for her birthday)

Dad sucking in his guts in front of the Tour Eiffel!

Typical dinner chez moi!
My first ever attempt at Beef Bourgignon - oh come on - I had to try it if i live in Paris!

Mondays with Caroline

Oh how I love them!
She is the only reason I keep going in to the Bakery on my days off unpaid.
Today I made chicken burgers...they are DELICIOUS even if i do say so myself!...the trick was good chicken breast and lots of moisture. You can keep moisture in the burgers by putting some bread in the milk, that has been soaked in milk...good little trick!.
I fried off a bunch of finely chopped onions, leeks and garlic, seasoned and caramelised it just a little. Then mix this through with the minced chicken breasts, a bit of citrus peel, lots of coriander and parsley, cheddar cheese (not too much) a few chopped chillies, and the bread and yoghurt if you need the moisture. Mix it all together and cook a test patty and adjust the seasoning if necessary. We decided they needed a little more kick so we added some paprika and a few pasted up anchovies.
Incidentally I got the most fantastic anchovies straight from Sicily, at the Terra Madre convention. I will have to give these little gems away when I leave, as i am sure I can't send them home opened, but I intend to find more in Sicily and post them home...they are to DIE for...even if you don't like anchovies, these ones are incredible...the saltiness and fishiness in perfect perfection!

So we made a rich tomato sauce to go with the burgers. (Give the burgers some colour in the pan but finish them off in the oven).
The sauce was again loads of onion cooked down, added garlic, and lots of tomatoes...but at this time of year in the northern hemisphere they aren't awesome and sweet like summer, so I needed to add some tomato paste and a can of tinned rich tomatoes for the flavour. I then popped in some red wine vinegar and sugar and salt and pepper, a few chillies chopped and some water. Then just let it reduce down for as long as possible, so that the water content reduces by about a 1/3.
Then at the end blend the sauce and add a bit of cream as it’s blending.

I can't wait for dinner tonight, a chicken burger with rich tomato sauce and fresh traditional baguette, from the best bakery in the 18th arrondissement!

So there you have it - the kick i get out of Monday's with Caroline. The chatting about the seasonings, the little discoveries - like I now know that vinegar in such as sauce like the above, won't curdle the cream!...each week is just something little, but special...and I love her for sharing her knowledge so patiently with me.

Caroline is opening her own restaurant in Normandy next year, so if you go to France, ask me for her details so I can send you in her direction!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Slow Food and Terra Madre

From the 23rd to 26th October, I experienced one of the most moving events of my life, the Salone del Gusto - a celebration of Slow Food and the Terra Madre (Mother earth) organisation. http://www.terramadre.info/ and http://www.slowfood.com/

It was an event that will shape my future, and solidify the structure that I have chosen to experience this lifetime through!

It was a 5 day conference, of which Dad and I experienced 2 of the days. A meeting of people from across the earth, who ultimately, care about the earth and its food communities. They use that term, "food communities", because it is a term that goes a long way to describe not just the produce, but the culture, people, lives, and livelihoods that it takes to get that food to your table.

The Salone is a celebration of these food communities, and the chance for people within these communities to come together and share food, ideas, and make contacts in the same situation as them across the earth, regardless of their income levels.

I have come to realise that perhaps its mostly our generation Y, specifically individuals born from 1977 to 1995, that don't have a lot of idea of where our food comes from. I have read recently, that some kids (and i struggle to believe that it got this bad), think its disgusting that carrots could have dirt on them, apparently not knowing that carrots are a root vegetable grown in the earth.

How did we come to be so far detached from food and the seasonality of food, some us I am sure don't know that fish and meats, and even eggs have a season...

Am I right, that it is mostly our generation?

I know we are a small and not very random sample of the population (many would say we ARE random!!) AND I know that my dad doesn't know everything (he thinks he does) there was definitely one or two questions like this that I had, and he was the catalyst for the answers I found in our days together in Torino, Italy!

As we strolled around exhibition halls of food stalls from what felt like every community in the world, and I regarded the tradition of food and the average age of the stall holders, something I did realise is that there is going to be a huge sadness as libraries full of knowledge go to the grave untapped,over the next 40-50 years.

That sadness befell me between the stalls of spit roasted pig and cured pork products from Italy...Tears welled in both dad and my eyes when it dawned on me as a nearly 30 year old, if i don't start asking dad and mum, and the grandparents I have left, about their traditions in food, and some "how to" questions, then the buck stops with me.

If I don't learn how my family cooks a camping one pot roast, or how my dad would build a smokehouse or a wood fired oven, then my kids will never know either.

I know that of late it has become fashionable in Australia to be a sea-changer or a tree-changer, and I heartily welcome this decentralisation as a sign that the future might not be so grim. In fact without any facts and figures to support this blog entry, sometimes I can't tell if i am warped by how it is here in Europe.
One way or the other - you know...I will no longer take for granted the fresh catch of flathead from the dinghy out the front of mum's house now!

So as I watched the whole world of communities become one, under one roof in Torino, I started asking Dad questions...How do i make a woodfired pizza oven, how do I build a smokehouse, how do I make a hangi?
I now am the proud owner of the Martin method of building such things. I don't really care that it's maybe not the way dad's dad's dad would have done it, but I tell you, it's the closest I am ever gonna get, and that's really important for me to have it to pass on to my children!

It's at this point I could go on about native Australians and why we didn't take more time to learn from some people who already know Australia quite literally like the back of their hand, instead of annihilating their culture, but I will spare you...and let you use your imagination!

I will just say that I felt inspired and sad at the Salone.
Inspired by moments like this one.
I was sitting in what ended up being my favourite seminar of the weekend, "the importance of Bees". There we were all sitting with our headsets on. There is no amplification in the seminar spaces, as there are so many seminars within a small area. The moderator of the lecture, Francesco Panella from Italy was speaking Italian, and we listed in one of the 8 languages it was translated into. Francesco finished his speech and opened the floor up to the many apiarists and bee enthusiasts in the room. There were 10 people that put their hand up and spoke, each one of the from a different country, places such as Kenya, India, Mexico, Peru, Paris, the States, London, the list goes one...a really equal spread of 1st and 3rd world residents. But the moment that got me was this...when a man stood and spoke in Hindi, he explained his despair as he watched over the years the depletion of bees in his valley, and that impact the use of pesticides has had on the bee population. When he finished, he turned back to stand against the wall of the room, where a man from Afghanistan was standing too. He had been listening, as the Indian man's words were translated from Hindi to Italian to whichever of the 8 Slow Food languages the Afghani chose to understand. As the Indian man turned back, the Afghani man patted him knowingly on the shoulder, and looked at him with a shared sympathy for his situation. I was again moved to tears. How small the world really is. We share the same problems, and despair over the same environmental sadness's world over. And the plight of one little bee brought these men together.

And the thing that made me sad...that among all these traditionally dressed cultural contributors from countries all over the world, there was no traditionally dressed Australians sharing Australia.

Maybe the Salone in 2 years time will be different?

See you there!

kath x