A Wholly Edible Garden
I've just returned home after 2 weeks in Melbourne, honoured to be a part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. It was very, very special, and to borrow a description from the Food and Wine Team, soul enriching. Food is again making sense, providence counts, the way it's grown counts and most of all, it's again doing the profound thing it's always should do - feed people, and meet the hunger for food and connection (and this I know is a borrow from Jessica Prentice - her book titled Full Moon Feast, Food and the Hunger for Connection) (and it's a brilliant and beautiful book). To take a line from Terry Durack and his 50 Things I Learnt at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, here are the things (amongst so many) I loved.
- The Kogi Team - Roy Choi, Alice, Natasha and Caroline. These gorgeous people are sitting right, smack in the middle of the universal flow of all things good. They are 21st century angels just dressed a little differently. Roy loves rap, they are funky as but they cook and do what they do because they want to feed people. Take this quote (borrowed from Terry Durack) "You might think tacos are just a quick cheap snack. When you're a Mexican labourer earning 30 cents an hour' says Roy Choi, 'the taco is that one moment in life when you realise the shit isn't that bad'. And this - not a direct quote but close -"whether we like it or not, there are a large number of people who buy cheap take out, because it's all they can afford. If we can sell them something real and delicious at the same price, then we can begin change. We can make it delicious and special, and when we are in a street, people eat together, and we can start to build and strengthen a community" This is my kind of spiritual.
- Cath Claringbold - Cath is such a knowledgeable, generous and creative cook and had asked me to come over and present Master Class with her. Thank you Cath. Cath has championed the use of the Tasmanian grown Quinoa now available, and made the most delicious quinoa pudding along the lines of rice pudding, cooking it in whey - was very, very good I can tell you. Cath is now busy helping her husband Darren Purchese and his partner Ian Burch to set up Burch & Purchase, Sweet Studio. Yum!
- Tasmanian Quinoa. The Damons are growing it (along with Spelt) and Mt Zero are distributing it. I haven't used it as yet, but will get onto it - from what i see, much more of the Saponin (a natural insecticide the plant produces) is on it, so it needs a good wash in a sieve, and seems to take less time to cook - but, don't quote me on that. They also bought along the Quinoa leaves, and wow, they taste like Quinoa - delicious in a salad!
- Nigella Lawson: Now, I readily admit I have not been her biggest fan, but I am a convert. I loved that she spoke so deeply to the issue that the food we cook at home to eat and sustain us, is not the pretty, perfect food we often see on TV, magazines or restaurants. That we might have our failures, and that is fine. And, as Nigella continued and even was icing her cake, you could literally see the peoples shoulders relax - ahh (big sigh) - the icing on their cake didn't need to look as perfect as on MasterChef. No one was going to appear in their home and grade them.
- The Violet dessert plate at Cutler and Co: Okay, they probably used a refined white sugar, but this is how I like refined white evil to be used - seductively, with restraint and an eye to allowing the true flavour to come through. Violet Sorbet, Chocolate Ganache, Sour Cherry and Clove Meringue - ooh, it was tart, the chocolate intense and a touch bitter and insanely good.
- The Organic Roast Chicken and vegetables at PM 24. Phillipe Mouchel makes proper food, simple and sublimely delicious that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. He cares about the food and you. This dish is seriously good. And cheap. Truly it puts the Perth boys and girls to shame.
- The Jelly Boys - Bompass and Parr. Wow. Go to their website now and read about them, you will love it. I asked them how on earth they decided to become 'jellymongers' - " we got drunk one night" was the answer. These young men are a really heartwarming assurance that a younger generation are taking all that science and intellect, and mixing it with great heart and tradition - creating their own new versions of how they want to be in the world. Ask Harry about something jelly and his eyes will sparkle as he tells you about the things they build. Ask Sam and he will tell you about about the funeral convention (of sorts) they went to whilst in Melbourne to discuss funeral jelly. I ask you - how cool is that? Apparently, jelly is a traditional English food at funerals, but the convention was about the role of food at funerals. I'm so interested in this, of course it's important - and an essential part of how we mark any big moment in our life journey, and I can't believe I haven't thought about it before. These boys rock.
- The Edible Garden: Once again Diggers (this is where I get a lot of my seeds for my garden) set up a beautiful, abundant, wholly edible organic garden smack bang in the middle of the city. Free cooking demonstrations for all at lunch and dinner - you can see me below getting started at one, oh and the car filled with pumpkins at the top..
- Vassette: The most gorgeous attitude to flowers I've seen outside of San Francisco. Flower shop in Brunswick.
- But should maybe be number 1. Coffee at Market Lane Coffee. Full cream, non- homogenised organic, Victorian milk. Mmmmm. Five Senses Coffee - the Perth boys made good - smmoooth, delicious flavour.... MMmmmmmmm. Now I know that some of you reading this will remember I've not been drinking coffee - it does stress me out. But being in Melbourne, kind of on holiday a bit, it was wonderful.
- Fashion. I still love it - you can take the girl out of the fashion designer label she once had back in the 80's, but you can't take the love of it out of the girl. Every woman - especially those from the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival Team, looked stunning. Dressed to suit their bodies and style - Melbourne women care about how they look. I did buy a Melbourne dress and plan to give it a good wearing!
- Rachel Allen from Ireland - such a lovely, lovely woman - I have 2 of her books, and can recommend them for good family cooking.
At the Edible Garden Demonstration
Cath Claringold and myself - Cath is holding a Quinoa Flower!
The Damons from Tasmania
Decent Scone, Jam and Cream from my favourite Cuppa Cottage in Sandringham
My dear friend Jeanie who came down from NSW to help me throughout the festival - couldn't have done it without her