Monday, 30 July 2012

ZING proudly presented by the food dept. We are enormously excited to publish this zingy, citrus post, straight from the orchard. We have had some lovely feedback from you, so this has inspired us to do a super big post with lots of different shots and lots more information as well.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Ruby grapefruit and kaffir lime-ade
Enjoy this on its own or add a splash of soda water and for your next party, use it to top up a glass of champagne.
Makes 6 cups

• 2 cups water
• 1 cup sugar
• 8 kaffir lime leaves, bruised
• finely grated zest, 2 kaffir limes
• 4 cups freshly squeezed ruby grapefruit juice (approximately 6 large ruby grapefruit)
• extra, 1 ruby grapefruit, sliced for garnish

1. Combine the water, sugar, kaffir lime leaves and zest in a medium saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the syrup to a jug and allow to cool. Refrigerate until cold.
2. Combine the grapefruit juice and syrup in jug and chill until ready to serve.
3. Serve with extra slices of ruby grapefruit.

 Linguine with prawns and lemon gremolata crumb
Being Australian, we love our seafood, but if you aren't so confident with cooking the delights of the sea, then have a crack at this easy pasta dish. It's a great way to introduce prawns (or shrimp) to your repertoire and makes a tasty mid week meal.
 Serves 2

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
• 1 cup continental parsley leaves, roughly chopped
• finely grated zest of 2 lemons
• ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
• sea salt flakes, to taste
• black pepper, to taste
• 250g linguini
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• extra, 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, crushed
• 500 g medium green prawns, peeled leaving tails on

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan and toast the panko crumbs over a medium heat until golden brown. When brown remove from the pan and place into a mixing bowl. Add the parsley, lemon rind, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and toss to combine, set aside.
2. Cook linguine in boiling water until al dente. When draining reserve a little (approximately ½ cup) of cooking liquid.
3. Heat extra oil in a large frying pan over a high heat and add the prawns and garlic and sauté until for 5 minutes until the prawns change colour and are cooked through.
4. Add the pasta to the prawns in the frying pan with a little splash of the pasta cooking liquid and toss to combine.
5. Arrange the pasta and prawns on a serving plate and sprinkle liberally with the gremolata crumb. Serve immediately.

Soft flour tortilla with bbq chipotle chicken and a lime and blackbean salsa
When the food dept and friends dine out, we like to order a mix of entrees, mains and desserts to share. It's so much fun to taste and talk about a wide selection from a menu, rather than one dish. So this recipe fits in well with our philosophy of sharing small plates of food. On the day we photographed "Zing", we sat at Sally's round table passing warm floury tortillas and small bowls of avocado, sour cream and salsa, rolling and eating these lovely tortillas. So grab some friends for lunch and share a bite and a laugh.
 Serves 4 - 6

• 1 small red onion, peeled leaving the root end
   attached and cut into quarters
• 2 cloves garlic, skin on
• 4 dried chipotle chillies
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
• 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
• 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 4 chicken breast fillets
• 2 large bunches rosemary
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 quantity Warm flour tortillas
• 1 quantity Lime and black bean salsa
• 1 large avocado, flesh scooped out
• sour cream, for serving

1. Heat a dry griddle plate or heavy based frying pan over a low heat, place on the onion, garlic cloves and chipotle chillies and roast until each is nicely charred. 
2. Remove the skins from the garlic and combine with the onion, chilies, cumin seeds, salt and cider vinegar in a food processor, process until smooth. Store in a jar in the refrigerator, any remaining paste will keep for upto a month.
3. Slice chicken breasts fillets across the grain into 4-5 thick slices. Remove the leaves from the lower parts of the rosemary stalks and thread on the chicken. Combine 4 tablespoons of the chipotle paste with olive oil and rub onto the chicken skewers. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
4. Barbecue the chicken over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
5. Serve chicken on a platter with Warm flour tortillas, Lime and black bean salsa, avocado and sour cream.

Lime and black bean salsa

• 1 x 440g can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 3 limes, peeled and segmented, reserve the membranes
• ½ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
• ½ small red onion, finely diced
• 1 small clove garlic, crushed
• 1 jalapeno chilli seeded and finely diced
• ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt
• ½ teaspoon sugar

1. Combine all of the ingredients, except for the lime membranes in a bowl, toss lightly. Squeeze the juice from the membranes over the salsa and use immediately.

food dept fact: Try adding some chargrilled corn to the salsa. Chargrill a peeled cob of corn until blackened, cut the corn from the cob and add to the salsa.

Soft flour tortillas
If you are stuck for time, instead of making these tortilla, you could buy some good quality tortilla.
Makes approximately 16

• 3 cups plain flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoon baking powder
• 80g butter, roughly chopped
• 1 cup warm water

1. Sift the flour salt and baking powder in a large bowl. 
2. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Carefully add the warm water a little at a time until it forms a soft dough. It may not take all of the water.
3. Turn the dough into the bench and give a light knead.  Break the dough into 50g balls and leave on a lightly floured bench. Cover with a tea towel and to stand for 15 minutes.
4. Heat a dry flat griddle plate or a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. Take a ball of dough and flatten in your hands until approximately 10cm. Place into a tortilla press or roll out with a rolling pin to approximately 20cm.
5. Place onto the dry griddle plate and cook for approximately 30seconds or until small bubbles blister on the tortilla, turn it over and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove from the griddle and keep warm wrapped in a clean dry teatowel.

food dept fact: Make the tortillas ahead of time, and reheat by wrapping them in foil and placing in a low oven or take the foil off and give them a quick burst in the microwave.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Lemon and thyme salt        
Makes ½ cup

• ¼ cup sea salt flakes
• 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
• finely grated zest, 2 lemons

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F). Combine salt flakes, thyme and lemon together in a small bowl. Rub together lightly with your finger tips to combine.
2. Pour salt onto a lined baking tray. Turn off the oven and place the tray in the warm oven close the door and leave in the oven undisturbed for 4 hours or overnight.
3. Pour salt into a jar and store in a dark dry place. Use with 6 months for maximum flavor.

food dept fact: This is beautiful sprinkled over the skin of chicken before roasting of try it on barbecued fish.
• Short on time? We recently discovered the saltbox, they have a lovely lime fresco salt in their range. 

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Baked whole snapper with lemon, oregano, olives and a lemon beurre noisette  
A whole fish can be quite intimidating to cook, the trick is to get your fishmonger to do the hard work of scaling and cleaning the fish. After that it is very easy to have your meal ready in 30 minutes
Serves 2

• 1 x 750g snapper, cleaned
• 1 large lemon, finely sliced
• ½ bunch oregano leaves
• 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
• ½ cup kalamata olives
• olive oil, to drizzle
• 2 teaspoons Lemon thyme salt
• 50g butter
• juice ½ lemon
• 1 tablespoon salted capers, washed and drained

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Rinse the fish and dry with paper towel.  Score the flesh of the fish in several places on each side and place in to an ovenproof frying pan or baking dish.
2. Fill the cavity and slits of the fish with the lemon slices, oregano and garlic slices. Scatter over the olives, drizzle with olive oil and season with Lemon thyme salt.
3. Bake for 20 minutes or until fish is opaque when the flesh is flaked with a fork. If it is not cooked return to the oven and continue for another 5-10 minutes.
4. During the last 5 minutes of the fish cooking place the butter in a shallow frying pan over a medium heat and cook until the milk solids on the base of the pan have turned a golden brown color and the butter is foamy and smells nutty like “hazelnuts”. Once it gets to this stage immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice and capers to prevent the butter form burning. 
5. Pour the lemon beurre noisette over the fish and serve with a fresh leaf salad of a selection of steamed greens.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: the food dept’s orange marmalade
If you love marmalade, as many people do, you will adore this recipe, it makes enough for you give to friends and some to keep for yourself.
Makes approximately 9 cups

1 kg oranges
1½ cups sugar to every one cup or pulp.

1. Cut the oranges in half from top to bottom, then thinly slice across the orange halves. Place into a large bowl and pour over just enough water to cover. Stand overnight.
2. Place into a large shallow pot. The pan being more shallow allows for the liquid to evaporate more quickly.
3. Cook over a medium heat until the rind is tender, this may take between 15 and 30 minutes. The thickness of the peel and the thickness of the slices will vary the cooking time.
4. Measure the cooked orange pulp and return to the pan with the sugar, stir over a low heat until all of the sugar has dissolved.
5. Bring to the boil over a high heat, reduce the heat and simmer until the marmalade jells when tested. This could take anywhere from 1 - 2 hours. To test the marmalade, place a saucer into the freezer. Place a teaspoon of the cooking marmalade onto the cold saucer and allow it to cool, the marmalade should “jell” on the plate and not run when the saucer is tipped up. Be careful to not overcook or this will produce a dark syrupy marmalade
6. Allow the marmalade to mostly cool in the pan and then pour into sterilized jars. If the marmalade is put into the jar hot the pieces of rind will rise to the top. Allow to cool completely and the cover the jars with the lids. Store in a cool dark place and then refrigerate once opened.

food dept fact: See our preserved lemon recipe on out slow post for “how to sterilize jars and bottles”.

Orange marmalade and cream cheese tart
The inspiration here came from the French dessert "pithivier". As everyone in the food dept seemed unable to remember or pronounce the word, "pithivier", we gave up and David created this gorgeous tart instead. The silky smooth cream cheese custard with a crisp base, is wonderfully decadent and probably won't last long!
Makes 1 x 23cm tart

• 2 sheets puff pastry
• 250g cream cheese
¾ cup caster sugar
• 3 eggs
• 150ml double cream
• Juice and grated rind of 2 oranges
• ½ cup the food dept’s orange marmalade

1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F) To make the tart shell, place 2 squares of pastry together and roll out to 2mm (back to the thickness of 1 sheet of pastry).
2. Grease a 23cm loose bottomed tart pan and line with the pastry. Place into the refrigerator and rest for 2 hours. After the pastry has rested trim edges. Prick the base with a fork, this prevents the pastry from puffing up too much. Line with baking paper, fill with pie weights and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the pie weights and paper, and bake for a further 5–10 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the oven to 160°C (325°F).
3. For the filling, whisk the cream cheese with the sugar until soft, stir in the eggs, cream, juice and rind from the orange until you have a smooth mix.
4. Spread the base of the tart with ½ of the marmalade (3 tablespoons) then pour
in the orange filling. Bake for 40-45mins or until just set. Remove from the
oven and allow to cool.
5. For the glaze, heat up the remaining marmalade with 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Spoon over the top of the tart and serve.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Lemon, lime and orange delicious 
We couldn't do a citrus story without a lemon delicious, so we have added a little twist by making it sharper with a hint lime and sweeter with some orange.
Serves 6

• 80g butter
• ½ cup caster sugar
• 3 eggs, separated
• juice and rind of 1 lemon
• rind only of 1 lime
• juice and rind of 1 orange
• ¼ cup self raising flour
• 1½ cups milk
• extra ½ cup cater sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Grease 6 x 1 cup oven proof ramekins.
2. Using and electric mixer cream the butter, sugar for 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time then mix through the zest. Mix through the flour, milk and juices.
3. Whisk the egg whites until soft peak then gradually add the extra caster sugar and beat until the sugar has dissolved. Gently fold half of the egg whites and sugar into the mixture, then gently fold through the remaining egg whites and sugar.
4. Pour into ramekins and them bake for 15 - 20 minutes. Serve immediately with double cream.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Campari and orange
These 2 refreshing drinks are traditionally served with orange slices but why not try some other citrus fruits, maybe make it a Campari and grapefruit juice or liven up a Aperol Spritz with lime!

• 1 part Campari
• 2 parts freshly squeezed orange juice
• ice cubes
• a slice of orange

1. Place the Campari in a tumbler, top with orange juice, ice cubes and a slice of orange.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: Aperol spritz

• 3 parts Proseco
• 2 parts Aperol
• a splash of soda
• ice cubes
• a slice of orange

1. Place the Proseco and Aperol into a tumbler, top with a splash of soda, ice cubes and a slice of orange.

the food dept. would like to thank Campari Australia for generously supplying the alcohol for this shoot.
We would also like to thank our food assistant, Caroline Ryan for whipping up a storm in the kitchen.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Meatloaf Makeover

There are few foods that have such vivid associations as meatloaf. It might even be the quintessentially uncool homey working class dish. It is the Ernest Borgnine of American cuisine. Good honest and plain. Which is of course why it has always been so ripe for a makeover. Or at least was. Meatloaf had its shining moment in restaurants, a few years ago, as a retro-comfort food. Made with grass fed organic beef, and local vegetables in season, naturally. Maybe even served with toast points to remind people of what became of its French cousins who did so well. But the makeover can go too far, if it tries too hard to be hip, fakes the funk, or somehow loses sight of its homey core, the meatloaf seems tawdry and tarted up.

Well, I think this one rides that fine line between being true to itself and yet still exuding elegance. It is still a meatloaf my mom would eat. Bison replaced beef, for no other reason than I saw it in the store for 7 bucks a pound. So this was hardly expensive in the end. I had to put the hard boiled egg in the middle. Inside went diced carrots, you can see, celery, shallots. But the real kicker and the key to light texture, came from a cup of sourdough bread crumbs, fried in the last lump of that lardo battuto I wrote about a few posts back. Plus a good squirt of tomato paste. And then, just so it's not too pretentious, some barbecue sauce as a glaze, and it was cooked in the toaster oven. 350 for about an hour. I say meat loaf needs another revival.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

SLOW EXTRA II – What is sweet, salty and slow to make?

Salted cardamom dulce de leche
Dulce de leche literally means candy made of milk and is said to have originated from Argentina. Our version is sweet, soft, salty and with a crunchy crisp biscuit, this little dessert has it all. Mix it up and try your favourite of biscuit instead of a waffle.
Makes 1 cup

• 1 x 395g can sweetened condensed milk
• ½ teaspoon salt flakes
• ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
• small waffle biscuits and hot milk to serve

1. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Pour sweetened condensed milk into a baking dish, 28 x 18 x 4cm and sprinkle over the salt flakes and ground cardamom, stir through.
2. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and place into a larger baking dish.  Pour in enough water to come ¾ of the way up the side of the smaller pan to create a bain-marie.
3. Bake in the oven for 1 ¾ hours or until the sweetened condensed milk is golden brown in colour. Top up the water in the bain-marie every ½ an hour or as the water evaporates.
4. Whisk the dulce de leche until smooth and store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to one month. Spread between waffle biscuits and serve with warm milk as a perfect midnight snack.

food dept. tricks: Smear a couple of tablespoons in a tall glass and top with milk and scoop of vanilla ice cream for a delicious caramel shake.
• Use this recipe anywhere you would use caramel – tart fillings, cake fillings, on waffles or pancakes or simply over ice cream.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Scoby Snacks

Do you eat your mother? I mean that snot-like raft floating on the top of your komucha jar. I got the idea from a little snippet in Sandor Katz's new book, and I thought why not? I suppose it really should be raw if you want to ingest good bacteria, but I thought a little salt pepper and a quick sautee in good olive oil would be interesting. It was rather sour, but the oddest thing  - the texture is really firm and chewy with a kind of muscular structure. Very much like a scallop, which it sort of resembles. OK a vegetarian scallop. I think if you soaked it to remove the sourness it would really work. Serve with a little kelp. I might be onto something here. I also cooked a big floppy red wine mother and used it as a wrap around chickpeas and lettuce. Another interesting idea, no?

Friday, 13 July 2012

Cheesy Peas

Arthur Potts Dawson, talented chef,  restaurateur, cookery writer and social entrepreneur (and Mick Jagger's nephew by proxy) brought out a lovely, little gem of a book a couple of months ago called Eat Your Veg. It's not a vegetarian cookbook as such, as meat and fish do feature. Nor does it seek to brow beat you into mung bean submission. No, with it's simple layout and approach and bright, colourful photos, Mr Potts Dawson has brought together an attractive bunch of recipes where legumes are the main star of the show and since picking the book up, I have spent many an hour, under the tree in our garden, wistfully leafing through the pages, whilst the world around me falls down in huge, great, pissy drops to the ground. If the weather had been a bit better then perhaps I would have felt enticed to try out his Fennel and Sardine Ceviche. Or maybe his summery Couscous Salad with Iceberg lettuce, tomato and mint. Had the thermometer even nudged towards 20 degrees, I might have even gone in for one of his chilled soups, as both the retro cucumber and red pepper soups have taken my fancy. But seeing as it's been so miserable lately and distinctly (dare I say it) Northern, the other day I felt that I should have a crack at Arthur's Cheesy Peas on Toast. Aye! Peas, with Cheese!

It was always going to be an interesting proposition this one. Familiar with the comfortable combination of baked beans and cheese on toast, the notion of introducing cheese to peas seemed alien at first but the more I scanned the page, the more sense it made. All the recipe calls for is a silky, warm white sauce, a healthy whack of cheddar and parmesan, a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg, a touch of seasoning and some gloriously green peas, frozen, or fresh if you have the time, cooked in salted water for 5 minutes and added right at the end. So all the flavournoids and correct components for a delicious meal are right there. Salt, sweet, spice, umami, erm... texture, bish bash bosh, this had the lot. And the kids loved it too. In short, Cheesy Peas is a winner.

OK, it might not actually look like the most attractive of dishes to serve up (which flies in the face of what I originally said about Arthur's recipes) and after posting pictures on Twitter and Platter, some detractors did comment, quite unkindly really, that it looked like a plate of sick.

Well let me just say this, Cheesy Peas is the best tasting plate of sick that I have tried in a long while.

And I've tried a few.

 Cheesy Peas!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

SLOW EXTRA – Preserved lemons are really just slices of a perfect golden summer bottled in a jar. Add a little citrus zing to your cooking and enjoy summer throughout the year.

Preserved lemons
Makes a 1 litre jar
Zesty, citrus preserved lemons in jars create such a welcome bright light in any kitchen. They are great in North African, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes, and work well wherever fresh lemons do — with fish, white meats such as chicken and rabbit. Once opened, keep a jar of your own preserved lemons in the fridge to give an instant zing to salads, or finely dice it into paellas, tagines, cous cous and rice. 

• 4 large lemons washed and cut into 6 wedges
• 1 cup cooking salt
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 10 peppercorns
• 2 bay leaves
• 4 cardamom pods

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Wash a 1 litre jar in hot soapy water and rinse well. Place onto a tray and dry the jar in the oven for approximately 10 minutes. This will sterilize the jar.
2. Place the lemon wedges and salt into a large non-reactive bowl. Massage the salt into the lemon, squeezing the juice out of the flesh of the lemons.
3. Arrange the lemon wedges in the cooled jar with the skin of the lemons facing out. Arrange the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, bay leaves and cardamom pods as you go.  Pack down tightly.
4. Pour the lemon juice and salt from the bowl into the jar, ensuring the lemon pieces are well covered. Seal the jar with a non-reactive lid and leave at room temperature for one day. Turn the jar to disburse the salt and juice through the lemon then leave to cure in the refrigerator for 1 month before use. They will keep for up to 12 months.

food dept. facts: To use preserved lemon, cut away pith and flesh leaving the rind. Wash the rind and use as required. If the rind seems a little salty for your taste, allow it to soak in water for 10 minutes, drain and use.
• Create your own signature blend by mixing up the herbs and spices, try adding rosemary or add some heat with a chilli and coriander combination.
quick trick: To make a jar of marinated olives – cut preserved lemon rind into julienne and toss with kalamata olives, sliced garlic, continental parsley leaves and cover with olive oil.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Honey Bees

It is with great sadness that I said goodbye to my bees yesterday. Apparently you can't keep them in a wall. A man came, opened a square in the wall and took out three big 50-lb buckets of hive and honey. Although I had nothing to do with this operation directly, it was nonetheless terrifying, exhilarating, absolutely astounding. At one point he invited me into the room literally filled with swarming bees for a chunk of comb. The first chunk was golden and tasted a little like orange. I don't think I've ever tasted anything like it in my life. This is the second chunk, apparently older, and probably from different flowers. That's all they could spare, as they need the rest to start up in a new spot, a few miles away. Many of "the girls' were left behind to clean up the rest of the honey, which is now oozing out of the walls. Rather surreal if you ask me. So is the plastic covering the hole and the furious buzzing behind it. The weirdest thing, is the bees through this whole operation just did what they were told. Remarkable.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Lardo Battuto

Who knew this would be so simple and delightful! It is called lardo battuto, which means literally beaten lard. Not the sort you find in a block in the supermarket, and in fact never heated at all, but salted and cured lard-o pounded in a mortar with garlic and parsley. I just happened to find a casing filled with cured fat in the back of the cave. I must have made it this past winter. I became familiar with this kind of lardo (in print) through my old friend Bartolomeo Scappi, personal chef to Pope Pius V in the 16th century. He uses it in stuffings especially, and anywhere some extra fat and flavor can be used. Apparently in Italy it gets tossed into soup and stews. OH YES. I tried it on toast this morning, and let me tell you: imagine compound butter, but cured pig instead. Aromatic, unctuous, dizzying. Thanks to Miss Butter who prompted this line of inquiry. It's a thing I should have done years ago. Now let's just think where this might go. Maybe a dollop on a pork chop? For some odd reason I want to stuff a fish with it. Scappi must have done it. Bread crumbs, cheese and lardo battuto. I couldn't have come up with anything that magnificent.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Cheek by Jowl

Life would be boring without a bit of spice and colour wouldn't it and I am not talking about a mean looking jalfrezi here, I am talking about life in general. And I for one, am always grateful whenever the humdrum and monotony of a normal, working day is punctured by a swift, manic. burst of the surreal and the crazy. A quick episode happened in the park this lunchtime. I wondered up to Exmouth Market to have a peruse and a meander around some of the stalls, forgoing the temptation of double pie and mash. It's just too muggy today and the required splash of Vinney would only make me sweat some more see. So after sniffing around, eyeing the Ghanaian stews at Jollof Pot, duck salad and almonds at Moro and some steaming frankfurters, tended to by a carefully coiffed German, who was wearing the most ridiculous white sunglasses I have ever seen, I decided to hit Spanish Flavours. Simply because they had the longest queue. Using this method of standard deviation always pays off when trying to make a decision, although the ensuing wait does play havoc with the saliva glands. I always feel slightly embarrassed when I finally make it to the front and open my mouth and soak the vendor with small jets of spittle. Still, they must be used to it by now.

Anyway, I purchased a splendid looking wrap, complete with barbecued chorizo, paprika marinated chicken, salad leaves, roasted Piquillo pepper and alioli for a reasonable fiver and marched to the adjacent park to go sit under a tree, munch my lunch and watch the world go by. Along with all the other beautiful, lithe, trendy office things who pepper the green, barefoot with white smiles, giggles and cartons of 'street food.' All was fairly quiet and uneventful as I made my way through the juicy, garlicky, crunchy roll and I was near to finishing when suddenly I heard a noise. Quite a harsh, twanging sound, with T's glottalized and H's dropped.

I thought to myself, "Ah, that sounds like one of my own, a kindred spirit, a fair descendant of Cockaigne, well would you Adam and Eve it." And when I looked around, straight away I knew I was right. Well, half-right as the years hadn't been kind to her so you could hardly use the word 'fair' but she was certainly a local character, probably the sort who visits the park daily, with her pit-bull terrier "Buster", to imbibe a can or two of Brew in the glorious sunshine. Or rain even. So I sat up a bit more to focus and to see what the brouhaha was all abaaht. Apparently she had asked some chap, resplendent in preppy geek chic, for a light for her fag and thick glasses, wonky haircut, skinny chinos had decided to ignore her. And she was making it clear to him and the rest of the park, exactly what she thought of him and his ilk.

"Don't ignore me like I am some piece of shit, I just asked for a facking light you caant. I don't know, you lot facking came daan 'ere like you own the place every lunch time, eating yer facking fancy sandwiches or whatever shit they sell around there and then you fack off leaving your shit all other the place. Well I'm facking fed up of those stalls and all the poncy twats, like you lot, eating all that bollocks and ignoring people like me who use the park everyday! Caants!"

And then she walked off. And then everyone else breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Now if there ever was a damning indictment of the street food movement in this capital, that had to be it. Her outburst certainly got me thinking. I mean, as this exciting and vibrant trend continues to soar, with it's democratisation of food and access to lots of different ingredients and dishes, I do wonder if some tiny conceited, cracks are starting to appear. And as more and more cool and sexy, bright, young chefs steadily come up with 'new ideas' and 'concepts', which are fundamentally based upon original humble cuts and offerings, I do worry sometimes that I am being enticed by the Emperor's New Clothes. Furthermore, some recent visits to various markets have culminated in a hefty whack on the wallet, which to my mind is not entirely in keeping with the whole ethos of street food. It shouldn't be dirt cheap but the change out of a tenner shouldn't leave me weeping into a venison burger, which is what happened recently. But hey ho, what do I know, I still do love a lot of the street food that is out there.

Personally, I was just glad that my Mum didn't spot me, sitting under that tree. 

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Pizza Madness

Somehow I think this speaks for itself. If you're going to make pizza, you might as well do it big time. There's classic pepperoni, the rabe and tuna, a pickled pork and sauerkraut up front, which turned out fabulous, and others included coppa which I found at the back of the cave, asparagus and a slew of other vegs. Arranging them all first this way made it easier to load and unload in the oven and take down the block to a party. There's still more, anyone free tonight?