Archive for category ‘Food and Wine’

USA Holiday Report

Posted by Martin Field on 6 January 2012 in Food and Wine

Peter Howard reports on his recent trip to the USA

Hi Martin. We are back from the land of oversized portions of mostly confused flavour combinations in dishes. God, have they put a whole new spin on traditional Italian dishes.

Oh well, we got back home and fell on a lamb and shiraz dinner, boy was that good, oh, and a cup of tea, a little luxury that they simply do not get.

I loved your vivid description of working in a restaurant, boy, did you nail it, and what a shame more people in our position don’t do it. I once heard a well known person who was of influence during the ‘80s and ‘90s describing to a novice how a restaurant kitchen worked.

She said that the chefs all stopped to work on one table. When I explained to her how wrong she was, she got herself into a real bind. I do not miss people like her at all.

As one person we met in America said – when talking about food writers, “What gives them the right to talk to us like we know nothing when they evidently know less, and talk down to us?”

I watched Rachael Ray (hottest food TV person in the USA) and co-host show us how to make a proper peanut butter, tomato and bacon sandwich – no wonder it doesn’t get any better.

We had two memorable meals in the five week holiday. One of them being the home cooked Christmas lunch by an old school mate of mine (we went to school together 53 years ago). Roasted whole organic turkey and the trimmings…wonderful.

PS What was startling in America was the diminished amount of Australian wines on shelves and wine lists – brand loyalty? And Californian wines…so expensive, but must say very good, by and large.

Waiting for a Table

Posted by Martin Field on 13 November 2011 in Food and Wine

They also serve who only stand and wait.” John Milton said that.

Well, I was serving and waiting but as I quickly discovered I was in a definite no standing zone.

Of the many jobs I’ve had, waiting in a restaurant wasn’t one of them. How hard could it be? I asked myself.

So I’d asked Ipazzi restaurateurs Ruby and Fabio if I could observe and help on the restaurant floor for an evening. Foolishly, I thought, they agreed.

First off, I helped set tables and learned the table numbering layout.

Then I thought I’d be a kitchen hand for a bit and hung around backstage as Fabio prepped and created sauces for the evening rush.

The industrial-sized stove radiated what seemed like megawatts of heat, and what with chef Fabio flaming away with juggled frying pans and all, and despite the extractor fans sucking like a reverse steam locomotive, I found it too hot. So, you guessed it, I got out.

Too hot for some

Friday night, about half the tables were booked, and it looked to me disappointingly quiet. Then, over a short space of time, booked guests and walk-ins arrived in a rush and all the tables were full.

Read the rest of this entry

A real fisherman’s Bouillabaisse with Loire wines

Posted by Mike Tommasi on 9 October 2011 in Food and Wine

The best Bouillabaisse is served at the house of a fisherman here in coastal Provence, Jean Canale, who lives near the old salt marshes of Hyères. I met Jean through Elisabeth Tempier, a friend who writes on artisan fishing issues.

bouillabaisse

bouillabaisse

We got together with 20 friends and had a great bouillabaisse in Jean’s garden, while enjoying the heat of this late Indian summer (the real summer seemed to miss us altogether…). Jean Canale prepares his bouillabaisse in a huge iron pot over a wood fire.

The fish that go into Bouillabaisse vary in species and size, and usually include all kinds of rock fish, plus some larger firm fish like conger eel, angler fish, gurnard, weever, john dory, scorpion fish, etc.. Some of the fish are decidedly weird, like the Uranoscope or white rascasse, with eyes on the top of its head looking upward, and horns.

Read the rest of this entry

How we drank in the ’70s

Posted by Martin Field on 25 September 2011 in Food and Wine

Back in the 1970s, my good friends Geoff and Dot Parker were great diners and entertainers and I dined frequently with them, at home and in many Melbourne restaurants.

Geoff was (and is) an enthusiastic wine collector and, unusually for the times, didn’t only drink fine wine but also kept extensive notes on those he tasted and the various meals they accompanied.

Earlier this year he compiled a selection of these notes (14 November 1974 to 19 July 1977) and was kind enough to send me a copy. I have since told him that he could have had another career as a wine writer.

This excerpt, one of many, is from a meal we shared at Restaurant Chez Bebert on Tuesday 13 January 1976.

With garlic scallops, the McWilliams Mount Pleasant Anne Riesling, 1966. Rich honey-gold colour. The aroma was heavy and musty…good regional character with considerable acidity providing a pleasant balanced feel. Past its peak, but will continue to build great character.

And, Leo Buring Reserve Bin DWC II Barossa Valley Rhine Riesling, 1973. Exceptional quality dry white…delicate varietal expression, balanced, fresh and soft.

With steak, the Leo Buring Claret DR 163, 1964. Soft, broad, slightly earthy nose redolent of Hunter reds. Medium bodied satisfying palate sitting between the lush and the austere. Well balanced with a sharp tannic lift to the finish. Very good wine.

And, the Seppelt Cabernet Sauvignon TTI 47, 1971, Barossa Valley. This won the 1972 Jimmy Watson Trophy for best 1971 dry red. Big cabernet with a great deal of fruit flavor and rather prominent oak on the finish. A low tannin very good, lush wine, but maybe a little soft and fat.

Notes Copyright © 2011 Geoff Parker. 

 

Noshtalgia

Posted by Martin Field on 15 September 2011 in Food and Wine

Duet for jackhammers, with Cream, 6 pots, steak, eggs and chips ( Warning: no wine mentioned below)

Way, way back, I worked on the soi-disant Kew Navvy Gang (KNG), for the now extinct PMG. The gang was a wild bunch of hippies, musos and dope freaks; labouring was the only work available then for long-haired guys in a very conservative Melbourne.

Mick Elliott (guitarist) and I (both smartly outfitted in blue PMG bib and brace overalls) were using a couple of jackhammers to rip up the footpath in Kew Junction for the laying of telephone cables. Nearby, smartly dressed office workers read their morning papers as they waited for the eight o’clock tram to the city.

KNG, left to right: Plod, Noddy, and Mick (lead Jackhammer)

“Mick,” I said, during a quiet interlude. “Why don’t we play a duet?” (We were sort of avant-garde labourers.) Read the rest of this entry

Noshtalgia

Posted by Martin Field on 19 May 2011 in Food and Wine

Chicken stomach in Munich

Years ago I worked in London as the sweet-smelling* gofer for the chief alchemist of the French Perfumery Company. The job was going nowhere and I was available for other employment.

Luckily, a friend of mine, bass player Jim Rodford, offered me the job as road manager for soul outfit Lucas and Mike Cotton Sound (MCS). (Jim it was who had introduced me to Paul McCartney in the loo of the Bag o’ Nails. Those were the days my friend.**)

The Mike Cotton Sound, Mr & MRS PN, and Martin F. on right

During my time with the MCS, the band had a residency for a few weeks at a club known as the PN Hit House in Munich. Named after the owner Peter Naumann it was situated in Leopoldstrasse, in the bohemian area of Schwabing. Read the rest of this entry

A cheesemeister in Hanoi

Posted by Martin Field on 19 May 2011 in Food and Wine

Richard Thomas, our mojito-suckin’ reporter wrote from Hanoi recently.

I’m sitting here in a friend’s home in old Hanoi just loving a perfect raw milk Normandy Camembert and fresh butter on baguette. All washed down with an ever so slightly sweet German sparkling rosé, trying to figure out the meaning of ‘third world’. It’s not happening.

Lunch started late today. We were out in a simple pavement café last night, washing down swimmer crabs with ‘Viet whisky’ served in shot glasses from plastic drink bottles. Read the rest of this entry

Backsliding?

Posted by Martin Field on 10 February 2011 in Food and Wine

A couple of (sceptical?) correspondents have asked whether my weight loss regime took a dive over the Christmas festivities. The answer, strangely, is no. Read the rest of this entry

Top five foods (and one wine) loved by dentists

Posted by Martin Field on 10 February 2011 in Food and Wine

On a recent visit to my dentist I asked if he could institute a frequent filler program. He hadn’t thought about it but apparently his accountant’s computer answered in the negative.

As I tried unsuccessfully to whistle a happy tune through numbed lips, I decided that the following delicacies must be loved by the dental fraternity (and sorority).

Olives – the ones with the pits. Even pitted olives contain the odd tooth-cracker.

Toffee – a classic filling extractor. Not to mention boiled lollies, peanut brittle, seaside rock and gob-stoppers.

Animal bones – chewing on chops, chicken legs and t-bones is great for breaking canines. (Unless you’re a canine.)

Popcorn – unpopped kernels can bring a tear to anyone’s eyeteeth.

Rice and lentils – famous for crunchy stray bits of gravel. Read the rest of this entry

Wine and food predictions for 2011

Posted by Martin Field on 18 December 2010 in Food and Wine

Predictions for 2011

Wine

For what it’s worth, I reckon that in 2011, Australian wine drinkers will get over their flirtation with New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

My crystal decanter tells me that the trend will be towards stylish dry rosés, pinot gris, medium priced bubblies and pinot noir. Read the rest of this entry