Archive for category ‘Food and Wine’

The good life

Posted by Martin Field on 3 June 2006 in Food and Wine

by Martin Field

Sub-urban self-sufficiency
Fans of British TV comedy will fondly remember that BBC classic The Good Life, where a comfortable suburban couple attempted to turn their backyard into a self-sufficient small holding. I was reminded of the show when, after having pizza for dinner one night, Lucy remarked on the home-grown, home-produced ingredients that went into its construction.

The dough was kneaded in the bread making machine and topped with home-made habanera sauce, then we added hand-picked (at Red Hill) pickled pine mushrooms, and then came pickled jalapenos, herbed olives in oil, and a sprinkling of rosemary and oregano and basil – all grown in our garden. Field mushrooms, flour and mozzarella and yeast came from the supermarket and the pizza was cooked in our Pizza Chef pizza machine. We washed it down with home-made cider – made from bought apples and apple juice.

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Cheatin’ in the kitchen

Posted by Martin Field on 4 May 2006 in Food and Wine

by Martin Field

Stilton spread
Take a piece of Stilton, say 300 grams, bring it to room-temperature. Put it in a blender with a squeeze of lemon juice (a teaspoon more or less), 50ml extra virgin olive oil, 50 grams softened (but not melted) unsalted butter and 50ml of thick (not thickened) sour cream. Blend until just combined but not to the mushy stage. Refrigerate. Delicious on toast, in canapes etc. Keeps well in the fridge. Use same proportions for larger or smaller amounts of cheese.

Fridge inverter
The good lady wife wanted to lash out on a new fridge, one of those newfangled setups that have the freezer at the bottom instead of on top.

I countered with a brilliant, money-saving idea; suggesting that we could achieve the same effect by turning the old fridge upside down.

As the atmosphere between us suddenly turned frigid, I knew I was onto something.

Desert Island Wines

Posted by Martin Field on 31 March 2006 in Food and Wine, Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

Len Evans is reported to have once said that he’d hate to be marooned on a desert island with nothing but goats’ cheese to eat and sauvignon blanc to drink. With that in mind I conducted a straw poll of Australian wine writers (and one cheesemaker), based on the premise used by the BBC’s Radio 4 show, Desert Island Discs. That’s the long-running program where celebrities are invited to choose music to take with them in the event that they are about to be marooned on a desert island.

The hypothetical situation set for the writers was that they were about to be stranded on a desert island and they could only take with them two currently available Australian wines, a dozen of any one red and a dozen of one white (including bubbly).

Here’s what they said.

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Picks of the mostly Oz bunch

Posted by Martin Field on 31 March 2006 in Food and Wine, Wine Tasting

by Martin Field

Caves de Beblenheim Pinot Blanc 2004 – Around $17 to $18
Appellation Alsace Contrôlée. Juicy aromas of ripe pears. Lovely mouth-filling style with flavours of pears and Granny Smith apples leading to a firm zesty finish. Excellent aperitif and solid entrée accompaniment.

Brown Brothers Vermentino 2005 (cellar door release) – $16-ish
Very pale, edge of green. Distinct citrussy fragrances on the nose. Quite a dry style with lots of mouth-watering, acid tang and noticeable alcohol (14.5%) warmth. Flavours are of citrus and maybe hay – not unlike a good semillon.

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Clos des Fées, Angiolino Maule and others for dinner

Posted by Mike Tommasi on 28 February 2006 in Food and Wine

Sunday evening we invited our winemaking friends Laurent Barrera and Emmanuelle Dupéré and as usual we ended up with quite a lineup… you can see some pics on their own Nowatlover blog

Starting with Champagne “Les Rachais”, the new cuvée from my friend Francis Boulard of Champagne Raymond Boulard, one of those wines that act as terroir enhancers, you have never tasted anything like it, my impression is iodine, salt, seawater, oysters with lemon juice, some people have a hard time with it, I just love it, end so does everyone at the table, made from his biodynamic vineyard (undergoing conversion), I would love to actually try it with oysters…

Next, four bottles get served blind at the same time, we are told that one is a very expensive super-something wine worth over 60 Euro, and that they all have something in common.

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Vital fluids

Posted by Martin Field on 31 January 2006 in Food and Wine

by Martin Field

Splashing around at St Andrews Beach in brain-boiling 40C degree temperatures, during the Australia Day holiday week, I came over all strange. Despite the liberal application of aged, slightly rancid coconut oil, with an SPF rating of minus 25, my skin turned the colour of a two year old Beaujolais – a sort of sickly brown-edged red – and I felt faint.

After a relatively short wait (less than a day) in the local medical centre, the doc asked me what was the trouble. I described my symptoms. ‘Were you drinking?’ she asked. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘Plenty of water.’

‘If water was any good,’ she said, ‘we’d have it running through our veins instead of blood. I’m sorry to say you are severely debeerated.’ ‘What does that mean?’ I asked naively.

‘Debeeration,’ she explained, ‘Is a condition that occurs when a person has not consumed sufficient brewed liquid. Deprived of essential complex alcohols and other associated vitamins and minerals, the victim’s system will then start to fail, their muscles will melt down and eventually they may die.’

‘But along with water I’ve also been drinking a lot of light and mid-strength beers.’ I countered in mitigation.

‘Aha! There’s your problem.’ she said. ‘They’re not actually beer. If I may speak scientifically, they are a sort of no-frills substitute for the real thing. In laypersons’ terms, they are the tragic equivalent of drinking instant coffee.’

Horrified and chastened at her insight into my condition, I replied plaintively, ‘Please Doc, what am I to do? I place myself entirely in your hands.’

‘Well, first we’ll have to urgently rebeerate you. I don’t think you’re that far gone that we need to put you on a beer drip but I recommend the immediate consumption of half a dozen stubbies… of ice-cold, full-strength, amber fluid. After that I want you to drink at least two litres of genuine beer daily, avoid imitation beer and strenuous activity and come back and see me in a month.’

With this she wrote out a prescription listing a number of local and imported ales, advising me, ‘Unfortunately these are not subsidised but they should be available on discount at your local drugstore*.’

‘But Doc. What about driving? You know it’s illegal for me to drink and drive.’

‘Do you want to live or do you want to drive? she snapped. ‘You clearly have a problem identifying life priorities!’ ‘Next.’

*liquor store.

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On the Road – continued

Posted by Martin Field on 2 January 2006 in Food and Wine

by Martin Field

Chateaux in St Emilion and Bordeaux
The neighbouring regions of St Emilion and Bordeaux are a wine lover’s paradise. Vineyards and wineries are everywhere and there are innumerable lovely reds and whites to sip, to drink, to wallow in. There are guided tours available from the St Emilion and Bordeaux tourist bureaux or, armed with a map, the adventurous wine tourist can simply drive around and check out likely looking chateaux. But check out the tourist brochures first – many places are open to the public ‘by appointment only.’

Yes, you quickly discover that French winemakers are very much into the semi-mystical (to Australians anyway) concept of terroir – the concept of wine quality based on soil types, micro- meso- and macro-climates and all that. But despite reported French antagonism to what they dismiss as Australia’s industrial wines we noticed that many wineries have now entered the equivalent of the oenological industrial revolution and purchased kazillions of euros worth of stainless steel fermenters and associated modern winemaking equipment. Just like the Australians.

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On the road

Posted by Martin Field on 22 November 2005 in Food and Wine

by Martin Field

I’ve been on holidays. London, St Emilion, Paris and San Francisco to be exact. Phew! It’s good to be back in Melbourne. Here follow a few random thoughts on the trip.

Mummified suitcases
Travel isn’t the fun it once was – or maybe I’m getting old. I travelled a lot in the late ‘60s and in 1971 the hippie overland trail from London to Calcutta was a highlight. Back then you could travel (rough) without too many concerns about personal security. Thirty to forty years on it’s strange to note that in a supposedly more civilised world international travel can be a bit of a worry.

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What the Dickens!

Posted by Martin Field on 1 October 2005 in Food and Wine

‘Unsophisticated ALES & STOUTS. GOOD BEDS’ so used to read a sign on the wall of the Leather Bottle pub, Cobham, Kent, before the pub was restored. The Leather Bottle was frequented by Charles Dickens and is mentioned in his Pickwick Papers. Clearly, unsophisticated in this sense means pure and unadulterated. Pity the same can’t be said of many present day ales and stouts. Source, photograph in The Legacy of England, third edition, B.T. Batsford, London,1946-47.

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Champagne restaurant syndrome?

Posted by Martin Field on 1 September 2005 in Food and Wine

In a comprehensive piece, If MSG is so bad for you why doesn’t everyone in Asia have a headache? a Guardian Observer correspondent discusses the whys and wherefores of the food additive MSG (monosodium glutamate) – pretty much demythologising the so-called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS).

What caught my attention was the mention that MSG is a major constituent of autolyzed yeast extracts – like Marmite and similar products. Now students of wine will know well that a significant flavour (umami) component of Champagne is autolyzed yeast. This raises the obvious question: if CRS does exist does the consumption of Champagne create problems for those who feel they are susceptible to that alleged condition? Should one risk accompanying Chinese food with Champagne?