I remember starting high school and being excited about getting to do home economics (loser alert!). I thought the idea of being in a big kitchen with dozens of ovens was great. Finally I had my very own copy of “Cookery the Australian Way” – a book that has been in print for nearly 50 years. I only remember two things about “home ec” – the first is butterscotch roll scones (because I didn’t like the feeling of rubbing butter and flour together with my fingers, and still don’t), and the second is “mixed grill” day (where we were made to eat grilled lamb kidneys, crap burned sausages and dry lamb chops.. without any sauce). So home ec didn’t turn out to be that great after all…
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Pork belly… love of loves.
One of the best things I have ever eaten is Red Spice Road’s Twice Cooked Pork Belly. This dish is absolutely iconic in Melbourne. The pork belly is braised with soy sauce and star anise for a long, long time, and then set aside overnight, then pieces of it are coated in a tapioca and spice mix, and deep fried. Served with a sticky, spicy chilli caramel. The final product is crispy on the outside, and meltingly tender on the inside, and packed with rich Asian flavours and spice. Is your mouth watering yet?
Gasworks Arts Park is somewhere I drive past several times a week, but I’ve never been there and it’s always piqued my interest. It’s just off the beach in South Melbourne, mysteriously behind huge brick walls. As you drive past, you can see swaying gums and patches of greenery through the gates. On their website, Gasworks describes their park as “a backyard for those that don’t have one…an urban oasis in an evermore densely populated area”. Lovely don’t you think? The perfect place for a farmer’s market.
If kale were a person, it would live in a mud brick house in the bush, spending most of its time growing organic heritage variety vegetables and fruits, making jams and chutneys from the excess to sell at an roadside “honesty box” stall. Kale would wear clothing knitted from vegetable dyed yarn hand spun from the wool of bio-dynamically farmed goats, and listen to Ravi Shankar B-sides on vinyl. Kale is a bit of a hippy. (You though I was going to say kale is living the dream life, didn’t you?)
There are some foods you look at and seriously wonder who was the first person to think “I could probably eat that”. Sea urchin, crickets, spiders, chicken feet… PRAWNS. Nothing about these stalk-eyed, bug-legged, spiky armour coated crustaceans really says “eat me”. But whoever you are, primeval prawn-eater, I’m glad you could see past the rugged exterior and dared to sample the sweet, succulent flesh beneath. Thank you for your discovery of the bacon of the sea.
If you love cooking, a “bring a plate” event at work is basically a live episode of Masterchef (in your mind).
Last week, I went to a ladies lunch for a friend from work who is about to head off on maternity leave. Everyone was charged with bringing a plate, and the unusual step was taken to start an email chain to make sure we didn’t double up or bring too many sweets (personally, I am fine with having five different types of cake for lunch).
When I first moved in with Mr. SK (to be honest this moment is more accurately described as “when I first decided not to go home and he didn’t object”), one of the first things I did was bring over my “essential” cooking items. Sharp cook’s knife, my Chasseur casserole dish (a gift from my mum and one of my most treasured possessions in life), and a non-stick pan that is the perfect size for making omelettes. One of the first things I cooked for him was a pork casserole that was so good that I have never been able to replicate it (even though it is something I’ve made dozens of times). I’m sure that in that early phase of desperately wanting to impress somebody, the food gods adorn you with culinary superpowers that, several hundred meals later, eventually lose their potency. Or maybe I was just lucky and nailed it early on, successfully navigating my way to heart via the stomach.
Cauliflower ears. Have you heard that saying? Its the gross, bulbous, deformed ears that rugby players and boxers get from having their ears constantly smashed. Now that I’ve whet your appetite, lets talk about how great cauliflower is…
Cauliflower has to be one of the most versatile veggies around. For a long time, I thought poor old cauliflower was bland, boring and only edible when drowning in cheese sauce. What little I knew!
I didn’t really know what to expect from my first trip to a farmers market. They are popping up everywhere these days and seem like quite a trendy thing to do. I was a little bit nervous… would I feel like a loser without a a couple of fluffy hounds or a rosy cheeked toddler anchored to my trolley? Would it be expensive? Would it even be worth it? Can I actually get everything I need?
The humble burger is no longer a guilty pleasure. The art of burger making has become so refined that wagyu beef, soft shell crab, slow cooked pork belly, housemade chilli jam, blue cheese, and buttery sweet buns aren’t unusual items to see on the menu board in a burger shop. You can have all this delivered to your door by a man driving a moped. It is now perfectly acceptable to order burgers and fries for a corporate function (or better yet, hire a burger van run by a pair of moustachioed hipsters to add an extra element of cool to your occasion). The future is now in the burger world.