FOOD Ideas FL AVOUR
K June 2016 WILD / FIRE
THE WILD / FIRE ISSUE
N o .3
TETRAGONIA PESTO MAKES 1 ½ CUPS • 2 cups tetragonia leaves • ½ bunch basil leaves • 6 cloves garlic, minced • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil • 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted • ¼ cup Pecorino, finely grated • sea salt flakes and freshly-milled black pepper • croutes, cottage cheese and radish sprouts, to serve
1 Combine the tetragonia, basil, garlic and oil in a blender and purée until smooth. Add the pine nuts and Pecorino and pulse briefly. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on croutes with cottage cheese and radish sprouts.
Find all about tetragonia in our interview with Diego Bonetto, page 43. LOGO/MASTHEAD
FOOD Ideas FL AVOUR
FOOD Ideas FL AVOUR This is roughcut – flavours you love and ideas you need. In Issue #3 we’re getting our hands dirty, really dirty, obsessing over wild foods, killer bees and razor-sharp knives. Come to think of it, there’s danger of one sort or another lurking behind pretty much every corner. Even Brent is savage, in name at least.
It’s all good though, we got out alive!
In bringing these stories together we tried to explore what happens to the parts of our food world that are so commonly forgotten. Think about it, for each of the front page stories we devour about the latest hot eatery, there are so many really interesting ingredients, trades and crafts that we routinely overlook. Our food world is actually much broader than we give it credit for. Sometimes it’s really just about the questions we choose to ask. After all, when did you last think about the knife you use every day? Mostly we just take them for granted. What about the weeds beneath your feet, or the bees that pollinate your garden?
FOOD Ideas FL AVOUR CONTENTS IDEAS 5 Cover Star: Tetragonia Pesto 10 First Bite: A Crackling Good Idea - The Science of Roast Pork 16 The Knife Maker: Barry Gardner 45 The Forager: Diego Benetto 54 Plant Guide: Taming the wild
Cookery is a reflection of our culture, of who we are as a species. So at roughcut we take the time to really get to know food, just like we love a chat. Dig deep, know more, cook better. It’s your world too.
61 Raw: Strawberries
86 Home: Our faves this season
68 The Bee Keeper: Joel Seaton 78 Guest Chef Profile: Brent Savage - Yellow
RECIPES 14 Perfect Roast Pork Shoulder: Indulge in a simple classic 30 Bistecca Alla Fiorentina: Smooth classic Italian 33 The Four: Great burgers 58 Tetragonia Ravioli: A forager's feast 66 Chocolate-Cinnamon Meringues with Twice-Cooked Strawberries: Sweet indulgence 76 Jewish Honey Cake: Love the buzz 84 Guest Chef Recipe - Brent Savage - Yellow: Raw Radish with Buttermilk and Fennel
PUBLISHER Fast Ed Media - Ed Halmagyi CREATIVE EDITOR, ART DIRECTION, ORIGINAL ARTWORK AND GRAPHIC DESIGN Leah Halmagyi RECIPES, PHOTOGRAPHY AND FOOD STYLING Ed Halmagyi, Sarah Allchurch ADDITIONAL ORIGINAL ARTICLE Joel Seaton EDITOR & PROOFING Anne-Marie Cook FOR MORE RECIPES AND IDEAS VISIT fast-ed.com.au THANKS TO: Barry Gardner and Gardner Knives, Joel Seaton and Careel Bay Honey, Diego Bonetto (The Weedy One), Brent Savage and Yellow Restaurant, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Knife Association, Jamie Cook and Pittwater Fine Quality Meats.
89 One for the Road: Haystack
MANIFESTO At any given point in the progression of humanity, that moment encompasses the greatest quantum of knowledge our species has ever known. Knowledges accumulates. Except as it is forgotten. Just how many skills, ideas and capacities have been lost in time, squandered through disuse or supplanted by more excellent techniques? What sum of knowledge has humanity set aside, intangible assets that could yet have proven useful? Who can count the number of foundational concepts long since overgrown? The central paradox at the heart of that question should properly fester. We cannot know what we have forgotten, thus its scale and consequence cannot be understated. Or overstated. Or even simply understood. In knowledge, that which is lost is lost forever, unless it is to be discovered anew. And frankly, that proposition is unimaginable. The principle reason that ideas fade away stems from the fact that we have found better, and having charted a new path, we will never travel that road again. Our shared evolution demands sacrifice â€“ to innovate we must eradicate. No culture invests in thoughts, forms or rituals that are without meaning or value, and so, as novel understandings take root, the archaic are discarded.
Consider this: what account prevailed to explain the way all things adhere to the ground in the centuries before gravity was described? Once a common and collective belief, it is now a mystery. Moreover, having now come to understand gravity (one the universeâ€™s vital forces) we are now incapable of describing that same effect in older and less-knowing terms. That ancient mode of seeing our world is gone. Some have described our contemporary age as a junction point where the handmade is being lost to history, supplanted by technology and onward march of industry. The craft skills required to produce so many of the objects we take readily for granted are on the verge of extinction. Who today can make a knife from scratch? Who can forage for their food like hunter-gatherers of bygone millennia? Who can tame the power of wild bees to harness their flow? So many crafts and artisan skills are disappearing. Thankfully is is an extirpation, not an annihilation. The skills survive, albeit in small quantities, some maintained by just a handful of individuals. But the value of that knowledge is no less for its rarity. This issue of Roughcut is dedicated to three of the artisan crafts we should celebrate, and for which we should advocate. Our world is richer for the blacksmiths, the wild food warriors and the beekeepers, and I do not want to imagine a time when those things are past. Let this knowledge accumulate too, lest we forget.
crackling good idea
THE SCIENCE OF ROAST PORK K
ew foods ever attain the hallowed status afforded to pork crackling. Part cuisine, part magic trick, and routinely the object of gastronomic lust, perfectly-crunchy pork rind is more than food, it is a statement of intent on the part of the chef. Quality and tradition matter. Curiously, even a cursory investigation of published techniques reveals a wide range of approaches taken by an equally wide range of chefs. Some are differentiated by only small degrees, while others are fundamentally unique, even mutually exclusive in the methods they endorse. Yet surely this canâ€™t be right? After all, pork is not varied in this way. While there are characteristics that may be distinctive to pigs of certain regions or breeds, the biology of pig skin is mostly uniform. Hence it must be possible for one technique to stand above all others. Answering that proposition requires a scientific understanding of the structure of pork rind. The leathery outer surface (epidermis) is unlike human skin, instead comprised mostly of keratin, the same substance that makes our fingernails. This is the layer that will eventually hold the crackle, blistering outwards while forming the crisp crust. Directly beneath lies the dermis, an interwoven web of connective tissues and proteins. The process of cooking will coagulate and constrict these, forming a net that holds the underlying fat to the outer shell. If not heated high enough, or for long enough, this layer will be chewy and indelicate. Next comes the fats, three layers worth sandwiched tightly together, becoming progressively more saturated towards the meat. It is only through correct rendering of these fats that the outer crackle is able to form, a process that cannot be done quickly which explains why crackle can only ever be the product of long-process roasting.
Through this analysis a handful of techniques are distilled. Scoring is essential as it allows the rendered fat an avenue of escape. In the absence of scoring, the depth and intensity of crackling is reduced. Salt is important, and not just for flavour. The subcutaneous fats are emulsified with water. As such, salt helps draw out rendered fat through reverse osmosis. The single most important technique is to ensure a thoroughly-dried skin. However, the method used to achieve that is largely irrelevant. The simplest approach is to buy your pork a day before roasting. Once scored, leave uncovered in the fridge overnight. If time is pressing, however, using a hair dryer for 20 minutes on its cold setting can achieve a comparably good result. Baking should always be done on a rack or roasting prong, to allow good airflow on all sides of the pork. This reduces ambient humidity and improves the result. Speaking of ambient humidity, the folkloric approach of placing a water tray in the oven during baking to keep the meat juicy is ineffective and entirely counterproductive, as drying-out the skin is the key factor being sought. As for oven settings, it’s all about the high-low-high. A quick burst of high heat (230°C) will set the outer skin. The remaining roast should be long and slow (150°C or lower) for adequate rendering. Finally, another burst of high heat (230°C) will allow tiny trapped air pockets in the epidermis to increase in pressure until the cell walls can no longer contain them and they explode as small crisp blisters. This is the crackle you dream of. Exact timings will vary from cut to cut, and between breeds, but these rules remain true for all your favourite pork.
PERFECT ROAST PORK SHOULDER SERVES 6 • 1.4kg pork shoulder, bone in • 1 Tbsp sea salt flakes • cooking oil spray 1 Preheat oven to 230°C. Score the pork in fine parallel lines, then arrange on a tray and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight. 2 Massage the salt into the scoring lines and all over the meat, then sprinkle with cooking oil spray. Place the pork on a wire rack over an oven tray then bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 130°C then bake for 4½ hours. Remove from the oven and increase temperature to 240°C. 3 Once the oven reaches temperature, bake for 20 minutes, rotating once. Set aside to rest for 20 minutes, then carve and serve.
Serve with roasted seasonal vegetables (choko, beetroot, onion) and apples.
KNIFE MAKER By Ed Halmagyi
FIRE & STEEL IN THE HEART OF AUSTRALIA’S WINE COUNTRY, ALONGSIDE ANTIQUE WOODEN BARRELS AND TOWERING STEEL FERMENTING TANKS, A NEAR-FORGOTTEN CRAFT DRAWS ITS DEEP AND MEASURED BREATH. IN. OUT. IN. OUT. UNHURRIED, DELIBERATE, PURPOSEFUL. THE RHYTHMIC STRIKE OF A HAMMER.
low wind drapes from the north, curling past the sleeping vines and through mostlyempty streets. Here in the Barossa Valley, the harvest is long-done, and those tourists who would flock to its scattering of quaint towns have left for warmer places. Slow-moving tractors carry equally slow-moving farmers along dusty gravel backroads – meagre activity as the land hibernates.
On a crisp midweek morning during winter it’s hard to recognise one of Australia’s most celebrated destinations. Adored for its rich and sultry wines, its pedigree of hospitality, and its avatars of fine food, this version of the Barossa is but a filtered shadow of itself. Many of its businesses are shuttered, closed for the season they cater to the intermittent rumble of hordes who are nowhere to be seen. Cocooned and sleepy-eyed, the valley has an overarching mood of ennui, as if you have arrived at closing time though the sun is high in a clear cornflowerblue sky. That brooding sluggishness stands at contretemps to the inferred Silesian efficiency of the region’s heritage. It’s a quality of character with which the valley is liberally festooned Teutonic names, Lutheran churches, plump links of hanging mettwurst – every turn reveals allusions of a continental stripe. The Barossa is an Australian icon, though daubed with an unmistakable German tint. Pioneering settlers arrived from eastern Germany in the late 1840’s, fleeing the turmoil and insecurity of a series of political revolutions sparked by the dislocation and inequality of the burgeoning industrial age. In the absence of familial links and integrated social networks, these migrants had few choices but selfreliance, carving out a world of their own. A world in their own image. Assiduous, diligent and enterprising, they eschewed the studiouslyEnglish planned settlement of Adelaide, and instead travelled 75km north, into an untamed valley fringed by the Barossa ranges. Pastures, orchards and dairying readily took to the landscape, as did table grapes. English landowners of the region like the Angas clan, founders of the Adelaide township, made fortunes drying vine and tree fruits in the abundant late-summer sun. The Europeans garnered moderate initial success with tobacco and wheat, before returning to their historic wine-making pedigree, establishing vines of Syrah and Grenache. These early plantings would become the continent’s first successful wine industry. Today, the winery built by Joseph Seppelt in the 1860’s continues to be fêted for a luscious range
of wines and its remarkable series of 100-yearold ports produced continuously since 1878 - a unique offering unmatched anywhere else in the world. However, the complete story is more diverse, reflecting the region’s status as a cult destination for informed and discerning tourists. Alongside their wines and liqueurs, Seppelt have committed themselves to a celebration of artisans and craftspeople by converting the former stables into a working village – an artisan centre whose sole purpose is to house the best of the Barossa. Glass artists, leatherworkers, ceramicists, painters and wood-turners ply their trades in a dedicated collective. At the far end of the building, beyond the hanging exhibitions, the scent of tanned hide and the myriad colours of hand-tinted glass creations, comes the ringing peal of struck metal. This is the forge of Gardner Knives.
he thump is ritualised and mesmeric. A heavy hammer strikes incandescent metal in the dimly-lit room. Sparks arc and fly in every direction - a pure demonstration of power. Our very earth, molten upon the anvil, hewn into shape by strength and will. Humans are rightly astounded by the craft of blacksmithing. Intolerable heat, formidable clout, delicate finesse. Its archetype is built upon structural contradictions that seem impossible to reconcile, speaking of an age with which feel no longer feel connected, a lost time when the world was truly wrought by hand. Ironworking is a physical enunciation of what we imagine to be our older and better selves. Such propositions, however, are lost on Barry Gardner. He doesn’t indulge in existential musings, nor does he consider his work bathed with profound meaning. When pressed, he refutes with polite firmness the suggestion that his talents warrant special consideration. He is taciturn, understated and deliberately private, suffused with the reserve of a man who has seen much of the world, and finds himself more content without its unsolicited intrusions. A quiet country village like Seppeltsfield, far from the noisome throngs, is indeed his perfect place.
Alongside the knives he manufactures for sale, Barry runs one and two-day courses in which amateur enthusiasts can craft their own blade under his tutelage and guidance.
From steel bar to craft knife, an artisan blade step by step.
Like most modern knife makers, Barry acquired his craft as the product of patient and personal study. There are no courses or trade schools, no degrees or apprenticeships on offer. At least, not here in Australia. Some Japanese masters still practice the tradition of gakko, taking on young trainee blacksmiths to continue the art. But here, knives are considered domestic commodities, undervalued and eventually discarded in favour of newer and fancier options. Barry’s knives are not ephemeral in this way. Like blades of previous generations, his are made to last a lifetime, probably several, and to be prized in each. Over the past seventy years the process of producing cutting blades was relinquished from craft ironworkers to the workshops of commercial manufacturing, a consequence of rapid industrialisation brought about by the Second World War. The same methods and factories that produced ammunition in bulk could be adapted to manufacture all manner of metal goods. No longer would blades be forged and folded when high-speed die-stamping was infinitely more productive. In the space of a single generation, the skills of blade-forging were almost lost. Barry had always been a tactile man, most comfortable with tools in his hands. A background in construction provided useful familiarity with the hammers and grips, the vices, grinding wheels and presses that populate a forge. But contrary to perception, knife making has little to do with instruments, and much to do with metal. Yet that knowledge can only be shared, never found. We misunderstand steel, commonly assuming to it a nature that reflects our use of the term as a singular noun, as opposed to its true character. We perceive ‘steel’ to be a thing, a defined product, an object that can be known within described parameters. Yet this lay-interpretation is both inaccurate and wholly misleading. ‘Cake’ is not a thing, it is a class of things. Viennese sponge, Italian panforte, Mississippi mud and Australian pavlova are each cakes of a fashion, yet have almost nothing in common,
other than their sweet qualities and presentation as a large dessert intended to be shared festively. The idea of ‘cake’ is a collective, describing the overarching effect of the items, rather than their actual formation. The same applies to steel. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of formulas for steel that have been developed over the last several centuries. While each is based on iron, many other elements are also included to provide complex attributes of tensile strength, flexibility, corrosion resistance, colour, shine, hardness and durability. Carbon, chromium, molybdenum, vanadium, copper, titanium, manganese, silicon, cobalt, tungsten, selenium and nickel are alloyed to the ferrous base in varying selections and proportions according to the desired properties of the steel produced. Yet not only do component formulas radically alter the nature of the steel, so too does the production process through which the steel is manufactured. The temperature of heat used; the length of time for which the metal is held at varying degrees; the use of quenching to rapidly cool the metal thereby changing its crystal structure; oil-tempering; use of acids; resting periods; de-oxidation, cold-rolling, hot-rolling. From load-resistant structural steels, to hardwearing ball-bearing steels, to tool steels that can maintain their edge for a maximum amount of time, and so many more, steel is a family of metal alloys each with an identifiable personality and purpose. However, most of these metals look identical to the naked eye. In the absence of complex scientific instruments it is almost impossible to identify the formula used for any given unnamed metal, particularly recycled ones. Instead, this is where the science of metalwork gives way to the art of knife making, as intuition and experience come to the fore.
arry Gardner has a particular fascination with the knives of Japan, and the techniques by which those artisans bond complementary metals to achieve extraordinary results - from the
knife masters of Fukui whose double-bevelled edges are reminiscent of Western slicers, to the inimitable single-sided knives of Sakai, the blades for which Japan is best known. Those ancient techniques, born of sword manufacture, use a combination of high-carbon steel for hardness and edge, paired with molybdenumvanadium-steel or nickel-steel for extensibility, durability and shine. Mixed correctly, and with sufficient layers, the resulting blades are imposingly sharp. Equally important, by contemporary standards at least, when dipped in acid at the end of the forging process those contrasting strata of dark and shiny metals are revealed. The striations of each blade are unique, a whirling pattern that infers chaos trapped within the seamless order of a flawless blade. It is the beauty of form and the utility of function, deepening layers of incongruent symmetry. That pattern, that distinction, that matchless art - this is the raging urge of Damascus steel. As a key part of his creative process, Barry trawls the antique and recycled markets, searching out metals with which to craft his knives. A plough shear here, a saw blade there, industrial bearings, disused train tracks, tractor engine components – any quality steel could prove useful if correctly matched. The scale of Barry’s work is small, but it speaks of big ideas. Even beyond the importance of the craft itself, his approach is built upon an essential consciousness of upscaling and re-use. Too generally our disposable society abhors the old, and in consequence we are surrounded by the discarded. Amongst that flotsam Barry’s finds steel that remains ripe for re-forging, metals that warrant another chance to serve. And for his clients, the idea that their favourite knife used once to till the soil of the Barossa vineyards is a romantic notion of insuperable appeal. And there it is, the central idea that explains the recent re-emergence of knife making and why the craft was not left to wither. Riding the crest of this century’s Maker Movement, artisan knife makers are enjoying unexpected prominence as thoughtful consumers push back against the mass-production of our time, instead basking in the affectionate glow of the hand-made. From
traditional soaps to bark-tanned hides, from bespoke paper to homemade toothpaste – entire classes of the privileged world are returning to a simpler sense. Or perhaps it is more complex. After all, the same end-user waxing lyrically about the individuality and distinctiveness of their handforged blade is sharing images of that knife on their smartphone from a nameless Asian factory while their partner navigates the road in a European hatchback indistinguishable from a hundred thousand others. This fascination with what it is to be artisan can feel a little trite, somewhat token, an affected stance, an adopted adornment of distinction. There is a perfume of irony, a frivolous funk, from which it is hard to escape. Nonetheless it cannot surprise that the most successful element of the Gardner Knives business is not the blades themselves - it’s the process of making knives. Alongside the knives he manufactures for sale, Barry runs one- and two-day courses in which amateur enthusiasts can craft their own blade under both his tutelage and his guidance. From selecting metals and designing the knife, to firing the forge and handbeating the steel, this is a unique and engrossing opportunity, one so popular that he is booked out months in advance. So many people simply want to make something. Anything. For modern workers trapped within the confines of their cubicle, hot-desking the service economy, the only thing more satisfying than owning a craft knife is knowing that you made it yourself. In an era when the majority of employees produce nothing of tangible substance, this tactile reward-for-effort has a value beyond price.
and-crafted knives are not cheap, not by any measure. While the metal may be recycled and the process uncomplicated, its associated costs are significant. A dozen of pieces of engineering plant are required, each of which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Housing them requires a reasonable amount of industrial space, somewhere that
noise and dust are not going to be a problem. But more importantly, the process is arduous – an experienced blacksmith might not craft more than three blades in a full day. Each one represents a significant investment of time, of capital, and of knowledge. $250 for a paring knife. $600 for a slicer. $850 for a chef’s knife. A carving set for $2000. Those prices seem disproportionate and incoherent when considered in isolation. After all, a comparable commercial blade can be bought for less than one-tenth of that price. But you are not just purchasing the knife, you are buying into an idea and a statement. These knives are collectors’ pieces, lifestyle choices, family heirlooms. Of equal relevance, you are purchasing rarity. There are only 11 full-time bladesmiths in Australia, collectively producing around 2000 knives a year. Another 60 keen amateurs will each manufacture no more than two dozen, and then there are scores of hobbyists forging the occasional piece. All in all, perhaps 4000 knives might be produced annually, but the true number is probably fewer. Artisan knife making is, and will remain, a truly bespoke field. For while interest in the craft is rising, it is unlikely ever to return to the heady days of a century past when handmade blades were necessary luxuries found in every home appreciated for their function, and valued as intergenerational assets, they were art and object all at once. Today’s craft knives are conceivably even more worthy of such esteem, for they carry the weight of our retained cultural legacy. Antiques dealers have a thriving trade in the disposition of old cutlery, but those knives are the property and spirit of other people, from other times. Perhaps the most prescient and lingering joy bestowed by making or purchasing a unique and beautiful handmade blade is the opportunity to start your own family tradition, a tangible heritage for your generations to come. Thanks to Gardner Knives - The Jam Factory, Seppeltsfield Winery, Seppeltsfield Road, Seppeltsfield, SA 5355. Phone: 08 8563 3970 gardnerknives.com
BISTECCA ALLA FIORENTINA SERVES 4 • 4 x 330g thick-cut T-Bone steaks • 4 sprigs rosemary leaves, chopped • 8 basil leaves, torn • 2 cloves garlic, peeled • 1½ tsp ground sage • pinch ground nutmeg • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil • sea salt flakes and freshly-milled black pepper • hot mustard, to serve 1 Score the steaks lightly in fine parallel lines. Combine the rosemary, basil, garlic, ground sage and nutmeg in a mortar and pound until a paste forms. Add the olive oil then rub onto the steaks. Refrigerate overnight. 2 Season the steaks with salt and pepper, then arrange on a hot barbecue grill. Cook, turning regularly, for 4-5 minutes, until rare, then place upright on the flat bone. Cook for 5 more minutes, then set aside in a warm place to rest for 4 minutes. Carve and serve with lemon.
& GRILLS THRILLS
BURGERS DONE RIGHT
BURGERS ARE THE MOST DEMOCRATIC OF ALL RECIPES. RICH, POOR, REGARDLESS WHERE YOU COME FROM, EVERYONE LOVES THAT COMBINATION OF A THICK, JUICY PATTIE, LIGHT AND INTERESTING SALAD AND THE PERFECT SAUCE. WE HAVE FOUR OF THE BEST TO KEEP YOU DELICIOUSLY ENTERTAINED. FROM A CLEVER TAKE ON OLD-FASHIONED BEEF, TO A CELEBRATION OF AUSSIE LAMB. PLUS, THERE'S SOUTHERN-STYLE PULLED PORK FOR THOSE WHO LIKE IT HOT, AND A CHICKPEA BURGER GOOD ENOUGH TO TURN ANYONE VEGETARIAN. SO, FIRE UP THE GRILL AND CRACK ON WITH SOME BURGERS FOR YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY... IN FACT YOU'D BETTER MAKE A DOUBLE BATCH, BECAUSE THE TABLE IS GUARANTEED TO BE FULL.
TWICE-GROUND BEEF BURGERS
The secret to a great beef burger is not one, but two, cuts of delicious Australian farm-fresh beef. A hint of spice, a dab of mustard, hand-cut chips - it's pefect for entertaining.
LAMB, CAPER AND ROSEMARY BURGERS Everyone loves succulent, slow-roasted lamb shoulder, but paired with classic Meditteranean flavours like lemon, rosemary and capers, it's a light and elegant burger for the whole family.
CHICKPEA, FETA AND BEETROOT BURGERS With this amazing recipe, you can do meat-free Monday any night of the week. Spiced chickpeas and a slathering of green tahini are rich and tasty enough to satisfy even the carnivores.
PULLED PORK AND FENNEL SEED BURGERS I guess it's not really a burger in the truest sense, but when dinner tastes this good, who's complaining? Best of all it's impossible to overcook the pork so if you're pressed for time, don't worry, you can always let it roast a little longer.
TWICE-GROUND BEEF BURGERS • 400g chuck beef, diced • 400g beef rump steak, diced • 2 tsp fine salt • 2 tsp Herbes de Provence • cooking oil spray • 4 slice Provolone cheese • 4 crusty rolls, split • 2 Tbsp aioli • 1 Tbsp seeded mustard • 1 cup radicchio leaves, torn • 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced • ½ white onion, sliced into rings • thick-cut chips, to serve
SERVES 4 1 Combine the beef salt and Herbes de Provence in a bowl, toss well, then refrigerate for 4 hours. Pass through the wide blade of a mincer, then refrigerate for 1 hour. Pass again through the wide blade of the mincer, keeping the strands of meat parallel. Wrap tightly in cling film to form a log, then refrigerate for 1 hour. Slice into four patties. 2 Sprinkle with cooking oil spray, then cook on a hot barbecue grill for 4 minutes each aside, until just firm. Top with cheese while still hot. Brush the rolls with aioli and mustard, then build radicchio and tomato on top. Place a pattie on the salad, finish with onion, then serve with thick-cut chips.
LAMB, CAPER AND ROSEMARY BURGERS • 800g lamb shoulder, diced • 2 tsp baby capers • 4 sprigs rosemary leaves • finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons • 2 egg yolks • ½ cup multigrain breadcrumbs • sea salt flakes and freshlymilled black pepper • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 4 brioche rolls • 2 cups baby kale leaves • 2 cups coleslaw • ½ cup tomato ketchup • 2 tsp grated horseradish • 1 tsp cider vinegar • beer-battered green beans, to serve
SERVES 4 1 Preheat oven to 80°C. Combine the lamb shoulder, capers, rosemary and lemon zest in a bowl and toss well. Pass through the medium blade of a mincer twice, then mix in the yolks and breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Form into four generous patties and refrigerate for 1 hour. 2 Arrange on a lined oven tray and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 1 hour, then sear on a hot barbecue grill for 2 minutes each side. 3 Fill the baguette pieces with kale and coleslaw, then halve the patties and arrange on top. Mix the ketchup, horseradish and vinegar and drizzle over. Serve with fried beer-battered green beans.
CHICKPEA, FETA AND BEETROOT BURGERS • 400g can chickpeas, drained • ¼ bunch coriander leaves • 4 cloves garlic • 3 slices sourdough bread, crusts removed • ½ cup blanched almonds, toasted • 1 tsp ground cumin • ½ tsp ground coriander seed • pinch chilli powder • 1 egg • sea salt flakes and freshly-milled black pepper
SERVES 4 1 Combine the chickpeas, coriander leaves, garlic, bread and spices in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the egg and pulse again. Season with salt and pepper. Divide into four equal parts and form each around a tablespoon of feta cheese to make patties. Fry in a hot ribbed griddle using the olive oil for 3 minutes each side. 2 Spread the bap rolls with green tahini, then top the bases with coral lettuce and beetroot. Place a pattie on top and finish with yoghurt. Serve with tabouleh.
• 4 Tbsp feta cheese • 4 bap rolls, split • ½ cup green tahini • 1 cup green coral lettuce • 1 cup raw beetroot spirals • ¼ cup Greek yoghurt • tabouleh, to serve
GREEN TAHINI - SO HOT RIGHT NOW
Infused with herbs like coriander, dill and parsley, this sesame and garlic paste goes with just about everything and is available in most good delicatessens. If unavailable, use hummous instead.
PULLED PORK AND FENNEL SEED BURGERS • 1kg boneless rolled pork shoulder • sea salt flakes and freshly-milled black pepper • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil • ½ cup smoky barbecue sauce • 2 Tbsp chipotle hot sauce • 2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed • 4 thick slices Gruyere cheese • 1 sourdough baguette, cut in 4 • ½ cup aioli • 2 cups red sauerkraut • 4 kosher pickles, sliced • shoestring fries and aioli, to serve
SERVES 4 1 Preheat oven to 220°C. Score the pork skin then pat dry. Rub with salt, drizzle with oil, then arrange in an oven tray. Bake for 25 minutes, then reduce heat to 150°C and continue baking for 3 hours. Set aside to rest. 2 Remove the crackle and set aside. Shred the meat and combine with the barbecue sauce, hot sauce and fennel seeds. Form four generous piles and top each with cheese, then bake for 3 minutes until melted. 3 Spread the baguette with aioli, then top with sauerkraut. Arrange a pile of pulled pork on top of each, then finish with pickles. Serve with crackle, shoestring fries and ketchup.
A TASTE OF COLOUR: BLUE / PURPLE BLACKBERRIES BLUEBERRIES CONCORD GRAPES BEETROOT BLACKCURRANTS STANLEY PLUMS PROVENCE FIGS PRUNES RAISINS DRUMHEAD CABBAGE EGGPLANT HOPI MAIZE VITELOTTE POTATOES BORAGE PURPLE DRAGON CARROTS ELDERBERRIES KOHLRABI VIOLETTO Dâ€™ALBEGNA ASPARAGUS REDBOR KALE FIESOLE ARTICHOKES
THE FORAGER With Diego Bonetto
WILD AT HEART A
mongst the concrete, steel and glass of those towering modern constructions that litter urban landscapes, and in the forgotten spaces where humans take no interest, life perseveres. This is the world of weeds. Edible weeds. Modern agriculture is solely concerned with a reserved number of select species, those that have been deemed to meet the culinary need of consumers and, most importantly, the productive requirements of industry. All others have devolved to the craft of artisan or backyard growing, or abandoned to the wild where a deeply-diverse range of edible plants continues to exist, many in significant quantities. Most are ignored, or simply unknown. This is the curse of monoculture. All of those plants whose role is not celebrated, and those who dare to grow in spaces not intended for them, are collectively known by a pejorative term – weeds. It is diminishing, constraining and misses entirely their inherent usefulness. Diego Bonetto is one of Australia’s leading voices for the importance and value of those forgotten plants. Drawing deeply upon the heritage of the farmlands where he grew up in Piedmont, north-western Italy, Diego encourages everyone to look look downwards from time-to-time, and appreciate the world of plants that we habitually pass by. From common garden varietals like dandelion and nasturtium, to exotics like mallow and wood-sorrel, to significant native flora such as scurvy-weed, pigface and tetragonia – in the pantheon of plants he finds the story of how we eat, and how our communities have evolved. More than foraging, Diego’s real interest is education. His discovery tours are routinely booked out well in advance as he introduces groups to parts of their city that they would rarely, if ever, consider. From discovering edible weeds in Centennial Parklands, to a mushroom tour of the Southern Highlands, he champions wild food in forests, beaches, parks, reserves, gardens and along rivers. Diego’s belief is passionate, and his knowledge extensive. Roughcut took a tour of a deeply-urban Sydney beach, Clovelly, to put Diego’s theories to the test. The results? We discovered twelve completely edible plants, and in sufficient quantity to feed several large families. Afterwards, we sat down with Diego to find out more.
INTERVIEW Roughcut. You grew up in north-western Italy. How does the range of edible wild plants differ here in Australia? Diego. There are vast differences and countless similarities. Urban and peri-urban environments worldwide are a mix of localised species and cosmopolitan varieties. For example, dandelion lives all over the world, so do (provided there are favourable conditions) hundreds of other edible and medicinal wild plants. The plants that are surrounding our settlements and cities have adapted to man-made environments. This is true in Italy as much as in Sydney. R. Do you need to have an agricultural background to successfully forage? D. Does a gardener need a horticultural background to grow their own food? No. You do not need to study in academic terms, rather, you need curiosity and care, applied in the landscape. Go out, look, learn, appreciate. R. Some writers suggest that agricultural plants (broadacre crops and common market garden vegetables) rose to prominence because they were more appealing as ingredients. How do you feel about that? D. I think it is too simplistic a statement. Contemporary plant monocultures have evolved from a complex clash of priorities, including yield, cost effectiveness, sugar content, media wars between lobby groups, articulated preferences of the dominant culture, research funding and a range of other factors. Only one of those reasons list ingredients, and that is sugar. Regardless of themes we now sustain ourselves with an ever-diminishing number of plants. The World Food Organisation gives an alarming statistic: 60% of our diet nowadays depends on THREE species: corn, rice and wheat. And yet we are surrounded by so much more choice. R. Foraging is riding a cultural wave at the moment. Is this fascination temporary, or are we seeing real change? If so, what is changing? D. There is change, all around us. People are prioritising gardening skills, while verge gardens are starting to pop up all over Sydney and elsewhere. Environmental awareness is informing more and more of our choices. People are reconnecting with the environments they live in. Food security is one of the main drivers, as families and groups think strategically about how to introduce better quality ingredients in their lives. Foraging might be trendy right now, but even when it eventually goes out of the limelight it will still be a growing practice. Todayâ€™s world population is mobilising and shifting around, producing a sense of disconnection to localities worldwide. Learning to forage allows you to engage ecologically with the place in which you live. It grounds you.
R. HOW SEASONAL IS FORAGING, AND CAN YOU NAME SOME OF THE PLANTS THAT WE CAN GET AT DIFFERENT TIMES OF THE YEAR?
D. FORAGING IS HIGHLY SEASONAL, AND WEATHER DEPENDENT. BELOW A SMALL LIST OF POSSIBILITIES ON THE EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA: SUMMER DANDELION FLOWERS, DIANELLA BERRIES, AMARANTH, FLATWEED, MULBERRIES, AUTUMN PINE MUSHRROMS, WILD OLIVES, WILD APPLES, WILD FENNEL SEEDS, WINTER CHICKWEED, FLICKWEED, WOOD SORREL SPRING MALLOW, NETTLE, ONION WEED, FAT HEN LOGO/MASTHEAD
R. What dangers exist in foraging? D. Ask permission to forage to the relevant authority and you will be fine. Only ever harvest what you know and you will establish relationships with the wild plants. Embrace your neighbourhood, and you will discover clean areas where you can get that special treat at harvest time. R. How long would it take to find enough ingredients for a meal? I realise this is an elastic measure, but is there a rule of thumb? D. It depends. If you go hunting for mushrooms on a good day you can get enough for the year in one outing. If you go under an Illawarra Plum when it is shedding fruit, you can bring back 5kgs of fruit in half an hour, with plenty left on the tree. Most often you go out for a walk and you graze for a few berries, a handful of seeds, or a bunch of greens. R. Where are the best places to forage? D. The best place to forage is your own garden. If you look in your immediate surroundings you will find plenty of edible plants straight out of your door. R. Is it true that the less tended the land, the more likely you are to find edible ingredients? D. Not in my experience. Different plants prefer different conditions. Plenty of edible self-seeders pop up in well-attended gardens all the time. It has more to do with richness of soil and availability of water. R. Where did most of the edible plants we have now come from? Native, or introduced? D. There are plenty of edible native plants, as well as introduced â€“those come from all over the world. But be careful, as quite often native plants grow in ecologically-sensitive colonies. It is better to collect weeds, controlling their spread while filling your pantry. R. Why do you think so many people have a fear of eating wild or foraged plants? D. There are many factors, such as complex and culturally-ingrained assumptions that cause us think the wild world needs to be contained or it will take over. We tend to engage with nature through siege, holding it in control. As Vanadana Shiva says: â€˜We should stop being at war with the soil, forcing it to go against its natural processes.â€™ I think this is due to lack of knowledge. If you know the plant you will not fear it. In 1998, American botanists James Wandersee and Elizabeth Schussler defined plant blindness as "the inability to see or notice the plants in one's own environment," which brings the "inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs." This happens in an age when most youngsters can identify hundreds of corporate logos and branded products but can't name the plants and trees in their backyards.
R. Are there different ways to distinguish between the plants? Dryland versus water plants? Prostrate versus shrubs? Leaves versus seeds? D. Yes, and there is plenty of information available, including books on how to positively identify a wild plant, particularly weeds. They offer images, descriptions, look-alikes and so forth. R. If someone was going to try just one plant to see what foraging can offer, what should they sample to be thrilled? D. Mulberries. Wild fennel. Dandelion flowers. Dianellas. Lillipillis. Rambling dock. The lot!! R. Many of the plants you promote as food are considered weeds by most gardeners. What is the relationship between weeds and food in popular thinking? D. The notion of a â€˜weedâ€™ is a fabricated and culturally-inbred concept. One plant can be a weed for one group of people, and a prized resource for another. All of the plants we consider food today are pioneer species, which is to say that they too were once weeds. There is no difference between them, only the willingness to introduce them (or not) in our diet. I have friends growing patches of nettles. Most other people would think of it as a patch of weeds. R. What is your favourite plants/plants to harvest? D. Favourite plant is dandelion. Favourite to harvest are mulberries. R. Urban foraging is its own art form. How does this vary from gathering in forests and national parks? D. I do not think is that different? But in urban environment you need to be aware of pollutants. R. Are there any toxic plants that may be mistaken for safe by amateurs? D. Yes, and as a general rule you should only ever collect and eat what you are 100% sure of what it is. Proper identification is key. R. What is the plants that you have been most surprised to find? D. There are always surprises. The best is when you finally locate a plant you have been looking out for ages. When you first encounter it is la revelation. R. What do you feel the guests on your tours get from their experience? D. The most recurring testimonials that I get is to thank me for giving my guest new eyes with which to look at nature. Once you familiarise yourself with a plant and you have a name for it, you start to notice it everywhere. I aid the change of perception of the landscape, from utilitarian furniture and natural facilities to a cornucopia of edible and medicinal possibilities. Thanks to Diego Bonetto: Tours workshops and consultancy in urban environmental management and plant education. diegobonetto.com 52
PIGFACE CARPOBROTUS GLAUCESCENS
a.k.a.: Sea fig - Leaves have a delicate and slightly-salty flavour, and can be eaten raw as salad or cooked in the same way as green beans. Seasonally the plant also produces reddishpurple fruits with the taste of salty strawberries. This was an important food source for coastal Aboriginal communities. 02
NASTURTIUM TROPAEOLUM MAJUS All parts of this plant are edible – roots, shoots, stems, leaves and flowers. A creeping and wide-ranging garden favourite, it has the sharp pepperiness of watercress or rocket, and the sweetness of spinach. The leaves are excellent in stir fry, while the flowers are the world’s richest natural source of lutein.
OXALIS OXALIS CORNICULATA a.k.a. Wood sorrel - There are many edible members of the Oxalidaceae family, whose flavours range from the deeply-savoury, to the delicately sweet. In Australia garden oxalis are generally savoury, with a strong garlic-onion perfume. The leaves are excellent when eaten raw, and the roots can be used in place of garlic cloves.
TETRAGONIA TETRAGONIA TETRAGONIOIDES a.k.a. Beach spinach - Common along the coastlines of all southern hemisphere nations, tetragonia is one of the most important native foods in Australia. Rich in macronutrients, and delicately sweet, it can be used wherever spinach or cabbage might ordinarily be cooked.
ATHSMA WEED PARIETARIA JUDAICA a.k.a.: Sticky weed - One of the most intractable weeds in temperate Australia, this plant originated in the Middle East where it was widely used as a cooked leaf vegetable for millennia. In north-western Italy it is still regarded as an important summer crop. Leaves should not be eaten raw (it can be an allergen), and should instead be sautéed like spinach.
FLATWEED HYPOCHAERIS RADICATA a.k.a.: Catsear or False dandelion - A perennial low-lying plant common throughout all temperate climates, all parts of this plant are edible. The leaves and flowers are best consume draw. The root can be roasted and ground, then used as a coffee substitute.
RAMBLING DOCK RUMEX SAGITTATUS a.k.a.: Turkey Rhubarb or Potato vine - A perennial creeping vine common throughout Australia and Asia the leaves of the plant were valued as a food source by indigenous Australians, Indonesians and Malay communities. The roots should be avoided as they are overly-rich in oxalic acid.
COBBLERS PEG BIDENS PILOSA a.k.a.: Spanish needle - An invasive weed common throughout the south Pacific, the leaves of this plant are an excellent source of nutrition. Beyond food, a poultice of this plant is celebrated in Chinese traditional medicine as an effective way of managing wounds.
ONION WEED ASPHODELUS FISTULOSUS a.k.a.: onion-leaf asphodel - All parts of the invasive weed are edible. The flowers have a pervasive garlic-onion aroma, while the stalks can be used in place of chives. The roots live up to their reputation as a garlic family member and can be used in place of official garlic.
CLOVER TRIFOLIUM REPENS a.k.a.: Ditch pea - Like all members of the legume family, clover is an excellent addition to any garden adding much-needed nitrogen to the soil. All parts of the plant are edible, but the leaves in particular are delicious, possessing a delicate earthy perfume.
SOW-THISTLE SONCHUS OLERACHEUS a.k.a.: Puha - Prized by Maori and South Pacific Islanders, this delicately-bitter leaf is common throughout temperate and tropical climates. SautĂŠ like spinach or eat raw, it is rich in a range of important nutrients.
DANDELION TARAXACUM OFFICINALE A family of several hundred related plants, dandelions are an important food crop that has been harvested in the wild and cultivated through agriculture for millennia. All parts of the plants are edible. The leaves, flowers and seed heads can be eaten raw or cooked, while the taproot can be peeled and sautĂŠed as a tuber.
MALLOW MALVA NEGLECTA a.k.a.: Cheeseweed - There are more than 4000 plants in the mallow family, including cocoa, okra and cotton. The common leafy mallow varietals are an important food source in Iranian, Afghani and Khazak cuisine. Eaten raw or cooked like spinach, they are floral, sweet and delicious.
SCURVY WEED COMMELINA CYANEA a.k.a.: Native wandering Jew - A perennial prostrate common throughout the south Pacific, scurvy weed was an essential ingredient to allow early settlers to survive in Australia. While bland and flavourless, it is a rich source of vitamin C and other macronutrients. It should always be cooked.
TETRAGONIA RAVIOLI SERVES 4 • 300g ‘OO’ flour
• 1 tsp fine salt
• 1 cup full-cream ricotta
• 4 eggs
• Sea salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper
• 1 egg yolk • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1 white onion, very finely diced • 4 cloves garlic, minced • 1 Tbsp pine nuts, chopped • 1 Tbsp currants, chopped • 6 cups tetragonia leaves,
• 125g unsalted butter • 1 bunch sage leaves • ½ tsp ground nutmeg • pinch chilli flakes • juice of ½ lemon • 1 cup Pecorino, finely grated
1 Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to mix. Whisk 3 eggs, yolk and 2 tsp olive oil together, add to the flour, then pulse several times until a rough dough forms. Turn out onto the bench, knead lightly, then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour. 2 Sauté the onion, garlic, pine nuts and currants in the remaining olive oil for 5 minutes, until softened, then set aside to cool. Blanch the tetragonia leaves in boiling water for 20 seconds, until wilted, then refresh in iced water. Drain well, then chop roughly. Stir into the onion mixture with the ricotta, then season with salt and pepper. 3 Roll the pasta dough out until 5mm thick, then fold up. Turn 90°, then roll out again. Repeat twice more, then roll out to 2mm thick. Cut twenty 7cm circles and twenty 9cm circles. Beat the remaining egg and brush onto the small circles. Top each with a pile of the tetragonia mixture, then finish with a large circle. Press tightly to seal, then trim each with a 7cm cutter. 4 Cook the ravioli in a large saucepan of rapidly-boiling salted water for 3 minutes, then drain well. Meanwhile, cook the butter and sage in a medium saucepan until nut-brown and aromatic. Mix in the spices and lemon juice, then fold in half the cheese. Toss with the ravioli, then serve with the remaining cheese.
KISSED BY THE SUN
By Ed Halmagyi LOGO/MASTHEAD
TRADITIONALLY IT WAS THE RETURN OF SPRING THAT MARKED THE START OF THE STRAWBERRY SEASON, AS PLANTS THAT HAD SHELTERED THROUGH WINTER REEMERGED FLAUNTING THEIR BUNDLES OF BRIGHT-RED FRUIT. LUSCIOUS AND INTENSE, THEY BECOME PROGRESSIVELY SWEETER AS THE MONTHS DRIFTED TOWARDS SUMMER.
oday, however, delicious strawberries are available year-round in a range of sizes, perfumes and shades, as commercial hybridisation within Australia’s broad climatic range permits growers to harvest in every month. Some chefs will even contend that winter strawberries from northern Australia are the very best of the year.
Strawberries are an ancient plant whose origins predate the separation of the continents. In consequence, three distinct cultivar groups emerged. Classic European strawberries are a prostrate plant with high-yielding small red or white fruit whose taste is intensely sweet with a lingering perfume. Known as ‘wild’ or ‘alpine’ strawberries, they are prized by chefs for flavour. North American varietals developed as a hardier plant capable of growing in a range of climates. These can be harvested for a longer period of the year, producing medium-sized fruit with the highest natural sugar density (up to 11% by weight when ripe). Chilean strawberries are the ancestors of all large modern versions. This is a delicate plant with a relatively low yield whose fruit lacks the intensity of aroma found in others. Nonetheless, the genetics of South American bushes have been integrated into modern commercial crops due to their impressive size.
Strawberry cuttings from the American Virginia colony came to England in the 17th century and were soon hybridised with traditional plants by local growers. These new crops were
highly successful, but it was only when Chilean strawberries were brought to Europe 100 years later and incorporated into the cultivar stream that the modern strawberry emerged. By the early 1900’s a fruit that we would recognise today was widely available. It had the sweetness of the North American berry, the prolific production of wild fruit, and the considerable bulk of its Chilean ancestors.
The origins of the name ‘strawberry’ may seem inherently evident at first, as the plant’s fruit must be protected from ground rot and mould by resting on mulch. However, its etymology is older than this interpretation. The Old English term ‘strēow’ meant ‘to scatter’, and in fact we still use the word ‘strewn’ to describe dissipated items. In the context of the berries context it explained the manner by which the plant’s fast-growing runners expand to fill a space. Interestingly, this is also the origins of the term ‘straw’ meaning ‘dried grass or hay’, as mulch too is scattered. But it is nothing more than a charming coincidence that modern berries are indeed rested upon a bed of straw.
VARIETALS & SEASONALITY
Hundreds of varietals of strawberries are grown worldwide, adapted to unique local climates. In Australia, a range of specific breeds have been developed to allow year-round production. Summer cropping is predominantly found in the southern states, while winter fruit is harvested in Queensland and northern WA, where yearend temperatures and humidity would prevent fruit set. Northern production of Festival, Aussiegem, Lowanna and Rubygem strawberries account for almost half of Australia’s supply. In Victoria and Tasmania (states where groundchill is apparent over winter) traditional summer berries from produce the sweetest fruit, and can adapt better to wet weather conditions. The standout varietal grown in Australia is the Melba, a medium-large fruit with exceptional colour and outstanding natural sugars. It is available from November to February.
Growing strawberries at home is simple and rewarding. The first (and most critical) step is to
acquire a cultivar that is suitable to your local environment, and this is best done by seeking advice from a local nursery. Strawberries are perfectly-suited to growing in pots where the fruit can hang without contact. If groundplanted, then a mounded hill will allow rain to fall away, and a generous amount of cane or lucerne mulch mixed with pine needles will protect from mildew and keep the soil mildly acidic for sweeter berries. The fruit are susceptible to a range of predators, including birds and insects. Netting will prevent birdstrike, but pellets may be necessary to keep snails and slugs at bay. While fruiting, the plant is hungry for nutrient, hence weekly doses of seaweed or fish emulsions and seasonal fertilisation with manure are recommended to maintain productivity.
There has been little quality research into the health benefits of strawberries published to date. The fruit contains relatively good amounts of Vitamin C and manganese, but most other minerals are present in lesser concentrations. As with many red foods, the phytochemicals that create colour are also anti-oxidant and can provide some heartprotecting and cholesterol-reducing benefits.
EAT & COOK
The flavour of strawberries is chemically complicated, binding together nearly forty individual molecules: by contrast, raspberries derive their flavour from a single compound. As such, crop variations mean that the ratio of these elements can vary enormously, resulting in fruit with markedly-distinct perfumes. Technically the berry itself is not a fruit, but rather an ‘accessory fruit’, while the small hard seeds that surround it (called ‘achenes’) are the seed-bearing fruit. Nonetheless, many chefs will sieve these out after cooking to reduce the presence of texture and bitterness. Strawberries have a relatively short shelf-life once picked, and should be stored in a breathable container on a raised surface to prevent moisture pooling, as this will quickly cause the fruit to spoil. Strawberries should always be eaten from room temperature as the flavour is heat sensitive and diluted when cold.
CHOCOLATECINNAMON MERINGUES WITH TWICE-COOKED STRAWBERRIES SERVES 4 • 3 egg whites • 300g golden caster sugar • ½ tsp cream of tartar • pinch fine salt • 2 tsp natural vanilla extract • 1 tsp molasses • 1 Tbsp Dutch cocoa • 2 tsp ground cinnamon • 2 punnets strawberries, hulled • whipped cream, to serve 1 Preheat oven to 90°C. Combine the egg whites, 185g golden caster sugar, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk lightly. Set over a bowl of hot water and warm to 50°C, stirring often. Transfer to the electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment for 8-10 minutes, until thick and glossy. Beat in vanilla and molasses. 2 Sift half the cocoa and cinnamon over the meringue and fold in to marble. Load into a piping bag fitted with a large star-shaped nozzle and pipe onto lined biscuit trays as 6cm wide discs. Scatter with the remaining cocoa and cinnamon, then bake for 4 hours, until crisp. 3 Combine half the strawberries with the remaining sugar in a small saucepan with 2 Tsp water and set over a low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and discard the solids. Mix the hot syrup and remaining strawberries and cook of 2 minutes. Serve with the meringues and whipped cream.
By Joel Seaton, Careel Bay Honey
AGRICULTURE IS TOUGH. LIKE PROPERLY TOUGH. FORGET AIR-CONDITIONED COMBINE HARVESTERS AND ERGONOMIC SEATS ON SMARTLY PAINTED DESIGNER TRACTORS. IT’S NOT THE ROMANTICISED LEATHERY PERFUME OF RM WILLIAMS BOOTS AND THE CRISP TEXTURE OF A FRESHLY-IRONED FLANNEL SHIRT. AGRICULTURE IS TOUGH, GRIMY, DIRTY, AND AT TIMES JUST FUCKING UNFORGIVING.
Beekeeping couldn’t be further removed from that life.
That’s the result. The process is something else entirely.
The entire daily structure and workload is dependent on nature. You are governed by what’s in flower, mired by concerns about periods of interminable rain, antagonised by thunderstorms, exhausted by the heat. And that’s not even considering the bees and their diverse seasonal variations.
he reality of day-to-day life as a beekeeper is far from the polished end-product proudly displayed at the Royal Agricultural Show. It’s equally distant from the artisanal jars standing at attention on trendy cafe shelves in delicate quantities at a key location on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Yes, they’d be mine.
My experience starting out in agriculture was a swift reality check. At the time I worked as an airline pilot and was accustomed to all the creature comforts of a homogenised routine. I had a standardised workplace and a structured sequence of daily tasks. Sure, there was fatigue and long overnights away from home, but I had a roster. I had sick days. Hell, I even had flight attendants making my tea and a steady flow of snacks on demand – ‘Sweet or savoury?’.
I love the bees. My fascination with bees probably began as a child, raised on a diet of Attenborough documentaries, science discussions over the dinner table, and a general thirst to understand the natural world that surrounded me. While other families would holiday at the Gold Coast, immersed in the plastic delights and fabricated entertainment of man-made
Joel Seaton 71
amusement parks, we would go to the Daintree rainforest and Fraser Island. As kids, my brother and I thought our parents were assholes because they never took us to Disneyland like all the kids with whom we went to school. From my Nan there was a continual promise that if she ever won Lotto she’d spoil us and take us all to the Wonderful World of Walt. Needless to say, Nan’s numbers never came up. However, we continued to explore our natural world and its beauty was subconsciously engrained. Today, my brother and I celebrate that world, and the importance of its conservation is a defining influence. For that I will always be thankful. Some years back I was on an overnight in Albury for work, and was desperate to escape the lonely monotony of aviator life – trust me, it’s totally not glamorous. So I set off to the Victorian high country, driving down to Beechworth. It’s a beautiful and charming old town. I’m not sure if it was chance, or fate, but I distinctly remember walking into the Beechworth Honey Museum and being greeted by a super-enthused staff member who had a wealth of inspirational knowledge - all about bees, of course. Reflecting on that morning, it was 10am on an overcast Tuesday and there was a good chance she realised that in ‘one-horse’ Beechworth I was probably going to be the only person she’d talk to for some time, and this allowed her to lose herself completely in the conversation. Over the next hour or so, I found her telling me everything she knew about bees and beekeeping. Totally inspired, I returned to Sydney and joined the North Shore Beekeeping Club. Beekeeping clubs are a fantastic way to learn, and to acquire apiary skills. However, be warned: you quickly realise that there is an abundance of varying opinions, ideas and strategies passed on by the many members. Sometimes the advice is just plain contradictory. The challenging part of that learning process is determining what works for you, and what is relevant to your pursuits within your environment. Every environment is different and poses unique challenges. I found the club a very inclusive setting and a
great platform to begin my first hive. I studied vigorously, read all I could, got sucked heavily into the YouTube vortex of knowledge. Finally, I bit the bullet and bought a hive. I will never forget the adrenalin rush of driving home with my brother, an assembly of various hive parts and 4,000 bees in a sealed container in the back of my Toyota Echo hatch. Actually, not really all that sealed as it turned out. That’s not so great in a hatchback, just saying. Anyway, our efforts setting up that first hive succeeded, and today we have 30 productive hives. You could say that things have progressed well. With beekeeping, the most important element is location (the bees need proximity to flowers) but that’s also the most challenging thing in the city. Yet I chanced upon a plot of land threatened with high-density development whose owner was really keen to avoid having it lost to concrete, steel and glass. Keeping the money-hungry developers (and the equallygrubby council) at bay is complicated, even for private land owners, however the presence of a primary producer would mean the property couldn’t be resumed. So we struck a deal to erect a purpose-built space for the Careel Bay Honey apiary. The land survived, and our business was born. A recent increase in the popularity of urbanbeekeeping means that hives are becoming prevalent in suburbia. This is fantastic, but people need to realise a hive is a dynamic and evolving organism that needs proper attention and understanding to survive. Choosing a suitable site is key to ensure that you’re giving your bees the best possible chance of flourishing. There are many perils and traps, so education is key. When it comes to the day-to-day dealings with bees you learn a few principles very quickly. Fewer disturbances are best. Bee stings hurt like shit, and on certain areas of your body they can produce some funky swelling and associated pain that can linger for days. My most painful include the soft part of my throat, just outside my eye, and a treat on an area of the body usually
Support your local beekeepers, because bees matter. It's bloody hard work, although very enjoyable, and these dedicated people are literally sustaining your way of life.
concealed well beneath the safety of my bee suit that was exposed when I jumped a paddock fence and unknowingly put a small tear in the stitching of my bee suit. At the groin. You do the maths. My favourite sting I’ve seen was on a well-known television chef who shall remain nameless. He copped a sweet sting on the mouth that produced incredible natural lip augmentation and such intense swelling that the next day he was accused of vanity and shallowness for his apparent Botox injections! Sucker! So funny. Bees are incredible. This insect is tiny, and has a brain smaller than a chia seed. It lives for only 6 weeks or so in the Springtime when it will literarily work itself to death, yet for all that it has been discovered that bees actually have facial recognition ability. Perhaps that explains why I tend to get flogged with multiple stings while associates and friends accompanying me to the hives seldom get touched. You also quickly realise that despite knowledge, experience and understanding of bees you are ultimately trying to manipulate nature for your own benefit, and you don’t always know best. I am still learning so much on every visit to my hives. Think about it like this - you’re dealing with an insect that has been around since the Cretaceous period. There’s a lot of catching up to do. After the bees have done their work, extracting the honey is an intense process. Outside temperature determines the viscosity of the honey: on hot days it flows easily, while it’s
like glue in the cold. So, naturally, the easiest filtration happens in the heat. But think about the associated labour of lugging 25kg bee hives around in multiple layers of clothing on days over 30°C. It means rapid dehydration and you’re just bloody knackered. Beekeeping is by far the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. The amazing benefits of creating a product to which my local community connects, something they can cherish and celebrate, is worth all the hard work and toil ten times over. For me personally, the connection with fresh produce, integrating with nature and biology, and being a part of my community is second-to-none for fulfilment. These days I find beekeeping meditative, a chance to disconnect from technology and the torments of modern life, and instead find myself in nature. I still have so much to learn from this tiny but remarkable insect, and am so thankful for the support of some pretty special people in my life that have made things happen well outside my own capabilities. It is also empowering to think my little Careel Bay Honey company is doing its part to preserve an insect whose extinction should be unimaginable. Losing bees would mean losing natural pollination, ruining crop production for a large slice of Australian agriculture. If we squander our bee populations we lose almonds, apples, apricots, avocadoes, blueberries, cashews, coffee, cranberries and cucumbers…… that’s only up to the letter C. It’s everything. It’s agriculture. It’s our food. It’s our survival too.
ROSH HASHANAH JEWISH HONEY CAKE SERVES 4 550g self-raising flour ½ tsp fine salt 2 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground nutmeg ½ tsp ground allspice ½ tsp ground cloves 1¼ cups honey ½ cup vegetable oil ½ cup caster sugar 1 cup brown sugar 4 eggs ½ cup strong black coffee 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 Preheat oven to 180°C. Sift flour, salt and spices. Whisk ¾ cup honey, oil, sugars, eggs, coffee and eggs in a large bowl until thoroughly-combined. Mix in the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. 2 Spoon the mixture into two greased and floured 1¼L ring tins, then bake for 40-45 minutes, until a skewer can be inserted and removed cleanly. Invert onto a wire rack, then allow to cool. Warm the remaining honey with 2 Tbsp water, then brush over.
GUEST CHEF PROFILE:
By Ed Halmagyi LOGO/MASTHEAD
DELICIOUSLY CLANDESTINE, THIS IS THE PERFECT ATMOSPHERE FOR DISCOVERY.
he room is purposefully dim, and shapes form slowly with only bare pendants for illumination. It’s a rich and sultry darkness, a leftover affect of the building’s artistic heritage, ‘Once a home for the Whiteley set, did you know?’. Brooding and potent, its comportment is daubed liberally, but without self-consciousness. Sitting at the bar, a delicately-fine man watches the action around him silently. More than quiet, he embodies reserve, wordlessly observing with a beatific smile. It should be difficult for him to stand apart like this, after all he is lauded and praised, the beneficiary of innumerable awards – twice Chef of the Year. Brent Savage is not simply one of our greatest contemporary cooks, he is an innovator and disruptor who time and again has re-cast our collective sense of what to eat, and how. And yet, perched at the bar, his poise is unaffected by the expectations of others. Instead he embodies an assured calmness that exudes the confidence of knowledge.
Chefs being who they are (and vaulted to an unnecessary degree by today’s very public forms of adulation) a broad smile and dominating personality would seem obvious in a man who has achieved such success at so early an age. But Brent is no one’s expectation, and his taciturn demeanour is productive and enabling where others might find it stifling. He is unaffected by those who would seek to define him, and instead embarks upon a culinary journey whose destination is not always clear. So many of us are gastronomic tourists. Brent Savage is a traveller who steps willingly into the unknown. For years, Yellow was one of Sydney’s most outstanding bistros, a perennial favourite for the city’s go-to set. It was all lambs tongues and rich sauces, clever salads and unctuous stews. Deeply-rooted in French traditions, theirs was an unwavering form of cookery that sat apart from Savage’s most famous eatery, Bentley, where modernist imaginings routinely redefine the potential of food. However, beneath that gritty and carnivorous tone lay a perpetual fascination with vegetables. Influenced no doubt by his vegetarian wife, Brent saw nuanced flavours and textures proposing an excitement that could out-shine the predictable richness of meat. And so the seeds of Yellow’s re-emergence were born. Change can difficult for groups, and even more so for businesses, especially when the change is radical. From celebrated bistro to innovative vegetarian eatery was a redesign that left many (both within and outside the business) off-kilter. Ensuring success meant finding a narrative that could explain the process in seamless terms. Some struggled to understand, but for Savage this was never difficult, as the decision to reshape Yellow was not born of marketing schtik or opportunistic tendencies, but rather it was the explication of his genuine fascination with both technique and flavour.
needed to quickly develop relationships with artisanal producers who could supply the more unique ingredients required to make a meatfree restaurant outstanding – shark-fin melon, tomatillos, broad bean shoots, micro fennel. These are not commonplace vegetables available on the open market, and instead needed to be purpose-grown by selected gardeners. Crafting a great vegetarian restaurant could not be some ad-hoc decision, but only the consequence of a long and deliberate process steeped in careful planning. Yellow is liberally painted with integrity, and this is the key reason for its success. Its new modality is neither trite nor ephemeral, nor even a political statement, but instead it is a clever binding of Brent’s culinary skills and his deep love of food. The dishes are impossibly beautiful, but that is to be expected. More importantly they are rich and delicious in ways that provoke candid surprise. Meticulous processes of concentration have drawn out the powerful innate character of these ingredients in ways that few other chefs master. In part at least, that Yellow can propose vegetarianism with the same zeal as a meat-rich offering has come about through Brent’s own evolution. A conspicuously talented young cook with an assiduous fervour for clever technique has matured into a chef whose prime regard is for the intuitive qualities of ingredients. Where once his cookery was a human endeavour, it is now a symbiosis between nature and those who tend it. Yellow is not simply another great restaurant, it is the great restaurant of our time - brave, deliberate and outstanding. It will no doubt provoke imitators, and in doing so Brent Savage will once again have become the agent of change for which he is rightly celebrated. Thanks to Brent Savage, Yellow Restaurant: 57 Macleay Street, Potts Point NSW 2011. Phone: 02 9332 2344 yellowsydney.com.au
Just with a new palette. The challenges involved were significant, even beyond convincing his tribe. Brent
RAW RADISH WITH BUTTERMILK AND FENNEL SERVES 4 • 1 bunch baby breakfast radishes (best quality available) • 150ml buttermilk • 30g fennel seeds • 1 star anise • 20ml olive oil • Salt and pepper to taste 1 Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. 2 Place the fennel seeds and star anise on a small baking tray and roast for 5 minutes. Keep a teaspoon of the fennel seeds aside to garnish the final dish. 3 Place the toasted seeds into a small saucepan and add buttermilk. Keep on a low heat for 30 minutes. 4 Pass the buttermilk through a fine sieve and allow to cool. 5 Remove the larger leaves from the radish + turnips. Use a small knife to clean the shoulder of each vegetable and then wash in ice water. 6 Remove from the water and place onto paper towel. Allow to dry. 7 Dress the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper. 8 Pour the buttermilk into a shallow bowl and then add the radishes and turnips. Garnish with the toasted fennel seeds
OUT OF THE GROUND OUT OF THIS WORLD
Heirloom varieties of radishes are widely available from good providores. When in season, baby Japanese turnips make a delicious addition. LOGO/MASTHEAD
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HAYSTACK MAKES 2 pinch saffron threads, in 3 cups water • 1 cup pine buds • ¼ bunch mint leaves • ¼ cup caster sugar • 90ml white rum • 30ml Pavan • 30ml fresh lime juice • ½ egg white • 1 drop orange blossom water • pine needles, to garnish
1 Heat saffron water until bright yellow. Cool, then freeze. Crush and re-freeze. 2 Combine pine buds and 2 cups water in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Add mint, remove from heat, then stand for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, then pour into a small saucepan. Boil until reduced to ¼ cup, add caster sugar, then set aside to cool. 3 Pour the rum, Pavan, lime juice, egg white and orange blossom water into a shaker with 2 cups ice cubes. Shake vigorously for 5 minutes, until frothy. 4 Pour 1 Tbsp pine-mint syrup into the bottom of highball glasses, then fill with saffron ice. Pour in the rum mixture, then garnish with pine needles.
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Published on Jun 15, 2016