Reasons

Dining Alone - Stories from the Table for One

Monday, February 09, 2015

Dining alone with Madam Tattinger explores the power of reflection and imagination that can be found in the solitude of dining at a table for one. An empty heart from years of a loveless marriage underpins the rituals and illusions that evolve as acceptance and unconditional companionship are sought.     Read More . . .

 

Setting point of jam, jelly & marmalade: what makes them set.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Jam, jelly and marmalade are made from fruit boiled with sugar until its setting point is reached. The essential setting agent in fruit is pectin: a naturally occurring soluble, gum-like substance present in varying amounts in the pips, skin or pith and flesh of most fruits. Pectin gels when it is heated with the natural fruit acid and added sugar. As the preserve cools down, the pectin gels enough to set the preserves, if the rations are correct.    Read More . . .

 

The Fat Duck in Melbourne and culinary wizardy

Saturday, April 12, 2014

 The news that Heston Blumenthal is bringing his Fat Duck Restaurant to Melbourne has stirred the imagination of many. For me this culinary wizard has turned the high end restaurant market on its head and set new culinary performance and entertainment standards for gastronomes and serious foodies. To be the best, to be acclaimed by diners, food journalists and international food guides, restaurateurs must transcend the fundamentals of well executed, seasonally inspired menus and ethical supply chains. They must offer a unique value based proposition, no gimmickry and hype, and put on a stellar performance every service. Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, of the Michelin Guide three – star restaurant, The Fat Duck in Bray Berkshire, does just that and then more.

With eight cookbooks to his name and a love of the fantastical and theatrical, Blumenthal has developed a reputation as being a culinary scientist and is acknowledged by some as being instrumental in popularising molecular cuisine. Perhaps one of his most creative periods is encapsulated in his 2010 cookbook Heston’s Fantastical Feasts.

Using historical periods for inspiration, six feasts were created which pushed the boundaries of art, science and food presentation to create a new level of contemporary culinary entertainment. Fantastical edible dishes of extraordinary architectural, culinary and scientific perfection have marked the return of the 14th century entremets – edible and inedible centrepieces. Highly symbolic, designed to surprise, delight and challenge the diner, Heston’s feasts set a new culinary benchmark that many aspire to and that few can achieve.

Heston’s mode of operation has revived and contemporised some distinctive elements of early culinary history. The use of bizarre ingredients – wild boars head, leeches and chicken testicles- the alchemist’s philosophy and use of scientific methods to extract and concentrate flavours and the re-creation of edible entremets are essential components of the Heston dining experience. Will he prepare an ancient restorative bouillon, as homage to the original meaning of restaurant, or will he temp diners with edible liquorice and white chocolate dice served on sea foam as they dine in the Crown Casino. We will have to wait until February 2015 to find out, but whatever the menu it will set new standards for the restaurant industry and diners alike. Restaurants, originally an 18th century Parisian refuge for the frail seeking restorative broths, are constantly evolving and for Heston restaurant diners, they are a fantastical culinary oasis.

   Read More . . .

 

Vegemite: A Cultural Identifier

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Food is so much more than nourishment. Our food choices, menu construction, taste preferences, cooking methods and eating patterns all create a rich narrative that defines who we are and where we have come from. Taste preferences learned over time, starting from childhood, create culinary and cultural boundaries. The expression “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” aptly describes this distinction and what is referred to as insider and outsider foods.    Read More . . .

 

Cooking from the Heart.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Olive Grace Powell, one of thirteen children of Myrtle Constance Powell was my mothers step sister, trusted friend and confidante until she passed away in 1978. She was my favourite Aunt. On walking into her kitchen, there was always a welcoming smile and within minutes there was a strong cup of sweet milky Lan Choo tea for mum, homemade cordial for me and her famous dark fruit cake on the table. Her kitchen is indelibly etched in my memory. Within a moment, regardless of where I am, I can be transported back to a time and place rich in childhood memories. The black cast iron slow combustion stove always seemed to have a kettle on the point of boil and a fruit cake or sponge about to be ceremoniously removed from the oven. A red and white canister set sat on the mantle above the stove. It had a green and white flecked in-laid lino bench top, finished off with a metal strip, and a green and white lino floor.   Read More . . .

 

Ca Marche

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It’s Saturday night, the stage is set. There are no rehearsals for this daily performance. The venue, menu and the cast and crew may be the same, but the show never is. The kitchen, cool room, store room, dining room and the waiter’s station are the backdrops to a series of convoluted, intense and intoxicating one act scenes. Intrinsically connected, each scene portrays the might and frailties of humanity. This play is not for the faint hearted. The cast must be skilled, disciplined and nimble to retain a role in this dramatic romantic comedy. The actors wait in the wings for curtain call. When the restaurant door opens - the performance begins.

6.00 pm. The restaurant is calm and dressed for the performance. Subtle pools of lighting wash over bold artworks. Warm timber tones are offset by tables set with crisp white linen and wineglasses that glisten and shine. As the stillness and the evocative overtones of vanilla, citrus and white peony rose permeate the room, the dining room gods enchant and transform the wait staff and tantalise and beckon the diners.

6.30 pm. The beguiled Restaurant Manager is calm and feels strong, confident and in control. The bookings are staggered, there’s a full complement of staff and the new menu has received nothing but compliments over the past four nights. As the service staff roll in, some early, some late, some loud and jovial, some quiet and sombre, the banter and the mood of the evening begins to take shape. The restaurant door opens as the first table arrives. The performance has began.    Read More . . .

 

Dining alone with Madame Tattinger.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Behind the closed office door, his eyes scan the room; noting the industry magazines are not fanned in front of the maiden hair fern and the reception desk is untidy. It’s Sally’s third week and Bill's idiosyncrasies still elude her. In the quiet, he mulls over the day’s inspections, client proposals and paper work that needs completing to close another deal. After checking the appointments for the next two days, he leaves a detailed to-do-list, in pencil, on the right hand side of his diary. He picks up the phone, and calls Pauline, his wife of 30 years, and says “I’ll be home after dinner” and then hangs up. She knows exactly what this means; an evening of solitude; an evening of emptiness. His cutlery is placed back in the kitchen drawer, again, as she squashes her hopes that perhaps tomorrow night or the night after will be different. Stepping out onto the pavement, with the office behind him and the restaurant ahead, Bill already feels invigorated. It’s only a 10 minute walk and while he knows he doesn’t have a dinner booking; he is expected.    Read More . . .

 

Horseradish: A culinary revival.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

While horseradish is undergoing a culinary revival, its biomedical research is producing some amazing results. The University of Illinois has identified that glucosinlates (yes the same enzymes that produces mustard oil when the root is scraped) have anti-cancer properties. These compounds, also found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbages and brussels sprouts - all part of the horseradish family - increases the body’s ability to detoxify cancer-causing compounds and suppress cancer growth in the body.    Read More . . .