Thanks to Sydney Living Museums I have been filming in the kitchen at Vaucluse House – see the house’s history here. Below are a few photos of the grounds and the kitchen garden. The House is a treasure and a wonder with stories aplenty.
The video of me making bread at Vaucluse House can be viewed online here from 6pm this Wednesday October 21. This is happening to coincide with the anniversary of the ‘grand fete’ of 1831 at Vaucluse House. The fete was a send off of sorts for Governor Darling, hosted by William Charles Wentworth, who was apparently overjoyed to see Darling leave the colony. In celebration, with most of Sydney’s population, he arranged an enormous banquet which included 4000 loaves of bread. The event took place on the foreshore near the house. This event serves as the inspiration for my baking a loaf of Barmbrack.
Barmbrack is a naturally leavened Irish speckled tea cake. I had a couple of reasons for choosing to demonstrate the making of this delicious sweet and savoury bread. Firstly it shares its Irish origins with Sir Harold Brown Hayes, who arrived in Sydney a convict. He built the original cottage on the site of the current Vaucluse House and it was he who named it Vaucluse. A wall of this first substantial dwelling can still be seen behind a door in the drawing room of the much grander home that William Charles Wentworth built, around Brown-Hayes cottage (last image below). I was also told the story of the feast, which inspired me to make a loaf using beer yeast. For in 1831 beer yeast (barm) was commonly used to make bread, it’s also just an excellent loaf to have on hand and I do hope you will bake your own loaves to enjoy.
Image above ©Ben Dearnley
The recipe for my Barmbrack loaf is below and it is also in my book Ferment a guide to the ancient art of culturing foods, with tales of the loafs history. My book is available to buy from me or ask you local bookstore or library for a copy. To make Barmbrack you will need to make or acquire a sourdough starter. If you don’t have one and don’t want to wait the 10 days or so it takes to capture one, I sell active and dehydrated starter, at Carriageworks Farmers Markets, at Northside Produce Markets – on the first and third Saturday of the month or you can buy from me online. Buy dehydrated starter cultures and SCOBY’s here.
HOMEMADE PANTRY – Online course
Bread is on my mind (more than usual) just now, along with fermented vegetables, as I am contributing two substantial units about these in Jude Blereau’s soon to be released online cooking class program ‘Homemade Pantry’ Together Jude and I are providing our wealth of knowledge, with practical tutorials and so much more. We are teaching the what, why and how to confidently make some of the items you might usually buy for your pantry, fridge and freezer. We are out to save you angst and money by teaching how to shop smarter and eat the most nourishing and digestible foods possible at home.
To find out more about ‘Homemade Pantry’ or To register your interest in this, please email me here and I will make sure you are subscribed to my newsletters to get all the details, as soon as we are ready to launch, in about a weeks time.
FOR THE BARM
100gms of beer lees from the bottom of a naturally brewed ale or stout (such as Coopers red or yellow labels)
100gms active rye sourdough starter
80gms wholemeal wheat, spelt or emmer flour
100gms filtered water
Make the barm by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and by mixing thoroughly, until no dry spots remain.
Cover loosely with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for 6–10 hours, or until it is vibrantly bubbling and alive.
Use the active barm for this recipe, or keep it going by adding beer lees in place of water, now and then, in your usual starter maintenance schedule.
FOR THE LOAF
250 ml (81 ⁄ 2 fl oz/1 cup) brewed strong black tea (I like a mix of Keemun, Yunnan and a small pinch of Russian Caravan leaves)
70 g (21⁄2 oz) maple syrup or honey, plus 1 tablespoon for the glaze
40 g (11 ⁄2 oz) molasses
zest of 1 lemon, plus 60 g (2 oz/1 ⁄4 cup) juice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
280 g (10 oz/2 cups) currants
3 teaspoons caraway seeds
250 g (14 oz/1 cup) active barm
440 g (151⁄2 oz) unbleached white wheat, spelt or emmer flour
100 g (41⁄2 oz) ghee or unsalted butter, melted
This is a sticky mix, use spoon rather than your hands
Make a pot of tea then dissolve the sweeteners in the hot tea, with lemon juice and zest
Add the currants and set aside until the tea has cooled to body temperature
Once cooled add the barm and mix well
Add the flour and ghee/butter then stir to a smooth dough
Butter and line a 20cm round cake tin or a 1.5kg loaf tin
Turn the dough into the tin and press gently to make an even mix
Cover with a damp cloth and rise for 3-5 hrs in a cosy draught free spot
When the mix rises near the top of the tin it’s ready to bake
Preheat the oven to 200 ̊C
Place the tin in the middle of the oven and bake for 40-50 mins
Remove the tin and use a pastry brush to glaze the loaf while still hot with extra maple syrup or honey
Remove the loaf from the tin then remove the paper
Place the loaf on a cooling rack and glaze all sides too
Leave until cold before slicing
Make another pot of tea. This is fabulous with a slab of butter and it toasts brilliantly
Leather jacket are what many Aussies call ‘poor mans lobster’ they are inexpensive, mild flavoured fish with firm, sweet, white flesh. They are easily deboned and much underrated. The bonus of this recipe is that if you wish, you also get the most delightful mild fish stock, for later use.
I invented this recipe in my first restaurant Manna, back in the early 80’s and they also featured on Iku Wholefood Kitchen’s menu in the early days. The recipe is included in my first book Nourish, which is currently out of print. I thought you might like to have this, as summer approaches. Who knew all the way back then, that a grain free nori roll would be in fashion almost 40 years on?
This recipe is excellent for many reasons, primarily it is, of course delicious but it’s super handy to have a jar in the fridge to eat in any way you choose over the following two to three days. The umeboshi (salty, citrusy pickled Japanese apricots) in the mix, helps maintain freshness. Do be careful to see you have removed ALL the bones.
For more such dishes…book your place in my next class on October 18th at North Sydney Community Centre, Cook Once Eat Twice click to see more or look & book my November 1st Macro Grazing Table class Here
Leather Jacket for nori rolls recipe
3-4 fresh, whole, medium/large leather jackets, known as Ocean jackets in WA. If you are elsewhere in the world use any other flaky, firm white fish
¼ cup hulled tahini
1 tablespoon umeboshi paste
2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar
½ bunch each of garlic chives and coriander or whatever herbs you choose, roughly chopped
½ tablespoon yuzu or lime juice
Steam the fish until the meat can just be pushed off the bone
Cool the fish enough to handle, keep the liquid you steamed them in and add this to the stockpot
Very carefully debone the fish
Place the fish meat in a bowl and add the bones and frames to the stock pot, cover with cold water and bring to a simmer, cook 20 minutes, strain, cool, contain and voila stock to use later, keep in the fridge or freeze once cold
Combine fish with the tahini, herbs, umeboshi paste/vinegar and yuzu or lemon/lime
Mix together well but don’t mush the fish, keep it flaky
Let the mix cool for a few minutes, in the fridge
This can be used straight away or stored in an airtight glass jar in the fridge, for up to 4 days
Use to make grain free norimaki or musubi or simply serve with a salad
Spread half of the mix on a sheet of nori and roll up or form the fish in to triangles and wrap in half a sheet of nori, to make O’musubi, place half a sheet of toasted nori smooth side down with horizontal lines, see images below for how to wrap. Wrap the triangle as you would a gift and if possible, eat while the nori is still crisp.
Are you an Australian citizen with a valid right to work and also someone who values and keeps their word?
If you can talk fermentation, are fit, strong, know how to use a knife, have a clean drivers licence and can work flexible (intermittent hours), have an interest and knowledge of food handling and production, this could be the job for you!
Food By Holly Davis make a delicious range of fermented products, which are sold in Farmers Markets. We do so consciously with a great deal of care, to create consistent products our customers will return for. We have a following of loyal customers who delight in our live, vibrant probiotic products.
Our production kitchen is based in Terrey Hills, market locations are in North and Inner Western Sydney. We’re looking for someone with at least 12 months experience in food production to join our team on a casual basis.
Responsibilities and desired experience to ensure we produce consistent product in every jar.
- Have some knowledge and an active interest in fermentation & are willing to learn more
- You have a food safety certificate or are willing to get one before you start work
- Hand & machine chop vegetables, package and label products in 30L batches for fermentation
- Pack ferments into jars, clean and box for refrigeration and transport
- Daily wash up, clean down and inventory management
- Thorough attention to detail, self-starter who enjoys people
- Excellent awareness and knowledge of kitchen hygiene to maximise food safety requirements and can work covid safe
- On market Saturdays you will be responsible to collect and transport everything needed and set up the stall, sell to the public, keep account of sales (all online) pack up and return product to the kitchen, these days are early starts and you will be counted on to be on time.
Our hours are flexible, production days are 8hours and market days are 7hrs +.
Typically you will need to commit to 2 market days and 2 chopping days work a month.
Mid April is when I was born, this year the date coincided with my first trip to the apple isle alongside my dear friend and collaborator Megan Brown. Where she goes there goes laughter, creativity, rather a lot of swearing, great food and excellent wine choices; making her the perfect companion for this adventure. Why I wondered as we flew in, have I never been to Tassie? Clean air, clear waters, green I am sure, when the drought breaks, awash with adventures and superb produce and happy healthy, friendly foodie folk, heaven. Of course Mona alone is reason enough to go and our trip was a result of their generous invitation or rather Jo Cook’s, she has the extraordinary task of curating the food offerings at the Dark MoFo Winter Feast. Jo has invited us to be guest chefs this year. She was our guide and took us to meet producers, such as James Ashmore of Ashmore Seafoods and Tasmanian harvested seaweeds seen above with Megan and I, Tony Shearer long time organic vegetable and wine producer, who hails from California and who now grows bespoke ingredients for Tassie’s top chefs. We caught up with Mona’s executive Chef Vince Trim seen below left carving a beast. He and Jo were all jokes and smiles to be reunited with Megan, who worked with them in their youth. Jo saw to it that we ate and drank the best of everything. Our three days felt like a month in the sun and the sun did shine and no rain fell! We were so inspired by this visit and since have been hatching a plan and a dish, we think does justice to Tasmania’s beautiful offerings. You will find us beside the fires in Salamanca, cooking for the Dark MoFo Winter Feast June 21-23.©image under text Ben Dearnley from Ferment
Dark Mo Fo means… expect the unexpected – fire, music, performance, arts and fabulous food offerings and mad events for the masses and the brave!
Tasmania offers stupendous produce and we are very fortunate to be able to source the best of the best for the feast nights. Megan Brown and I are joining forces to design and execute a meal cooked on the whopping great rotating barbeque. Last year it roasted a whole beast as seen below, this year we are adapting it to cook local line caught fish and vegetables direct from the soils in the Derwent Valley, grown for us by the man seen at left below, Tony Shearer. His farm is surrounded by the driest country, his tender care ensures his produce meets the highest standards. A whole lot of labour, water and love go in to producing such results for which we give thanks.
Thanks to Jo our whirlwind 3 day tour included meeting James Ashworth for a fabulously enlightening discussion about the fishing industry and local species, seasonality, seaweed harvesting and the Roaring Forties superb octopus. We ate splendid pies at The Woodfired Bakehouse in Cygnet and discussed bread and fire with Liam who was delighted to show us their fabulous woodfired oven. Then at my special request, we had a meet up, in her delightful home, with food stylist and chef Michelle Crawford, below right, seen in her garden. I have been an instagram follower and admirer of Michelle’s for some years and it was a total delight to sit with tea at her table and wander her wild and wonderful garden. A rose never smelt so sweet. I hope to return there one day soon. Dinner and funky wines at Der Makr’s wine bar Lucinda was a treat one evening, as was breakfast at the Pigeon Hole Bakery. Lunch at The Agrarian Kitchen was a highlight and then a tour of Rodney’s beautiful home, school and gardens, he is seen below with a giant apple from his overladen tree. Fermenter @roughrice, Adam James, was teaching at the Agrarian kitchen school that day, it was so good to meet him; another mad fermenter, he may kindly make some of what we need for our dish.
We are trialling these wild harvested Tasman sea salts gifted to us by Alice and who run the operation. So far I am very impressed, they are beautifully presented in sustainable packaging and the product is delicious with deep mineral flavours not just ‘salty’ and the salt is pretty with it. I am thrilled to find an Australian sea salt from pristine waters, to put to good use. I say though, hold the smoke, we will have plenty of that at the feast, me thinks!
This is the season for capturing cultures from wild mushrooms, the addition of celery provides a good textural contrast and the peppercorns a little bright accent. You can put up a jar of these in about 5 minutes, ferment for a couple of weeks and then enjoy them on sourdough, in a salad or a wrap. Remember to stand the jar in a bowl, lest it leak and keep the ingredients completely submerged to prevent spoilage. To purchase a copy of my book Ferment or a range of starter cultures, click here
25gms sea salt
5oomls filtered water
4–5 large firm, shiitake mushrooms or portobello or pine mushrooms, brushed well to remove any clinging needles or dirt
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, cracked
3–4 celery stalks, washed and cut into 5 cm (2 in) lengths
Bring 100 ml (31⁄2 fl oz) water to the boil in a saucepan and add
the salt. Stir to dissolve completely then take the pan off the heat and add the remaining 400 ml (14 fl oz) water. Leave to cool to room temperature. Pack the vegetables and peppercorns (if the mushrooms came with pine needles you may like to add a few of these, too) into a clean jar as tightly as possible. Pour in the brine until the vegetables are fully submerged and there is 1–2 cm (1⁄2–3⁄4 in) of space between the brine and the rim of the jar. Make sure the ingredients are completely submerged using a vegetable plug or weight, a boiled rock, ceramic or glass weight works perfectly. Close the lid tightly and place the jar on a tray to capture any leaks during fermentation.
STEEP Leave in cool spot, out of direct sunlight, with temperatures around 15–22°C (59–71°F), for 5–7 days. It will bubble furiously and then the bubbles will subside. When the bubbles subside, the brined vegetables are ready to taste. If you prefer them more sour, leave the jar out for another 1–2 weeks and taste again. When they are to your liking, slow the fermentation process by storing the jar in the fridge. Keeps for up to 3 months.
When the end of summer and winter approach is when flu finds its way in. This time a year ago I had just finished the book I had been working on for the previous two years. I was burning the candle at both ends, I was spent and not taking care of my self at all well. I got a very debilitating dose of the beastly Australian flu that effected so many so badly. I have to say, I feared for my life, a first for me.This has made me much more conscious about doing better by myself this year. Here are a few things I am doing which may also be useful to you.
101 is of course to eat a wholesome wholefood diet, get plenty of rest and don’t overeat! This because, preventition is far preferable to the need for cure. If you have read my newsletter you will have seen that for the past month I have been following a program of intermittent fasting and I have been addressing getting more sleep of better quality. When I am eating, I am being conscious of eating mostly cooked wholefoods, from every food group but with an emphasis on dark leafy greens and lots of rainbow vegetables at every meal, fermented condiments and drinks three times a day and small amounts of wholegrains and legumes, which I am cooking in bone stocks. If eating proteins these will be cooked in or include animal fats from pasture raised animals to ensure adequate amounts of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. I am eating less added sugars and no refined carbohydrates to give my immune system the best chance to ward off what it may be exposed to. Plenty of garlic, ginger and a little fresh turmeric are appearing frequently too and as it is citrus season there is lemon or lime juice in abundance too. The jar above contains my umeboshi plums, which I made last year, they keep for years and are my first port of call if I feel a little under the weather. I use them to make am umeboshi kuzu drink, a Japanese remedy for any overly acidic condition, exhaustion, vagueness, a headache, nausea and that first sign of going down. There is a recipe for this in my first book Nourish, let me know if you’d like this recipe and I will post it here too.
If I feel the first inkling of a common cold, scratchy throat or sniffle. I reach for one of the supportive remedies below. I may gargle with a few drops of tincture of myrrh in warm water or 3 drops of oregano oil in warm water, the latter leaves me smelling like pizza butI find it incredibly useful and effective, neither are pleasant. Food grade oregano oil is quite dear too but a drop or two is all that is needed and a bottle this size may last me a few years. As it is an oil heat, light and oxygen will deteriorate it, so store it in a cool dark place. Armaforce tablets can also be very immune supportive but my go to most loved assistant is this Chinese herb preparation Yin Quao (yin chow), the same formula may be found in a health food dispensary under the name Clear the way. 5 pillules taken as soon as you feel the first influence of an intruder, followed by the same dose twice a day can be the difference between succumbing or not. This remedy may be both prophylactic and preventative, if taken soon enough.
If it is achyness and that dragging sensation that often precedes the flu that I feel, I reach for the wonderful French homeopathic remedy with the totally unpronounceable name seen below on the right. Follow directions for its use and again, for this to be effective you need to get it at the very first signs.
Stay well my friends and if not, my advice is to STOP, do nothing, stay cosy and say yes to whatever is offered to you by those that love you. Jude Blereau was staying with me when I got sick last year and it was her care that enabled me to attend my book launch. For which I am eternally grateful.
Nothing in this post is meant to replace professional medical advice.
I spent some of Sunday afternoon out at the front of the house curing a new wrought iron sautéuse pan, seen above and below with its distinctive low heat handle sporting a stylised Australia cut out.. This was a gift from Solid Tekniks who make fantastic seamless Australian wrought iron pots and pans. Wrought iron is half the weight of cast iron, which I will greatly appreciate. It takes a bit of time to cure a pan well but having done so you will have the perfect surface for cooking up a storm forever more. I hadn’t realised how much a fan I was until I gathered together the iron cookware I own and I couldn’t fit it all in the shot! When I look at these above I realise that they each serve me well, for differing purposes, I have acquired these all over time and you could get buy with a crepe pan and a skillet alone and its always good to have an enamelled cast iron pot to make casseroles in because iron and steel are reactive to acids so its best not to cook those in them for long..
The heavy cast iron pot at top left above makes the best grain dishes when using the absorption method, the large steel crepés pan is also perfect for omelettes, galettes, pancakes, dosa or injera flatbreads, The small Dutch oven goes onto the coals in my fireplace to roast a few vegetables or chestnuts when those are in season, the new sautéuse I expect to shallow fry in or make a small stir fry and like the rest it will make, perfect crispy edged fried eggs or something shallow fried and golden, the large skillet works very hard in my kitchen. I bought it for a fiver in my 15th year, at a camping shop in London. When I went travelling, for a year I thought, I left it with Mum and reclaimed it 32 years later, after she had no further use for it. That pan needs resurfacing, as over the years its patina on the sides has gone rather crusty but on the base it was recently stripped of its patina all together by overheating (grrr to those that cook in cast iron on on full blurt!). I call on that pan to do a thousand jobs, sautéing, dry toasting, searing to seal, for fish for a steak… in the foreground on the left is my trusty Mexican tortilla pan the ‘camal’, it produces all sorts other than the best tortilla, it’s good for reheating flatbreads and toasting seeds, the small steel pan I use for mini pancakes, omelettes, frying a single egg or a few mushrooms, finally and if you have attended a bread class with me, you will have tasted the product of my large Dutch oven, it bakes an absolute beauty, those with lids offer a really good seal so the contents steam bake in a hot oven. What all these offer is an even transfer of heat and a little stick? Stick is not a dirty word, far from it, stick is your friend when you are making any of the above. Stick is good but stuck is to be avoided. The means of that is to create a good surface on these pans as soon as you can after getting them home. Being iron or steel, they are subject to rust and rust can ruin their surface and the food cooked on it. After use wash them well but don’t scour, dry well and oil before putting them away. You can see that the surfaces on mine are imperfect but none except the Dutch ovens are rusty, they are because I cook bread at such high temperatures the oil would create more smoke than I care for so I leave them bare. The patina develops with use. When you put ingredients in the pan to cook to a crisp, hold your nerve and let them form a good base before attempting to turn or move them, that way, when you do they will come away with ease and their texture and flavour will be at its best.
CURING AN IRON PAN
New steel and cast iron pans are given a coating to stop them oxidising whilst they sit on the shelf waiting for you to buy them. What is used varies but in any case the first thing to do before use, is give them a really hot soapy wash and then rinse well and heat to dry completely. Now you have a bare steel or iron pan, if used now food will stick and burn and rust is certain over time. What is needed is to ‘cure’ the pan by coating with fat. This is very easy and quite fun to do, though doing it well and evenly takes some time, don’t rush, build up the surface in thin even layers. You need a heat source, I like a flame best and preferably outside as you will be burning fat onto the pan and this inevitably creates smoke. A gas barbeque will work well or a fire pit or a simple inexpensive burner such as the butane burning portable stove above. These can be bought in any hardware store these days, for around $25! These are excellent to have for cooking other strong smelling foods and of course, for picnics and camping trips. I find this an ideal means for curing pans as I can secure the pan in a particular position, as seen above and leave it until the surface in that area is evenly coated and then secure it at the next point to get an even surface all over. Here how its done….
You will need a largish clean soft lint free cloth, 1/4 cup say of fat such as duck, goose, coconut or ghee, an oven glove and a large jug of cold water. Wash and dry the new pan, Solid Tekniks don’t coat their pans with toxic substances, so there is nothing but dust to wash off and hot water alone will do. Place the pan over a medium flame until it is hot, dip the cloth in fat and remove the pan from the heat using an oven cloth as some handles get super hot, I was delighted to find that this one did not – good design Solid Tekniks, now spread a thin even coating all over the pan, inside and out including the handle, place the pan over the flame and heat until it smokes and the surface blackens, carefully hold the pan off the heat and pour in cold water, expect furious steam and beware getting in its way, put back on the heat in a new position, heat the pan until it is dry and then apply another thin coating of fat using the cloth, repeat all these steps until the entire pan is blackened with a smooth even patina. wash with hot water and a soft brush and heat to dry completely before taking to your kitchen for use or storage.
Once these pans are in use you can use a flat edged wooden spoon to remove excess food from them and them was in wash water with a soft brush. Soak don’t scour, as you will lose the patina and cause worse sticking next time; due to roughing up the surface. I hope you will give these a try and enjoy yours as much as I do mine. Check out stockists and the word from Solid Tekniks here. If weight is not an issue keep an eye out for secondhand pots and pans, they last forever and so can often be found in junk yards, garage sales and the good old op shop.
Limestone sand is so very different to the local sandstone sands of Sydney, fine and white it gives the waters around the west coast the most sublime colour, milky turquoise Hamlin Bay, where sting rays come to the shoreline in large numbers. There were none to be seen on this very chilly walk along the strand.
Fair Harvest Permaculture Farm was established in 1995 by Jodie Lane’s family. A permaculture system offers immense diversity of lifeforms and operates as a self supporting system, where anything given a home must have several purposes. This would be a very beautiful place to learn the art and skills or simply to visit if you are in the area. Jody and Do work this land now, along with whatever willing workers are abroad. Their aim is to inspire and enable people to grow their own produce and be more sustainable. You can book the venue for a course, an event, a wedding or join them on one of their permaculture courses or sustainable living workshops and visit their display farm where you can see their trials, errors and triumphs over the years. They have a fantastically well equipped commercial kitchen, perfect for classes…! A wander around this farm is incredibly uplifting and demonstrates what fresh produce grown with love and care can be. Vibrant, alive pranic food in abundance and beauty. I didn’t want to leave. Check out the compost shower system below. Decomposing wood chip mulch heats polypipe buried within and generates heat for as long as 18 months, who knew that such a simple system was even possible?
It is citrus season everywhere in the South West, this tree was groaning with soon to be sweet fruit. When you get your hands on such fine specimens I recommend keeping the skins and drying them for later use in marinades, cakes and slow roasted duck or pork dishes.
Fair Harvest honeybees produced this delectable honey and the just dug, by hand from loose humus rich soil purple sweet potatoes were moorishly sweet and sticky when dry baked.Those were the last of the radishes and they starred in a couple of the Japanese dishes I made in my Koji and Oden classes later that week.
Do and Jude amidst the rows of diverse dark leafy greens, just look at their vigour. The ducks, geese, goats, cows, horses and chickens are fenced out of the garden and yet none the less there were visitors who made their way in, not surprising given the bounty.
The ducks reside here under the wide variety of fruit trees, Muscovy’s large and well fed. Had our Margaret River classes gone ahead one of these may have found itself in the oven. Though I relish that thought, it would have meant dispatching it myself, never a welcome task, though nothing will make one more grateful for meat.
Winters abundant seeds, sweet and sour and oh so pretty pomegranates.
The cafe wall tells of the provenance of the produce used, if it hasn’t come from the farm.
Through the month of July Jodie and Do eat only what their land provides them. Seeing what is here that seems very plausible but they really, ONLY use what they can harvest here, they don’t even use their pantry staples, no grains, no beans and even no salt!!! Spending time with these two talented growers committed to wholeness and sustainability, was a highlight of my trip to WA and it has given me pause to consider what I might do differently, that is surely never a bad thing.
Back in Sydney I am enjoying the memory of that beautiful place and feel ever more grateful for my local Avalon Community Garden and my association with the fantastic inner city initiative Pocket City Farm (seen above), an inner city farm demonstrating and teaching people in the Inner West of the city how to manage and grow food using sustainable systems. I am going to present there on the morning of August 25th. I will be discussing, demonstrating and troubleshooting a range of fermented foods. This is a low cost opportunity to learn something new and if you have an experiment you are unsure about, bring it along to show and tell and I will do my best to provide what you may need to complete it with confidence. Go here for all the details and to book. Samples and good cheer are as ever assured.
Fish and flowers were the order of the day I turned sixty! Left and right eye of salmon paintings by Nils Benson who sent these over from his home in LA, cleverly they arrived on the day. These gorgeous flowers were from me, a celebration of my love of the firewheel tree and the Japanese knife, my gift from India.
It felt momentous, to be turning sixty! 60!!! However this birthday will count as one of the best ever. April was busy, lots of work on, lots to work on, a rather significant birthday and my very dear friends Yolande Gray and Martin Teplitzky’s wedding. The wedding date was chosen not to coincide with my birthday and not so that I could cook for it. As a caterer it can be tricky, the desire to feed those you adore and the wish to be witness and not miss a moment do not correlate but Yolande being who she is, made everything possible. I shared my birth day with her and a few close friends, we ate together at Fred’s in Paddington. A beautiful meal and a warm and very memorable event. A few days later my daughter flew in from London, to celebrate with me and be here for the wedding. We spent the days prior preparing together and shared the joy that is love for another I made a large batch of Sea Salty Crackers from my book Ferment, which Yolande art directed and designed and the Maple Cured Sirloin, to join the long list of canapés that were expertly served by Friederike Stottolle and her crew. Mr and Mrs TeplitzkyYolande and her much loved aunt Steph India with Mooey’s bouquet Saskia’s artistry with blooms galore above and India’s blue nails with roses below.Yolande and Saskia Havekes are old friends, Yolande designed Saskia’s first book, at the same time that she was designing my first book Nourish. Saskia is the worlds most exquisite florist ‘Grandiflora’ I have made it a link, because if you don’t yet know of their work I am certain you will want to. If you have a need for spectacular head straight there. Saskia spent the wedding day transforming the space with divine blooms and then she tasked India with their care for the two days, which is why you see her above with Yolande’s daughter Margot’s bouquet, Margot was busy doing Yolande’s make up, very beautifully. A wedding inevitably reminds one of the joy that love brings and the focus of course is on the love between those who are marrying but what was clear here, was that love was present and expressed by all involved, for days. It was an uplifting, stupendous event, an evening wedding with 100 guests in a not so large terraced house in Bronte. We danced into the small hours and then, somehow, we cleaned up and transformed the space to provide lunch. Paella for 58, cooked by chef Martin! – with a little help from his friend (me) and newly acquired brother in law Evan and then CAKE by the fabulous Nadine Ingram’s team at Flour and Stone, also THE place to go if real, irresistible cake is your requirement. All the while, as the entire contents of the ground floor were schlepped in and out of vans and the garage was filled fit to bursting there was laughter, love and continuous support. A tribute to community, caring and what friendship can engender. One should of course not wish it, but could we do that again, it took a lot to make happen but it went so quickly? Many blooms came home with me, as the couple went honeymooning, I was not sad but days later I found it hard to let go of the beauteous roses.
Would that he had lived, I could have known him better. Last month I turned 60, which means I am now older than my father ever was. None the less, thirty eight years after his death I feel his influences still. We look alike, though fortunately I have all my hair, we share a sense of humour and many of his merry quips fall effortlessly and frequently from my tongue. I correct my daughters speech exactly as he did mine, “it is ‘used not to’ Holly/India, not ‘never uset to'” and the like. I, like him am a chef, though at 27 he gave up his knife for the law. I refer to him often and wonder how he would have expressed his joy and appreciation for who I grew to be and who his grandchild is. Would he have ventured here? He was frequently a troubled soul, for whom life held many challenges but what I recognise now, is that he upheld his values and gave his all to provide us a full and exciting life, in which integrity matters and every type of food should be tried – for all of which, I am eternally grateful. His suits were tailored, his collars starched, he wore a bowler hat and carried an umbrella as he headed off to ‘town’, a proper English gent he was. Now, clearly a man of an era passed. I celebrate who he was, though I know, I knew little of him really.