{this & that} vegetables and bloggers

bloggers vegetables

I don’t miss meat on Monday, and nor do I a couple of other days a week now. I wonder whether I’m changing or vegetables are getting better. Or maybe it’s bothering to pick them up from the markets when they’re in season, looking out for what’s good instead of reaching automatically for the various staples. But there are so many gorgeous vegetables out there when you look, and so many inspiring blogs showing it off! I kind of want to tip my hat to a small selection of bloggers I find infinitely inspiring. Here’s a kind of round up of marvellous vegetable inspiration from some of my favourite online spots. Who’s missing meat?

>> No. 01 I’m desperate for one of these grilled spring vegetable tacos with cauliflower tortillas by Roost.

>> No. 02 Blogger Sophie Hansen at Local is Lovely is also a marvellous farmer, growing her own venison which she sells at farmers markets around Sydney. I turn to her site when I can’t get away, looking for cooking and gardening inspiration with homespun charm. Her post on feijoas really got me. I used to pick these from a prolific tree in my grandparents place in New Zealand, their highly perfumed flesh spooned out right there and then.

>> No. 03 You’ll know La Tartine Gourmande, of course. I love her interest in produce and they way she makes even the most potentially dishevelled things look spectacular (perhaps I should get over there and see what she can do with me}. But this post from way back in 2011 stays with me as being so incredibly beautiful, for allowing the various vegetables, radishes, to shine. She roasts half of them, check it out.

>> No. 04 Is this the perfect salad bowl? I love wooden bowls for salads, they kind of suit the tossed leaves, extra virgin olive oil, natural thing. This large, thick bowl is made of maple wood, and you can find it here for a mere $285.

>> No. 05 Canelle e Vanille puts these raw beetroots, carrots and radishes with black cod, with lots of lemon, chives and coriander. Definitely making this, with some local fish in the Alaskan fish’s place.

urge for going

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This year has been really, really tough. It’s been six months of hard grind, emotional upheaval, and hard blows. When things get a bit heavy, we can be bad at doing things that make us happy. I’ve been really bad at making time for myself. I spend so much time at home writing and propping myself up in a bid to be strong and keep going, and not enough time listening to what I need. There’s a phrase that keeps coming back to me, from a song by Joni Mitchell, Urge for Going. You can listen to it below. An urge for going led me and my chap on a walk under great red gums and Eucalypts in Kuringai National park on Saturday. Looking at these beautiful maps, illustrations of far away places, reminds me how important our own journeys are, and how I want to spend more time exploring, more time with adventure and fun and less time thinking and worrying. I hope these beautiful images by Masako Kubo inspire you, help you take time for your own adventures, remind you to explore and find strength in new journeys.




{snapshots from…} rabieh

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Punchbowl.. Who knew? Well loads of people doing excellent food-related research may have known, and all the incredibly clever people living in walking distance of Rabieh Sweets probably knew. But not me. I’ve been craving Lebanese sweet ladies’ arms (znood) after a bout of something awful hit me last week. They say you should eat white things when you’ve not been well, and on the road to recovery I argued sweet and white is what I must get. At Punchbowl’s Rabieh, the massive room is filled with song, a gentle Lebanese tune playing from within the large, industrial-like kitchen. Towers of pastry: baclava, pistachio or walnut-filled things, run along a ten metre-length cabinet. There’s konafeh with syrup (above), topped with textured “milk” and a sprinkling of ground pistachios. The owner, whose father and the store’s former owner sadly died on the weekend, talked me through his inherited recipes for icecream and date-filled semolina cakes. As his stories ran away with him, my ordering ran away with me. I love these special family-run places, where the love of technique and ingredients, perfection, run through the family. A big virtual hug to the family at Rabieh, you and your store remain a Sydney treasure.

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Rabieh Lebanese Sweets Shop
Shop 5, 769 Punchbowl Road, Punchbowl
ph: +61 2 9708 4103

chefs on instagram: Paul Cooper

instagram chefs

Paul Cooper, the head chef and nose-to-tail die hard at Surry Hills’ Bishop Sessa restaurant, shares his snapshots and thoughts. In the first of a series on chefs using Instagram, we scroll through our favorite chef shots.

As social media allows chefs to don iPhones as part of their professional artillery and open the virtual swinging doors to their kitchens, Instagram has become the ultimate insider’s guide. Paul Cooper’s Instagram pictures reveal the chefs’ passion for nose-to-tail, using the whole beast, and knowing exactly where it’s come from and what it’s eaten. (There’s a run-through of each image below the jump).

What’s the best thing about Instagram?

Instagram allows us to show many aspects of life in a kitchen, and a little of how a product evolves into a plated dish. This is important to me, as it shows that we really do utilise the whole beast in a smart and interesting way. It is one thing to say you enjoy nose to tail butchery, but another to be creative enough to use an entire side of Wagyu, pork or venison

Is Instagram a creative outlet or a visual journal for you?

Instagram allows us to show another creative aspect to ourselves through photography, and also the comments box. It is certainly a fun form of social media that allows us to showcase what happens in the kitchen, and hopefully educate people along the way.

How important is food’s provenance?

Knowing where your produce comes from is something that is extremely important to me. I spend a lot of time sourcing products, and am always looking to find farmers and producers who believe in ethical, humane and sustainable practices. If the farmer or producer has respect for the product they are producing, be it vegetable, beef, pork, lamb or seafood, then we as chefs need to show an equal amount of respect. I think it is important to our customers to know what and where their meal comes form, and that it has been treated with respect from the paddock to the plate.

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What comes first, the new dish or the produce?

A menu needs balance, so I quite often find myself in both situations. You sometimes find a product and say, “wow, that has to go on the menu straight away”. But it creates an unbalanced menu, so you are forced to change other elements to bring back that level of balance.

Is the concept of locally-sourced produce and “growing your own” a beat up?

Absolutely not. Supporting local producers is supporting the local community. Buying local products is about knowing what you’re eating. If you’re in doubt over its location, then there is no guarantee over its quality. I like to be able to talk to the producer, and discuss what is happening on their farm, and why certain things happen at differing times of the year. It brings a greater awareness to me, which I can pass on to our customers.


momofuku seibo, Sydney


We pulled up to the kitchen bar encircling the open kitchen in the dark polished room that is Momofuku Seibo, and hoped for a pork belly bun. The room is slick and warm at once, promising something elegant and original. A convoluted online bookings system doesn’t leave a brilliant first impression, but a flurry of small dishes begins and quickly reassures.

Immaculate little morsels are delivered on Mud plates and bowls, a pretty assortment of pale green and white, stone and slate grey. A tube of smoked eel parfait, a crispy exterior stuffed with the creamy fish, sits on a small puddle of apple gel. And it’s the only teaser dish before the famous pork bun arrives (above). It’s a variation on the original (recipe here), steamed but still succulent and packed with porky flavour. The bun is soft and slightly chewy, and a couple of thin slices of cucumber add a pleasing bite. Then there is sliced trumpeter (below), immaculate raw fish with sprigs of celery leaves and mustard cress. {READ MORE}


Palmer & co, Sydney

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It was the best of times. That’s all. Six of us found the Palmer & Co entrance and wandered down the stairs into the basement, a spangly model teetered in front of us. I feared this place would be all chi-chi and too-cool, not a spot for six friends just looking for an awesome cocktail in a relaxed and beautiful bar. It is super cool, but in a good way, a kind of film set of the 1920s that you can walk in to and make like some flapper out for some fun.

The underground space is set up like some spot during prohibition, dark as can be but glittering with round bulbs and gorgeous outfits. A table of traders appear more like some snappy dressers at one of Gatsby’s do’s. I try to find song playing with my iPhone, but there’s no reception down here, and back in time.  So the six of us make our way to one of a couple of bars and order our cocktails, served by a guy in a red bow-tie. His shaking and pouring is a performance, just like the rest of the place, and thoroughly entertaining. We loved the bare brick ceilings, the glass tiled bar, the underground vibe and the showmanship of it all.

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Have you been to Palmer & Co? I’d love to hear your fantastic tales. {READ MORE}

Messina gelato, Sydney

messina gelato


Here we have scoops of the always glorious Messina gelato at the more recently opened Surry Hills store. I don’t want anything interrupting with the smoothness of the icecream, the potential crunch and texture, swirl of fruit or studs of chocolate, so I go for the pot instead of a cone. Pure as the driven ice cream… My darling friend Kristin, who’s visiting from Norway, went for the salted caramel and white chocolate gelato, as did I, apparently the store’s best seller. Her other choice, poached baby figs in Marsala, was truly figgy, beautifully sweet and infused with real fig flavour. My salted coconut with mango swirl was my favourite, packed with flavour and not too sweet, a summery tropical twist for a day in the Sydney weekend sunshine. {READ MORE}

Coral Garden: Peter Gilmore

This enchanting video by Natasha Subramaniam and Alisa Lapidus shows Quay chef Peter Gilmore revealing the concept behind his Coral Garden dish. The chef drew on memories of childhood explorations of rock pools and a recent snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef to create the layers of white fungi mushroom, tapioca and “octopus coral” in the dish. This short comes from Nowness.com. Read more on Peter Gilmore: Coral Garden here.

{recipe} tuna tostadas for two


I hate to complain about the weather, but GOSH it’s been hot. I have sunburn for the first time in 20 years, it’s not pretty. The other night when all the power went as Sydney overdosed on air conditioning, so we sweltered in 43 degree heat, I had the rare experience of not ever again wanting to think about cooking.  I swore off the oven and the stove and all things hot. The chap wasn’t allowed near me and I lay on the floor with my feet and legs up the wall in a primadonna scene of the overwrought. As the evening drew on and the temperatures stayed above 38, we cracked open Sapporo beers that had sat for an hour in the diminishing freezer (oh what a wise move that had been). And we schemed to turn the sashimi-grade tuna we’d bought as an entree for four the following night, into a super quick meal for two.

I’ve raved about the standard of yellowfin tuna before, and the quality just shone on these crunchy tostadas. We did a kind of Mexican, Japanese spin on it all, with a simple lime and coriander spiked guacamole, a corn salsa I made in a flash, and a yuzu mayonnaise which is honestly heaven with the tuna. Everything basically was sprinkled with shichimi togarashi, the Japanese chilli, sesame, orange-scented spice. I didn’t have crispy tortillas and there was no way I was going out into the hot evening, but I think these Mexican corn tacos, the hard rounded shells, just snapped in half, were a better bet. So we had our cool dinner in the hot evening, a kind of romantic finale to a flushed and flustered day. {RECIPE {READ MORE}

{snacking} seal pups from ippudo launch

… Loving these cute seal pup bean cakes which came in the goodie back at the Ippudo Sydney launch last night {more on that later}. They’re filled with white bean, I believe, and the outer cake is a thin and soft. I haven’t had anything like this since I was in Tokyo in January. I see a lot of Chinese red bean cakes about but not these numbers. The inside is all crumbly, quite dry, and they’re great to have with an afternoon coffee, if you can bear to bite their sweet heads off.

shucking hawkesbury oysters

Lean over the side of the boat and pick up one of those large ones, I was told. And so I did and we shucked it right there in the muddy rising waters of the Hawkesbury. We took turns slipping a knife through the side of the oysters, popping off the lids, noting it would be lovely to have brought lemons, and throwing the shells on to the boat. Still salty from the water, a dozen or so oysters were consumed by each of us on the rocking boat. If this is foraging, I can see it’s not a beat up after all.

I’m here with Sean Connelly, chef and owner of The Morrison, for a tour of the Hawkesbury oyster farms. We’re checking out Broken Bay oysters, with their permission, the chef buys many thousands of them to sell in his restaurant in The Rocks. As we put-putted around the Hawkesbury, we learned about the mighty oyster, how the Sydney Rock oysters were destroyed in this area due to a harmless-to-human virus years ago, but how it’s returning and thriving again. We discovered a Pacific oyster can we as small as a Rock, and larger than your hand. And we sliced up a plate-sized oyster to eat on the boat (for oyster lovers only).

I knew a single oyster gave a king hit of zinc, but what I did not know is that a dozen oysters also gives you nearly half your recommended daily dose of iron, more than five-times your dose of zinc, as well as vitamins B2, B3, and calcium. And, something else we should be opening that champagne for, they contain less than 0.03 per cent cholesterol and are 99 per cent fat free. All the more reason to support our oyster farmers this Christmas then. I’ll have mine with a small squeeze of lemon, a glass of chilled Champagne, and as freshly shucked as I can get, back in the real (urban) world.

{see loads more pics after the jump} {READ MORE}