mushroom foraging with luisa brimble

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All the best chefs do it as a matter of course, chasing the seasons and the food that comes with the changing of the weather. And so Luisa Brimble, the stupendously clever photographer, and chef and mastermind behind Studio Neon, Aaron Teece, and I headed to the Southern Highlands to forage and find what the pine trees and cooling weather would offer. Into the forest we ventured, making tracks in the red earth with our four by four. Pine trees reached into the white overcast sky. Aaron came with the mushroom foraging know-how, Luisa came with her camera, I came for the excursion and the food.

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mushrooms1-18 {READ MORE}

instagram-worthy food

Instagram

I know I go on about Instagram a lot, slating it for its invasive effect on our social lives while simultaneously scrolling through my feed like a blue-screen obsessive. In the food world, Instagram has become a kind of showcase for what-we-ate and a means to follow those rock-star chefs we can’t get enough of. As if posting a couple of pictures a day was not enough, I wrote a story about it, too, in my Sunday Style column Fine Foodie. You can read the story in its entirety here

THOSE disks of vegetables, the dots of oil on an apparently fragrant broth, little twigs of samphire and sprigs of baby leaves… it was as if Monet himself had created the masterpiece. The dish was definitely ready for its close-up.

First, food took over Instagram. But now, alarmingly, Instagram is taking over food. Some dishes are so ornate, so elaborate and played-with, they turn up cold at our tables after mass preening just for the perfect shot. Food should not leave you asking: am I supposed to eat this or take its picture? But it’s no wonder; there’s a growing trend of Instagrammers who will eat at a restaurant just to get a photo of a particular dish – an Instagram trophy dish. The yabby jaffle at Monster in Canberra has Instagrammers shuttling into our capital on weekends, we’re posting any ice-cream concoction from Gelato Messina – but especially scoops decked with popcorn from the dessert bar (hands in shot for extra likes) – and, of course, Zumbo’s macarons. {READ MORE}

Yes, homemade crumpets are a thing

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Hotel breakfasts are usually all cubes of melon and dollops of yoghurt, floppy bacon and maple syrup. And crumpets, if they appear, are pulled out of the packet and toasted, hopefully. But the newish darling of Canberra, the spectacular Hotel Hotel, does real homemade crumpets that are so soft, so creamy and chewy and crumbly, I nearly fell into my strong soy flat white. These things have become Instagram famous, and just try to find a review of this place that doesn’t mention them. Well, I bring you the crumpet recipe.

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pure and simple

I just could watch this video of my grandma in this 1979 commercial over and over. Meanwhile, this is a bit of a call out to anyone with old magazines of Margaret Fulton cooking… Do you have anything at home tucked inside a magazine or book? I’d love to get a copy. I have a whole collection of old Women’s Day magazines in my shelves, but there are definitely gaps. Thank you!

roast garlic rosemary bread & whipped ricotta

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This recipe is so simple to pull together, and made fresh the bread is a versatile thing made for dipping into guacamole, your favourite homemade salsa, or this soft and creamy citrus-whipped ricotta.

Roast garlic and rosemary bread

Roasted garlic folded through the dough and crisped up, only to be happily torn apart. {READ MORE}

Waiters: life on the front line

It may be too early to announce the death of fine dining. There will always be a certain type of patron who finds happiness in a waiter ferreting around their lap with a serviette. But otherwise, there’s been a general movement towards more casual eating, where food is more important than the starch in the tablecloth and the value of the art on the walls.

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The best thing about this is that pretentious waiters are a dying breed, and now for the most part we’re being greeted at the door by genuinely smashing beings who keep us relaxed, don’t touch the rim of our water glasses, and don’t interrupt our best anecdotes. Waiters are getting better. They’re transforming our nights out and making us feel special even if the first date doesn’t quite.

Which is why our lopsided obsession with chefs is growing tedious. Here we are, turning them into celebrities and labeling them sex gods crossed with rock stars. The facts elude us. If the chef is only average but the service is brilliant, we can still have a great night out. We may even return. But no matter what magic the chef is working in the kitchen, if the waiter is a robot who ejects the specials with less charisma than a clam, we’re not coming back.

This article was published in Sunday Style in my weekly Fine Foodie column. Read the rest of the story here.

Heston Blumenthal interview

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What an honour it was to get to spend the best part of day with this guy, British chef Heston Blumenthal. The man’s a gastronomic genius, to be sure, but mostly I loved his passion, his fascination for food and invention. This is what is taking him to the stars (literally, he’s doing space food), and what makes him one of the most exciting chefs out there. My interview ran as a cover story in Sunday Style in December. You can download the full story here to find out why Heston Blumenthal is moving to Australia, what’s next, and what happened when he chased debt collectors away with a meat cleaver.  {READ MORE}

Margaret and Me, my food memoir

Margaret and Me

Hello! This morning I posted this pic on Instagram, with a sneak peak of my next (the third!) book, out in May. Margaret and Me is my first book that’s not just a cookbook, and it’s my foray into writing something much, much longer, more personal, more elaborate … a memoir. It’s a food memoir (foodoir?), covering my life so far but specifically food, and what it was like growing up with one of the matriarchs of Australian cooking, my gorgeous grandmother Margaret Fulton. I go back to her childhood and look at her life growing up as an Australian immigrant, and peek into her sometimes rather surprising adventures at the table, in the food world, and in love. This is the part of my career where I basically over share. I wrote this book just to offer some stories (and 50 recipes) that I hope you will find amusing, or helpful, but in the very least a bit interesting. I can’t wait to share Margaret and Me (Murdoch Books) with you this May.

Sydney’s summer plates

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First, happy new year! I have no idea what 2015 has in store but I can’t wait to find out, and I personally want to do better, and bigger. I want to take more risks, do more work I care about. I have a few new projects in swing that I want to share soon, too.

I’m kind of relieved to see the brakes put on the summer holidays. Mornings now involve coffee and a healthy breakfast, a run or laps, days spent working on story commissions, and traipsing about Sydney to find what’s new. This is where food writing, as a job, really pays its dues, getting to explore and eat, for work. I’ve spent the last week or so in search of perfect summer plates, those summer dishes that speak of seasonality and freshness, colour, lightness of touch in cooking, just summer food. {READ MORE}

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