Monday, May 31, 2010
When you were growing up, what were your favourite sweet treats?
Louise Bannister, Frankie: I used to LOVE red frogs (still do), and I always look longingly at toffee apples when I see them in the shops.
How hard/easy was it to collate the Sweet Treat recipes for the cookbook?
Louise: It was challenging choosing which ones we wanted to use. Collating was time-consuming because we wanted to test everything twice and then choose which tasted the best. (YUM!)
Were there some surprising finds, did you have to do a lot of digging (long-forgotten recipes uncovered from grandmothers' journals, etc)?
Louise: Our super-star chef Mark had a lot of his own recipes which he’d learnt from cooking with his mum and grandma when he was a wee boy. It was exciting hunting out their old fete recipes and reminiscing about our childhoods.
What's the 'sweet tooth' make-up of the Frankie team? Also, is there a competitive baking element among the staff?
Louise: We all love sweets, but are partial to savoury, too. Our team works in different states, so we haven’t had the chance to have a bake-off, but on the odd occasion someone (or someone’s mum) will bring in a homemade cake or sweet treat to HQ.
What's the hardest thing about putting together a cookbook full of beautiful eye candy – do you have to deal with temperamental ovens, frosting that melts under lights, etc?
Louise: One of the hardest things was creating all the scenes for each recipe and digging through op shops to find the perfect jar, plate or piece of material. Lara, our creative director, did such a fab job of sourcing and setting up each scene!
Which recipes from the book have you tried and loved?
Louise: We’ve tried all of them! When we were shooting, I couldn’t keep my mitts off the Honeycomb, Fruit Jelly Chews or Florentines. Delicious!
Sticky Apples (recipe from Sweet Treats)
8 small red apples, washed and air-dried
2 cups caster sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon red food
8 wooden sticks
Makes 8 apples
-Line a baking tray with baking paper. Spear a stick into each apple about 2/3 of the way in. Check to see they go in straight.
-Over low heat, cook sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Stir until sugar has dissolved and then bring to boil without stirring. (To prevent sugar crystallising, brush down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush.)
-Add food colouring and cream of tartar and give it a stir.
-Reduce heat to low and simmer mixture for 20 minutes or until it reaches 150°C (hard-crack stage). Take off the heat immediately.
-When toffee ceases bubbling, dip each apple into the toffee. You can coat an apple evenly by tipping the pan on an angle. Make sure you get lots of sticky stuff around the top of the stick, so it doesn’t fall out when you hold it.
-Put all sticky apples on to baking trays and set at room temperature. They’ll set in about 30 minutes.
-Best eaten straight away, but you can store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 24 hours.
The Sweet Treats cookbook by Frankie magazine is out now. You can a copy of it online here.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I've been in zine-making hibernation for the last few weeks – which explains the less-than-speedy blog updates (sorry for being such a lazybones). It was all for the MCA Zine Fair, which was on last Sunday, so I can now resume my normal sleeping/procrastinating/blogging patterns.
If you're zine-curious, mine (Speak-easy #11) had a Frenchy theme – so, of course, I folded in some foodie tidbits to include on the pages. My friend Nathan wrote a hilarious story about what it was like eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant in regional France, there's an interview with everyone's favourite food blogger, Paris-based Clotilde Dusoulier, and I also penned a list of culinary memories of the country (spanning from baguette overload to dining in a restaurant that operated completely in the dark and was staffed by blind waiters).
To keep the zine theme going, I thought I'd share with you some of the food-related goodies I picked up at the fair.
There was 20 Meals In New York, "eaten and illustrated by Anna Vu". It's a visual inventory of the food she consumed on a recent trip to the Big Apple, including Korean Pork Belly Taco from Dokebi, 'Everything Bagel' at WD-50 (which included a 'bagel' with smoked salmon threads and crispy cream cheese) and the wonderfully titled Cheeseburger - All The Way from Roebling Tea Room.
I also bought one of those infamous mini zine burgers by Stephanie Makes and some matchbox stamps of bowls and spoons by Riyo of Talk To The Wind and Sun.
There was also a zine on yum cha by Win Mush, and it was bamboo-steamer-stacked with info on Shio Mai, Har Gow, Rice Noodle Rolls, Egg Tarts and Baiyun Pork Feet. There was even a spread on showing gratitude at yum cha – you're supposed to tap the table as someone pours tea for you.
"You may find yourself pouring tea for each other for at least four or five times per meal, saying thanks by tapping the table allows you to show respect without holding up the conversation, which is great for us chatterboxes."
Dumpling fiends might also enjoy the breakdown on all the different varieties – from the classic Chive & Prawn to the less snappy-to-request Dried Radish, Peanut, Yam and Pork. I particularly liked the historical note on this yum-cha specialty: "according to a Chinese folktale, it [the dumpling] was invented by a doctor named Zhang Zhong Jing, for preventing and healing frostbite in his patients' ears".
But my favourite food-related bit actually came from a zine that had nothing to do with ingredients, dishes or mealtimes. In Sophie Braham's excellent fashion zine, It's Silk, where she talks about old people and what they choose to wear, she concludes: "But mostly I am jealous of their thick confortable shoes. They wear foccacias on their feet".
P.S. On a "this just in"-style note, today I was lucky enough to get a copy of Ebony Bizys's amazing Hello Sandwich: Tokyo Guide zine. I'm such a fan of it that I actually read it twice in one afternoon. It singles out excellent places to shop, sleep, get your art-fix, but most importantly, eat – whether it's a cafe in Koenji that does Avocado Taco Rice or Yoshitomo Nara's cafe in Aoyama or, amazingly, an eatery that is decked out exactly like an office, complete with a draftman's table and anglepoise desk lamps! Also, there's a tip on where to try some amazing five-grain rice.
Ebony sold out of all her copies at the zine fair but you can still pick up a handy .pdf version at the Hello Sandwich online shop for $10. I highly recommend it and can't wait to use it as a personal compass when we're walking around Japan in mid-November.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
If you want to max out on breakfast, this is the finest way to do it. Le Monde in Surry Hills has started serving a breakfast degustation.
For $25*, you get three inventive courses, two coffees (swappable for tea, if you're not into ground beans), and multiple amounts of early-morning fun.
The fine print though - it's only available Thursday to Saturday, for a minimum of two people. Will and I had no problem with these ground rules.*
The first course is Granola & Watermelon with Black Olive, Frozen Grapes, Vanilla Bean Yoghurt, & Baby Mint, and boy, is it a fine way to trick me into eating granola.
Usually I'd skip rolled oats for something less health-nut and more rebellious, but, in the way of degustations, this dish playfully overlaps textures and flavours to make each bite a multi-layered surprise: the gritty dried olive and granola with the smooth tang and cream of yogurt, the surprise drizzle of honey underneath the cool slice of watermelon.
The second course is a "Big Breakfast with a Twist". For Will, this is a three-part special. There's a bibimbap-inspired pot of chorizo, tomato, and coddled egg that you're meant to mix up, Korean-style, to get the runny yolk through everything. There is also an eggshell hiding more egg, underneath a bouquet of baby basil. This is meant to be tipped onto the stack of toast, sundried tomato and mushroom pate.
I ask him what the aim is, of pouring all the ingredients over each other. "Besides funness?" says Will.
DIY joy aside, the lively crush and blend of flavours answers my question.
The vego option is spiced tomato with winter vegetables, and it feels like a comforting, cold-weather version of ratatouille. As flavoursome as it is, it just can't quite match the science-lab interactive fun of Will's breakfast.
With normal degustations, you get a sommelier offering matching wines, so I like how the breakfast equivalent is the barista coming over to talk about the coffee selection. In the spotlight is a Bolivian blend that ranked 8 in the Cup of Excellence. We're told this brew is very light – almost to the point it's like coffee that tastes like tea. Will thinks this is an on-the-mark description.
I like how the blend comes with a back-story, so you can read about the actual farmer who cultivates it.
The final course is Poached Pear with Crème Anglaise, Honeycomb, Coffee Soil, & Dill. The dill adds a strong undercurrent to the custard and pear, while the home-made honeycomb is a crackly delight, as is the coffee-doused biscuit crumbs. All the elements add these flavour-sparks and contrasts – it's a lovely end-note, the only problem is that by now, I am too full to eat the whole thing (always a pitfall of degustations – but having an unfinishable amount of a good dish is not really that much a tragedy, is it?).
Le Monde's degustation offering is spearheaded by chef Chris Merrick, who would have nailed his tasting-menu talents when working alongside Daniel Puskas at Oscillate Wildly. It seems that Le Monde is the only cafe in Sydney offering such a multi-course, fine-dining-level breakfast and in the first week, it seems to have hit the mark.
The cafe also has a standard breakfast menu, which definitely sounds enticing – Raspberry and Cinnamon Hotcakes with Maple Syrup, anyone? – but everyone should try the degustation at least once. For $25, it's impressive value and it seems like (delicious?) irony that the greatest breakfast bargain around right now comes from a concept exported from high-end dining.
*Sadly, as of early 2011, the breakfast degustation is no longer on offer at Le Monde. It's still a cafe worth visiting, though!
Le Monde, 83 Foveaux Street Surry Hills NSW (02) 9211 3568
Monday, May 10, 2010
We had breakfast at Clover this morning with one cool-looking chaperone: Will's just-purchased Polaroid camera. It's 30-something years old (but has no hang-ups about its age or career/marital/mortgage status) and managed to make our order look like it'd been served in the '70s.
After being talked out of my usual Baked Beans and Chilli Labne by Will and his "try something new!" cheerleading, I had the Baked Organic Eggs with Wood-Fired Capsicum, Mushroom, Napoli and Fetta with Toasted Sourdough ($11) and was happy I'd stuck out of my menu comfort zone.
We even had bressert – Rice Pudding With Berry Compote ($8.50) – and as a rice pudding doubter (let's face it, it's can be a bit boring: it's the goody-two-shoes of desserts), I have to say it was pretty good. The dish was vanilla-laced and creamy (without being gluggy), while the stewed fruit added a sweet bit of zip.
The Polaroid turned out to be a bit of an attention-seeker, with a few curious Clover staff members drawn towards it. One of the waitresses hopes to eventually take instant snaps of regular customers' orders, and put them on a wall, so you'd always have a photo reminder of what they wanted. Another employee was surprised at how expensive the film is (about $20 for 8 shots from The Impossible Project) and was "honoured" that we would use up shots on the cafe's food. He ended up taking photos of our photos.
It's probably the most-documented breakfast we've ever had – another nice meal to add to the memory bank, well, that's no bad thing.
Clover, 78 Booth Street, Annandale, 0433 258 252