Can I have a plate with my meal, please?

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Dear waiter: Can I have a plate with my meal please? Just a plate. Preferably a round one. Definitely not square, and i’d rather not a ridiculously thin rectangular one. Just a plain old plate. Actually, it could be patterned. I’m okay with that. Flowered or flecked with colour is fine, too. It could have a deep rim, a dimpled rim, or be more of a shallow bowl kind of thing. I really don’t mind. It could be made of bone china, chunky ceramics, be hand-crafted, or mass produced. But i’d like to have a plate, please.

Not a small chopping board, or rustic piece of wood. It’s no longer trendy; time to find another bandwagon to jump on. That piece of slate you served my steak on recently was just plain wrong. The steak knife that you kindly supplied (many restaurants don’t bother, I know) scraped across that piece of slate like finger nails on a blackboard. And I could have turned a blind eye to the faux baking tray you served my burger and chips on last week, if you hadn’t also used it to serve the paella.

I like the concept of serving certain dishes in the paraphernalia they’re cooked in: ochre coloured terracotta bowls for tapas, garlic prawns served sizzling in a small pan, stainless steel ‘balti’ bowls for curries — as long as plates are provided to eat from. But since when was paella made on a baking tray? Plus, that tacky piece of tin had no grip and spun annoyingly on the table top every time food was extracted from it. Stop trying to be trendy. You’re mostly just behind the times. Just give me a plate, please. Any old plate will do.

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The Adria brothers on a roll, from elBulli to Barcelona

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The Adria brothers’ Tickets tapas bar in Barcelona (Photo: supplied)

Albert Adria doesn’t come across as a celebrity chef. The younger brother of Ferran Adria – the world-famous chef behind the former elBulli hotbed of molecular gastronomy in Catalonia, Spain – he is the public face of the brothers’ gastronomic empire in Barcelona and a celebrated pastry-making genius in his own right.

Dressed in shorts, T-shirt and unlaced black Converse All Stars and carrying a paunch, he has the down-to-earth demeanour of a typical bloke next door. With a mop of short, tight curls, and blue-grey eyes that work in tandem with a wide smile, he’s gentle of nature and generous of time, despite being the guardian of elBulli’s proliferating progeny; meaning he’s always in demand. Read the full article here.

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Eating at work: five rules of engagement

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Eating at the work desk is fraught with difficulty (iPhoto)

Not long before I left my last job I was at my desk eating a Crunchie — you know, one of those Cadbury chocolate-covered honeycomb bars — quite noisily, it turned out. The boss stood up, peered over the partition between the ‘hot desks’ we occupied, muttered something about eating (I can’t remember what, exactly) and smiled in a not really smiling kind of way. I was sufficiently chastised to suck the rest of that Crunchie, which was aptly named by the marketing geniuses at Cadbury, I have to say.

The next day, sitting at the same hot desk, I was eating a bag of crisps — you know, those extra-crispy Kettle Chip kind — quite noisily, it turned out. The boss stood up, peered at me over our partition and said: “Oh, you again!” I was mortified. Not once, but twice i’d been ousted by the boss — of all people — for my inelegant office eating habits. Continue reading

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Broke Fordwich: the Hunter Valley’s best-kept secret

 

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Krinklewood biodynamic winery in the Broke Fordwich region of the Hunter Valley (Photo: Supplied)

Animals have a nice life in the Broke Fordwich wine region, a subregion of the lower Hunter Valley in NSW that has been planted with vines since the early 1820s. Hens cluck and peck among the vines at the biodynamic winery Krinklewood, cows are set free in Mount Broke Estate’s vineyard after the harvest to fertilise the soil, and sheep get the same treatment at the organic outfit Ascella Wines, where they keep weeds at bay and clean up stray grapes. One year an unsuccessful season meant grapes were left on the vine and Ascella’s sheep ended up quite sizzled. Such is life in Broke Fordwich, which is 15 minutes from Pokolbin at the heart of the Hunter. It is considered the tranquil side of the valley.  Read the full article here.

 

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January: a month in food

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January was a month of shorts and summer tops, barefootedness and cold beers, and an ever-advancing beer o’clock. I kicked off the month reading White Truffles in Winter by N.M.Kelby and ended it with a cracker of an Australia Day feast with friends in our sun-filled back garden.

In between there was lots of cooking — Thai and Indian dishes in particular, which seemed in keeping with the hot, dry, parched Sydney summer.  Continue reading

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Filed under Reflections, The Veggie Patch