Back In London

We couldn’t resist this selfie on our long walk, complete with narrowboat on the canal behind.

It’s a very different and short weekly update this week. I wasn’t sure I’d get one done as I was busy getting ready to leave Australia and then travelling to London,  but I don’t like to miss out, so thought I would write a somehwat different one.

I had a fabulous flight on Cathay Pacific with lovely crew, good food and service. Although I had some 7 hours stopover in Hong Kong as I had flown out at night it was from early morning till just after midday so not so bad. Also the lounges are very comfortable with a separate cafe and noodle bar so I got quite a bit of work done, had a good walk and was ready for the flight to London. I arrived on Wednesday night in time for dinner.

Back in London, I remembering what I love about it – the glorious flavoursome berries (only £2 per punnet or less from a barrow), lovely fresh flowers and ease of ordering online and getting deliveries. The weather is smiling and I have just done a 12km walk from Rickmansorth to Uxbridge with a few of the Australian Women’s Club members. We finished with a bottle of rosé in a pub and now I am back home quickly writing this. Some of my regular features are missing but they will return next week. If you’re new to these updates, you can see previous ones on my website here.

Jump ahead to see:
This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
In Season in Both UK and Australia

Recipe of the Week
All About Gelatine
Sails Restaurant, Noosa
What’s On
Come Travelling with me in 2020?

Mango, Blueberries and Pineapple

Australians love their strawberries and right now is the peak time to enjoying luscious sweet eating strawberries at great prices.

Spring pineapples are sweet eating. Enjoy them in a fruit salad; add them to a Thai style curry, a sweet and sour dish, kids love a classic ham and pineapple pizza or team with spring fruits for a vitamin-rich dessert salad. Toss pineapple with strawberries, chopped oranges and blueberries in a super-sized vitamin C spring fruit salad.

Brimming with healthy goodness, tropical-tasting papaya from the Mossman area of Far North Queensland is a bargain this week. A fragrant aroma is a good indication of good flavour. If cut, select fruit with bright-coloured, undamaged flesh. Start your morning with this Papaya, Mango & Pineapple With Lime Yoghurt.

Did you know that swapping 20g of butter for 2 tablespoons of avocado reduces the kilojoule and fat content by half? So, it makes healthy sense to spreading avocado on a sandwich instead of butter.

Their attractive purplish-blue colour and sweet flavour teamed with their high antioxidant qualities make blueberries a popular and healthy choice. 

Select firm rockmelons with a sweet aroma, which feel heavy for their size. Fruit should be beige to golden coloured (not green) with a pronounced netting pattern on the skin.

Sweet and creamy Queensland bananas are well supplied and a thrifty buy  this week. One banana provides over a third of your daily vitamin C requirements.

Sweet and juicy mangoes bring a lush tropical taste to your table. Freshly harvested Kensington Pride mangoes from Darwin herald the arrival of mango season. 

Sweetcorn, Asian greens and Asparagus

VEGETABLES

Fresh, luscious Victorian asparagus is top value and premium quality right now. Thick or thin spears are equally as tender, but it makes sense to buy the same thickness as they will take the same time to cook. 

Asian greens are top quality and value this week. For maximum flavour and freshness buy Asian greens regularly and cook them only until just tender. 

Flavoursome broad beans are still available. Remove bean from the pod, shell a second time then simmer in boiling water until just tender. Broad beans team superbly with chicken, lamb, mushrooms, feta, mint, potatoes and artichokes. Or smash them on toast.

Leafy silverbeet and English spinach are a super good buy.

Watercress has a distinct peppery flavour and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Add watercress to salads; serve with roast beef, tomatoes or with grilled or barbecued salmon fillets. Watercress  is best used within 2-3 days of purchase.

Green beans are superb good value this week, both machine harvest beans  and quality hand picks. For a quick side dish toss together this tasty Asparagus & green beans with chilli & cashews.

Put crisp, healthy salads back on the menu. Depending on choice Cos and Iceberg lettuce along with hydroponically grown fancy lettuce supplies are coming from Victoria, Queensland and Sydney basin.

Keep springtime dining light and easy with crisp sugar snap and snow peas. Choose bright peas that are firm and plump, but not bulging. Grab a handful of both varieties of pea, steam and toss peas with chopped fresh mint, crumbled low-fat ricotta cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. 

Golden coloured sweetcorn is a sweet and versatile vegetable. Serve a hot cob with butter and salt and pepper or remove kernels and add to salads, fritters or fried rice. 

In Season in Both UK and Australia

Blueberries

I love this time of year in both Australia and the UK and it is one time when some produce is in season in both countries. I thought instead of my usual list of what’s in season this week in Australia I would celebrate some of these.
Blueberries
Nature’s superfood, sweet nutrient-packed blueberries are one of the healthiest snack foods. Low in kilojoules, blueberries are high in antioxidants and support brain health.
Half a punnet (75g) of blueberries supplies 10mg of vitamin C (25% RDI) and only 165 kilojoules! Blueberries also contain fibre and are low GI.
CHOOSING
Choose bright and even-coloured blueberries with a light frosty blush. Inspect the underside of the punnet for squashed fruit or oozing juice.
BEFORE USE
Wash blueberries just before use. Rinse in cold water then gently roll the blueberries on paper towel to dry.
Read here How to protect your brain with purple produce

Blueberry Recipes
Banana, blueberry & chia loaf
Berry & ricotta tiarmisu pudding
Blood orange & blueberry cake
Blueberry friands

TOP:  English spinach; L: Rainbow chard and R: Silverbeet

Spinach and silverbeet are also in season in both the UK and Australkia. Spinach is a popular ingredient in European and Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s often confused with silverbeet, and while interchangeable in some recipes, silverbeet (related to beetroot and spinach) takes longer to cook and has firmer stems.

Varieties
Baby spinach has flat, soft leaves and a mild flavour, best served raw in salads. English spinach has longer leaves and is sold in bunches with roots attached. It’s best lightly cooked. Silverbeet (or Swiss chard) has a thick, white stem and dark green, curly leaves. The stems need a longer cooking time than the leaves. When the Swiss Chard has coloured stems it is known as Rainbow chard.

Buying
Avoid spinach/silverbeet with limp or yellowing leaves. Look for English spinach with thin stems – they are younger and more tender. Choose silverbeet with small leaves and firm stems.

Nutrition
Silverbeet
Provides vitamin C and beta carotene (which is converted to vitamin A in the body). Both these vitamins contribute to the body’s immune function. Also a source of vitamin B6 which is needed for normal metabolism of protein and folate, a B vitamin that contributes to reducing tiredness.

Provides dietary fibre, which helps keep the intestine functioning normally. A source of manganese, a mineral that contributes to bone structure. Silverbeet also contains calcium and iron, but neither are well absorbed in the body.

Spinach
Although the iron in spinach is not well absorbed, its high content of vitamins C, E, beta carotene (converts to vitamin A in the body), niacin (B3), folate, vitamin B6 plus its magnesium and potassium make it one of the most valuable vegetables.
Spinach is rich in an antioxidant called lutein, which is important for eye health.
Spinach is an excellent source of dietary fibre, which keeps the intestine functioning normally.
You can increase the absorption of iron by eating the spinach with something with vitamin C – so pop some orange segments in your salad or drink orange juice with it.

Rainbow Chard
A good source of vitamin C and beta carotene. Both vitamins contribute to normal functioning of the body’s immune system. A good source of folate, a B vitamin that is needed for normal cell division and contributes to growth and development in children. Provides vitamin E which helps protect the body’s cells from damage by free radicals. A good source of vitamin K which is needed for normal blood clotting after an injury.

Recipes
Lemon-poached chicken with silverbeet risotto and herb dressing
Chicken, vegetable and pearl barley soup
Stracciatella soup with silverbeet and lardo
Oven-roasted King salmon with braised lentils and spinach
Black pudding with scallops
Barossa Valley chicken with verjuice
Prawn Pie

Recipe of the Week

Berry Terrine

Serves 8
Preparation Time: 25 minutes + overnight refrigeration

2 sachets (2 x 10g) of powdered gelatine
3/4 bottle of sweet white wine, Asti Spumante is best
50g caster sugar
juice 1 lime
1kg mixed small berries, strawberries, raspberries., blackcurrants or redcurrants, blueberries (whatever is seasonal)

  1. Soften gelatine in 2 tablespoons of the wine. In a small saucepan gently heat half of the wine until it starts to simmer, whisk in the sugar and softened gelatine until completely dissolved.
  2. Place berries in a large colander (if the berries are very big, halve or quarter them). Wash in cold water, remove any stalks and gently mix together.
  3. Carefully arrange the berries in a large watertight, tapered loaf tin (19 x 12 cm x 9 cm deep), don’t forget that the bottom layer will be the top when it is turned out. Try and fit the berries in closely, reducing the gaps as much as possible by using small berries to fill the small spaces. Don’t squash them in and try not to bruise them.
  4. When the loaf tin is 85 per cent full pour in the cooled jelly, leaving about 150 ml for later use.
  5. Cover with cling film and place a similarly sized loaf tin carefully on top. Weight this down with a couple of cans of soup or whatever and place in the refrigerator until just set, 75 minutes or so.
  6. Remove the top tin, weights and cling film. Pour in the remaining jelly liquid (you may need to warm it slightly) and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, turn out onto a plate and carefully slice with a very sharp straight–edged knife. Because of the density it should be easy to plate sensational looking slices. Serve with cream, crème fraîche or yoghurt.

All About Gelatine

The recipe for Berry Terrine is one by my co-author of our book Balance, Matching Food & Wine. What Works and Why, Colin Corney. The book was published in 2006 and it refers to gelatine sachets which I haven’t used for years, so I thought it worth explaining gelatine and the various types.
I think leaves they give a better end result with no risk of undissoved gelatine in the end dish.  It is also odourless, flavourless and not cloudy. A little research revealed the gelatine sachets are hard to buy, replaced by packets of loose gelatine powder. So here are few simple gelatine facts.

Gelatine Equivalents
1 teaspoon gelatine Powder = 3.3gm
1 Gold Leaf = 2.2gm
1 Titanium Leaf = 5gm

As a simple rule: 1 leaf titanium gelatine = 3 leaves gold gelatine = 2 teaspoons (6.6g) powdered gelatine and will set one cup of liquid to a firm jelly.
So in old terms 2 teaspoons of powdered gelatine is nearly 7g but sachets were usually 10g in Australia, (but 7g in the USA). So if you used a whole packet or 10g you will need an extra sheet of leaf gelatine.

How to soak gelatine leaves
Soak leaves  in COLD water for 5 minutes. Squeeze the cold water out, then dissolve the soft leaf/leaves by stirring them into warm liquid in the recipe. Otherwise allow 2 tablespoons warm water for 2 titanium leaves or 5 gold leaves. Stir to dissolve thoroughly.

Tips when using gelatine
The thickness and viscosity of any liquid you are setting may need different levels of gelatine for the right texture in the end result. e.g. a  mousse will require less gelatine than a jelly.

For a moulded mixture or during very hot weather use a little extra gelatine.
Don’t boil things made with gelatine. That can make the gelatin lose its efficacy.

Keep gelatine in a well-sealed, cool, dry place.

Pineapple, kiwifruit and other (mostly tropical) fruits contain enzymes that can prevent gelatine from setting. These enzymes  are destroyed when the fruits are cooked.

Sails Restaurant, Noosa

The view to Noosa Beach from our table at Sails

I am so lucky to be able to try so many different dining experiences but sometimes I don’t get a chance to write them up or only do after quite some time. But when they’re great, and it’s somewhere people go on holidays, I like to share my experience. Sails in Noosa is one such place.  I’ve been there many times over the years for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Daytime is my favourite time to go because of the location which is hard to beat. It is an absolute beachfront facing the azure waters of north-facing Laguna Bay.  This is quintessential Noosa and I was fortunate to visit with friends for lunch recently.

Sails has evolved over the last 23 years from a small cafe type business into a stylish, contemporary restaurant with white tablecloths and Riedel glasses and the trappings of fine dining. Quality but with personal friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere. Produce has always been sourced as locally as possible and this has increased with a proliferation of small local producers who are acknowledged on the menu. Food and wine are reasonably priced, though there are such luxuries as caviar, Patagonian Toothfish and mud crabs.

Many of the staff are longterm, significantly Executive Chef, Paul Leete who has been there since 1997. He prefers to use growers who practice organic farming techniques as well as farmers who have a proven commitment to animal welfare. He also focusses on seasonal produce and creates modern food to  complement the climate,.
We shared lots of entrees and a couple of mains.  First up crisp tostadas with raw local tuna, traditionally combined with avocado and lime. Perfect with a welcoming glass of champagne.  What is deceptively called house smoked trout butter is more like rillettes, served with char grilled ciabatta and a permanent fixture on the menu. A textured mix of chunky and smooth smoked trout spiked with dill and seasonings it is very moreish. Local prawns always star in some guise, and poaching them in olve oil, with Dutch Cream potato, blond gazpacho and citrus dressing perfectly preserved their fresh flavour. Scallop ceviche was a special of the day starring the freshest of raw scallops with traditional seasonings and shaved radish discs and coconut.  With these a delightful glass of Garnier et Fils Chamblis from Bourgogne.

TOP: Tuna Toastadito, Mooloolaba tuna, crisp tortilla, avocado, lime and R: Charred Ciabatta, House smoked trout butter; BOTTOM L: Olive oil poached Fraser Coast prawns, Dutch Cream potato, blonde gazpacho, citrus dressing and R:Scallop Ceviche

Sandcrab lasagne with raw tomato sauce is another stayer on the menu as is Roasted Moreton Bay Bug, shellfish butter, potatoes, broccoli and almonds and deservedly so. Both absolute standouts.  We shared a special of grilled mulloway but what really made me wish I lived in Noosa was a lunch time only offering of a Sandwich for Chilled Fraser Coast prawns, seafood sauce, butter lettuce with handmade crisps. At only $21 I would be visiting often (as were others in the restaurant) for a sandwich and glass of wine for lunch! Such a clever idea, beautifully presented. We didn’t try any of the meat dishes, nor dessert after this feast which really suited the warmth of the day.

L: Roasted Moreton Bay bug, shellfish butter, potatoes, broccoli and almonds and R: Chilled Fraser Coast prawn sandwich, seafood sauce, butter lettuce and handcut crisps

However, it is the wine list which really sets Sails apart. Featuring wines from Australia, Europe and particularly France, the four cellars include some of the best and rarest vintages in the world.

Awarded 3-Goblets in the annual Gourmet Traveller Wine List of the Year, the list revolves around two key tenets, the first is to provide a guarantee of provenance from vineyard to glass and the second is to provide an extensive choice for restaurant customers with many available by the glass from the use of Enomatic and Coravin systems for maintaining pristine condition. At the top end are Domaine de La Romanee-Conti along with the key varietals with all the right Australian, New Zealand and Old-World standards on display. There are plenty of half-bottles too.

The cellars have been the life-work of owner Lyndon Simmons and their growth has been evolutionary with the maturation of the restaurant itself.  With over 500 wines, some bought to cellar and release at their optimum, they are kept at an average temperature of 15? Celsius and at 65% humidity. So why four cellars?
 Rumba Wine Cellar 1
Located at basement level in the out-of-the-way wine bar, Rumba is the largest working
cellar and stores champagne, reds and dessert wines.
Chardonnay Wine Cellar 2
This is located underneath the restaurant, and is the central working cellar, housing the chardonnay selection.
 Aromatic Wine Cellar 3
This cellar is located on the restaurant level, and houses only light style white varietals. These are younger wines that are mostly intended for drinking in the first few years of their life-span.
Longevity Cellar 4
A separate cellar in Rumba where wines are kept at 10? Celsius. This is to slow down the maturing of some older reds and vintage champagnes, many of which are 20 to 30 years old.

Rumba Wine Bar, the cellars are behind the far wall

What’s On

In Melbourne
The Great Australian Red Melbourne Tasting
My friends Matthew Jukes and Tyson Stelzer have long celebrated that uniquely Australian blend of cabernet and shiraz. Try their top wines this year.
Date: Wednesday 23 October 2019
Time: 6:30pm – 9:00pm
Where: Arc One Gallery, 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria
Format: Stand up with Canapé Menu by Cumulus
Tickets: $75 per person
Purchase online:here 

In Australia

Delighted to say that LifeStyle FOOD is screening my Summer Baking Secrets at several times over the coming weeks. Times here 

Come Travelling with me in 2020?
Two very different trips

The next tour I am escorting is with By Prior Arrangement to Morocco 16-27 April 2020. This is an extraordinary destination, but one best visited with specialised knowledge and contacts to ensure a happy and seamless experience. Carol Prior of By Prior Arrangement focusses only on Morocco, a country she has known for 30 years and where she lived for over a decade.  I could think of no-one better to plan the tour with.

This trip will see us travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and to Marrakech the red city. On the way you will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, visit a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. You’ll discover the delicacies of Moroccan and French food, dine in local eateries through to upmarket restaurants, and experience the making and flavours of Moroccan dishes during cooking classes. Luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads. sometimes in exclusivity. Only 10 – 12 guests$8850 pp shared, or $10,550 single.
Details here
Read my article Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Rabat

Wonderful sublty spiced traditional Moroccan dishes. The salads (left) really transform seemingly ordinary ingredients like carrots

Sea urchins fresh from the sea and a happy group last tour in Alberobello, Puglia

Culinary Adventures in Puglia 4 – 10 October 2020.
Puglia is a relatively undiscovered part, in the boot of the heel of Italy, it’s where Italians go for holidays! 

“I loved every moment of the tour, Lyndey is an excellent host, great fun & very  knowledgeable in wine & food while our tour guide, Max, knows the history of Puglia so well, which was great as we visited lovely old towns with amazing old buildings.Our accommodation was 4 to 5 star & wonderful & we had some truly amazing meals & wines.” writes Julie Tulloch, a fellow traveller in May last year.
It was such a fabulous experience, we are repeating it in October 2020 to share an unforgettable week of culinary and cultural exploration. Think hands-on bread, cheese making and cooking class; visits to wineries, olive farm, tours of UNESCO sites Alberobello & Matera & other cultural centres with local guides. All sensational meals and wines included. You only need money for the very inexpensive shopping you will find there.

Group size: an intimate 8-16 places only
Price: $5499 per person for all ground arrangements (single supplement $799)
Lodging in authentic, family-run noble estates and palaces
Operated by: Local Puglia specialist Southern Visions Travel: the leading experiential travel company in Southern Italy
Full brochure 
here

Read more about my adventures in Puglia
Explore Puglia in House & Garden Magazine
Seven dishes you must try in Puglia, Italy in the Sydney Morning Herald
Puglia, the undiscovered heart in Selector Magazine

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Lyndey

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