Weekly Update
Farewell London, Hello Singapore

My lovely daughter Lucy with her daughter, Isabel (named after my mother) and me in the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

The last three months have flown with such a busy time working in and travelling from London. I need to be back for RAS (Royal Agricultural Society) Council meetings next week and have come via Singapore as my daughter and family have recently relocated there from London. I don’t often put personal photos in but this was such a lovely, happy day with little Isabel loving the outing to the stunning Gardens by the Bay, also a major tourist attraction but remarkably uncongested and like most things in Singapore, well-organised. As I write this it is my last day here before returning to Sydney – though I am looking forward to a special night out at Spagos. I met Wolfgang Puck and ate his food in Sydney many, many years ago when was a guest chef at the then Regent Hotel with Serge Dansereau. More on that next week.

After a fun lunch today, L-R Cindy, Hariz, King Yin and Jeremy, friends and colleagues from the Yefira and Flame Distribution office introduced me to the famous Salted Egg Chips – they taste like salted egg!

Jump ahead to see:
The Best Fruit and Veg This Week
Recipe of the week

Some other fabulous seasonal recipes 
Where I’ve Eaten
Interesting Reading
What’s On

The Best Fruit and Veg This Week

Brown onions, fennel and broccoli

Sydney Markets advise

Winter is the perfect time to discover the flavour of beetroot. Select bunches with small to medium size bulbs. Roasted in their skins really intensifies their flavour, but they can also be boiled, steamed or microwaved.

The delicate aniseed flavour and crunchy texture of fennel complements fish, chicken, lamb, pears and pasta. Microwave, pan fry, braise, barbecue or eat raw.

Don’t let the humble button mushroom fool you – hidden beneath its creamy white dome is a powerhouse of natural flavour and goodness including vitamin D, B vitamins and antioxidants. Fill a paper bag with mushrooms so you can enjoy them for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I eat them raw too as they help with satiety.  Mushrooms are fabulous in sauces, casseroles, soups and curries. Button mushrooms have the mildest flavour, cups are versatile and flats have the fullest flavour.

Broccoli is flourishing in the cooler weather. Steaming, microwaving and stir-frying are ideal cooking methods. If boiling only use a small amount of water and cook rapidly as overcooking reduces flavour and vitamin content

Nutty tasting Jerusalem artichokes are a winter treat. Delicious roasted or boiled and pureed for a full flavoured soup or peel and use in similar ways to water chestnuts. Tip: When using to make soup leave the skin on, this gives the soup a rich caramel colour and adds to the fibre content.

Brown onions from Tasmania and South Australia are plentiful, are a must have for including in winter soups and casseroles. When you think of it, just about every cuisine in the world uses them.

Cauliflowers are bursting with goodness and flavour. Roast up a tray of spiced cauliflower to serve with a tahini yoghurt dressing, or smother a whole head with yoghurt mixed with garam masala or warm up with a creamy style Cauliflower, leek & bacon soup. Cauliflower puree and cauliflower rice are great stand bys in my house.

Roast, chopped orange sweet potato (kumara) with red onion wedges in olive oil flavoured with cumin and coriander for 30 minutes or until tender. Serve with lamb or beef. Also great sliced on the barbecue, as puree or in a soup.

Quinces, mandarins and Granny Smith apples

Navel oranges are a winter orange. The main varieties are the thin skinned Leng navel and the thicker-skinned Washington navel. Use the rind and juice in cakes, muffins and warming winter puddings

Supplies of Queensland strawberries are increasing.  Enjoy a strawberry dessert, like this scrumptious Rhubarb & strawberry meringue pudding

Winter is the ideal time to enjoy juicy pears. Beurre Bosc pears are an excellent cooking pear as they hold their shape while Packhams make a perfect snack.

Granny smith apples are a crunchy source of fibre and a good source of vitamin C. Granny Smiths firm texture and sweet acidic flavour makes them ideal for cooking. Enjoy them baked, in crumbles or try a free fold apple pie

Everyone loves bananas, smooth, creamy and an excellent source of vitamin B6 and C. Did you know that one banana provides almost 30% of your daily vitamin C requirements? EAt them raw, freeze them on a paddle pop stick, cook on the BBQ or bake them in foil with brown sugar and butter.

Delicately scented quinces are plentiful. Closely related to apples and pears, quince can be poached, baked, stewed or roasted. They are superb slowly cooked in sugar and cinnamon syrup.

Green fleshed kiwifruit and the sweeter gold kiwifruit are in season, the latter incredibly high in Vitamin C.

Rich and creamy Hass avocados are still around so enjoy them while you can.

Recipe of the Week

Barbecued mixed vegetables

Serves 4 – 6 as a side dish
Preparation 15 minutes
Cooking 20 minutes

1 small (250g) kumara (orange-coloured sweet potato), sliced thickly
1 large (300g) red onions
1 large (350g) red capsicum, quartered
1 medium (200g) yellow capsicum, quartered
3 medium (360g) zucchini, sliced
6 large field or Swiss brown mushrooms
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil

Boil, steam or microwave the kumara until almost tender; drain. Cut each onion into 6 wedges leaving the root end intact.

Barbecue the kumara and onion, brushing with oil, until browned on one side. Turn the kumara and onion then add the capsicum, zucchini and mushrooms. Barbecue, brushing with oil, until browned on both sides and tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot or at room temperature.

Some other fabulous seasonal recipes 

Let’s celebrate wonderful winter vegies:
Try this warming Hot and Sour soup  from Lyndey & Herbie’s Moveable Feast
Hidden Onion & Cheese Quesadilla

Haloumi with fennel, orange and kalamata olives

Easy pulled pork with apple and brussels sprout slaw

Where I’ve Eaten

Novikov Asian restaurant showing the “Secret Garden” display in front of the open kitchen

One of my last meals in London was one of the best, and certainly the best Asian I have eaten there. Novikov is named for its owner, Russian chef Arkady Novikov. Located at 50A Berkeley Street in the heart of Mayfair it was his first foray into the London restaurant scene, already having an unbelievable 50 in his homeland.
It is a spacious venue: the front half is pan-Asian serving an extensive menu of Chinese, Malaysian and Japanese dishes with the odd Mexican influence thrown in. Down a flight of stairs, is a vast  Italian restaurant, with a large open kitchen complete with meat-hanging cabinets. Down another flight of stairs is a Lounge Bar.
In the Asian section, where I ate, the open kitchen is fronted by the “secret garden” for all the world like an Asian marketplace with an amazing display of seafood on ice and perfect vegetables. The menu features soups, salads, sushi and snacks alongside dim sum, rice, wok and noodle dishes and options from the charcoal grill.

Sushi and sashimi platter; from back left bowl of New Style Sashimi – scallop and black truffle with yuzu dressing, Quail Egg & Truffle Gunkan, Seared O-Toro nigiri and right Yellowtail with yuzu and coriander

We started with crisp crudites with a shiso mayonnaise (watch this space because I want to work out that recipe). Just the thing to nibble on with a fabulous glass of champagne, perhaps Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV.
The sushi and sashimi platter which followed was one of the best ever – in variety, quality of ingredients and innovative combinations and presentation. While the O-Toro nigiri was as rich and torched as you could want, the Quail Egg GunKan with Truffle was a masterpiece; the rice wrapped in nori, topped with salmon roe and then a quail egg and slice of black truffle. Unusual and memorable in its combination of flavours and textures. Thinly sliced yellowtail was finished with yuzu and coriander and rounds of jalapeno chilli, more traditional than New Style Sashimi of scallop and black truffle with yuzu dressing

L: Crudite with shiso mayonnaise and behind condiments of chilli sauce, soy and roasted chilli; R: Spicy Prawn Moneybags and prettily made vibrant red  black cod dumplings

The dumplings too were a stand-out. Fabulously spicy yet still unmistakeably prawny moneybags complete with keta caviar. However the vibrantly pink/red unusually shaped dumplings were a visual masterpiece, encasing a filling of black cod. Both were plump and flavoursome.

Seasonal asparagus was perfectly cooked tender/crisp, cleverly skewered and finished with sweet soy and sesame while sardines, fresh from the market so not on the menu, were wrapped in a pandan leaf and cooked on the robata grill. Perfection. Because I love it so we finished with half a classic Chinese roast duck.

The charming French sommelier guided us towards the Grüner Veltliner, Peter Schweiger Kamptal 2016 and it had sufficient flavour and texture to match our food admirably. The list has a good selection by the glass and also in 500ml bottles, which I find one of the most food-friendly ways to drink wine.
None of this comes cheap, but I don’t think the prices are unreasonable for the quality of the food, the fit out,  the service and the location. If you want to try it out more modestly there is a well-priced Asian Lunch menu.

LEFT:  Asparagus with sweet soy and sesame  and RIGHT: Market Sardines grilled on the robata with garlic coriander sauce

Interesting Reading

Ben Shewry whose Attica restaurant has been named No 20 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Both Business Insider and Good Food have reported on the 2018 list of the Worlds 50 Best Restaurants. I can’t believe it was a year ago that we were in Melbourne celebrating and hosting the awards. This is fantastic news for Ben Shewry, the New Zealand ex-pat chef who was placed 32 last year, also winning Best Restaurant in Australasia. Massimo Bottura, whom I interviewed for Selector Magazine last year, regained top place with his Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. Noma, a former world’s best, was absent from the 2018 list, having not reopened at its new location until after voting had closed. Read more at World’s 50 Best.

Food & Wine reveals the menu from President Donald Trump’s lunch with Kim Yong-Un.

OzHarvest gives all the tips on How To Fight Food Waste.

In Gourmet Traveller, the late A. A. Gill tackles the morbid subject of final meals with colour and characteristic wit by turning the question on its hea, asking us to consider which national cuisine we’d happily eat for the rest of our days.

They also announce Sydney’s Best Wine Bars.

What’s On

Sydney Royal Taste of Excellence Awards Friday 21 September 6.30pm – 9.30pm

This annual event is an opportunity to experience the best tastes Australia has to offer as the Champion winners from the 2018 Sydney Royal Fine Food Show and Callebaut Sydney Royal Chocolate Show are revealed.

Sydney Royal fare from the Pasta, Olive Oil, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Smallgoods & Charcuterie, Regional Food and Chocolate shows will be accompanied by 2018 Sydney Royal award-winning wines, cider and beer.

Chat to producers and Sydney Royal Judges who will host interactive tasting stations where you can learn everything you wanted to know about provenance, growing and making the perfect product and what it takes to win a coveted Sydney Royal medal.

Friday, 21 September 2018 6.30pm – 9.30pm
The Stables, Hawkesbury St, Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park
RAS Members’ tickets: $60 (inc. GST)
General public tickets: $70 (inc. GST)
Tickets available

You can continue to catch segments from my Taste of Ireland TV series on the Food Network.

Keep up to date with my travels on all my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Enjoy what you cook, eat and drink.


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