Weekly Update
Come to Japan with me?
or attend the free information night?

Only some of the sights to see in amazing Japan

I am really excited to announce another hosted tour: a culinary and cultural exploration of the island of Honshu, Japan.  Japan is one of the hottest travel destinations right now and this fabulous itinerary is your opportunity to immerse yourself in the cuisine while visiting the major sights along the way.I am working with my friend since childhood, Claudia Ross from Mary Rossi Travel. She is so keen that she and her husband are coming too. It promises to be a really extraordinary trip, for only 20 people,  from 14-25 May, 2019.

Experience Tokyo‘s hidden backstreets at “omoide yokocho”. Step back in time to the 1950’s, stop for yakitori, followed by a visit to nearby “golden gai” & it’s tiny bars.

Travel on Japan’s famous shinkansen (bullet train)

Soba noodle making class where you’ll try your hand at making the dough, rolling it out and slicing it into thin noodle strips. Enjoy your tasty soba noodles at the end of the class

Visit a traditional sake brewery where you’ll taste & learn how sake is produced

Visit UNESCO World Heritage village Shirakawa-go

Food and culture walk through the old-town district of Takayama sampling local foods like hida beef, sake and sweets

A fascinating glimpse into the geisha world in Kyoto

Make rolled sushi in a restored machiya townhouse in Kyoto

More information here or see below for our complimentary information night.

Japanese food – and sake – has so much to offer

Information night

Please join us for a glass of wine, Japanese food and a fun and informative evening to learn about the trip.
Tuesday 10th July, 2018
Time: 6.00pm – 8.00pm
Venue: Mary Rossi Travel, Suite 205, 40 Yeo Street, Neutral Bay

Space is limited so please r.s.v.p as soon as possible to secure your seat. You can do this by phoning Mary Rossi Travel on 9957 4511 or by clicking here.

The route for our amazing tour of Japan

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

Rainbow chard, cauliflower and celeriac are top picks this week

Sydney Markets advise
Toss nutritious, thinly sliced Brussels sprouts in a hot wok with a little oil and sliced bacon until just tender, toss through noodles and soy sauce and serve. New to the markets are purple Brussels sprouts, they are sweeter and slightly peppery in flavour look for 400g packets for $3-$4.

Cauliflower stars in the kitchen during cooler weather. This adaptable vegetable is delicious roasted, braised, fried, mashed and steamed or eaten raw.  Warm up with a bowl of piping hot Cauliflower, Leek & Bacon Soup 
 or serve this delicious veggie side dish with a winter roast, Spiced Cauliflower & Carrots with Spinach & Pomegranate. I cook caulflower every week and especially love caulflower “rice”, “couscous”, puree or baking it with extra virgin olive oil and cumin. This week at Ortzi restaurant I had it baked along with its leaves with chestnut and sesame. superb.

Savour the subtle sweet-onion flavour of plump flavoursome leeks.  Use leeks as the bases for a tasty homemade vegetable soup such as leek and cauliflower, leek and zucchini or leek and pumpkin. 

Celeriac is a delicious, creamy-fleshed winter vegetable that tastes like celery. Select pale, small-sized celeriac that feels heavy for its size. To prepare celeriac, simply peel and cut into pieces then drop into a bowl of cold water. Add some lemon juice to prevent the flesh discolouring.
Read my guide on How To Prepare Celeriac.

Warm up your taste buds with fresh glossy, long red chillies, less fiery than most varieties, these chillies will add a warming kick to your winter cooking. Removing the seeds will make them even milder in flavour. Add diced chilli to vegetable soups, casseroles, meat rubs and pasta dishes.

Celery is economical, healthy and discreetly delicious. Raw celery is crisp and low in kilojoules. Serve celery sticks with peanut butter, whip up a creamy celery soup or add flavour and fibre to hearty winter soups with celery.

Bunching broccoli is a sold in generous bunches. It has long thin stems and small flowering heads. Trim the heads and peel the stems. Delicious steamed, microwaved or stir-fried this vegetable is versatile and good value.

Silverbeeet sometimes mistakenly named spinach is distinguishable by its fleshly white stems and dark green leaves. Wilt silverbeet in a pan over medium heat and toss with crumbled feta, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. Alternatively  try Swiss Chard also known as rainbow chard with attractive brightly coloured stems that make a delightful addition to a chunk vegetable soup

Navel oranges, mandarins and custard apples are all in season

Creamy custard apples are in season.  Make custard apple muffins by folding 1 cup roughly mashed custard apple flesh through a basic muffin mixture. Bake in ½ cup muffin pans at 180°C for about 20 minutes. They’re delicious served straight from the oven.

Tangelos have a tangy flavour and a fragrant aroma. Use their juice and flesh in recipes as an alternative to oranges in winter. Team tangelos with baby spinach leaves and walnuts in a salad. A great way to kick start the day, juice tangelos for breakfast!  They’re bursting with beneficial vitamin C.

Fragrant and sweet eating Queensland strawberry season have started and from now until August strawberries are just going to get better and better. Rinse strawberries just before eating and hulling. Want to get fancy with strawberries than check out some delicious serving ideas.

Dress up a winter salad with creamy avocado. The nutty flavoured Hass avocados are in peak supply.

Bake a free form apple pie with ready-made short crust pastry and fill with finely sliced apple and rhubarb and a generous sprinkle of sugar.

For a vitamin C packed easy snack, you can’t go passed a mandarin. Combine mandarin segments with shredded fennel, rocket, sliced green onions and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with an olive oil and lemon dressing to serve, its fresh, light and easy. Select from Imperial, Afourer, Nova, Daisy and Taylor Lee mandarins.

Winter is the peak time for citrus especially Navel oranges. Enjoy the traditional orange fleshed Washington or Leng navels, or for something different try the Cara Cara navel. This seedless, sweet pinkish orange fleshed variety originated in South America is available June to August. Warm up with this cheeky Oranges with Whiskey Toffee dessert

Recipe of the Week

Lemon-poached chicken with silverbeet risotto and herb dressing

Serves 4
Preparation 10 minutes
Cooking 25 minutes

1.25 litres (5 cups) chicken stock
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (40g) butter
1 (350g) leek, washed and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups (400g) arborio or other risotto rice
½ cup (125ml) white wine
4 stems (320g) silverbeet, leaves only, washed and shredded
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Poached chicken
2 cups (500ml) chicken consommé
8 sprigs thyme
4 cloves garlic, peeled and bruised
Peeled rind from 1 lemon
4 x 200g chicken breasts

Herbed dressing
1/3 cup chopped mixed herbs such as thyme, parsley, chives, mint
½ cup (60g) Green olives, stoned and sliced
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 – 2 tablespoons (20 – 40ml)  verjuice or lemon juice
100g grape tomatoes (assorted colours if available), halved or quartered if large

For the risotto
Heat stock in a saucepan or microwave. Reduce the heat and maintain at a simmer. Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over moderate heat. When the butter has melted, add the leek and fry for a minute or two without browning. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute more. Add the rice and stir well to coat with the oil and butter (it will take on a glassy appearance). Add the wine and stir until it has evaporated.

Reduce the heat to low and add one ladleful of hot stock. Stir constantly until the liquid is completely absorbed. Keep adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been completely absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladle. Keep it cooking at a low simmer. After about 15 minutes taste a few grains of rice: it should be tender, not soft, yet still a little firm to the bite. It will probably take around 20–25 minutes to reach this point. When the risotto is ready it should still be a little liquid, not dry like fried rice. Taste for salt and pepper and stir through with remaining butter.

For the poached chicken
Meanwhile, place consommé, thyme, garlic, lemon rind and salt and pepper in a large saucepan. Add chicken and top up with water to cover. Stir.  Bring to the boil then reduce heat to medium and poach the chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Remove chicken from liquid, reserving liquid.

For the herbed dressing
Pound herbs in a mortar and pestle until broken up. Add olives and lemon zest pound some more. Mix through olive oil and verjuice, then lightly crush tomatoes and mix to combine.

To serve
Ladle risotto into a serving bowl. Cut chicken into strips or medallions and toss through herbed dressing. Place on top of risotto.

This recipe comes from the award-winning TV series and cookbook Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia

Some other fabulous seasonal recipes 

Try some of these warming recipes:
Cauliflower fritters
Chicken, Vegetable & Pearl Barley Soup
Peter Evans’ Stracciatella Soup with Cavolo Nero & Lardo
Lamb in fresh Vine Leaves with warm Cauliflower Salad
Chicken and Tarragon Pie with Celeriac Mash
Spiced Orange and Olive Oil Dessert Cake with Botrytis Oranges

Where I’ve Eaten
Din Tai Fung, Singapore

LEFT: Xiao Long Bao, the famous handmade dumplings and RIGHT: Sliced Duck in Crisp Spring Onion Pastry

Din Tai Fung is now a global brand and even in Singapore there are 22 branches. It has been ranked as one of the world’s Top Ten Best Restaurants by The New York Times on many occasions.  It all began in Taiwan 40 years ago, with its famous signature xiao long baos (steamed pork dumplings) and heart-warming steamed chicken soup. Since then this authentic Taiwanese restaurant has expanded with branches throughout the world, including Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, UAE, USA.

However, it seems to me that each one takes the same care to produce the legendary dumplings which explode with flavour and broth in every mouthful. Din Tai Fung launched to a lot of publicity in Sydney many years ago so I was happy to go to one in Singapore, only 10 minutes walk from my daughter’s home for brunch before I flew home.

It’s all about showmanship as chefs in the open  kitchen create delicious masterpieces with precision and skill. The silky smooth dough is made in small batches for maximum freshness, then rolled out into identical pieces which are weighed to ensure they are 4.8-5.2 grams. The thin, smooth, round skin is then stuffed to weigh between 20.8 and 21.2 grams and pleated by hand with a minimum of 18 folds and finished with a twist at the top before steaming for exactly three minutes. It is incredible to watch.

We couldn’t resist trying richly-flavoured crab dumplings and then as a treat, the ultimate  Xiao Long Bao, – Steamed Truffle & Pork. They were luscious, generously stuffed with black truffle and pork  with the characteristic rich broth.

Sliced Duck in Crisp Spring Onion Pastry turned out to be slivers of tantalisingly smoked duck and spring onions encased in crisp spring roll skin.  We also ordered the traditional Steamed Chicken Soup which is  simmered for six hours.

LEFT: Egg fried rice and Shanghai-style Drunken Chicken and RIGHT: Stir-fried Dou Miao with Garlic and behind Green Chillies with Marinated Stuffed Minced Meat

I’m not much of a fried rice fan, being more of a traditionalist and opting for steamed but my 18 month old granddaughter made short work of it, along with some chicken from the soup and some greens. Stir-fried Dou Miao with Garlic looked a deceptively simple dish of young, tender pea shoots until you learn that every batch is almost identical in length and quality, and is cut with precision before being tossed in the wok with sunflower oil.

Shanghai Style Drunken Chicken was just as it should be, perfectly cooked to retain jelly under the skin with a hint of wine in the sauce. Green Chillies with Marinated Stuffed Minced Meat were originally created especially to suit the Thai palate, with a  fusion of sweet, sour and spice. Deep-fried Specially Marinated  Pork Chop was boneless, flattened out and then deep-fried. the meat was really juicy and tender.
While we splurged on the truffle dumplings at S$25, the whole bill with service and Chinese tea came to about S$120 for 3 adults and a toddler. Great value and much better than the much lauded nearby Tim Ho Wan.

New country of Origin Labelling is compulsory from 1 July

The new Country of Origin labels include the Australian Made kangaroo logo, a bar chart indicating percentage of Australian ingredients and a statement of where the product was made.

From 1 July 2018, most of the foods you buy will need to display new country of origin labels. Look out for these labels on food packages or in-store signage. Different labelling requirements apply depending on:

  • whether the food is grown, produced, made or packed in Australia or another country
  • whether the food is a ‘priority’ or ‘non-priority’ food
  • how the food is displayed for sale.

You will find country of origin labelling on most food you buy at the supermarket, local stores, markets, online or from a vending machine. Food bought from restaurants, cafes, take-away shops, schools and caterers does not have to be labelled.

Food that was packaged and labelled on or before 30 June 2018 can still be sold without the new labels. 

Grown in, produced in, made in

The key country of origin claims mean different things:

  • Grown in is a claim about where the ingredients come from and is commonly used for fresh food. It can also be used for multi-ingredient products to show where the food was grown and processed.
  • Produced in is a claim about where the ingredients come from and where processing has occurred. This claim is often used for processed, as well as fresh foods.
  • Made in is a claim about the manufacturing process involved in making the food.

When a food has not been grown, produced or made in a single country, it will need to display a label identifying the country it was packed in

Priority and non-priority foods

Non-priority foods must carry a country of origin text statement about where the food was grown, produced, made or packed. A product is a non-priority food if it belongs to one of the following categories:

  • seasoning (e.g. salt, spices and herbs)
  • confectionery (e.g. chocolate, lollies, ice cream, popcorn)
  • tea and coffee (in dry, or ready to drink, form)
  • biscuits and snack food (e.g. chips, crackers and ready to eat savoury snacks)
  • bottled water
  • soft drinks and sports drinks
  • alcohol.

Everything else is a priority food. For example, priority foods include fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood, bread, milk, juice, sauces, honey, nuts and cereal.

If a priority food was grown, produced or made in Australia, its country of origin label will also feature:

  • a kangaroo in a triangle logo to help you quickly identify that the food is Australian in origin
  • a bar chart and text identifying the proportion of Australian content in the food (if any).

Priority foods can only claim to be produced or grown in Australia if they contain 100 per cent Australian ingredients.

This should make it much easier to consciously support Australian farmers and producers. More information here. However, a word of caution:
Australian Pork Limited General Manager of Marketing, Peter Haydon advises “The pork industry has been crying out for changes to our labelling laws, because the old ones made it hard to identify Australian products,”
“While all fresh pork is proudly Australian, imported pork is being used in ham, bacon and some pre-cooked pork products. We’re pleased the Government has changed the labels and hope they will help consumers identify Australian products more easily. However, we encourage them to back the changes with more consumer education about how to read the new labels.

“For example, the kangaroo logo will appear on packaging of products that have only been made in Australia. That’s a problem for the Australian pork industry, because it means ham and bacon made here from imported pork will still have that logo and consumers just glancing at a package will be none-the-wiser.”

The good thing about Australian pork as far as I am concerned is that it also carries the distinctive pink Australian Pork Mark.
So please actively look for the new labels and check out the bar chart and words, rather than just look for the kangaroo.

Interesting Reading

Peter Gilmore has revealed one of his new dishes  at Quay restaurant ahead of its reopening: Oyster Intervention

Gourmet Traveller takes a sneak peek at the new menu At Quay, Peter Gilmore wants to reinvent the oyster. He’s kept them off the menu for 17 years because the texture puts him off.

Good Food has 10 chef hacks that will change the way you cook from peeling onions and chopping leeks to secret ingredients and crisp fish skin mastery.

The Australian Financial Review writes Why good service is almost as important as food in Australia’s top restaurants. It’s all in advance of their Australia’s Top Restaurant Awards which will be announced on 2 July.

Huon Hooke explains milky wine glasses

Food & Wine shows how to cook Julia Child’s Favourite Roast Chicken.
Also How to Order Wine at a Restaurant Without Feeling Awkward About It.

What’s On

Try a digital detox at Contact Bar and Kitchen
LEFT: lock up your mobile phone and RIGHT old phones are part of the decor

In a refreshing change Contact Bar and Kitchen is promoting a “digital detox” dining experience, encouraging guests to switch off, relax and actually connect with the food and people around them. On entry, the European-inspired restaurant encourages guests to securely lock up their phones behind the bar throughout their Contact experience.

Sydney restaurateur, Markus Stauder created the Contact concept to reconnect people and encourage the sharing of ideas and thoughts over food around the table. Inspired by his European heritage and traditions, Stauder created a menu likened to a traditional Italian feast, with sharing dishes..

I haven’t tried the food yet, but I like what they’re trying to do. I am constantly amazed when I see people at a table on their mobile phones rather than talking.
If you want to try it – let me know what you think.

Contact Bar and Kitchen is located at 88 Crown St Woolloomooloo.
For reservations, contact (02) 02 8318 1510 or visit the website: www.contact-sydney.com.au

Bundaberg Region Winter Feast
There’s lots going on in this Queensland area from 6 – 15 July – think food, wine, beverages, food tours, find the program here

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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