Enjoying yum cha with mith my beautiful “honorary daughter” Amelia Adams who is now 9 Network Foreign Correspondent in London.
It’s been an interesting week in London since last I wrote. The papers and TV were focussed on Princess Eugenie’s wedding, but not to the exclusion of constant commentary, even scare-mongering on Brexit. There seems to be a lot of confusion. Next Saturday there is to be a march from Park Lane to Parliament, with such influential people as Delia Smith leading and speaking, to demonstrate for a People’s Vote on the actual Brexit deal. They expect some 100,000 to attend. Last Saturday we had lunch in the sunshine on our terrace, but by Tuesday I had to succumb and turn on the central heating. I have learned the popularity of the Sunday roast when I met a new friend at English institution Fortnum and Mason for a wonderful Sunday Roast: Glenarm Salt Aged Beef with All the Trimmings and later in the week met some amazing people.
The OAA group in Australia House. Carol Devlin is 2nd from the right, my friend Hazel Murphy who put Australian wines on the map in the UK is in front of me and the tall man in the centre is Deputy High Commissioner, Matt Anderson PSM
I am am member of the Order of Australia Association and at an afternoon tea in Australia House was blown away to hear from Carol Devlin, the widow of Stuart Leslie Devlin AOCMG , an Australian artist and metalworker who specialised in gold and silver and designed Australia’s decimal currency in 1966 and the Order of Australia medals in 1975. She presented the most beautiful book, Stuart Devlin: Goldsmith Silversmith in a presentation box to the Deputy High Commissioner, Matt Anderson PSM. Her husband had suffered a stroke in his later years and though he had never wanted to write a book or look back, she and his sister worked together to create this book, putting images up on a big screen for Devlin to be able to see with failing eyesight. The Forward was written by The Duke of Edinburgh.
Carol Devlin presents the book on her late husband Stuart, to Australian Deputy High Commissioner Matt Anderson PSM
Next day, at the monthly Speaker Series of The Australian Women’s Club I heard and met the incredible Susan Sandover. She spoke about and showed photos about her life, from her extraordinary bookLibya; a Love Lived, a Life Betrayed. It follows her amazing journey as the wife of an enlightened Libyan career diplomat They supported each other through the traumas, difficulties and terrifying experiences associated with the Gaddafi regime of US and NATO bombings, coups, a revolution and a blasphemy case, lack of acceptance by his family but also enjoyed years of good times together. More of this another time as I have only just begun her self-published book.
The best of this week’s fruit: blueberries, papaya and strawberries
Sweet and juicy mangoes bring a lush tropical taste to your spring diet. Choose firm mangoes with a fresh sweet tropical fragrance. Fruit should be golden rather than green. Ripen mangoes at room temperature until the fruit yields to gentle pressure around the stem. Fine weather in Darwin is contributing to a premium harvest.
Make the most of plump, antioxidant rich blueberries while they are in season. Makeblueberry hotcakes, add blueberries to apapaya breakfast bowl or serve with your favourite muesli or breakfast cereal. As I said last week, like all berries they are superb and well-priced in London and I buy them often for breakfast.
There are good supplies of refreshing, sweet eating watermelon available again this week. Try wedges dipped in iced gin for a simple dessert.
More than just a healthy snack food, crunchy apples add a delightful texture and sweetness to asalad or coleslaw. Select from Pink Lady, Fuji, Royal Gala, Braeburn and Granny Smith apples.
Pineapples are picked ripe and ready to eat. Skin colour or ‘pulling a leaf’ does not indicate ripeness or flavour. A good-eating pineapple will have a tropical sweet aroma. It’s best eaten within 2?3 days of purchase.
Ruby red rhubarb is a thrifty buy. Microwave, sliced rhubarb stems in a little sugar or honey to sweeten. Serve hot or cold with vanilla ice-cream or custard. ThisRhubarb & Hazelnut Cakeis crowd pleaser.
Sweet strawberries are in abundance. Slice and serve strawberries on your favourite breakfast cereal with yoghurt, toss into fruit salad, make a healthy smoothie or use them for desserts.
Brimming with beneficial antioxidants and vitamin C, sweet and succulent papaya is a delicious Australian-grown tropical fruit. Whole papaya continues to ripen after harvesting. Leave on a bench for a few days at room temperature to fully ripen. It’s ready to eat when the fruit loses its greenish tinge and yields to gentle pressure around the stem (a bit like an avocado). Once cut, cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
Avocado is ideal for breakfast served with vegemite or tomato on toast, or any time of day. In my catering days, I always had a perfect avocado with me, in case of any unknown dietary requirements.
Eggplant, kumara and asparagus
Versatile eggplant is a good value. Add eggplant to a curry like thisEggplant, Zucchini, Lime & Chicken Curry. Eggplants are like a sponge absorbing all the flavours and imparting a soft creamy texture. However, to avoid them absorbing too much oil if you are pan-frying for example, for a pasta sauce, try boiling and draining them first. It really minimizes the amount of oil they absorb.
Spring is peak season for Australian-grown asparagus. Easy to prepare, fresh asparagus is no fuss, nutritious vegetable. Look for multi buy specials at your local greengrocer.
Asian leafy greens are super good value. However recent weather conditions have reduced a bunches shelf life so use 1-2 days after purchasing for maximum quality.
Celery adds crunch and flavour to a great range of salads and stir-fries, and its juicy flesh teams well with creamy dips. Choose crisp pale green celery with fresh looking leaves. I never buy the celery hearts and I use the tops for an easy, low-cal, low-carb soup.
Like other orange coloured vegetables, kumara (orange sweet potato) is rich in a range of carotenoids, including beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Delicious roasted slices or whole or served mashed this veggie adds colour and nutrition to the plate. Try this RoastedKumara with Eggs & Avocado Salsa.
Crunchy and mild-flavoured Iceberg lettuce is a bargain this week. My daughter list interest in sandwiches early in High School, so I was always looking at different things I could pack for her. For a change from everyday sandwiches in the school lunch box, these deliciousrice paper wraps filled egg, carrot and avocadothey are sure to please a hungry tummy.
A cross between broccoli and Choy Sum (Chinese broccoli), broccolini this vibrant green veggie is packed with beta carotene as well as vitamins C, A and E. There’s no wastage because both the stem and small florets are edible. Brush broccolini with a crushed garlic and olive oil paste then char-grill or barbecue until lightly charred and serve. In the UK it is known as tender stem broccoli.
With its delicious aniseed flavour and crisp texture, fennel adds vibrancy tospring salads. It is refreshing raw or cooked.
With high water content, crunchy Lebanese cucumbers are cool on the kilojoule count with only 40kJ per 100g! Choose firm, dark green Lebanese cucumbers. Refrigerate in a bag in the crisper section. Simply wash in cold water, pat dry then slice or chop as required. Ribbons cucumbers add freshness to this Crunchy Greens & Smoked Salmon Salad.
BBQ Rangers Rump with Garlic & Parsley, servied with Zucchini, Eggplant & Grilled Tomato Salad from my Taste of Australia TV series and cookbook
My honorary “daughter” Amelia I have known since she was 14 when she first met my son Blair. We have remained firm friends over the years and she now has two children of her own, including Charlie Blair, named after my son. She and her husband and children relocated to London in late June so she could take up the role as foreign correspondent for the 9 Network. I am incredibly proud of her, and her amazing husband Luke, who has supported her entirely in achieving her dream, giving up his job and relocating and taking responsibility for the children.
We have always loved Yum Cha or Dim Sum, so couldn’t wait to do it together in London. I had heard A Wong described as the best Chinese in London and we were not disappointed. It’s easier to get in for lunch too.
The space is not huge, with an open kitchen and a background hum. Staff are attentive and knowledgeable while friendly too. Clearly they are proud of what they do. The scene was set with iced water with lemon, individual pots of jasmine tea (frequently refilled) and some goji berries. All menu items are priced individually which makes so much sense as we could order two of each. Eight to ten pieces per person are recommended. When dumplings come in baskets of three or four, it limits how many different things you can try. We began with Shanghai steamed dumpling, ginger infused vinegar (£3.00). We were advised to use the Chinese spoon for these, so it could catch any of the soup inside. They held together beautifully. Chinese chive pot sticker dumpling (£2.00) looked quite unlike any pot sticker I have ever seen, but were warm, yet somehow still delicately gelatinous on top, served on a crisp lacy disc.Pork and prawn dumpling, pork crackling (£2.00) is actually a prawn dumpling, cleverly finished with pork crackling. Won ton with garlic, chilli oil and crispy bean curd (£2.00) came in a little bowl, the wonton in a textured sauce, the bean curd as a leaf on top, though softened a bit from the steam arising from the bowl.
L: Shanghai steamed dumplings. ginger infused vinegar; R: top Won ton with garlic, chilli oil and crispy bean curd; below medium and hot chilli oil; R: Pork and prawn dumplings, pork crackling
There was humour in the Wild mushroom and truffle steamed bun (£3.00), looking for all the world like two shiitake mushrooms on Astro-turf. The soft, thin dough encases a centre of umami-rich mushroom with a hint of truffle. The only pedestrian offering was Crispy won ton with sweet chilli jam (£2.00).
More ambrosial were Sichuanese chicken and peanut bonbons (£2.00), fine,crisp pastry bowls filled with brothy chicken, wearing a bonnet of foam on a bed of crisp seaweed. Sensibly we had been advised to pop these whole in our mouths. Our sensational finale was from the Snack Menu, Lemongrass and peanut lettuce wrap with baby prawn fritter (), a heart of baby cos lettuce, cut apart at the table topped with a hot and sour sauce and deep-fried baby prawns. With one glass of lovely Albarino (£10) and service the bill came to £75.90.
TOP: Lemongrass and peanut lettuce wrap with baby prawn fritter; L: Wild mushroom and truffle steamed bun and R: Sichuanese chicken and peanut bonbons
Fruit and vegetable barrow near Victoria station
fruit and vegetable barrows; invariably manned by real characters offering unbelievably good prices and good produce
buskers in the tube stations; they really do put a smile on your face
the ease of operating with out cash; there is no minimum for direct debit from your account
getting to know different newspapers especially food writers: The Observer on Sundays and The Guardian
the speed and efficiency of the tube when there are no delays
Waitrose which has changed its name to Waitrose and Partners, with every employee or partner invariably helpful and friendly. They no longer give a disposable coffee cup with their free coffee for customers who are registered but are also to remove plastic bags for loose fruit and veg next year.
a long morning walk in Regent’s Park with my sister-in-law, cool but beautiful Autumn sunshine
The way Londoners use their parks and that they are always refreshed with seasonal flowers
Not so keen on:
the difficulty in first opening a bank account, getting debit and charge cards and then operating them
bureaucracy, dealing with power providers and the like; waiting online and then having to opt for interminable online “help” chats – really?
Interminable requests for online surveys for everything you do from buying groceries to dealing with service providers
needing to be nimble and think on your feet when there are delays and crowds in the tube
Cosmopolitan magazine is set to fold in Australia in December. Photograph: Cosmopolitan Magazine / Bauer Media
It’s always sad to see magazines close and people lose their jobs and for me, especially from the new owners of what was once Australian Consolidated Press where I worked for so long on The Australian Women’s Weekly. Cosmo is the latest magazine to be closed by Bauer Media, with the last issue this coming December. I thought this piece, explaining the challenges in finding synergy between print and online in Mumbrella thoughtful: Farewell Cosmo, the missed opportunity
I always enjoy reading Fay Maschler’s restaurant reviews as I find her very balanced and authoratative. I enjoyed Medlar Restaurant some years ago and was pleased to see this more recent review. Pleased to see Australian truffles were on the menu too.
Urban Winery Sydney 2018 ‘En Primeur’ Chef X WinemakerS Lunch Borrowed from Bordeaux, the idea of En Primeur is essentially to gain a sneak peak into the vintage- a chance to taste a young wine pre-release and gain an insight into the vintage before the wine has matured and been bottled.
Urban Winery Sydney has collated some of the states most exciting winemakers, including Nick Spencer (Nick Spencer Wines), Chris Tyrrell(Tyrrell’s Wines), Paul Martung(Lowe Wines), Peter Logan(Logan Wines), Ed Swift(Printhie Wines), Mark Kirkby(Toppers Mountain)and Alex Retief (A.Retief Wines) to give a rare opportunity to taste their 2018 vintage pre-release wines and see how terroir and winemaking come together- something normally only seen working in a winery. This is a chance to chat to the winemakers face to face, gain an understanding of what they are looking for from the fruit and how they expect their wines to change over time.
Post tasting, there is a classic long lunch hosted by chef James Metcalfe (ex Becasse and now the very new Saint George). Four courses matched eight of the best NSW wines- all poured and talked through by the winemakers themselves. En Primeur tasting only– 10.30am – 12.30pm, $25pp Lunch and tasting –1pm – 4pm, $150pp, includes a ticket to the tasting to start your day!
I’m not personally a fan of Halloween. I think it is an American tradition and appropriate there, or for Americans wherever they are. I also don’t like the “trick or treat” tradition and never let my kids go door to door except once when their American neighbour had a party and the visits were pre-arranged. However, others enjoy it and there are pumpkin recipes everywhere and it certainly is an opportunity for retailers with shops filled with all manner of skeletons and the like. If you do want to indulge and you are in London: Halloween at Skylight Rooftop is holding a 2-day Halloween party during its new HarvestFest season, Skylight will be calling all ghouls and ghosts along to its 2 nights of Halloween fun, with Friday’s focus on 90s Club Classics and Saturday’s on Deep House Disco. These 2 parties will feature special guest DJs. include Halloween surprises like costume parades, prizes, tricks, treats, Halloween and seasonal cocktails. Friday 26th & Saturday 27th October Price: £15.00 – £25.00 (Early Bird tickets currently available)
Techniques and Know How
Fine Dining Lovers on The science of express risotto. Photo courtesy The Modernist Cuisine
You can make a difference to farmers and the dreadful drought in Australia and receive a fabulous cookbook
Farmer is a crowd funded, not-for-profit cookbook created by an amazing team of Australian volunteer photographers, editors, stylists, food writers and designers. They are the best in the business. It costs $40 on its own or you can pledge $60 for a book and a bale, and after printing and postage costs are recovered, every cent raised goes straight to Rural Aid. I am honored to have been asked to contribute a couple of recipes and look forward to getting my own a copy next February. They need our support now to get this thing off the ground so please, follow this link to learn more about it and how you can donate.