A fun gift including some local produce at Australia Day in Coleambally.
Lots of new subscribers this week so a big hello, and also to my lovely longterm subscribers. I hope this finds you all well and happy.
I really enjoyed going to not one but two new places this Australia Day, each with a population of only 1,000. Regionality is as much about the people who live in an area as it is about the produce or the way it is cooked and each place is intrinsically different from the next. Coleambally is the newest town in NSW, built within the Coleambally Irrigation Area established just over 50 years ago. A small but vibrant community with a great turnout for the Australia Day breakfast of locally produced bacon and organic egg rolls, thanks to the Lions Club. A bonus was that I also learned so much about modern irrigation, with this area leading the world in innovation.
Darlington Point is on the Murrumbidgee River and was established as a river-crossing town with pastoral leases. From 1850, paddle steamers transported produce, with a redgum wharf (from the longest tract of River Red Gums forest in the world) being built in 1881. Old wharf pylons can still be seen 200 metres upstream from the caravan park. Travellers once crossed the river by punt. A single bascule bridge was later built to accommodate both road and river traffic and remained in use until 1979. This magnificent old bridge was reassembled at the entrance to the Darlington Point Caravan Park by engineering students from the University of NSW and the community. A small, but no less involved and committed group at the Australia Day ceremony and BBQ lunch cooked by members of The Men’s Shed. The school captains, perfectly turned out in full school uniform raised the Australian and Aboriginal flags before a heartfelt Welcome to Country. It is always special to be asked to present the Australia Day awards to worthy recipients – often the unsung heroes of their towns.
I really value going to small communities on Australia Day. They put so much into it and it means so much to all involved. It allows me to get a real feeling for this great land of ours and its people. I come away truly an ambassador for the region, having learned more about it and tasted its produce.
Coming up on 1 February, I was interviewed for a podcast produced and hosted by Massimiliano Gugole (Max) for SBS, the second series entitled “Scarrafoni in Cucina/The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine“, a bilingual podcast on weird, off putting, “ugly” Italian dishes that are relatively unknown but cherished and full of history. I talk about them, provided some sound grabs from people on my last tour to Puglia who were eating them and also a recipe for Sea Urchin Pasta – a recipe to be shared soon.
Tomorrow I am going on a five-day cruise with some friends on the Queen Elizabeth, from Sydney to Melbourne, Burnie in Tasmania and back again. I’m looking forward to a big relax, so I’m not sure if I will write a newsletter next week. Finally, you’ll find some tips and tricks below, including some from Yotam Ottolenghi.
Happy eating and drinking – Lyndey x
L: With the school captains at Darlington Point and R: A symbolic sign in the park beside the river.
Recipes of the week
PROSCIUTTO WRAPPED FIGS WITH GOATS CHEESE Fig season is now in full swing. GET MY RECIPE HERE
Here’s another in my series, Fun with Wine. If you would like to see more of my videos, subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE or follow me on Instagram.
Tips and Tricks
Baking soda and baking powder.
Baking Soda Vs Baking Powder
A regular reader of this newsletter recently asked me about the difference between baking powder and baking soda. Though they look alike, they are not the same. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, an alkaline salt compound which creates carbon dioxide gas when combined with an acid, as well as a liquid, to help baked goods rise. Therefore, a recipe with obvious acid in it will require baking soda. Conversely, baking powder includes sodium bicarbonate, as well as an acid. It only needs liquid to become activated.
Examples of recipes showing this include Darina Allen’s Spotted Dogand mySoda Bread(pictured below), which both contain buttermilk, which is both acidic and a liquid so uses baking soda, while Drop Scones with Blackberry Compote, not having any acidic component uses baking powder. Bicarb soda also helps things brown.
Interestingly, Chinese cooks and chefs use baking soda to velvet (or tenderise) lean proteins like chicken breast and beef fillet. For every 250g of strips or pieces, toss with 3/4 teaspoons baking soda and marinate for 20 minutes. Rinse well under running water, pat dry with paper towel and cook with whatever recipe you like.
Titbits from Ottolenghi
How refreshing it was to sit and listen to Yotam Ottolenghi at the ICC last Sunday. He is the most gentle, calm and engaging personality who obviously loves what he does. He is articulate, clearly highly intelligent and gifted but also, no show pony. Alice Zaslavsky did a wonderful job of interviewing him and there was some cool use of modern technology as we answered quiz questions, voted for ingredients to be layered on butter beans and then asked questions later. Fun.
Here are a few titbits: Try a drizzle of tahini on your vegemite toast. Make green tahini by adding parsley before adding the cold water. Fresh coriander is his favourite herb so try putting it in your mayo and serve with his Mum’s cauliflower fritters – simply cooked, mashed, with the addition of eggs, garlic, cumin, cinnamon and turmeric and then fried. Eat them hot, at room temperature or put them in your lunch box. Finally for your toast soldiers to go with a boiled egg, sprinkle the toast with za’atar and salt. Yum!
Do you have any questions for me?
Please feel free to email me with any questions, suggestions or comments.
Irish Soda Bread.
Grape stomping at Urban Winery Sydney.
Grape stomping at Urban Winery, Moore Park, Sydney – March
Mother Nature dictates when grapes can be picked at their optimum. Whenever that is, winemaker Alex Retief at Urban Winery Sydney offers you the chance to come and stomp the grapes, for fun participation in this crucial and fascinating stage of winemaking. You can also taste grape juice through its different stages of fermentation, share a cheese and charcuterie board and some of the A.Retief wine on offer. Alex Retief will be on hand to answer all your questions and provide a friendly helping hand. Even though they can’t yet give a specific date for when it all begins, it is almost guaranteed that there will be grapes in the winery for the last three weeks of March.Information and booking here.
Scenic Rim Eat Local Month 1 June – 1 July 2023 What was once a week, has now expanded to a month. In its 12th year, this authentic paddock-to-plate, food and farming experience offers more time to shine the light on the farmers, growers, producers, artisans, chefs and creators in the region. The website eatlocalmonth.com.au has been launched, so you can sign up to receive the digital programme when it’s released in late April HERE. The region won the MostOutstanding Region in the delicious. 2019 Produce Awards, the delicious top 5 ranking for 2023 and was included as one of the top 10 regions in the world for 2022 by Lonely Planet.
Things to share
G?i Cu?n is a popular street food in Vietnam. Photo Food & Drink Destinations.
Listen to ‘Australian Farmers: Telling Our Story’ podcast.Angie Asimus hosts it for the National Farmers Federation. It’s dedicated to connecting our wonderful farmers with health-conscious consumers and ethically-minded shoppers. Learn more about the food we eat and the fibre we wear via an exclusive look behind the farm gate.