Looking out the window today, who would have thought its only 43 days until Christmas? Melbourne feels like Winter again and our thoughts have turned to a nice braise and a glass of red!
We know Christmas is coming for several reasons. Principally because our daughters are already counting the days.. but also because we've started our preparations: we've booked the ham; there's regular debate about who is baking which Christmas biscuits and the spiced oranges are being made next week. A pile of books are out on the bench for ideas for seafood entrees and we have our annual flirt with the idea of something smoked/BBQ with the Christmas roast pork.
In store we know Christmas is coming too; if only because of the sheer weight of new releases. Publishers always save their best and brightest for the pending holiday season and this year is no exception.
A few books have caught our eye. Rather than compile the usual list: who's naughty; who's nice we thought we'd point out a few more unusual titles
After the sold out success of Rick Stein at Pope Joan, we also have a fabulous dinner coming up with Rodney Dunn from The Agrian Kitchen
in Tasmania to celebrate the launch of his new book with our dear friends Nicky Riemer & Adam Cash at Union Dining
. You'll want to book fast as the last dinner sold out in under an hour.
|Book Launch - Rodney Dunn's The Agrarian Kitchen @ Union Dining|
|The Agrarian Kitchen by Rodney Dunn $59.95|
A few years ago, when former Australian Gourmet Traveller food editor Rodney Dunn moved from Sydney to Tasmania, he and his wife Severine set about transforming a c19th schoolhouse into a sustainable farm-based cooking school.
Nestled in a misty valley not far outside Hobart, The Agrarian Kitchen struck an instant chord with people seeking respite from fast-paced lives and a meaningful connection with the food we eat and the land that produces it.
Rodney and Severine's acclaimed classes are about traditional techniques, hand made products and paddock to plate ingredients. Set on five acres, The Agrarian Kitchen is a working farm and incorporates an extensive vegetable garden, orchard, berry patch and herb garden, all grown using organic principles. Also in residence are rare-breed Wessex saddleback and Berkshire pigs, Barnevelder chickens, British Alpine and Toggenburg goats, a flock of geese and honeybees.
The Agrarian Kitchen grows and uses heirloom varieties of fruit, vegetables and rare breed animals in its cooking classes and also sources ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, gardeners and artisanal producers.
This collection of recipes from the phenomenally popular cooking school celebrates the simple pleasures of cooking and eating in tune with the seasons, and the rhythm of a life lived close to the earth.
Strong stunning photography; a blessedly simple real message about food to cook and a 'lifestyle' to die for are just a few of the treats in this book.
We love this book, but just don't take our word for it: Kinokunyia has described it as 'Cookbook of the Year' and reviewers around Australia are in love with it, including Melbourne's own Broadsheet.
To celebrate the launch of The Agrian Kitchen cookbook we've asked our dear friends Nicky Reimer and Adam Cash of Union Dining to put together a dinner drawn from the book with matched wines.
Please join us with Rodney & Severine to launch of book, explore the story of The Agrarian Kitchen and celebrate the bounty of paddock-to-plate cooking
Menu: 4 courses, drinks included
Price: $95 per person
When: 7.00pm Monday 25 November
Where: Union Dining 270-272 Swan St Richmond
To book: call Union Dining on (03) 9428 2988
If you are interested in coming, we suggest you book quickly as places are limited and we expect they will sell out fast.
|Chin Chin: the book|
|Chin Chin: the book $49.95|
Our bestseller for November (move over Yotam Ottolenghi!) is this striking self-published extrovert of a book from Melbourne's signature restaurant Chin Chin
Funky, earthy and full of fun, this is a great insight into the food of Benjamin Cooker; Thai inspired, modern Sth East Asian cuisine. We've reviewed the book on the front of our website and having fun cooking our way through it.
Chin Chin the book is currently only available either at the restaurant or from us.
Putting aside the chilli, this is one hot book worth having
|Gelato Messina: the recipes|We blow hot and cold here in Melbourne...so of course one of our other favourite books for the month should be an ice-cream book....but not just any ice-cream!
|Gelato Messina: the recipes $39.95|
Fitzroy has been abuzz ever since the rumour was confirmed that Sydney based Gelato maestros Gelato Messina were opening in Smith St - in fact tomorrow!
This is serious gelato - so serious that its been described as 'cultish' in Sydney.
This is one of the best accesible books we've ever seen on the subject and the flavours are wonderful. We have our eyes on the Rosso Antico & Marmalade Gelato; but the Tiramisu and Rum Baba combinations are very tempting. We're also fascinated to taste the 'Fat Elvis' (a peanut butter & jelly combo) and the Satay Gelato with Crispy Chicken Skin and the Coffee and Salted Caramel Gelato is probably addictive.
Don't be put off by the more unusual flavours - this is critically acclaimed gelato; world class and finally in Melbourne (and your own home). Detailed recipes with a clear explanation of the relationships between fat, milk solids, sugar and freezing will give you gelato with a sublime texture and amazing flavours.
|Special: A Great American Cook by Jonathan Waxman|
|A Great American Cook was $65 now $20|
Jonathan Waxman was a guest of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in 2009 and we enthusiatically stocked up - given his background and pedigree
Its true however - covers make or break good books; and culturally, the USA prefer author photographs on the cover whereas in Australia readers don't.
Which is why we have a small overstock of this book from one of California's great chefs. Jonathan Waxman was chef at Chez Panisse in the 70s and 80s between Jeremiah Towers & Paul Bertolli. He was one of the first to take the new Californian cuisine - fusing french technique and traditions with local seasonal ingredients - to New York and has been rated by many as one of America's greatest chefs.
The food is broadly European in style with seasonal local produce to the forefront. There's a lot to like about this! Here's what the publisher originally had so say...
"Widely recognized as one of the fathers of New American cuisine, Jonathan Waxman became a mentor to hundreds of chefs on both coasts. Here he shows you how to flex your culinary muscles while having fun in the kitchen. A Great American Cook presents Waxman's finest dishes the way he makes them at home. They include the Red Pepper Pancakes with Corn and Caviar that he created when he ran the kitchen of Alice Waters's Chez Panisse, his famous Grilled Chicken with JW Fries, and a homey Pizza with Bacon, Scallions, Parmesan, and Tomato that's a family weeknight favorite. His combinations are simple but unexpected, exuberant but down to earth. Many of the dishes juxtapose contrasting flavors and textures, pairing cool beef carpaccio with warm potato salad, soft crab cakes with crunchy slaw, or whole wheat pasta with spicy clams. Other recipes, such as Shrimp BLT, Crispy Chicken and Goat Cheese Burritos, and Gingerbread with Brandied Plums, are free-spirited plays on classics. Waxman shows how to produce magnificent food from just a few ingredients, roasting eggplants and red peppers for a forcefully flavored soup or tossing asparagus with oranges and hazelnuts for a refreshing first course. He repeatedly demonstrates his philosophy of "less is more" with suppers like flash-seared scallops on caramelized onions and chicken cooked under a brick with a sauce of rose wine, bacon, and peas. In the best American tradition, his vision is bold but strikingly unpretentious."
Normally $65 - online it has been
reduced to $19.95 (whilst stocks last)
|The Art of Fermentation|If you've dined out lately you've probably noticed a trend of in-house pickles, fermented products and hand cured meats creeping into menus. Whether Korean, Japanese, English, European or Indian, fermented condiments and components are wonderful providers of contrast and texture as well as balance and acidity.
|The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz $51.95|
We love this trend; chefs making products from scratch by hand and often from their own gardens. Ingredients being transformed and preserved; along with culinary and cultural traditions. Over the past 10 years or so we've seen an explosion in books on Charcuterie and preserving meat and finally we have a book that provides structure and understanding to these passions as well as providing rich detail about so many other aspects of fermentation.
Sandor Katz is the expert in this area, having written several times on the subject but this is his finest work.
From the Michael Pollan foreword:
""The Art of Fermentation" is much more than a cookbook...Sure, it tells you how to do it, but much more important, it tells you what it means, and why an act as quotidian and practical as making your own sauerkraut represents nothing less than a way of engaging with the world. Or rather, with several different worlds, each nested inside the other: the invisible world of fungi and bacteria; the community in which you live; and the industrial food system that is undermining the health of our bodies and the land. This might seem like a large claim for a crock of sauerkraut, but Sandor Katz's signal achievement in this book is to convince you of its truth. To ferment your own food is to lodge an eloquent protest-of the senses-against the homogenization of flavors and food experiences now rolling like a great, undifferentiated lawn across the globe. It is also a declaration of independence from an economy that would much prefer we were all passive consumers of its commodities, rather than creators of unique products expressive of ourselves and the places where we live."
If you have any interest in preserving your own food or understanding traditional preserving techniques from around the world - this is a must have book.
|Molecular Cooking at Home by Jozef Youssef|As fine dining continues to develop and evolve, the shock & awe techniques of Molecular cuisine are beginning to find their rightful place as elements of presentation, garnish and theatre around dishes. Once the sole province of high end professional kitchens and experimental chefs, it is now relatively easy to use elements of molecular cuisine at home.
|Molecular Cooking at Home by Jozef Youssef $29.95|
This incredibly well-priced book is a good primer/introduction and basic reference to all of the c21st techniques and tricks - reproducable at home.
From Good Reads:
"This book teaches the experienced home cook how to practice dozens of the most common methods used in molecular gastronomy. Clear and easy-to-follow step-by-step photographs demonstrate each technique so cooks can practice the unique skills and presentation concepts. Techniques that require special equipment are shown with their closest domestic equivalents.
In addition to a brief history of molecular gastronomy, how it works, ingredients used and important safety rules, the book includes techniques and recipes as follow:
Sous-Vide -- "Under vacuum" cooking, e.g., Confit salmon with pomme puree and squid ink Transglutaminase -- "meat glue" e.g., Salmon and lemon sole terrine Dehydration -- e.g., Beet powder and black olive "soil" Centrifugal Cooking -- e.g., Clarified watermelon cocktail Evaporation -- How to make mouth-watering syrups and beverages without artificial flavorings Rapid Infusion -- How to infuse flavors into liquids, e.g., Celery ice cream Adding Smoke -- e.g., Smoked chocolate mousse Spherification -- e.g., Sweet chili bubbles with roast duck Carbonation -- How to intensify the flavors and aromas of foods Foams and Airs -- e.g., Shellfish bisque with a lemongrass foam Hydrocolloids (gels, gums) -- Cured salmon with cucumber jelly Liquid Nitrogen -- For super-smooth sweet and savory ice creams Food Pairing -- An essential skill in molecular gastronomy Avant-Garde Presentation -- Inspiration and tips Multi-sensory Taste Perception - The five senses in molecular gastronomy."
A great way to learn more about the trompe l'oieul you'll find on your plate when out to dinner or a how to book for doing it yourself at home!
|Eat Your Books|
One of the frustrations of having a large cookbook collection is remembering where you saw a recipe.... We are forever leafing through indexes trying to find recipes for customers (and ourselves)
|Eat Your Books|
For years we've kept an old index book just for keeping track of the recipes we're keen on but we are never up to date. Admittedly we sometimes find some gems because we're browsing but almost as often we give up in defeat.
At our last cookbook conference we met the founders of Eat Your Books which, at its simplest, is a search engine for the indexes of cookbooks, recipe magazines etc. It is not a cookbook store, nor is it an online recipe collection. The founders love cookbooks and the idea that you can create your own library of cookbook indexes was, we thought, genius.
After talking to Jane at EYB, we're keen to pass on an offer of a trial 3 month membership. Create an account at www.eatyourbooks.com then enter the code BFCAU13 to receive your free membership
|Shophouse Ramen 229 Smith St|
As Smith Street's food scene continues to evolve, at almost breakneck speed, we are constantly surprised by the things that pop up!
Borne of a pop up in our neighbour 'Storm in a Teacup' Shophouse Ramen is a great addition to our lunch time obsessions
We mentioned Shophouse Ramen to Sarah, who works on Wednesday and Friday for us and she simply said "Yum! Really Yum!!!" and then she swooned mumbling "Melting Pork Belly"
For a more considered review - check out Broadsheet
Open: Wed-Sunday 10-late
Which brings us to a close for this Newsletter.
Tim & Amanda
Books for Cooks