Sunday, March 14, 2010

Scoop Magazine, Summer 2010

image: Jenny Susanto-Lee

Farmer's Markets

While visiting a local farmers’ market for the first time recently, it occurred to me that I might have slipped into another dimension by accident. Stallholders and customers were deep in conversation. People were stopping for a chat and a laugh with one another. Supermarket trolleys had made way for recycling bags. Welcome to the wonderful world of the farmers’ market.

Farmers’ markets are, quite literally, just that. They sell market produce that is often hours - not weeks – old, delivered fresh from the farm. In order to run a stall, vendors generally must grow, catch, bake or preserve all their own wares. Prices are normally cheaper, as the middle-man is cut out and the customer is essentially buying wholesale. Much of the produce is organic, seasonal, local and in as natural a state as possible. In other words, the way it used to be.

If ever there was a sign that we want to slow down and eat better, then surely the surge in popularity of farmers’ markets is it. In the US, the number of farmers’ markets grew exponentially from 1,755 in 1994 to 5,274 in 2009 as the country grappled with its need to reduce its junk food intake. In the UK, their popularity has never really waned thanks to a strong village culture. The benefits of buying fresh, local produce are nothing new to developing countries however, who have been doing it for eons. Happily, it’s our turn and, thanks to the trend of embracing all things community, we’ve jumped on the hay wagon with gusto.

Here is a round-up of local markets with the freshest food around.

Fremantle Markets

The Fremantle Markets have been around for over one hundred years and draw an eclectic crowd, from tourists to tie-dye devotees. Already attracting 40,000 visitors per week to its 150 stalls, the markets are in the middle of an overhaul.

“Over the past year, our markets have been on a push to alter everything,” says its business development manager and ‘Food Hour’ radio presenter Ann Meyer.

“Our main emphasis is to get rid of the middle-man, concentrate on the local producer and make sure everything’s grown direct.

“We’ve got Abhis Bakery making fresh bread on the premises with local organic flours to make the Yard as organic bio-dynamic as possible. We’ve also just secured one of WA’s best organic farmers, Shuan Lamb. You can’t get his produce anywhere else, it will just be at the Fremantle Markets.”

Open all day Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Cnr Henderson St & South Terrace, Fremantle.

Mt Claremont Farmers Market

After their humble beginnings in 2007 with eight stalls, this market now boasts over 50 stall holders and attracts nearly 3,000 customers a week. It is a community-based project that sells all manner of things, from organic cheeses, yoghurts and produce to gourmet chorizo sausages, hand-made chocolate, fresh coffee and French pastries. Just make sure you get there early.

“Our lettuce truck is what really sets us apart,” laughs Natasha Atkinson, the market’s manager.

“It pulls in, the side opens and there are crates of lettuce that people queue for. And I’m talking 30 to 40 people in a queue. At our recent night market, we had a queue from one end of the basketball court to the other. It’s super fresh - they pick the lettuce that morning. I did the ten day fresh test, and it lasted the full ten days in the fridge.”

Bring your dog, grab a coffee and buy the paper while you’re there.

Saturdays, 7:30am-11:30am.
Mt Claremont Primary School, 103 Alfred Road, Mt Claremont.

Perth City Farm Organic Growers’ Market

For the past six years, a small green sanctuary has been blooming in the heart of Perth’s concrete jungle. These markets are a little different to the others around town in that every vendor is a bona-fide certified organic grower.

“What we wanted to do was to educate the public on how necessary it is to support organic and bio-dynamic farmers,” explains director Rosanne Scott.

“All the products that people trade in our market building have to be certified organic bio-dynamic. People can’t just go and buy from someone else and sell here. The only retailer at our market is ourselves, City Farm, and everything we use is certified organic.”

As would be expected, the stallholders also represent the environment.

“We have Environment House who sell environmentally-friendly products, books and worm farms,” says Rosanne.

“And there’s chooks, ducks, geese, guinea pigs and rabbits for the kids to enjoy. People can get an organic coffee, where not only the coffee is certified organic but the milk and sugar as well. We try really hard to keep that ethical line and be vigilant.”

Saturdays, 8am-12pm.
1 City Place, East Perth.

Subiaco Farmers Market

Having just unfurled their banner recently, new-kid-on-the block Subiaco Market has already attracted a strong following, despite the heat.

“We started with 37 stalls, and we opened when it was 37 degrees,” recalls founder Sally Lewis.

“We’ve had great support from the community since then. There’s a really nice village atmosphere going on, where friends can gather and have a coffee while the kids have a play.

As a trained nutritionist, it was only natural that quality would be a priority.

“My focus is on getting top quality produce, with minimal spray, that is picked as close to market day as possible”, says Sally

“For example, our flowers are picked at 5am that morning. Our lettuce, spinach and greens are all picked on the Friday. Same with our fruit, such raspberries, cherries and apples. It was really important to me to sell produce that actually lasts.”

Autumn is also set to be a bumper crop, with home-made stock on the menu and a new stall that makes its own pasta.

“A lady from Vergones’ Fresh Produce has ordered a 200kg pasta machine from Italy and will be making gorgeous home-made pasta,” says Sally.

Open Sat 8am-12pm.
Subiaco Primary School, 271 Bagot Road, Subiaco

Other farmers markets to check out:

· Albany – Collie Street
· Gascoyne – Carnarvon Civic Centre
· Geraldton – cnr Maitland Street and Cathedral Avenue
· Manjimup – The Shed, Rose Street (every 3rd Sat)
· Manning – Clontarf Aboriginal College, Manning Road
· Margaret River – Community Centre, Tunbridge Street (every 4th Sat)
· Mondo’s - 824 Beaufort Street, Inglewood
· Peel – Pinjarra Civic Centre, Pinjarra
· York – 83 Avon Terrace

· Armadale – Council carpark, Jull Street
· Boyanup Memorial Park, South-Western Hwy (every 4th Sun)
· Eaton (near Bunbury) – Recreation Drive
· Kalamunda – Central Mall
· Mandurah Peel – Western Foreshore
· Midland – the Crescent
· Western – cnr High & Montreal Streets, Fremantle

The Westn Australian, March 2010

image: Jenny Susanto-Lee

Say Cheese

Ah, cheese. It can be the ultimate savoury dessert or, as in some parts of Europe, a course unto itself. Cheese can be light, bitey, runny and, in some cases, just plain smelly. Maître fromagers pay top dollar for a good wedge and debate which cheese variety will be the Next Big Thing. And, of course, what food should accompany it.
“Fresh fruit, especially figs, grapes, pears and muscatels, are really popular with cheese at the moment,” suggests Rosemary Atwell, owner of The Mousetrap Gourmet Cheese Shop at the Fremantle Markets.
“The fruit pastes, such as the Maggie Beer range that come in flavours of quince, fig and cabernet, are also very good.”
As with accompaniments, cheese favourites come and go and, at the moment, it seems goat’s cheese is galloping ahead of the pack.

“Goat’s cheese is very much in fashion right now, especially the local Western Australian varieties,” says Yvette Donald, owner of Deli Divine.
Rosemary agrees.

“These days, a lot of people have an intolerance to cow’s milk, so they have turned to sheep or goat’s milk as an alternative”, she says.

“The goat’s milk also tends to be lower in fat, so I think that those people who are more health-conscious feel happier eating goat’s cheese.”

“We are also finding that many people, particularly our French customers, are requesting unpasteurised cheese such as Roquefort because they feel unpasteurisisation gives the cheese a completely different flavour.”

Meanwhile Bree Colussi, from Margaret River Cheese, believes club cheddars will be the stand-out during 2010.

“Club cheddars typify the way cooking and entertaining at home has evolved and the more adventurous palate of today,” she says.
“It’s a wonderful cheese. The waxed coating prevents the cheddar from drying out and enhances the flavour. Club cheddars are often softer and more crumbly in texture and can be enhanced with added flavours, such as smoked, port and sweet chilli.”
And it seems that with the current penchant for local fare, Western Australian cheeses are enjoying a surge in popularity.

“We’re finding that the local cheese industry is much, much stronger than it used to be,” says Rosemary.
“People are really interested in sampling local cheese. The main ones seem to be made around Margaret River or Denmark, Albany and in the Perth Hills.”
And thanks to the explosion in cooking shows, cheese is being enjoyed at home more as well.

“Because of the recent economic climate, people are entertaining more at home and choosing more specialty cheeses, particularly camembert, brie and flavoured cheddars,” says Bree.

"They are allowing themselves little indulgences by purchasing the higher quality, premium products.

“We’re finding that as a result of the huge success of cooking shows such as MasterChef, people are experimenting a lot more with different cheeses within cooking. For instance, they might bake a brie or camembert in the oven and serve it hot with a range of accompaniments such as honey, cranberry, pears, figs, hazelnuts and walnuts.”
Rosemary agrees.
“People see television cooks and chefs cooking with cheeses they would never have thought of, or even heard of, before. Then they visit a cheese shop to try them out and decide which ones they like.”
So, at the end of a slap-up dinner, what makes for the perfect cheese platter to round off the meal?

“Perhaps a gorgonzola for your nice creamy blue”, suggests Pierre Ichallalene, owner of French restaurant, Chez Pierre.

“And a Roquefort too. A goat cheese, a creamy brie-style cheese such as La Buche d’Affinois is nice and a cheddar style such as Le Caviste de Scey. They would be my picks”.
Top Ten Cheeses:
Manchego d.o – Spanish hard ewe’s milk cheese
Bresse Blue – French blue mould cow’s milk cheese
Tarago River Shadow of Blue – blue mould cow’s milk cheese from Gippsland, Victoria
Roquefort – Roquefort- sur-soulzon, France. Raw ewe’s milk cheese
Shaw River Buffalo mozzarella from – SW Victoria – buffalo milk cheese
Healy’s pyengana cheddar – from NE Tasmania – cow’s milk – 4th generation cheesemakers
Quickes farmhouse cheddar from Devon, England – cow’s milk
Pont L’Eveque AOC, Normandy, France – cow’s milk, washed rind
Lincet Brillat Savarin – Il de France – cow’s milk, triple cream
Ringwould goat’s cheeses, Albany

Link to Fresh article, The West Australian, March 2010

SPICE magazine: Autumn 2010. One for the Kids

John Martin and his wife Miriam are on a personal mission that spans more than twenty years. The couple are passionate about self-sustainability and have applied the principles of permaculture to nurture and build their Swan Valley property, Caprino Goat Farm, literally from the ground up.

"We moved to the farm in 1986 and back then it was pretty much a bare, useless piece of ground,” recalls John.

"The neighbours all laughed at us when we said we were going to run a goat dairy here. They didn’t know how we were going to survive on this particular block as it wouldn’t grow anything. The land was basically wasteland when we bought it. It was desolate, a desert. We brought three cows, twelve goats and some chickens with us when we moved in. A week after we arrived we were down to two goats, no cows and no chickens. We brought in loads of organic matter and introduced it to the soil. It was a lot of hard work. It has now reached a point where it’s absolutely self-sustaining. It just seemed like the right way, to feed the soil rather than to fight against it.”

But for the couple, the farm wasn’t just about going green. It was also borne out of love for their children who, at a young age, were afflicted with asthma and terrible allergies due to their intolerance to cow’s milk.

“The farm all started from our personal experience,” says John.

“I’m lactose intolerant, and so are our two children. They would have an asthma attack if they had any cow’s milk products. That’s how we started it”.

It wasn’t too long before the word had spread about the healing benefits of their goat’s milk.

"Parents started to knock on our doors asking for the goat’s products because they had children who suffered from asthma, eczema and other allergy problems because they couldn’t tolerate cow’s milk products. But we simply couldn’t sell it to them. We had to say no as it was illegal for us to sell back in those days. But then they’d come back with their children, who were covered in red, itchy sores. It was heartbreaking because I knew I could make it go away. So it was pretty much impossible to say no.

“Then the health department showed up to test our products, which tested safe. So now we stick to their testing regime and we can sell legally.”

Nowadays, the farm is home to around forty beautiful white Saanen milking goats, as well as an Anglo Nubian and a British Alpine. John is hoping to introduce a Toggenburg into the fold this year to make up his dairy goat quadrella. There are also six bucks and twenty cute kids. But having 60-plus goats roaming his property hasn’t stopped John from naming them all. Where to start?

“There is an Australian branding code that is released each year, and each year there’s a different code,” explains John.

”So we use that code to name all our goats. For instance, last year the code for 2009 started with ‘E’, so all the goats’ names started with ‘E’. That lets us know the year the goat was born.”

Goat milk is arguably one of the most consumed milks in the world. An estimated 4.8 million tonne of goat milk is produced worldwide.

“Goats are probably the oldest domesticated animal in the world,” says John.

“If you go back in the Bible, it makes mention of them back in Genesis. The ancient Egyptians used them for milk as well. It just shows you how long they’ve been around with man.”

As well as being widely consumed, goat’s milk is also known as being the closest to breast milk than any other food. Recent studies have suggested it can help prevent anaemia and bone demineralisation. It’s also easier to digest than cow’s milk, making it suitable for some lactose-intolerant groups.

“There’s zero cholesterol in goat’s milk and it doesn’t need to be homogenised because there are no fat globules, they don’t need to be broken down. It’s already digestible.

The farm sell their goat’s milk and natural yoghurt direct from the farm to the public, as well as to small suppliers, such as The Greenhouse restaurant in Perth.

Matt Stone, head chef at The Greenhouse, makes curd out of the milk he buys from Caprino’s, and he’s soon to enlist John to teach his kitchen how to make cheese.

“We use John’s milk to make yoghurt, and once we eventually get a Pacojet we’ll be making goat’s milk ice-cream and sorbets,” says Matt.

“After we’ve done the cheese-making course we’ll use the goat’s cheese on pizzas and in salads.”

For John and Miriam however, it’s all about the kids.

“Because we are a very small operator, we try to keep our prices low so that the people who need them can afford to buy them. Our focus has always been on young children who need it as opposed to people who buy it as a lifestyle choice. It’s not about the money. It’s not about making a million dollars. It’s about supplying a product that children out there need and their parents can afford. That’s what it’s always been for us.”

SPICE magazine: Autumn 2010. Kid-friendly eateries

In these halcyon days of fine dining, sometimes us parents get a little lost in all the swank. But having kids doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat at home for the next twenty years. Fast-food outlets aside, there are a number of family-friendly restaurants around town that make eating out with the kids less of a hassle. Heck, you might even start to enjoy yourself.

Walter’s River Café

This is such a beautiful spot. Nab yourself a table next to the playground, which includes a separate kids’ access ramp, and sit back to enjoy the view. No, not of the kids, of the river. The children’s lunch menu is excellent, with nary a frozen chicken nugget in sight. There’s mini bacon and egg pies, roast tomato noodle soup with toast stars, chicken salad and kids’ bagels (all $12). Coloured pencils and paper add to the fun. There’s even homemade lemonade.

Typically however, our young brood went with what they knew. The kids’ fish and chips were excellent, with a ‘proper’ fish fillet that had been fried in clean oil and a terrific tartare sauce made in-house. The burger was good, although more suited to a teenager than a pre-schooler in its enormity.

Grown-up food included a rather bland special of prosciutto-wrapped salmon on a bed of chickpeas ($30), a ripper tagliatelle with scallops, chorizo, tomato and spinach ($26) and a generous club sandwich with chips ($24).

A special mention goes to the young waiters who responded to our chaos with smiles and patience.

Point Walter Reserve (off Honor Avenue or Burke Drive), Bicton. Tel: 9330 9330

Ninniku Jip

Ninniku Jip is one of those little suburban joints that has collected a whole lot of different ideas, thrown them into the pot and served them up without tasting the results first. The adult menu included such combinations as mussels Kilpatrick ($12.30), kimchi spaghetti bolognese ($21.50) and Japanese rice with fried egg and Napoletana sauce ($16.60). So we played it safe and opted for a very fresh seafood kway teow ($15.80) and generous beef fried rice ($13.60).

The kids’ menu had the obligatory chicken nuggets, which were served with either rice or chips. There was also fried rice and stir-fried egg noodles with chicken. Our little one opted for the excellent honey soy chicken with rice, which was scoffed down in a few minutes flat, although the veggies were shunted disapprovingly aside. All of the kids’ dishes are $7.50, or $10 with ice-cream, and child-sized crockery and cutlery are provided.

The best bit about this place is that it has a sizeable indoor playground. There’s a playgym, a big plasma telly screening children’s popular movies and an X-box and PlayStation for the older kids. They can run and scream their little hearts out, then settle down for a nice meal with the family. Well, I’m sure that’s the idea anyway.

Ninniku Jip, 867 Albany Highway, East Victoria Park. Tel 9355 1988

Cater 4 Kids - The Como

Cater 4 Kids is a free children’s entertainment service that calls on various restaurants around town every day of the week, giving Mum and Dad a chance to actually enjoy their meal. It was The Como’s turn on Tuesday, so we gave it a burl.

While we marveled at our ability to finish a conversation, two friendly young girls supervised our little one in a corner of the room while he painted, glued and drew his way into craft heaven. Also on offer was face and hand painting, jigsaw puzzles, books and computer games for the older kids. And all for free.

The Como kids’ menu is fairly run-of-the-mill, although the kids’ nuggets were shaped as little Aussie icons and there was a good-looking steak with whipped potatoes and jus. Meals are all $9.50, including a (gasp) soft drink. The little man opted for the macaroni cheese, which he nibbled at before bolting back to the art table. Hmm. No matter, he returned after we’d finished our meals and inhaled the rest of it.

The adult menu has a definite bush theme. Although greatly tempted by the Yakkajirri lamb salad ($25.90), in the end I couldn’t say no to the wattleseed kangaroo served with crème fraiche and parsnip whipped potatoes, enoki mushrooms and bush tomato chutney ($26.50). The menu is much improved from the last time we visited.

At the end of the night, our little one was happy to leave with his swag of artwork and two painted hands. Good times all round.

The Como, 241 Canning Highway, Canning. Tel 9367 6666

Also worth a stop..

The Boatshed, South Perth

Zephyr Café, East Fremantle

More family frolics..

Coffee + kids + playground:

Dinner + kids + activities:

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The West Austn: Slow Food for Children

We live in a fast-paced world, where everyone seems to be chronically time-poor and our food travels as fast as we do, served up in all its processed glory. So it’s refreshing to happen upon a book that advises us to slow down and take the time to buy, prepare and cook our food thoughtfully.

Having been around for over two decades, the slow food movement is nothing new. But Jude Blereau’s latest book offering, ‘Wholefood for Children’, hits us where it hurts: our kids.

“The book came about because I was seeing not only a large number of adults who didn’t understand how to nourish themselves, but a large proportion of unnourished and unhappy children as well,” says Jude.

“It was really brought home to me by my doctor, who said ‘I see so many kids in my surgery, and I just look at them and think ‘No nutrients’’. And this is in a wealthy Western suburb.”

As a mother herself, Jude knows what she’s talking about. She is a natural foods expert who has worked in the organic and wholefoods industry for nearly twenty years. She is also a cooking teacher and a self-styled food warrior. It is that passion and dedication for ‘real’ food that has brought her to this juncture, and has her wanting to share her expertise with other parents.

“My basic training was as a kindergarten teacher. So I’ve always been interested in young children – it’s an area that’s close to my heart. Nowadays, we’ve almost got a lost generation of malnourished children who are hungry in their soul and bodies. They might be eating lots of food, but they’re not getting any nutrients.

“I think children nowadays are mainly missing out on fats. Saturated fat is a critical, critical thing for growing children, and I talk about this in the book. If you look at traditional cultures, foods for children always included egg yolks, offal and fish eggs, which have a very high fat content. Vegetables came a bit later, and even then they were cooked. It was all about easily digestible fat and broken-down protein.

“These days, we have conventional wisdoms that tell us what foods are good for us. And that’s fine for adults. But that’s been taken down to our children as well. Children have very specific limitations that need to be taken into account, such as their digestive and immune systems are not fully developed. They are also building a body, which includes their organs, bones, nerves, skin and muscles. I think people just forget that children need more help than to just run and play.”

The book itself is a 336 page tome, divided into two parts: information and recipes. The first section provides answers to practically every question a parent might have about good, nourishing food for their children and a run-down of required items for the wholefood kitchen. The second section gets stuck into recipes, which range from baby food to older children.

“These days, the question is ‘What is good food for my growing child?.’ And that is seen to be rice crackers, hommus, low-fat commercial sugar-laden yoghurts, and lots of raw vegetables and raw fruit. But every time you refine, process or manipulate food, you make it less compatible with the human body. Children’s immature digestive systems will have no chance, and I think it causes a lot of our children’s problems today, such as allergies and intolerances.

“I’m hoping that in my very small and humble way, my book can help with this.”

Wholefood for Children by Jude Blereau ($45, paperback) is published by Murdoch Books.

Link to article in Fresh, The West Australian, March 2010

The West Austn: Chef's recipe for success

Chef virtuoso Luke Mangan is a busy man. Looking spry despite having just flown into Perth from Tokyo, he counts off the next round of engagements on his fingers.

“Tonight I’ve got a dinner to cook at (Fraser’s executive chef) Chris Taylor’s other restaurant, Indiana Teahouse, for a corporate group. Then I fly to Adelaide tomorrow, where I’ve got another corporate dinner. Then it’s on to Melbourne for another corporate dinner. Then I fly to Brisbane for the same thing. Then I fly to Sydney, where I do a corporate lunch. So there’s a bit on this week,” he says with a wry smile.

And it’s this sort of globe-trotting lifestyle that Luke is keen to share with Australia’s up-and-coming chefs in this year’s Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Awards, a national competition that promotes and rewards emerging hospitality professionals. Along with last year’s Young Chef winner Matt Dempsey and Young Waiter runner-up Fleur Savage, Luke is currently in town to deliver an industry talk to Perth’s young hospitality hopefuls. And, as co-founder of the awards that he helped establish in 2005, it’s a subject close to his heart.

“I want to show these kids that there is a big future out there in cooking, and that you can travel the world. You can meet amazing people and eat different things. It’s about encouraging them in that and getting awareness from this award. We’re getting lots of kids out of Sydney and Melbourne entering the awards. But there are great young chefs here in WA as well, so we need to get that awareness out here too.”

But Luke is quick to point out it’s not all foie gras and frequent flyer miles.

“I didn’t enjoy my apprenticeship. It was all peeling potatoes and washing dishes. But the message is, is that although I have been lucky and reasonably successful, you have to stick at it. I came back from London and three restaurants in a row that I worked in all closed down. They all went broke. So you’ve got to be persistent. And that’s what we’re trying to tell the kids, that it’s not just an overnight thing. You’ve got to work hard to get that luck and be good at what you do.”

Luke practices what he preaches. At fifteen years old he was kicked out of school and went on to chase, and secure, an apprenticeship at the legendary Two Faces in Melbourne. After completing his training, he looked to England and began to enquire after employment at three-Michelin starred restaurant The Waterside Inn.

“I was told there was a two year waiting list,” he laughs. “I thought ‘stuff that’ and went over to London anyway. When I fronted up, I was told the same thing. So I offered to work for free for a month, on the proviso that if they liked me, they’d give me a job. And they said ‘can you start in two weeks?’”

It is this sort of dogged determination that has paid off. Luke is now an international culinary force, with restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo and San Francisco, and on P&O. He has written four cookbooks, launched a product range and has been a personal caterer to everyone from Sir Richard Branson to Danish royalty. Perseverance is a trait he’s keen to foster, along with a healthy dose of reality.

“You get young chefs coming to us who say ‘I want to be a chef. I want to write a cookbook and I want to be on TV’. But they don’t realise that, well, I started cooking when I was 15 and I’m now 39. It’s probably only been in the last ten years that I’ve developed as a restaurant person and a chef and got recognition for it. Then they actually find out the work is too hard and throw it in. I mean, the drop-out rate for apprentices before they finish their apprenticeship is over 50%, so that’s not a good sign for the future.

“I think with this award, what we’re trying to do is encourage the people who have done the apprenticeship and give them opportunities they can’t otherwise get. Because there’s no awards program like this in the country. The winner of this award gets the opportunity to go cook in Venice in the San Pellegrino cook-off against chefs from around the world. We had a young girl from Adelaide who won our award a few years ago. She then went to Venice and won. I mean, she beat Michellin-starred chefs. We would like to see more applicants from Western Australia come through because we know there are so many great restaurants and so much great produce here.”

Applications for the Electrolux Appetite for Excellence Awards can be found at .

Link to article in Fresh, The West Australian, February 2010