Hipsters & Quiche

Introducing Metzgerei Schmitz, once a butcher belonging (presumably) to a gentleman named Schmitz, it's now an organic cafe and the best place to spy hipsters, quiche and steak-frites in Cologne.

In summer its prime west-facing position means its kerb-side tables are at a premium all afternoon.

I was never a huge fan of quiche, but I must say the quiche offerings of Metzgerei Schmitz have come to occupy a special place in my heart, because they are hardly eggy at all, and the buttery crusts are packed with big colourful chunks of veges and things. I especially love the one with beetroot topped with a few thin strips of roasted camembert and sprigs of freshly snipped thyme - and the one pictured below, which has gorgonzola, leeks and small round grapes. Yummy.

It's asparagus time once again, and the best I've had so far this season was for breakfast at Schmitz: a delightful omelette, asparagus 'gratineed' with a sprinkling of parmesan, and crostini piled with balsamicky tomato and basil.

Generally I hold cake & hipsters in the same regard (can be pretty to look at, but have to be in the mood for them). The cakes at Schmitz are a little on the sweet side for me but they are very beguiling to look at. The one below has a nutty crust and the berries are johannisbeeren, which are tart jewel-like red currants.

Their Italian sandwiches are also quite decent too, I like the softness of the argentinian roast beef focaccia, and you can get them with Merguez sausage, or goats cheese and honey.

Metzgerei Schmitz is at 28 Aachenerstrasse, it has a bigger brother next door called Salon Schmitz but the bigger spot lacks the 'gemütlichkeit' of the original.

Vegetarians Shall Inherit the Earth

Exhibition of old Australian cookbooks now on at the State Library of New South Wales

SYDNEY (AFP) - An exhibition of historic Australian cookbooks has revealed the tastes of the country's pioneers, including recipes for bandicoot, kangaroo brains and black swans.

The curator of the State Library of New South Wales exhibition, Pat Turner, said the cookbooks showed how local cuisine developed from early days, when most Australians relied on British staples with a few curiosities thrown in.

"It's been very popular," she said. "Lots of people are very interested in cookbooks, even if they don't do much cooking themselves."

In "The Antipodean Cookery Book", first published in 1895, Mrs. Lance Rawson has a stew recipe with listed ingredients including a dozen parrots "well-picked and cleaned."

Even less appetising is a recipe in Australia's first known cookbook, dating from 1864, for a dish called "slippery bob", consisting of kangaroo brains mixed with flour and water then fried in emu fat

Indeed, if Australian's reflected on this and changed their eating habits back to kangaroos then agriculture here would probably get a whole lot more sustainable. As Gary Paul Nabhan book, “Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods” revealed eating local species is actually a great way to protect them.


Curry Sauce and Yoghurt

I got home at 9 pm tonight and went to borrow a cup of milk from my neighbour/ landlord/ co-supervisor/ dept convenor/ professor and he invited me to eat his strange pork chop with pumpkin concoction that he had cooked

And so I had a glass of wine and ate and then drank some more and ate junk food that his 14 year old son had left around the place....

Cheese Balls

And we chatted and I was told him about Hock, my husband, and how lovely he is and that when people meet him they tend to rethink their opinion of me in a good way

and my landlord/ prof/ supervisor said

"You mean he's the yoghurt to your curry"

And I giggled for a long time and said "yes"

When in Rome

This is a guest post by apple muffin expert/Melbourne promoter & DJ/gypsy-type Clare Bousfield aka Bellaphonic, who has just finished a 6-month sabbatical in a secret outpost near Roma.

Says Clare: "Give this a try – can’t beat a three ingredient dinner!"

Red Raddicchio
(for rough pastas, i.e. Those with lines, penne rigate etc..)

1lb Radicchio (cleaned and dried. Slice thin into julienne strips)
3oz Bacon (must be smoked. Slice super thin, almost see through, then stack the strips and slice all the way down the stack, so you have thin strips)
1cup cream

Put bacon in the pan on high heat so fat melts and bacon roasts. Continue until bacon is nicely browned
Add radicchio, continue to incorporate flipping from bottom up. You will see the radicchio turn brown. Keep the heat high or the radicchio will lose its water and boil instead of fry
When radicchio is all brown, add cream. Then pepper and salt to taste. Lower fire and cook for 4-5 minutes until cream thickens a bit. If preparing ahead, stop cooking almost immediately and wait until pasta is boiling to cook for 2 more minutes.
Mix in al dente pasta and serve with fresh parmigiano.

mmm... deliciously bitter goodness!

X clare


From Johann Hari in The Independent:

Below the headlines about rocketing food prices and rocking governments, there lays a largely unnoticed fact: bananas are dying. The foodstuff, more heavily consumed even than rice or potatoes, has its own form of cancer. It is a fungus called Panama Disease, and it turns bananas brick-red and inedible.

There is no cure. They all die as it spreads, and it spreads quickly. Soon – in five, 10 or 30 years – the yellow creamy fruit as we know it will not exist. The story of how the banana rose and fell can be seen a strange parable about the corporations that increasingly dominate the world – and where they are leading us.

Welcome to peak banana, at least, for rich people. What much of the coverage of the latest round of coverage of Panama Disease (Black Sigatoka) ignores is that most of the world doesn't eat the bananas worst affected: the creamy yellow, sweet Cavendish bananas grown as vast monocultures for export to the West. From the American Phytopathological Society:

Although it is viewed as only a dessert or an addition to breakfast cereal in most developed countries, it is actually a very important agricultural product. After rice, wheat and milk, it is the fourth most valuable food. In export, it ranks fourth among all agricultural commodities and is the most significant of all fruits, with world trade totaling $2.5 billion annually. Yet, only 10% of the annual global output of 86 million tons enters international commerce. Much of the remaining harvest is consumed by poor subsistence farmers in tropical Africa, America and Asia.

The good news for people not eating a sweet banana, black sigatoka-resistant varieties seem like a viable substitute. The news from "Post-harvest characteristics of black Sigatoka resistant banana, cooking banana and plantain hybrids" seems to suggest that they resistant strains don't fare too badly when cooked and a minor positive is that the resistant hybrids seem to cook quicker, meaning less fuel will need to be used to prepare them. The human taste-testing does however seem quite limited.

My next bier-tasting foray involved the organic filtered Kristall Weisse offering from Neumarkter Lammsbrau brewery. It's the brewery responsible for my thus-far-favourite beer, their Dunkel. But this filtered white beer - the style drunk at Munich's Oktoberfest - I am afraid to say, inspired nothing but ambivalence in me. In fact after half a glass I lost interest and tipped the rest down the sink. If I can't dig the most chugged beer in Germany, what kind of real potential can I have as a beer drinker?

Feeling overwhelmed by ambivalence, I decided not to rush into any more experimentation.

But getting back from the Biomarkt, the Dunkel was not chilled, and there was still that bottle of Köstritzer Schwarzbier in the fridge. I brought it home the other night from the underwhelming selection at a shop nearby which dares to call itself a 'beer museum'.

Apparently this East German schwarzbier is a type of lager, and not supposed to be heavy like a stout. The Köstritzer brewery in east Germany has been owned by the Bitburger Brauerei since 1991 and is located in Bad Köstritz, which is close to Gera in Thuringia. The brewery was founded in 1543 and it is one of the oldest producers of Schwarzbier (black beer) in Germany. This particular old black brew was a favourite of Germany's proud author Goethe, at least on the days when he felt a bit ill.

A classic style, it is cold fermented and cold lagered, and thus, as I have read, "the finished product is relatively clean and free of fruity esters". I get the feeling I am not so much the fan of fruity esters.

Pitch black like coffee, with a head of foam that within a few moments deflated to a floating piece of brownish-creamy scum like sea foam after a storm. It then dwindled further to dregs with a certain mucous-like viscosity in appearance.
Clean and bitter, refreshing, quite a light malty mouth-feel and a rumour in the mouth of a pot of drip coffee that's been on the burner for a while, or tobacco. Like the 'Old Spice' of beers. Not much substance but full of promises. There is a taste to this one that makes me want to be a newspaper man with a black umbrella, in a city where a million hollow souls trade jaded glances between skscraper canyons.
In other words, I got a bit drunk and became a little bit too effusive. And couldn't spell skyscraper properly.

In this bottle of Köstritzer Schwarzbier, there is also a very faint freshness of a bitter grass or a tiny, tiny bit of sweetness: something hopeful.
Maybe the hope I'm tasting, is the hope that I can really be friends with beer.

There are now at least four or five types of beer that I can say I really enjoy. The cool thing about this one is that it is available from a lot of cornershop kiosks.

Big Bird's Demise

There's no decent butcher close to our place in the Belgischesviertel, so when it comes to red-meat cravings, we usually settle with the most palatable offerings on the shelves of the local Rewe supermarket. And sometimes, that means we find ourselves wondering what to do with several pieces of vacuum-sealed ostrich meat.

Ostrich meat is low fat (a uniform shade, with no marbling) yet does not suffer for this, yielding a strong meaty flavour. I'd hesitate to say 'gamey', although in its raw state it has a fruity blood scent (if you sniff it up close that is). We've found that it is good used in Japanese dishes which require a bit of simmering to soak up the broth, because it cooks evenly, and does not become chewy or sinewy, as good sirloin can do when cooked in this manner.

We kiwis have a certain history with large flightless birds. At one point, it was our native Moa that could lay claim to being the largest living species of bird. But muscle isn't everything, as the Moa discovered to its peril.

Don't know how fast the Moa could run, but the Ostrich's land speed of 65 km/h does not seem to be much use against a fate on our dining tables, either.

Ostrich & New Potato Nikomi (adapted from a recipe by Hiroko Shimbo)

300 g ostrich meat, sliced into strips across the grain (not that there's much grain)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, one cut in thin disks, one in thin wedges
2 handfuls of small new potatoes cut into bite size chunks.
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 cup dashi or water (I use powdered kombu/kelp stock from the Japanese supermarket, mixed in water - vege stock could also work)
2 tbsp sake
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup shoyu
1 cup or more of fresh or frozen green peas (I'm a big fan of peas)

In a bowl, combine the meat, 1 tbsp olive oil, and the onion disks. Marinate the meat for 30 min.
While it marinates, cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling water for 8 minutes or until cooked through but still firm. Drain and wipe with paper towel.
Heat a flat pan and add 2 tbsp olive oil. When hot, saute the potatoes, rolling until golden all over. This might take a while the but the golden-browning is worth it. It means they still have a delectable slightly crisp layer even after being simmered in the broth.
Remove potatoes from pan and set aside.
Drain off excess oil, and add sesame oil to pan. Remove ostrich meat from marinade, discarding the onion, add to pan and cook til it turns pale.
Add potatoes and onion wedges and give several large stirs. Add the dashi and sake and bring to a boil. Cook over low heat, covered with a loosely fitted lid or a japanese-style wooden drop lid, for 8 minutes. Add the sugar and cook for a few more minutes, then add the shoyu/soy sauce, and cook until liquid is somewhat reduced (probably just another few minutes). Add the green peas and cook til heated through. Serve hot!
You'll love this umami-filled take on meat & 3 veg.

As cold comfort to animal activists, or those who loved Big Bird on Sesame St, many parts of the ostrich can be utilised, making its demise a bit less wasteful. For instance, the leather can be used for expensive Japanese sneakers.

But maybe the big question should be...... do ostriches fart?

And does Pharell catch the bus to the office where he designs his ostrich Bape Stas? And does he recycle his bus ticket or throw it away, or simply chew it up and swallow it? And how much of his lung capacity does he use?

Connect the Dots

This week Phil brings us a story about banana pancakes as harbingers of mediocrity

More ominously The New Yorker explains why the global food market is about to collapse , which it blames it on the over production of mediocre food.

Given this I thought I should also include their witty ruminations on hang overs, because the previous article may lead you to drink

When you recover from your hangover you might want to get serious and check out some sites on survival gardening, alternately also called armageddon gardening and/or defensive gardening or hardcore homesteadingbecause according some of the opinions expressed in the NY article, you may as well get a head start if you're going to be forced back to the farm anyway

Which may not be as bad as you think because at least you'll be able to brew your own which brings us neatly back to hangovers

Hangovers are probably as old as alcohol use, which dates back to the Stone Age. Some anthropologists have proposed that alcohol production may have predated agriculture; in any case, it no doubt stimulated that development, because in many parts of the world the cereal harvest was largely given over to beer-making

So nothing to worry about really, so long as you master hardcore homesteading your food will mostly taste better and if it doesn't you'll be too drunk to notice anyway

Stomaching Politics...Democratising Gourmet?

Photo: Carl Parks

As some of you may know, when Thailand's new right-wing conservative prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, isn't passing draconian internet censorship laws, defending the military junta of Burma (and cooking them dinner), or underhandedly supporting extra-judicial killings via the "war on drugs", he can be found cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

On his show Cooking and Complaining, Samak shows viewers how to make pigs legs in coca cola and fried rice.

Samak told the Guardian

"The constitution does not restrict a prime minister from talking about food. I think I’ll have a one-hour programme on Sundays,’ Mr Samak said. ‘Even the Prime Minister of New Zealand can be a tour guide to promote the country’s tourism. I may host a similar tourism programme in the future.’

I shudder to think what that will entail.....given that Thailand's tourism still relies heavily of boozing sexpats looking to score a good time with young Thai women from the provinces....It's not exactly white water rafting but quite possibly just as perilous

Samak's Pigs' leg in Coca-Cola

Ingredients (serves five):
Five pig legs
Four bottles of Coca-Cola
Three tablespoons salt
Fish sauce
Garlic, chopped
See-uan (a sweet, dark sauce)
Four to five cinnamon sticks
Coriander root
Ground pepper
Five tablespoons "pongpalo" powder
Shitake mushrooms

Place the pig legs in a large pot. Pour over the Coca-Cola and bring to the boil. Add the coriander root, garlic, pepper, salt, fish sauce, "pongpalo" and cinnamon sticks.
Add sufficient water to cover. Cut the stalks off the Shitake mushrooms and add hot water to soften. Then add to the main pot. Bring to boil and simmer or at least three hours. Make sweet sauce with see-uan. Serve chilli and vinegar sauce.

Samak's Fried Rice

Ingredients (serves 8-10):
500g chicken pieces
500g chopped ham
Six tomatoes, chopped
Six onions, chopped
10 chillies (hot northern Thai variety)
One cup mushrooms
Five to six kale leaves
Eight small cucumbers
20 spring onions Boiled rice

For the sauce:
Fish sauce

Fry the chicken and ham. Fry all the vegetables except the spring onions and cucumbers, which are for garnish. When vegetables are softened add the chicken, sauce and ketchup, along with the rice. Stir-fry.

Either way it seems there is no escaping the truth of the matter.....Samak is bad for your health

Food Quote of the Day

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Michael Pollan, 2008, “In Defense of Food” , Penguin Books, London

Excerpt from the book

The Environmental Politics of Gut Feelings

There was a strange study released the other day saying that fat people contribute disproportionately to global warming. Fat people apparently just emit more greenhouse gases in their day to day lives from the extra carbon they need to haul their fat asses around in cars, to the extra packaging they use from all the extra food they eat.

The thinly disguised discriminatory attack on fat people did not go unnoticed and this finding was disputed by some environmental economists who said that a switch to a healthier diet would probably lead to greater incidence of methane production (aka farting) thereby offsetting the the potential reduction in greenhouse gases resulting from fat people loosing weight.

In order for this to be true you'd have to go from the premise that skinny people fart less than fat people and that fat people don't really fart much at all.

Research anyone?

I can't help but feel sometimes that we're all getting a little too bogged down with asinine point scoring over who's holier than thou in terms of greenhouse gas production and that this is perhaps detracting our attention away from what our focus should be...THE POTENTIALLY MASSIVE THREAT TO ALL HUMAN LIFE FROM ECOLOGICAL DISASTER

Saxton Freymann inflicts a world of cuteness

"Many chefs, bored by the precisely defined tasks that often characterize their work at restaurants or catering operations, carve fruits and vegetables as a creative release."

As seen in last week's New York Times - Saxton Freymann, with the help of a bag of googly eyes, makes fruit look Anne Geddes-worthy. Try emailing these pictures to your parents.

Parental Vegetable Fun Emails (G)

Does one of your baby boomer or older parents have access to the intertubes and even their own email and spend their days emailing you inane hallmark style emails full of "jokes" and other tidbits to "brighten up your day"

Mine does. So I thought I would post the following so you too can feel my pain.






There's more where this came from

Khai Paloo

Thai/ Chinese porky stew goodness with star anise, cinnamon and whole boiled eggs...what's not to like?

1 tablespoon oil
4 garlic cloves (kratiem), minced
1 lb (500 g) side pork/pork flap, cut in 1-in (2.5-cm) cubes ( used short ribs because its all I could find in the dumb stores of Canberra, you can use trotters)
8 oz (250 g) fried tofu
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1 stick of cinnamon
2 star anise
2 -3 cloves
1/4 cup coriander root (raak pak chee), minced
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) sweet soy sauce (I forgot to buy and just used normal soy with extra sugar)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) fish sauce (nam pla)
3 tablespoons sugar or brown sugar (palm sugar is probably more ideal)
2 cups (16 fl oz/500 ml) water
6 hard-boiled eggs

fry pork and then garlic and then add all ingredients and bring to the boil. Rapidly simmer for as long as possible to bring out all the juicy flavours, or until the pork is cooked if you are a greedy guts and just can't wait


Serve with white rice (or brown if you're a freak) and steamed gai lan or other green asian vege (not bok choy unless you want to anger the gods or if you're white) and pickled mustard greens if you're all about "authenticity"

Sprinkle with coriander leaves if you want to make it less beige

You can also put little sliced chilis in fish sauce and serve this on the side for extra salty spice
Good portions, reasonable prices, friendly, but not too friendly service, only a handful of annoying baby-boomers

and great food, excellent flavours, interesting presentation

nuff said

salt butta


Tuna and panzenella salad

Crab and avocado salad?



Veal with cocoa sauce

Beetroot gnocchi
Beet gnocchi





365 Dominion Road, Mt Eden, Auckland City, New Zulund
Further professional rebuttal to the organic myths article, Peter Melchett of the Soil Association rebuts the silliness of Rob Johnston in the Independent

Thank god someone knows what they are talking about

The Emerging Anti-Organics Movement

Since recent worldwide food prices rises I've heard rumblings against organics as an irresponsible and unaffordable type of agricultural production

The Independent continues the assault with its organic myth exploding article

According to the author there are seven common myths about organic farming.

Myth one: Organic farming is good for the environment
...organically reared cows burp twice as much methane as conventionally reared cattle – and methane is 20 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than CO2. Meat and poultry are the largest agricultural contributors to GHG emissions. Life Cycle assessment counts the energy used to manufacture pesticide for growing cattle feed, but still shows that a kilo of organic beef releases 12 per cent more GHGs, causes twice as much nutrient pollution and more acid rain.

So apparently if your gonna eat organics and claim to be environmentally benign you better not be eating beef or chicken. I can't help but think that this is some sort of vegetarian conspiracy....Are scientists now going to start getting large grants to experiment with the breeding of non-burping, non-farting cows and chickens? And what's more how on earth did they carry out this study to begin with?

Myth two: Organic farming is more sustainable

Organic potatoes use less energy in terms of fertiliser production, but need more fossil fuel for ploughing. A hectare of conventionally farmed land produces 2.5 times more potatoes than an organic one.

I can't help but think that the trend towards carbon counting each individual product back through its production and supply chain is a case of splitting hairs. Ok so when it comes to a potato grown organically in Ireland then there are costs and benefits, but surely there must be, at the end of the day some form of net calculation that can be made for organic agriculture as a whole. Yes, organic agriculture may require more soil care that requires more fossil fuels, but again what this comes down to is reliance on fossil fuels within the whole economy and perhaps once renewable energy sources are better developed then organics can truly be delinked from the carbon economy, the fact that it currently is not entirely delinked is not in my view a case against organics but further emphasises the need to improve green energy sources.

see the quandaries of carbon labelling

Myth three: Organic farming doesn't use pesticides

Actually, organic farmers also use pesticides. The difference is that "organic" pesticides are so dangerous that they have been "grandfathered" with current regulations and do not have to pass stringent modern safety tests. For example, organic farmers can treat fungal diseases with copper solutions. Unlike modern, biodegradable, pesticides copper stays toxic in the soil for ever. The organic insecticide rotenone (in derris) is highly neurotoxic to humans – exposure can cause Parkinson's disease. But none of these "natural" chemicals is a reason not to buy organic food; nor are the man-made chemicals used in conventional farming

This seems to me to be an issue solved with better regulation

Myth four: Pesticide levels in conventional food are dangerous

The proponents of organic food – particularly celebrities, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, who have jumped on the organic bandwagon – say there is a "cocktail effect" of pesticides. Some point to an "epidemic of cancer". In fact, there is no epidemic of cancer. When age-standardised, cancer rates are falling dramatically and have been doing so for 50 years.

If there is a "cocktail effect" it would first show up in farmers, but they have among the lowest cancer rates of any group. Carcinogenic effects of pesticides could show up as stomach cancer, but stomach cancer rates have fallen faster than any other. Sixty years ago, all Britain's food was organic; we lived only until our early sixties, malnutrition and food poisoning were rife. Now, modern agriculture (including the careful use of well-tested chemicals) makes food cheap and safe and we live into our eighties.

This seems more like a rant about celebrities and the type of people that she stands for rich, white blond organic eating types. I don't think I'm qualified to comment on the safety or danger of eating pesticides per say, but even if there is no health risk to either I don't see how this is an effective argument against organic farming when pertoleum based input costs have skyrocketed along with oil prices, whether or not it is safer to eat seems besides the large point of how to feed the world

Myth five: Organic food is healthier
This high level of infection among organic chickens could cross-contaminate non-organic chickens processed on the same production lines. Organic farmers boast that their animals are not routinely treated with antibiotics or (for example) worming medicines. But, as a result, organic animals suffer more diseases. In 2006 an Austrian and Dutch study found that a quarter of organic pigs had pneumonia against 4 per cent of conventionally raised pigs; their piglets died twice as often. Disease is the major reason why organic animals are only half the weight of conventionally reared animals – so organic farming is not necessarily a boon to animal welfare.

Disease is also a major fact of all life, perhaps with organic farming we have to get used to a higher (and more normal?) level of mortality for farm animals than was previously the case? This I do see as a potential argument against organic farming, but if we are all supposed to be organic vegetarians then maybe it doesn't matter so much. Oh my god we're doomed

Myth six: Organic food contains more nutrients
The study that found higher flavonoid levels in organic tomatoes revealed them to be the result of stress from lack of nitrogen – the plants stopped making flesh and made defensive chemicals (such as flavonoids) instead

i personally don't see why flavanoids in tomatos make a particularly strong case for or against organics or anything really

Myth seven: The demand for organic food is booming
Less than 1 per cent of the food sold in Britain is organic, but you would never guess it from the media.


My overall assessment, a fairly baseless and nitpicking article that doesn't answer much in the way of whether organics is a good route to head down en masse to ensure the continued survival of farms and people

Part 2 of an adventure in which a beer lite-weight tries out brews from the local kiosk, biomarkt and 'beer museum' shop in Cologne, Germany.

It doesn't get much more lite-weight than Neumarkter Lammsbrau's BLOND.
"Blond ist in!" said one website.

In fact though, and unfortunately for Neumarkter Lammsbrau, boutique beers like this are not the order of the day. As you would expect, traditional German beers rule, though Belgian beers are well-stocked at beer-shops and the bigger commercial brands (Becks, Corona etc) have their time in the sun, quite literally when it comes to their summer time offerings..

I bought a Blond from the Biomarkt (organic supermarket) and took it to the park to accompany our first BBQ of the season.
Quite like the packaging... one review said that only the label gives this beer 'Discotauglichkeit' (Disco-friendliness).

It would have benefitted from being more chilled than it was after 5 minutes in the freezer when I popped back home to pick up the picnic mat. Passed the Blond to DJ Adlib and his reaction was also a bit non-plussed. "Tastes like beer."

Conclusion: a very easy-to-drink gold beer, certainly clean and organic seeming: inoffensive with very little mouth-tackiness and very mild astringency, some would say a little on the bland side. But I would drink it again for the clean mouth feel alone e.g. on a summer afternoon.
This Blond is easy.

Went back home and cracked open another offering from the Neumarkter Lammsbrau brewery and my favourite German beer so far: the organic Neumarkter Lammsbrau Dunkel.
After commenting that he finds my increased alcohol consumption quite amusing (maybe it's like seeing your mum open a beer at the breakfast table), Denis aka DJ Adlib had a sip and said: "Somewhere near Malzbier" which was also Carmen's reaction when we tried it for the first time the night before.
That's what I like about it. It's as malty as these fake-beer malt-drinks called Malzbier, which are so delicious with their cold syrupy foamy maltiness, but must be about 5000 calories each.

This Dunkel combines toasty malt with just the right bitterness for refreshingness. A bit sticky on roof of mouth, creamy, full-flavoured but not super heavy. I read one review that suggested 'barnyard' notes. I wasn't sure but I thought I might have tasted chicken's feet.

Champion. Any time I'm in a beer mood after work or about to watch Muay Thai downloads from the K-1 fan forum, this will be my go-to beer from now on. Even if the package isn't so disco.

Here's a well-written review which says "The smoothness of this beer is out of this world, the medium body and moderate carbonation level make you want to take a sip quicker and quicker." The review goes on to note "the palate is clean from start to finish with only a ghost faintness of cooked veggies."


New York Times Pancake News

Mother's Meat

Spotted on the shelves of my local supermarket in Canberra...

Mother's Meat

Some people had obviously agreed cause there was only one packet left. I only hope that they bought it to cook their mother a meal with rather than gift wrapping it and presenting it to her.

Dog gone it.

At this yearly Dachshund get together, it's a fashion that'll never go out of style. No doubt - if I had a dachshund I'd make it wear that suit all the time.
Gut Feelings member and prime stomach on legs, and the inventor of french fry battered bacon on a stick, Phil Lees has hit the big time and turned pro.....

And he even has the sunglasses to prove it.


In his new paid job as professional food blogger for Australia's public (and somewhat liberal arts) television station SBS, Phil debuted his new and enviable career with a blog on....what else but meat on a spit.

Sure to be a crowd pleaser....I recommend you subscribe as soon as RSS feeds are installed.

About Phil

Phil Lees grew up in rural Victoria, the first generation in his family to not have lived on the farm and thereby not slaughter his own meat. Most of the time. He left this bucolic idyll to attend university in Melbourne, study English and Commerce, and support himself by doing the sort of food jobs that weren't sexy until Anthony Bourdain wrote about them. In short, Phil has served hamburgers from the window of a van. Phil makes a mean sausage, a hoppy pale ale, a modest laksa. He owns three barbecues and is in the market for a fourth. He's never eaten at a Michelin-starred restaurant. There is more important food in the world to be eaten.

Laura Ashley Vegan

You know those Sundays when you wake up and suddenly spring seems to have come and the trees are all green and wavy and the sun is glinting off the train tracks - and that one train with the 'Neil Young' graffiti that never moves is sitting there all rusty and sun baked - and warm light and green currents of air are flooding through the window.

Then you just have, repeat, have to bake muffins. To a soundtrack of birdsong and imperceptible leaf rustling.

Muffins, a banal has-been fad of kiwi baking, written off long ago as cake repackaged, are somewhat foreign and exotic in Germany so you can pawn them off on your friends if you, like me, are prone to eat six in one day if they're just lying around all forlorn and unwanted.

But you don't need to feel too guilty since these particular muffins are chewy and soft with wholegrain spelt flour, soy milk, maple syrup, and raw sugar (which imparts a slightly malty, caramelised flavour) - infused with lavendar and studded with pinky-red chunks of organic strawberry.

Think of them as 'Laura Ashley vegan'.

Good with a Chinese green tea from the Parisian tea company Mariages Freres, fresh cut flowers and an open window.

Inevitably, having done this cheerful morning baking, you remember that you have got work to catch up on, and you end up chained to the laptop munching on muffins in your pajamas while all the other kids are playing outside.
Just a typical Sunday, I guess! Not quite so Laura Ashley though. I'm sure she would at least put on some pink lipstick.

Strawberry Lavender Muffins adapted from the 'Fresh at Home' cookbook, which in turn are based on a recipe from a Toronto baking company named Sweets of the Earth.

1& 1/4 cups soya milk
3/4 cup Grade c or D maple syrup
2 tbsp lavender
1 cup apple sauce/apfelmus
4 cups spelt flour (ideally a mix of light and medium wholegrain)
1/2 cup raw,unrefined sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups roughly chopped strawberries
1/4 cup sunflower, canola or olive oil

1. Grease the muffin tins
2. Heat soya milk, maple syrup and lavender in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat (don't worry that it curdles)
3. Remove from heat, cover and infuse for ten minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and add applesauce. Set aside and cool completely.
4. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl.
5. Add strawberries and toss.
6. Add liquid and oil. Mix gently until mixture just comes together.
7. Scoop into muffin pans
8. Bake at 180 degrees for anywhere from 30 minutes to 50 minutes depending on your oven. Make sure to test one - better to have them on the deep brown side than undercooked.
Answer: when its dim sum

On a quick, work related dash to Melbourne (sorry to those of you who I didn't manage to meet up with) I managed to hit up The Oriental Teahouse in Prahran where I had some pretty unspectacular dumplings and good tea. It was a bit of a middle class gentrified food experience, obviated by the fact that they describe what they do as Chinese tapas


what the hell is wrong with the name "dim sum"?

I also managed a stop in at Borscht, Vodka and Tears in Windsor/ Prahran and had an excellent meal of what they described as "Polish Tapas"

And I thought...."Oh now you're just taking the piss"

What is with this newfound Melbourne proclivity to call any food served on a small plate "tapas"

Or is it a global phenomenon? Who gave the Spanish naming rights over small plates of food?

Timeline of Food

Today I found a cool site that provides a basic historical timeline of food.

Earliest known foods are

water & ice
salt I & II
shellfish & fish
eggs & mushrooms
rice I, II & III

if you want to know more about salt part one and part two, and more interestingly rice I, II and III click on the link

with the agricultural revolution around 10,000 BC came, soup, bread and beer.....4000 BC bought us yeast breads, and chestnuts apparently hail the beginning of "bible era foods"

Although it hasn't been included yet, I'm sure 2008 will be recorded at the year of the french fry battered bacon on a stick

Manufaktum's Bread & Butter Opens in Köln

At last...at long last. The German fine hand-crafted goods emporium Manufaktum, and its signature Bread & Butter bakery/cafe, has come to Cologne. It's in the Disch-haus, a beautiful curved building built in '28, seen as an early 'manifesto of modernism'. We went along on their second day of business.

I first ate Manufaktum's signature sour 'sauerteig' bread at their branch in Munich - Erik and me ate a whole half loaf drowned in pumpkin-cinnamon jam. I then discovered that they do a very good short black espresso at their branch in Duesseldorf (served on a small silver tray with a glass of water), so I've been looking forward to the Cologne branch opening, a lot.

I'm looking forward to trying out the nicely curated offerings of delicatessan goods over the coming months. And it's always fun to browse the kitchenware like raclette machines, utilitarian yet impracticle modernist toaster models from the 50s, Haussler wood-burning ovens for 3000 euros, Kenyo Warikomi knives, hand-made copper & porcelain bain-maries from France, and very serious looking small metal gadgets for removing plum or cherry stones.
And the gardening section is fun too.

Bread tapas, anyone? !

Manfaktum's cafe Bread & Butter is mostly for 'brotzeit' - not as in dinner but as in a snack of something on bread. They have a selection of thick cut sour rye bread with a thick layer of hand-made butter and then cheese, salami or a gouache of quark, taramasalata, sun dried tomatoes or other spread.

The bread with a blue-shot creamy cheese or italian salami both came daubed with barbieri aprikosen-senf - a sharp, tangy apricot 'Mostarda' jam from Lombardia Italy.

The poppy seed cake was the yummiest thing actually. I recommend to order that and take a loaf of bread home. These bread snacks are overpriced at 4 euros each. Whereas half a loaf will cost you 2 euros.

The poppyseed 'mohnkuchen' is nutty tasting and minimally sweet.

Latte art is mocked (mocca-ed?) by some, but in Europe it's a crucial indication that the barista has paid due care to a velvety texture milk and a well-extracted oily espresso. If you are ever in Cologne, come here and order an espresso macchiato: you'll be served a nice small-sized flat white as in the photo above (no, not as strong as in NZ, but thank god, not a milky milkshake - unless you order a latte macchiato, which was my first folly). A capuccino here means something similar to the espresso macchiato pictured, but in a slightly larger size.

Bread & Butter use Mokaflor beans from Florence, (70 & arabica, 30% robusta) available from the store in a gold shrink-wrapped packet.

Or you can have this delicious fizzy French grapefruit drink instead:

And across the road is the rather attractive new Kolumba museum which, when seen from the inside, has really quite amazing natural light effects, star bursts and jagged rows of pin pricks, from the holes in the facade.

Felt a bit sick after this maiden voyage to Manufaktum Koeln though. Probably too much bread and butter.

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