Published in the City Hub and City News.
Writing this column on the cusp of History Week (September 3rd-11th) had me thinking about the ways we all eat our food history. What we call comfort food are those dishes we ate as children, and each time we eat them they somehow magically transport us back to a time when things were simpler. But what do you really know about the dishes your ancestors ate?
Tony Bilson, often thought of as the ‘Godfather of Australian Cuisine’, will be just one of the chefs, gastronomes and food historians taking part in this week dedicated to exploring Australia’s food history. Tony is personally hosting a dinner (with the knowledgeable and charming assistance of ABC702 Sydney’s Simon Marnie), on Friday, 9th September. The menu, designed around an 1893 book by Philip E. Muskett called The Art of Living in Australia, will be accompanied by matched wines, great conversation and set you back $220/person. This is a great price for a meal (and talk) at Bilson’s so you'll need to ring quickly: (02) 9252 8715.
There’s also an Antipodean Dinner at Vaucluse House Tearooms and a chance to learn the secrets of the sponge from none other than the Country Women’s Association of NSW. Check the website for more ways to eat history.
Dumplings for Dinner?
Another piece of foodie history is captured in the beautiful 1930s Shanghai streetscape setting of New Shanghai in Chatswood Chase. They’re looking to the future and doing their first ever Wine & Dumpling Dinner on Tuesday 27th September and Wednesday 28th September. I visited them quite recently, and was impressed once more. While I downed my dumplings with a TsingTao Premium Beer, on these two evenings they’re offering up handpicked wines with a six-course dinner, which includes those amazing soup-filled Pan Fried Pork Buns. At $59/head it’s a bargain, and totally worth the trip over the coat hanger, so reserve quickly on (02) 9412 3358.
Food Guide Gold!
Looking to your own eating future, while I was on vacation, a swathe of new food books began to pile up on my desk. The one I was most excited to see was 2012 Eating and Drinking Sydney [RRP$29.95]. This is a fresh, new guide more in the format of the style of reviews I write, where you’ll hear more about the overall feel of the restaurant rather than just a detailed description of one decent dish. It’s chockers with over 700 bars, pubs, cafes, cheap eats and high-end splurges, so it'll keep you amused for quite some time. You might even see my name on the contributor’s page up there with some of my favourite foodie writers like Three of a Kind’s Stephanie Clifford Smith, Inside Cuisine’s Rebecca Varidel, Daily Telegraph’s Grant Jones and Grab Your Fork’s Helen Yee who edits the cheap eats. Go buy a copy, then show us how much you like it on Facebook!
Also in the land of libraries, I sadly missed the launch of Toby Smith’s first book Coffee Trails [RRP $59.95] combined with the opening of his newest café at 80 Bay Street, Broadway. If you love the bean, head on down for a cup and pick up the book while you’re there. It’s part travels - Toby’s been combing the world for the best coffee for more than a decade - and part how the (ethical) bean gets from those world wide farmers and into our cup. I’ve heard much rumbling about the shiny art deco café too. It’s the new it-spot to try out different brewing techniques like siphon and chemex coffee, which keep those Melbournians thinking they have it better down south. Not any more...
Spring Into It!
If the recent change in the weather has you itching to get out amongst it, I have the perfect event for you, on the upcoming October Long Weekend. On Saturday 1st October the Highlands Foodie Group will show off the increasing number of foods and wines of the region with a special Moss Vale Farmers Market. Head down early to pick the best of the artisan breads, fudge, pates, duck pies and cheeses whilst chowing down on local Angus Beef steak sandwiches. Make a weekend of it so you can drink the local wines with gay abandon - their website also offers accomodation ideas.
Now if that’s a bit far to travel, you can get a bit of country life in the city at A Tavola. On Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st September they’ll be joining up with Slow Food Australia for an eight-course paddock-to-plate style dinner. You’ll eat only the freshest Northern New South Wales produce, and learn from one of my favourite foodie yarn spinners, John Newton. Acclaimed chef Eugenio Maiale will be cooking up a storm in his usual rustic Italian style, enhanced by “the lush and abundant produce of the Northern Rivers” as John so admirably puts it. Organic wine and taking a step towards the future of Aussie food is also part of the well priced package ($150/head), so book fast: (02) 9331 7871.