About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The Butterfly Effect
So there I was on the weekend, not just any weekend, but the Grand Final weekend for Australian rules football, staying with some city friends in Avoca, a country town on the edge of the Wimmera, in the north-west of the state, organizing a rather large barbecue, drinking cheap French wine, looking out for the kids, thinking of nothing else at all....but someone was thinking of me - on the other side of the world in fact.

Well the football was fantastic, after about three hours of leather chasing and kicking and marking and tackling and breathtaking feats of courage, there was only one point difference between the two sides. One point of joy and the same point of heartbreak. The barbecue was pretty good too. There was way too much food, so much that we didn't have to cook again that night. We had white sausages (Polish), various bits of chicken marinated or dry rubbed with spice, marinated prawns, lamb neck sliced thinly, seasoned with only salt and pepper, then barbecued until crispy brown and of course the ubiquitous butcher's bangers. There was tabouli, baba ghanoush and big, fat asparagus spears straight off the barbecue.

Man, I was so tired when we got home on Sunday. All the shopping, driving, cooking and chasing after M, with a little kick to kick thrown in, plus a visit to a trout farm, had got to me, but there on the computer was a message from the other side of the world waiting for me.

I was tagged!

Yep, while I was off gallivanting in the country, Chef Paz was quietly plotting to get me with a meme called the Butterfly Effect, thought up by Dan from SaltShaker. It seems in order to avoid a pox being placed on me, that I need to attend to this matter quickly and seriously. So now that I've recovered from my short break, here it is. But first a word from Dan.

My thought in this meme is food items or events that changed your foodie life. Not some oh, it's the first time I didn't put jelly on a peanut butter sandwich and used bananas instead sort of change, unless you truly feel that affected you profoundly. That's the key - it affected you profoundly, in some manner. A moment you can look back at and say that was a defining moment. The questions are simple, the answers might be harder - an item, person, event, or place that had that effect on you, and why. They don't have to be big splashy things - sometimes it's something very small and simple that changes the way we view the world - the famed butterfly effect (and I'm not talking about the Aston Kutcher movie). So, to those who want to participate, copy this and pass it on (and, if you're so inclined, do a trackback to the originating post). Here are your categories:

1. An ingredient
2. A dish, a recipe
3. A meal (in a restaurant, a home, or elsewhere)
4. A cookbook or other written work
5. A food personality (chef, writer, etc.)
6. Another person in your life

Okay, here goes.

1. An ingredient - this one is really tough. I can think of several ingredients that have had a profound effect on me and it seems a little unfair to single one out, but undoubtedly the one ingredient that has me thinking about it and planning how to get it the most, is the morel mushroom. I first had this mushroom twenty-five years ago when some friends showed me where to get it. It grows mostly in Central Victoria and to pick it means a long drive and a lot of walking in the forest. Unfortunately with the extended (10 year) drought we have been having, it's getting harder and harder to find. This year, there were none, last year a kilo. Compare that to one year when we picked seventeen kilos of them. The morel has a wonderful mushroom flavour. It's kind of like if you concentrated the flavour of several kilos of field mushrooms right down into a single one.

2. A dish, a recipe - this is a bit easier. I mentioned above about marinated prawns. We are always asked about this one dish and it's so easy to do. Just for you, here it is.

1 kg (2 lb) peeled prawns, deveined
1/2 bunch coriander, washed and chopped
4 spring onions (green onions), finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2.5 cm (1") piece ginger, grated
2 small, hot chillies, finely chopped
juice of two limes
1 tablespoon fish sauce
fresh ground pepper

Mix everything together and leave in a cool place for two hours. Cook on a smoking hot grill plate for one minute each side.

3. A meal - The finest meal I've ever had was a truffle dinner at Restaurant Paul Bocuse here in Melbourne, cooked by Phillipe Mouchel. There were several courses, all chock full of truffles. Bocuses' signature dish of puff pastry encased truffle soup was there, as well as other dishes of Mouchel's creation. The best dish for me was a single scallop that had a piece of truffle inserted, it was sublime. At one point in the meal, there was a choice of dishes, truffled brandade of cod or truffled duck. I couldn't decide and asked that chef choose for me, so both dishes came out! Unfortunately that meant I had no room for the truffled ice-cream. Can you believe that.

4. A cookbook or other written work - Pierre Koffmann's Memories of Gascony. I must have read this book about twenty times. It is mostly about his grandparent's farm in Gascony and details the changing seasons and his grandparent's peasant lifestyle, which has now disappeared. There are recipes from both Pierre and his grandmother, and everyone one of them I want to cook, even the offal recipes, which is pretty rare for me. Most cookbooks I buy only have a few recipes I want.

5. A food "personality" (chef, writer, etc.) - There are several food personalities that I have time for. Rick Stein, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Neil Perry et al. But one that I like has been around for quite some time and just about pioneered the television cooking show genre and that person is Keith Floyd. He is a knockabout sort of bloke, who likes a drink (or used to) and always cooked up interesting food in fantastic places with a real sense of humour and cheekiness.
Funny, I saw an old program of his the other day and his director was none other than David Pritchard, who of course does all the Rick Stein shows.

6. Another person in your life - Peter Schaeffer, who was the executive chef at the Melbourne Congress Centre. We met through mutual friends and Peter could sense my thirst for all things cooking. He let me come to the Congress centre and try my cooking experiments under his watchful eye - truffled boudin blancs and pigeon pie are two things I recall cooking there. Peter turned me on to good cheese and I remember his personal favourite was gruyere, the real thing from Switzerland. We holidayed together and ate and drank memorable meals. I eventually finished working under him part-time at the Congress Centre, which were some of my happiest moments.

Now my work is done, I will pass the baton to:-

Jeanne of Cook Sister
Honeybee of Beurre et pain
Mellie of Tummy Rumbles
Ange of Vicious Ange
Scott of realepicurean.com
  posted at 7:38 am

At 11:10 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a busy but fun weekend you had! Awesome responses! Totally enjoyable reading for me. Thanks for the prawns recipe!


At 11:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for playing, and I promise, no poxes - those were reserved for the people I directly tagged. I leave it to them to pox those they pass the baton to.

Love the sound of the scallop with truffle!

At 1:48 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful answers! I especially love your description of the morels!

At 2:45 pm, Blogger Reb said...

I have Memories of Gascony too - lovely book, very inspirational. Especially the pigeons with armagnac. Nice list!

At 12:47 am, Blogger Scott at Real Epicurean said...

How lucky you are to find Morels!
I suppose now I best go start writing for this Meme...


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