L’amica americana by Rita Rutigliano [epub | 1,47 Mb] ISBN: B00GYZI458

  • Full Title: L’amica americana (Cibo.Sapere & sapori Vol. 2) (Italian Edition)
  • Autor: Rita Rutigliano
  • Print Length: 131 pages
  • Publisher: Rita Rutigliano; 1 edition
  • Publication Date: November 26, 2013
  • Language: Italian
  • ISBN-10: B00GYZI458
  • ISBN-13: 
  • Download File Format | Size: epub | 1,47 Mb
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Dopo “L’arte del pane e il pane nell’arte”, il secondo volume della collana “Cibo.Sapere & sapori” è dedicato ad un’altra protagonista della nostra tavola: “L’amica americana”, cioè la patata giunta in Europa dal cosiddetto “Nuovo mondo”.

Preceduto dalla prefazione di Licia Granello (giornalista per “la Repubblica”, food writer e docente di Antropologia dell’Alimentazione all’Università Suor Orsola Benincasa di Napoli) e dotato di un corredo iconografico comprendente oltre 50 immagini, anche questo lavoro vuole rispettare gli intenti e mantenere le caratteristiche di quello che l’ha preceduto.

Vuole, cioè, snodarsi fra storia ed arte passando per la tavola e la letteratura senza trascurare i detti e le usanze popolari. Per raccontare, con taglio giornalistico e tono il più possibile discorsivo, un alimento che ha molto da dirci e da offrirci.

Si parte dalle plurimillenarie origini andine della patata, si segue il suo arrivo in Europa e la diffidenza con cui viene accolta, si conoscono personaggi che ne hanno propugnato la diffusione, si assiste al suo lento trionfo che vince divieti e paure, la si accompagna di nuovo nel continente da cui ci era giunta e in molti altri Paesi.

E ancora: si accenna alla catastrofica carestia che decimò gli Irlandesi e all’approdo del “pomo di terra” nei campi e sulle tavole d’Italia, si va a curiosare in un mercato giapponese, si parla della “patata dolce” che della patata comune non è neppure parente.

S’impara anche a conoscerne i mille volti e i molti usi di carattere industriale, si danno suggerimenti per gli acquisti e la conservazione, si fanno incursioni in cucina, si riportano ricette che vanamente cerchereste nei classici del genere, si scopre che la patata era e per molti resta una piccola farmacia domestica e un cosmetico pronto per l’uso.

Inoltre si discute di patate e dieta, si sorride riferendo proverbi e modi di dire, si entra in musei dedicati al prezioso tubero, si rintracciano le prime descrizioni e il primo ritratto della patata, si leggono pagine letterarie (da Proust a Guccini) e si segnalano dipinti (da Guttuso a Van Gogh) che non le lesinano attenzione.

 

Editorial Reviews

 

Keywords

ison and Bill Jamison

Chicken

on theGrill

100 Surefire Ways to Grill

Perfect Chicken Every Time

In memory of our friend Dusty Loo,

who made art his life

and life his art

Contents

Cover

Title Page

No Burned Birds

Skewers, Satays, and Other Small Favors

A Way with Wings

Splendid Sandwiches and Tacos

50 Nifty Ideas for Boneless, Skinless Breasts

Bone-In Breasts, Thighs, and Legs

Whole Chicken Roasted, Smoked, and Done to a Turn

Chicken Salads and Pastas

Perfect Starters, Sides, and Afters

Sources

Acknowledgments

Index

About the Authors

Copyright

About the Publisher

No Burned Birds

Grilled chicken must be the most frequently botched food in America. We’ve all seen the sad results: chicken burned on the outside but still raw in the center, a breast dried to the texture of straw, bland meat seasoned with no more than a commercial barbecue sauce sauce, or, in more recent times, the poultry flavor obliterated by a blast of rude spice. Outdoor cooks haven’t neglected a single way to kill that innocent bird over and over again.

Properly grilled chicken is a delight, lightly browned and crusted on the surface, succulent and tender in the center. Seasoned well, it boasts broader appeal than any other backyard food. For an everyday family meal, chicken offers solid value, and it’s easy and relatively quick to grill when you know what you’re doing. It is also great for entertaining because everyone likes chicken and—unlike a lot of other foods—few people shun it for health or dietary reasons.

Perhaps most important to us, chicken can embrace an incredible range of complementary flavors. In the pages ahead, we’ll use the grill for Harissa Hot Wings, Tequila-Lime Chicken Tacos with Charred Limes, Chicken Pasta with Sage and Capocollo Sauce, and Chicken Breast Haystacks with Green Tomato Butter. We’ll also skewer them for rotisserie roasting, and even smoke one on top of a beer can. For times when you’re in a traveling mood, we’ll present ample opportunities to enjoy Italy one night, India the next, and then move on to Morocco, Mexico, the South of

France, and Southeast Asia, before returning home at the end of the week to American Barbecued Chicken Pizza. Nothing else you can grill offers such a full turf of tastes. If you’ve been keeping your chicken cooped up in a cubbyhole of flavors, it’s time to let that bird fly.

The Two Most Common Grilling Mistakes

Backyard cooks often assume that grilling chicken is a no-brainer. Most of us earned our stripes at the grill with hamburgers and hot dogs, which aren’t much tougher to make than peanut butter sandwiches. Chicken seems like an easy next step, but it’s actually more of a short leap. To land there on your feet, you have to hurdle the two most common mistakes in grilling.

The most prevalent problem, oddly, is a tendency to forget that we’re cooking. Intent on enjoying the outdoors, spending time with family and friends, and imbibing our favorite libation, we often neglect the basic correlates of all cooking, time and temperature. To cook anything well, you must apply a proper level of heat for an appropriate period of time. Too often in grilling, we don’t bother to measure and control the intensity of the fire, and we judge the cooking time on the basis of how long it takes to drink a beer.

That approach works to some extent with forgiving foods like burgers and dogs, but with chicken and other delicate or fine ingredients, it’s a recipe for disaster. We all understand this almost instinctively inside, working in our kitchens: no one would ever try to bake a chicken potpie by guessing about the oven temperature and then just letting it cook until they’re ready to eat. Outside, though, we want to play looser—but the same principles apply.

The second major mistake is to fail to recognize and then seek true grill taste. Every cooking method, from boiling to broiling, contributes its own distinctive characteristics to food. Perfectly fried chicken for example, presents a heady combination of crunchy skin and juicy interior, whilea slowly simmered special chicken soup preserves the individual integrity of the various ingredients as it tenderizes and harmonizes them.

The goal in grilling is to deepen the inherent flavor of food through the chemical process of high-heat browning (what scientists call the Maillard Reaction). With poultry, fish, and meat in particular, the browning and crisping of the exterior requires direct heat at the right temperature. The fire needs to be hot enough to shrink the muscle fibers on the surface, thereby concentrating the flavor, but not so hot that it burns or chars the outside before cooking the food through. When done well, the result is a robust amplification of the food’s natural flavor along with a tasty textural contrast between the crusted surface and the succulent interi
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ing, the newly elected Jamaican government, led by Edward Seaga, awarded him the Order of Merit, the nation’s highest civilian award. It was in recognition not only of Marley’s enormous popularity in Jamaica but also of the kudos he had brought to the nation by his achievements abroad. No other Jamaican has done more to boost the brand name Jamaica. As reggae music’s greatest ambassador, Marley made an enormous contribution to its globalization and its impact on popular culture around the world. Since his demise he has grown in stature from superstar to legend to iconic status, a remarkable achievement for someone from such a humble background. The astute and at times obscene marketing of Marley as a brand cannot detract from the fact that no other recording artist in the late twentieth century, in any genre, has had the global reach and influence that Marley has, continuing into this millennium.

The Rastafarian soul rebel, armed with his distinctive voice, a guitar, a great backing band and fine backing vocals, was a man on a mission to challenge the “isms and schisms” of principalities and powers as he fought against “spiritual wickedness in high and low places.” His legacy of catchy danceable songs of defiance, resistance, rebellion, love and hope continues to reverberate around the world; his lyrical and melodic genius guarantees the contemporaneity of his music. What kind of man and musician was Nesta Robert Marley? Many books have been written about him, including a Marley reader for the academy. He has appeared in fiction too. What makes Roger Steffens’s So Much Things to Say: The Oral History of Bob Marley unique is that the author does not present a portrait of the artist through his own lens but instead presents us with a collage of impressions seen through the eyes of others. For many years Steffens has traveled the world telling Marley’s story with his illustrated “Life of Bob Marley” lecture. Here he allows those who knew Marley to give their versions. Roger Steffens, writer, broadcaster and photographer, a respected scholar of reggae and renowned archivist specializing in Bob Marley recordings and ephemera, has put together seventy-five interviews with people close to Marley who speak candidly about what they witnessed of the singer’s life and times. The respondents range from people who knew Marley intimately to those who crossed paths with him, including family, friends, musicians, record company personnel, journalists, photographers and filmmakers. The evidential nature of this book, with at times conflicting narratives, guarantees a riveting read. Some of the testimonies confirm what was already known, some offer different versions, some contest myths about Marley; others say more about the witness than the man.

There are some startling revelations and contentious claims. We hear from Clement “Coxson” Dodd about the young Marley’s time at Studio One; the reputedly mafia-connected Danny Sims on his dealings with Marley and Johnny Nash; Bunny Wailer on his friend’s composition technique; Beverley Kelso, an original Wailer, on the relationship between Rita Marley and Bob; Joe Higgs on his schooling of the original Wailers and Marley’s character; Dermot Hussey, Jamaican broadcaster and musicologist, on the interview about the breakup of the Wailers that Marley wanted destroyed. There are interviews with all of the original Wailers. Other voices include Cedella Booker, Marley’s mother; Cindy Breakspeare, former beauty queen and mother of Damian “Junior Gong” Marley; Allan “Skill” Cole, Marley’s close friend; Third World’s Cat Coore; and Rastafarian guru Mortimo Planno.

Steffens sometimes makes editorial interventions, introducing a speaker or providing context for what is being said. He rarely opines, allowing his witnesses to tell their stories in their own words, structured chronologically from Marley’s childhood to his demise. The overall impression we get of Marley is that of a man of some complexity: taciturn and jovial by turns, worldly and spiritual, a sleeping lion capable of violent rage, a peacemaker, a ladies’ man and a man of prodigious generosity. The most striking observation that emerges from several witnesses is how serious Marley was about his art: his single-mindedness and his consummate professionalism. Marley’s story is a poignant one of humble origins, privation, struggle, survival, trials and tribulations, triumph and tragedy.

* Richard Williams, ed., The Poetry of Exile (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2007).

† Republished in Theo Cateforis, ed., The Rock History Reader 2007 (New York and Abingdon: Routledge, 2012).

PREFACE

There are, it is reported, over five hundred books written in many languages and published all over the world about the Reggae King. So, why this book, and why now? What is left to say?

To provide the proper answer, allow me to explain how this music lover became so d
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smell, touch, sight, and sound. Because we’re human beings, other nonphysical factors come into play, including our emotions, thoughts, and spirits.

Learning to recognize as well as manipulate both the obvious and subtle components of flavor will make you a much better cook. This book will be your companion in the kitchen whenever you wish to create deliciousness.

Learning to cook like a great chef is within the realm of possibility. However, it is something that is rarely taught; it must be “caught.”

Everyone who cooks — or even merely seasons their food at the table before eating — can benefit from mastering the basic principles of making food taste great. This complex subject is simplified by one thing: while the universe may contain a vast number of ingredients and a virtually infinite number of ingredient combinations, the palate can register only the four basic tastes.

Great food balances these tastes beautifully. A great cook knows how to taste, to discern what is needed, and to make adjustments. Once you learn how to season and how to balance tastes, a whole new world opens up to you in cooking. Of course, several factors conspire against your ever doing so — not the least of which is a culture that sees the publication of thousands of new cookbooks annually featuring recipes that promise to dazzle you and your guests if you follow them to the letter. And yet you’re often left wondering why the results aren’t as delicious as promised. That’s because great cooking is never as simple as merely following a recipe. The best cooking requires a discerning palate to know when a dish needs a little something or other — and what to add or do to elevate its flavor.

WHAT IS PERCEIVED BY THE MOUTH

Taste Buds

Sweetness. Saltiness. Sourness. Bitterness. Every delicious bite you’ve ever tasted has been a result of these four tastes coming together on your taste buds. We taste them as individual notes, and in concert. Each taste affects the other. For example, bitterness suppresses sweetness. In addition, different tastes affect us in different ways. Saltiness stimulates the appetite, while sweetness satiates it. Take the time to explore the four basic tastes.

Sweetness

It takes the greatest quantity of a substance that is sweet (versus salty, sour, or bitter) to register on our taste buds. However, we can appreciate the balance and “roundness” that even otherwise imperceptible sweetness adds to savory dishes. Sweetness can work with bitterness, sourness — even saltiness. Sweetness can also bring out the flavors of other ingredients, from fruits to mint.

Saltiness

When we banished more than thirty of America’s leading chefs to their own desert islands with only ten ingredients to cook with for the rest of their lives (Culinary Artistry, 1996), the number-one ingredient they chose was salt. Salt is nature’s flavor enhancer. It is the single most important taste for making savory food delicious. (Sweetness, by the way, plays the same role in desserts.)

Sourness

Sourness is second only to salt in savory food and sugar in sweet food in its importance as a flavor enhancer. Sour notes — whether a squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of vinegar — add sparkle and brightness to a dish. Balancing a dish’s acidity with its other tastes is critical to the dish’s ultimate success.

Bitterness

Humans are most sensitive to bitterness, and our survival wiring allows us to recognize it in even relatively tiny amounts. Bitterness balances sweetness, and can also play a vital role in cutting richness in a dish. While bitterness is more important to certain people than to others, some chefs see it as an indispensable “cleansing” taste — one that makes you want to take the next bite, and the next.

Umami (Savoriness)

In addition to the four basic tastes, there is growing evidence of a fifth taste, umami, which we first wrote about in 1996 in Culinary Artistry. It is often described as the savory or meaty “mouth-filling” taste that is noticeable in such ingredients as anchovies, blue cheese, mushrooms, and green tea, and in such flavorings as monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is the primary component of branded seasonings such as Ac´cent.

Mouthfeel

In addition to its sense of taste, the mouth has a sense of “touch” and can register other sensations, such as temperature and texture, that all play a role in flavor. These aspects of food, generally characterized as mouthfeel, help to bring food into alignment with our bodies, and bring some of a dish’s greatest interest and pleasure. The crunchiness and crispiness of a dish contribute sound as well as textural appeal.

Temperature

I always pay attention to temperature. I look at what I feel like eating now. If it is cold and rainy outside, I make sure that soup is on the menu. If it is hot outside, I make sure there are lots of salads on the menu.

— ANDREW CARMEL
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om. I lost interest in everything. I kept to myself, didn’t see my friends much, and spent most of my time in my room eating. Of course, this behavior only made me feel worse. At the time, however, I didn’t see the connection.

One day, I received a message on MySpace (yes, I feel old) from someone I didn’t know. After a bit of hesitation, I opened the message, which was from a guy named Mick. He said that he had stumbled upon my page and just wanted to say hello. Little did I know that this person would eventually become my husband and would play a huge role in reigniting my passion for life.

Mick and I met face-to-face a few weeks after he sent that first message, and boy, was I nervous. I hadn’t dated much, and I surely didn’t think anyone would be interested in me. We ended up becoming friends and would talk for hours about life, love, politics, and just about everything else. Hours would go by in what felt like seconds. Mick had grown up with similar struggles regarding family, weight, and life. We connected in a way that I had never experienced before. He helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life, and with his support I started to pull my life back together.

New relationships have a honeymoon phase. As I was getting to know Mick, I gained even more weight. I think part of me was just so happy and in love that I didn’t care about my size. I already “knew” that losing weight was impossible for me, and I thought, “Well, Mick loves me for exactly who I am, so I’ll just enjoy the moment and not worry about how many pounds I’ve gained.”

One morning when I was twenty-five, I woke up suddenly due to intense pain in my right side. Mick rushed me to the hospital, where an ultrasound showed that my gallbladder was infected and filled with stones and sludge. I was taken to surgery that same day, and my gallbladder was removed. A nurse told me that the typical gallbladder patient is female, fair-complexioned, fat, and forty. She let me know in a nice way that I fit all those categories except for not being forty. Ouch. Those things were always hard for me to face, but they were especially difficult to hear in a medical setting.

I was given a new diet to follow: a low-fat diet. I remember thinking, “Okay, this is it! This is my chance to lose weight and get healthy.” I followed the doctors’ recommendations more diligently than I’d followed any other diet I had tried, and guess what? I gained weight even faster than I had in the past. Once again, I felt like a failure. I was so dismayed that I just gave up. I truly had no idea how to lose weight, and it was a lot easier to put it off to deal with another day. Unfortunately, the days turned into months, and months turned into years. I was in the thick of low self-esteem and frustration, and I had lost all confidence in my ability to change.

A few years later, Mick proposed. At the time, I was a size 24/26 and weighed about 280 pounds. I remember thinking that this was finally going to be the key to losing weight. I was determined to lose weight for my wedding; it was the perfect goal!

Unfortunately, with all the engagement parties, bridal showers, cake tastings, and menu selections, I gained even more weight in the year leading up to my wedding. When it came time to select my wedding dress, the bridal shops near my house only had sample dresses in size 10/12, so I drove an hour north from our small town in Florida to a bridal shop that had once been an ice skating rink. I was nervous, but the shop was filled with hundreds of dresses, so I just knew I would get to experience the “say yes to the dress” moment that you see on TV. Instead, I was shown the four dresses in my size that I could try on. Talk about a letdown! But I had no one to blame but myself. I tried on the dresses with my best friend by my side and found one that was okay. It was far from my dream dress, but at least it fit. I bought it and left feeling as though this was yet another moment in my life that was dampened because of my size.

I wish I could say that I was able to put my weight issues aside and enjoy my wedding day, but I was a bundle of nerves. I knew that there would be plenty of candid photos taken of me, and let’s just say that a white strapless dress wasn’t at all within my comfort zone. I didn’t feel beautiful, and I surely wasn’t comfortable wearing the world’s tightest compression garments. I was so mad at myself for yet another failure to lose weight. I always thought that my wedding would be the motivation I needed to finally change, and when that didn’t happen, I started to accept that change just wasn’t in the cards for me.

After being married for a year, Mick and I decided that we would try to have a baby. A few months later, Mick was presented with an amazing career opportunity, and before we knew it, we were planning our move across the country to California. I reme
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ight. Wash them the next day and cook in a pan of water until soft.

2. Place the bacon into a deep pan with oil, saute until light brown, add the vegetables, basil, thyme dill, garlic and bay leaf.. Place on a low heat with a lid and allow to sweat for 5 minutes, stirring to avoid browning.

3. Add the peas to the vegetables.

4. Now add chicken stock and bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes.

5. Mix the butter and flour until creamy.

6. Add the flour and butter mixture to the soup to thicken.

7. Remove from the heat, blend the soup until smooth and creamy.

8. Add salt and pepper to taste, ready to serve.

29

RED ONION

SOUP

Ingredients

500g red onions sliced

2 sprigs thyme

175ml dry white wine

1 bay leaf

2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 Litre beef stock

1 tbsp tomato puree

salt and pepper

SERVES 4

1. Place the onions into a pan with hot vegetable oil, add bay leaf, garlic and thyme until brown.

2. Add tomato puree, cook for 5 minutes.

3. Add the white wine and beef stock, then simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat.

5. Serve the soup with garlic bread topped with cheese.

30

FRUIT SOUP

Ingredients

250g strawberries

500g plums

50g peaches

25g cooking apples

25g gooseberries

2 vanilla pods

2 eggs

50g ice

1l water

50g sugar

salt

SERVES 4

1. First wash the fruits and remove any large seeds and stones.

2. Put the fruits and the vanilla pods into a pan with water; bring to the boil.

3. Cook the fruit for 25 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat, strain the fruits making sure you retain the liquid from the pan, you will need this later.

5. Break the eggs in a mixing bowl, add the sugar and a pinch of salt and beat.

6. Slowly add the cooked fruits. When they are combined, add the fruit liquor that you saved above. Keep beating the egg mixture until it is completely combined.

7. Let the soup cool, keep stirring the soup so that the eggs do not curdle.

8. Stand in a bowl of ice to cool, then place in the fridge. Ready to serve

31

BREADFRUIT

SOUP

Ingredients

300g breadfruit diced

1 small onion diced

1 small leek chopped

1 stick celery diced

4 cloves of roast garlic

10 strands of chives

2 sprig thyme

2 sprigs basil

2 sprigs dill

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp Vegetable oil

1 litre chicken stock

salt and pepper

SERVES 4

1. Peel the breadfruit and cut into cubes

2. Place the chopped vegetables, basil, thyme, dill, garlic and bay leaves in a large saucepan with some oil. Place on a low heat with a lid and allow to sweat for 5 minutes, stirring to avoid browning.

3. Add the cubes of breadfruit to the vegetables.

4. Add chicken stock and bring to the boil. Cook for 35 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and let the soup cool down. Blend the soup, do not strain. Ready to serve.

32

BACON &

YAM SOUP

Ingredients

200g yam diced

100g smoked bacon

1 small onion chopped

1 small leek chopped

1 celery chopped

1 sprig dill

4 cloves of roast garlic

1 bay leaf

1 litre chicken stock

10 strands chives

salt and pepper

SERVES 4

1. Peel the yam and cut into chunks.

2. Dice the bacon and sauté in hot oil. Remove the bacon from the pan and add the vegetables and herbs. Place on a low heat with a lid and allow to sweat for 5 minutes, stirring to avoid browning.

3. Add the bacon.

4. Add chicken stock and yam, and cook until the yam is soft.

5. Remove from the heat, let the soup cool and then blend until smooth. Ready to serve, garnish with chives.

33

ST LUCIAN

BOUILLON

SOUP

Ingredients

100g salted pork diced

2 red onions diced

1 carrot

1 small leek

1 stick celery

2 cloves of garlic

1 bay leaf

1 sprig fresh dill

1 sprig fresh basil

1 litre chicken stock

25g tannia

25g breadfruit

25g green plantain

20g pumpkin

20g macaron

50g plain flour or gluten

flour

50g cornmeal

25ml water

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

SERVES 4

1. Soak the salted pork in cold water over night in order to remove the excess salt. Drain the water and wash the meat thoroughly. Fill a pan with cold water and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth. Cook for 40 minutes, remove from heat, drain and wash the meat in cold water.

2. Place the vegetables in a deep pan with the pork and chicken stock cook for 20 minutes.

Add herbs

3. Preparing the Dumpling. Put plain flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a bowl; add cold water to mix and knead until firm. Rest the mixture for 5 minutes, then roll into torpedo-shaped or flat dumplings. Stir the dumplings into the soup and cook for
inued to impinge on my life. I was fighting a court case for defamation (the hearings for damages are still scheduled to be heard in court as I write this, nearly a decade after the review was first published). I had been threatened and abused by jaded, overworked chefs and restaurateurs. And yet none of that actually prompted my move. In fact, I was leaving town because I had reached a point in my life where, shock horror, I had begun to get interested in, wait for it . . . gardening. I think some people have a brain snap when they near 40. Some get a blonde. Some get a sports car. Others get into meditation and visit ashrams in India. I wanted to grow my own parsley.

And I wanted to get closer to the source of my produce. While it was milk that was leading me away from the constant pressure of big-city living towards a quieter, calmer life, it was cheese that brought me to Tasmania (and, inadvertently, catapulted me onto the small screen).

Now some foodies may think this sounds just perfect. Tasmania is famed for its cheese, right? Well, yes and no.

When I moved to Tassie, there weren’t many true farmhouse-style cheeses of the kind that would make your toes curl. The interesting stuff made by artisans. Cheese that reminded me of the great cheesemaking nations I’ve visited—Spain, France and Italy. The UK, even. Yes, there were some good examples in Tasmania, but there were probably more near Adelaide, or Melbourne. No, it was a single artisan-style cheese that brought me down to the island. And to be honest, it wasn’t a cheese, it was a cheesemaker.

I’d met Nick Haddow when he worked at Melbourne’s Richmond Hill Café and Larder. He ran the cheese room, and I was a novice food writer with a bicycle, a share house and a palate that didn’t quite match my budget. I’d go into the Larder and ask for a cheese that would simply rock my world. Or my dinner guests’ world. And Nick, or his offsider Sophie, would always produce the goods.

My second winter in Melbourne I wanted to make cassoulet. Two winters before I’d spent a month in a town in France’s southwest called Najac, where cassoulet is all about the local dried lingot beans, cured duck and goose, and stunning pork, both salted and in snags. It was then, and is now, my tradition to make cassoulet each winter from the meats I have to hand. I confit my own duck or goose legs. I pickle pork belly, cure my own lamb, sometimes use my own sausages.

But I was a recent arrival in Melbourne, and my cassoulet recipe fed twenty. I could easily fill a table with ten friends, but twenty would be a stretch. Especially in the tiny space I rented. So I spread my cassoulet entertaining over two nights and along with my usual tiny crew of mates, I invited a string of people I thought I’d like to get to know. Including Nick.

Well, I think he liked the cassoulet. It had pork belly. And pork sausages. And I think there was some lamb in there. And duck confit and duck fat in the crumbs on top. He certainly ate his fair share. And he didn’t tell me until the next day that he was vegetarian. Not a very good one, obviously, but a vegetarian nonetheless. A strapping 6-foot-something not-very-pale vegetarian who was more interested in food than in lecturing me on my food choices, or limiting his too much.

In return Nick invited me to a vego meal at his place. We got talking about food, as only food-bores can, and hit it off. Over the next few years, even after I moved to Sydney, Nick and I got to know each other really well. Then he did the strangest thing.

Nick had long been interested in cheese. He had worked with Irish and Italian cheesemakers. He had worked at Neal’s Yard Dairy, one of London’s most interesting cheese shops, before he started at the cheese room in Melbourne. He went to Japan to woo Leonie, the woman who would move back to Australia with him, but instead of coming back to the mainland like we all expected, they moved to Tasmania. To a relatively remote corner in the northeast of Tasmania. It was Nick’s dream to make cheese and he had talked his way into a job at the acclaimed cheddar producer Pyengana.

Now, I’d known about Pyengana for a few years. I’d heard of the Healey family’s famed cloth-bound cheddar when I lived in Sydney, and one day I called them to find out where I could buy it. They didn’t seem to have a local supplier, so they mailed me a whole small wheel of cheese, called a truckle, the next time they went to town, and I posted them a money order for the cost of the cheese and the amount of the stamps on top. It was, I have to say, a revelation compared to the mass-produced cheddar I’d grown up with.

Real cheddar isn’t matured in plastic bags. Made in the traditional fashion, where the cheese is robed in cheesecloth (and here I was, thinking cheesecloth was just something that hippies wore), real cheddar is remarkable. Mastered by the cheesemakers of England, the art was almost lost in Australi

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