Friday, 4 September 2015

From Coyote to Grasshopper

Press this Link to  Slideshow

New York City 1989. It’s our first time in the big apple. We had an introduction to Adam Tihany and everyone in his entourage wanted to know about Australia. One thing led to another, Irena Chalmers introduced us to frozen vodka and Milton Glasser. George Lang welcomed us in his private library. I recall his final words to us “remember George, if Joe Schmo wants to eat Snail Caviar who are we stop him” Restaurant design was at an all time high.. ebony and mahogany to restore the Gundel in Budapest, Remi brought the taste and style of Venice to NYC  Tihany was on a roll.  Lunch at the Cafe des Artistes. AliceWaters at the Union Square farmers market. At happy hour in the bar of the Grill Room at the Four Seasons  Philip Johnson was still holding court in the space he had designed with Mies van der Rhoe in 1958  while the barman discusses the East Timor crisis with a couple of wide eyed star struck Aussies. It felt like we were at the centre of it all, it couldn’t get any better for a colonial cook hungry for contemporary perspective. Almost famous.  On our final day Adam [we are on a first name basis now] throws us another clue “if you are going through L.A. check out Rebecca’s.”  On our way home we have a couple of days there and after the morning at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena we find ourselves in Santa Monica at Rebecca’s. It’s a modern Mexican restaurant. Our Strailyin accent gets us past the door bitch. The bar is a sunken pit with fibre glass crocodiles and mythical sea creatures floating from the ceiling that is all angles and rods. The booths are over sized Hollywood style sets. The kitchen is a glass cube with four big wood fired grills. A kitchen full of sweaty Mexican cooks big flames and piles of exotic gnarled fire wood. There are steel earthquake proof girders holding up the origami like structure of the roof. The vibe is the life aquatic. Our waiter is a Don Diego from central casting. Manicured grey sideboards, a pencil mustache good tailoring. It’s our first introduction to jicama, tomatillo, corn smut, and mesquite. The guacamole kit is wheeled to the table by the commis waiter, he looks like an assassin. Everyone is in character, his knives are sharp bare arms. The tatts are faded old school navy with dragons and Chinese characters, a 3 day growth and no smile.. the gwok is made to order with double knife action by our assassin, with green tomato.. Don Diego plates it up on a granite slab. The cooking was considered- balanced flavours, accurate fresh, aromatic, lotsa lime, our first taste of masa and such exquisite corn and chilli flavours... respect for the traditional cooking of Mexico. On our return we searched out the seeds for tomatillos, jicama, slow bolting cilantro and we have been growing them ever since. Rebecca. She left quite a mark..
 Finally last month we get the chance to go to Mexico it’s only for a couple of weeks so we settle on the city only despite the bad rap that it always seems to get. While we are planning the trip, as we are going via LA, I decide to see if Rebecca’s is still there and as it goes, it closed in 1998 and moved to another site. But Dr Google reveals the designer of the original Rebecca’s building, the interior the whole works was no other than a young Frank Gehry and the fittings are now it seems periodically going up for auction at big time rooms as modern antiques.
United Airlines stalls our arrival in Mexico for 24hrs but Enrique our Airbnb host has sent Hector and Hugo to pick us up in what looks like a bulletproof jeep. Celia Cruz is on the tape... we slide in to Coyoacan [ the Coyote] around 10pm and Hugo decides that we need a body guard as we hit the streets looking for something fresh after the crap on the plane. The square is almost deserted, the Aztec dancers around the cathedral are packing up and we are thankfully getting sleepy.
 The next day Jorge from the Traveling Beetle is due at 9am to begin our DF adventure. The Traveling Beetle is a groovy local touring company that specialises in restored convertible beetles with experienced specialist drivers. Nicolas the director has a list of our interests and we have booked six trips one every couple of days. Our driver Jorge is a delightful thirty something soul rebel architect who loves DF. He lives in the Centro and speaks great English. The days are spent walking speeding on the subway and cruising the city in the soft top beetles, we change colours every couple of days, and quieter nights around our digs. Jorge has very quickly picked up on our quirky interests and cruising with him we become at one with the city. The traffic moves slowly and gives Jorge time to explain each neighbourhood as we crawl through them. After three days in Coyoacan we move to Condesa or Roma Norte within walking distance of Bosque Chapultepec, the 1,956 acre grasshopper park and find the ideal local restaurant Lardo. It rocks, shakes and sparkles day and night and we are surprised to find out that it only opened a week before we first find it. She cranks like a well oiled classic. Most nights are spent grazing late around the bar, we become locals for a week. The chefs sneak us snacks and drinks and warn us where not to eat on the street and tell us of the great local lunch spot Contramar. Between these two spots, both staggering distance from our “Villa Condesa” and the street food during the day, we are more than well feasted. On our last day after the incredible Lagunilla flea market we join Jorge and his delightful partner for lunch at Contramar and farewell this stupendous city.
Viva Mexico    

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Alison Puoliot's Fungi Seminar...

 If you have a serious interest in fungi  not just the edibles but the full gamut of this extraordinary and highly important environmental Eco system? Do yourself a favour and book yourself into Alison Puoliot's seminar/foray next weekend in trentham

details here 


Just got back from today's in Macedon/Woodend totally inspired...    
 Has rekindled an old passion...

Take care without the  level of knowledge that Alison can impart  its a minefield out there.

Thursday, 20 February 2014


Home Made Smallgoods Competition Lara Food and Wine Festival

The Lara Food and Wine festival is looking for any backyard or small producers of Salami, Prosciutto, Jamon or indeed any naturally fermented smallgoods for the inaugural Hamster of Lara smallgoods competition. Naturally produced smallgoods have been a part of the Australian culinary landscape since the first fleet. Through the different waves of immigration, New Australians, [as we were called before the ‘boat thing’ rocked the nation] have continued family traditions. It began largely in the background below the surface of mainstream food production when food laws were a lot more sensible. All the big players in the current smallgoods market think Tibaldi..Don.. Primo, Marchetti, Bertocchi, Hansa, Barkly to name but a few, started with humble beginnings from immigrants bringing with them rich traditions that have made Australia the diverse culinary haven that we now enjoy. It looked like these traditions were in danger of being lost but the younger generations of these immigrants and their new Skip mates have rekindled a passion to embrace all good food and especially the fine flavours that naturally fermented foods can offer. We have been through the Roquefort saga and can now legally enjoy one of the finest imported raw milk cheeses and the first raw milk cheeses are being made in Australia now but not before some hard guerrilla action from the wild food warriors. Tomorrow Sandor Katz the author of the Art of Fermentation is presenting some lectures in Melbourne link here Fermentation is again in the spotlight Sandor is largely about vegetables and milk but the really difficult one for many to come to terms with is naturally fermented meats.
The handful[ but influential] readers of this blog all know the score but this is a serious call for entries into the competition. The lead time has been short the larders are getting thin but  there are hundreds of busy little Hamsters out there turning, sniffing, tasting and proudly plating up what to those who have been initiated are flavours hard to live without... the problem is many don’t read twitter so Tony Bourdain’s, Matt Preston”s, Sticki, Skinny John,  Mr. Ed and many others’ [thank you troops] call to arms may not get into those cellars as quickly as we might think.  

So please pass this on to any shops [small producers welcome] or indeed anyone who you may know that cures their own. Small factory production is fine. Taste will prevail.
The Lara Food and Wine Festival is a delightful grassroots affair with all volunteer support, even from the big wigs.  I confess two ulterior motives for joining Frank Camorra, Richard Thomas, Rosa Mitchell, Gail Thomas, Ed Charles, Bob Hart, Max? on the tasting panel.
Firstly the pork and Secondly the main prize [$1000 all together] is dedicated to Angel Cardoso who,[mad bastard as he was]  gave quite a bit to the development of good tucker in this country.   
Lara Food and Wine Link HERE
Entry Form Here
Macedon Ranges entries can be left here at Kyneton or I can pick up if you are too busy just email gbironatbigponddotnetdotau for drop off time before 13 March.

Friday, 13 December 2013

New Growth

The gardens in Kyneton are magnificent exceptional trees, explosions of colour, vigorous growth We were determined to start a small domestic vegetable garden as soon as possible and after 3 months we are back to normal sourcing all our salads and  herbs from just outside the kitchen.. Tomatoes will be ready for Christmas and new year  the fruit trees have taken well and the  new collection of flavorful species is growing.
The racecourse is close by and there is a pick- up- your own small depot for  horse manure mixed with sawdust . and unlimited piles of  deciduous leaves piled up in the gutters This is gold for making compost.
We started the tomatoes in tree guards with a peg to keep the earlier frosts at bay. You can warm the beds naturally by adding a good deep layer of manure with decayed leaves at the bottom of the garden beds before adding the soil. A bit like an ecological electric blanket... makes the seeds sprout quickly and the growth has been magnificent.  We started with an equal mix of compost, mushroom medium, and soil enriched with some blood and bone and potash. I had to take some of my own advice [always dangerous]
click HERE     

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Fare Dinkum

This blog has changed its name to

 Fare Dinkum--
Temper Gastronomic- Bias Australiana 

 Our new  mascot is  the endangered Barking Owl that we met on Saturday at the Kyneton Show. 

I am slowly drawing a line under the Sunnybrae blog..the metamorphosis has begun ....  The online story of our adventures at Birregura will remain here but writing from a new perspective has begun. A perspective based on more than 30 years of cooking and growing the most appropriate food for you to enjoy . We are now based in Kyneton in a new house with a small small garden Its almost a blank canvas with a completely different climate. Kyneton is a rare town with great beauty around every corner. My first impressions are that someone with an inspired vision chose the most exquisite street trees. There is a kind of Zen pattern to the way the choice of species is revealed as you wander through the streets.... We are lucky to be close to the Campaspe and the sheer beauty of the river path as it winds its way to the Botanical Gardens often starts our day with the dogs or on the on civie street...the future holds excitement and freedom the best ingredients for a new chapter.....

Monday, 2 September 2013


Never say goodbye

A very big heartfelt thanks from Sunnybrae and all who sailed in her.
If you click the photo and click slideshow you will find a little glimpse of the Sunnybrae story 

To our staff we are eternally grateful for the support and friendships made over the years... to all the visitors again its been a great pleasure to serve you..

I will keep the blog live for now but I will return to it  in another form when we unpack all the boxes..

Until then you can search this site with the gadget on the right for any culinary questions you may need to explore.
 Diane and I send our best wishes to Dan and Julianne and we are sure they will have just as much fun and meaningful times at Sunnybrae  [oops Brae] as we have had  there. The baton change has been smooth.
 After more than  33 years at Sunnybrae  we are  now ensconced in a delightful new house
and soon to be new garden in Kyneton. Its a small eco- house designed by Dennis Carter circa 1976 for the Age Small homes project. Wanda, Tammy, Cilla an Percy have given the paws up for the new house.
And for those who have asked??
No we are not going to Ikea and getting a rocking chairs... the next chapter begins  

 Till then 
George Biron  and  Diane Garrett


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Clearing Sale BBQ and a Major Downsize Sunday August 25

We are trying to be as free of reflective nostalgia as one can be after living somewhere for over 30 years and then moving to a small modernist house.
 We are both incorrigible collectors and we are shedding 80% of our accumulated paraphernalia deciding which books, pictures, furniture and other bits and pieces to keep or leave for the clearing sale  A  liberating process to de-clutter in one go. Full kitchen kit including most of the copper is going.
 We sorted the cookbooks the other day and I have released about 400 volumes. A lot of old friends will be finding new shelves. I am not sure how to lot them up for the sale?  Whether in strict subject categories or bunches of interesting contrasts? If we go with the  subject matter then, say, 10  books on fungi will possibly have only a limited appeal and the specialistcollector/ buyer may already have a couple. I think the books are to be lotted up in diverse half shelves punctuated by an object like manual Husquavarna ice cream machine in mint condition with the original recipe book containing savoury ices from the sixties to break up the lots. We had to use it once when the power went out. Desperate stuff for a restaurant but quite clever for a home...perhaps it should go to Kyneton instead of the Carpagiani Pronto 8 which is in my mind the most efficient  ice cream machine ever made. Pacojet does not count it’s not Gelati. I went to the Carpigiani factory in Bologna last year and had one of the most enjoyable staff lunches in the canteen with a group of about 30 students at the Gelato University where in the class that I attended they were making tiny bite sized gelato in the shape of a soccer ball with the logo of all the international football logos of the students in the class. There were four Australians all Carlton supporters there along with Africans, Sri Lankans, French, Argentinians and quite a few Italians that also made their local team colours. A bit like a 3D gelati printer.  They were all made with pure fruit extracts that were grown and made in Italy.  Lunch in staff cafeteria was mussels with garlic chilli and parsley-- a rabbit stew with polenta  and a wedge of Parmigiano and  Apple.  Bread  beer or wine in the last fridge and a big coffee station. Really flavourful.
 It’s a sixties modernist factory on one level with open and  divided spaces where each machine is assembled and final metal finishing is done one machine at a time. All components are made in Italy. Steve Martin is moonlighting as there as a Professore at the Gelato Univerita but no sign of his banjo.
They were setting up the Gelato Museum with all the antique machines about to go into the new building.
The big question is?? How to much of anything to keep? The next kitchen will be a small outdoor space and a small indoor space which is complete. The archival material is going to the State Library.   

It will be a social sale About 200 lots some light refreshments, wine.
Barbeque and bar Sunday August 25 Viewing  from 9am Sale begins  11am   
Mark  Stone from Woodlands Auctions is doing the sale. Full catalog on the day. 
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