Friday, 14 June 2013
With more than 10,000 enthusiastic visitors, over 1000 topics covered, sixteen full folders of notes and 500 meg of recipes Sunnybrae Cooking School will present its last class on Monday June 17
The last 2 spots available due to a late cancellation.
Thanks to all that made the journey..... whats next....?
Monday, 3 June 2013
The ink is dry on the contract.
So much to do So little time, looking [sugestions welcome] for a modest stylish house with enough room for the two, three and four leggeds... with space for a garden....access all areas.
Last service August 18
Friday, 10 May 2013
I haven’t been out looking for fungi yet this year but after the last bit of rain [the Otways got a good sprinkling a week or so ago] I thought it could be right and I slipped out after prep yesterday and found these wonderful Wood Blewitts [Lepista Nuda] up on the ridge at Bambra lots of pines [lactariuus deliciosa] also with a sprinkling of parasols and slippery jacks [suillus luteus] . But its been a very long time since I have seen a good bloom of Blewitts. Just as with all fungi its very wise to be extremely cautions before eating any thing new fungi or whatever...
There is another beautiful fungus called Cortinarius Acheri that is quite a bit like it.
You can see the colour is comparable as is the main shapes of the head and gills. But the stalk is different it does not have a veil or remnants of the Cortina that defines the Cortinarious group.
The spores are different and there is about 23 steps in the formal identification of which 3 important ones require a microscope.
They were delicious, deeply flavoured like a very good horse mushroom meaty and earthy.
The table this morning was laden with gleaned and foraged goodies from here and our neighbours.
The change of season is strong.
We are starting the annual break next week Sunnybrae reopens on June 8
Booking Line is open while on our break 52362276
Olive Picking weekend May 25 and 26 see below.
Booking Line is open while on our break 52362276
Olive Picking weekend May 25 and 26 see below.
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
If you would like to help us pick the olive harvest this year we would greatly appreciate a few helping hands. This may be the last harvest for us so a bit of catching up with old mates is on the cards.
The wood oven, kitchen, bar and coffee machine will all be fully loaded and an abundance of sustenance will be provided for all those who would like to spend a day together picking the largest harvest we have seen had so far. The trees are laden and we guestimate the optimum ripeness to be on the weekend of May 25 and 26 the restaurant will be closed as we will be on our annual break so we can let our hair down a bit.
We welcome anyone especially any of our regular or should I say irregular visitors to spend a day helping us to bring in the harvest. No BYO and all consumables provided. If you can come please let us know that you are coming by ringing zero three 52362276 for catering numbers. Bring a hat, possibly wet weather gear, some good stories and a healthy appetite.
Friday, 12 April 2013
A very brief history of
LOVE APPLES, KANGAROO
And WOLF PEACHES
What keeps a cook cooking?
For me, it has always been a fascination with the produce.
No other group of plants has changed the way cooking has evolved as significantly as these. From suspicion to seduction, from mad apple to love apple, the story of the development and spread of these wonderful food plants is a trip to the red zone, but beware one false move and it’s the shades of night forever.Whenever the question of fusion cooking has been discussed I have usually sided with the reactionary ‘old fogey’ tribe that maintains that it is risky to mix too many ingredients from different cultures. This is probably because I grew up with only one type of cooking—Hungarian, with its heart expressed by that vibrant spice Paprika.
Of course it was a bit of a shock as I started to read about food and its origins to realise that Paprika had arrived in Hungary from Turkey via Spain from the Americas in the sixteenth century but did not feature prominently in Magyar kitchens and restaurant menus till the nineteenth century!
How about Asia without the chilli? Italy without a tomato? Spain without a pimento?
When the Spanish conquerors started to return to Europe in the late fifteenth century with the looted treasures of the Americas, they also brought back many edible nightshades, and with them, a wealth of new foods that were to have a much more profound effect on the Old World than mere gold.
If you think that telling a Hungarian that capsicums come from South America is a challenge, how many Italians could care to admit that pasta with tomato sauce is an Etruscan-American or Sino-American hybrid?
It is hard to imagine Irish, Russian or indeed any European cooking without the potato? But of course these seemingly seminal ingredients arrived in Europe only with the discovery of the New World.
Potatoes, Solanum tuberosum, native to the Andes, were feared and deemed inedible by early religious fundamentalists as they were not mentioned in the Bible.
Paradoxically, potatoes have been transformed in Europe from an anti-famine food to one that caused one of the most devastating famines of all in Ireland. A sad lesson as to the dangers of monoculture that is still relevant today. The humble spud also changed the way that America was populated with the vast numbers of Irish fleeing the effects of the famine.
Potatoes have sadly changed from being a healthy, naturally- nutritious and inexpensive food into one of the most expensive processed foods and universal carriers of fat in the form of fries. More please.
The potato was one of the first foods to be genetically engineered and it may yet again seduce farmers by providing income from genetically modified crops that will produce a type of plastic. It could be said that that’s what some potato products taste like already.
Dried potato made its debut [sorry] high in the Andes several thousand years ago in the form of chuño, where the sudden drop in overnight temperature was used to freeze-dry potato that could be stored for years providing insurance against famine. Chuño was also used to feed the Spanish fleets on their return voyages.
When all these new plants first appeared it would have seemed like the original “Attack of The Killer Tomatoes” as most nightshades or solanaceae previously known or native to Europe were poisons surrounded by superstition, black magic and witchcraft.
Wolf bane, Mandrake, Devil’s Apples, Sodom’s Apple, Henbane and of course Deadly Nightshade all belong to a group dangerous enough to frighten even the man who eats everything.
Deadly nightshade, Atropa belladonna [cruel and beautiful lady]: its name comes from an early Italian practice where women would place a drop of its juice into the eyes to dilate the pupils. A sign of beauty at the time. One of its active ingredients is atropine, still used to dilate the pupil for eye tests. Atropine was used as an antidote to a deadly nerve gas during WW2; it also formed the basis of the legendary truth serum that was used to extract confessions for many show trials hmmm. All American journalists in Bagdad have phials of atropine in their press kit. Please let’s not have a comeback here.
Huckleberries Solanum nigrum are an edible [when ripe] form of what we often mistakenly call deadly nightshade, a weedy plant that finds its home in any nook or cranny. It has a variable form but quite a useful friend, when food is scarce for a poor man’s pie. The cooked leaves are also eaten in India and Indonesia. Did Mark Twain allude to the sweet blueberry or the black nightshade for that precocious rascal by naming him Huck Finn?
Huckleberries or Wonder berries provided one of the best food scandals or hoaxes of the early 20th century, nearly ruining the reputation of that great plant breeder Luther Burbank. Promoted to be a new miracle berry it fizzled with much public embarrassment to become the Blunderberry
Mandrake has a history linked to debauchery and has been said to cure anything except death, which it was also conveniently known to cause. It was used to fool the Romans during Crucifixions and some have said that because Jesus bled on the cross he was not dead but in a deep narcotic sleep leading to a heretic’s view of the resurrection. Juliet may have taken mandrake as her poison only to be resurrected later in a tomb. On awakening she fears the shriek of the mandrake.
In the second Harry Potter film, there is a nice episode where the students are re-potting mandrakes. Because the shriek of a mandrake as it is being pulled up causes madness and death, the old herbals show how to use a dog to pull it up. In the film, all the students wear earmuffs.
Tobacco [that other infamous nightshade] has become the real Montezuma’s or, to be more geographically accurate, the Mohican’s, revenge.
Tomatoes, Lycopersicon esculentum [the name translates to edible wolf peach], have had a very hard time getting to the dinner tables of Europe. Even the exquisite aroma of the green leaves was abhorrent to the early European sensibility.
Although native to South America around Ecuador and Chile, it was in Mexico that the tomato was first widely developed for food. The common name tomato also comes from the confusion between it and the name for the Mexican husk tomato tomatl or tomatillo Physalis ixocarpa. The tomatillo is itself often confused for green tomatoes in recipes. Tomatillos and another physalis, the Cape gooseberry, have wonderful exotic scented flavours that are slowly appearing in contemporary dishes: they hold great promise in this climate.
Tomatillos are one of the most interesting flavoured and most simple to grow members of the nightshade family. With all the interest in Mexican cooking that hasbeen like a tsunami of taco its a wonder that the markets are not full of these wonderful fruits. Tomatillos are members of the Physalis or husk tomato family. There is a detailed story in an earlier blog entry from 2007 here.
From Mexico the tomato arrived in Spain where it initially attracted little attention. The earliest botanical reference for tomato comes from the herbal of Matthiolus in 1544 and historian Vernon Quinn records its early passage from Seville to Morocco and then from Tangier to Italy. Which might explain its first Italian name of Pomo dei mori or Moor’s apple? Matthiolus named it pomi d’oro or golden apple, perhaps because the early forms were orange and yellow? Pomi d’oro becomes pomodoro and then pomme d’amour on its arrival into France. Sex is a sure seller even back then.
Tomato seeds have even been to space and back in a seed promotion that rivals Don Burke’s efforts. The seeds were sent up on the Columbia spacecraft to see if zero gravity had any effect on germination. It didn’t. But feeding tomato seed to tortoises has added to the theory that Galapagos Island’s early forms of Wolf Peach were distributed by the slow digestive qualities of the tortoise.
The most common mistake gardeners make in growing flavourful tomatoes is to over-water them. Just as with grapes a little struggle adds a lot of flavour.
Eggplants or melanzana [translating as mad apples] are the only significant edible nightshades that did not originate in the Americas. They have been in use in Europe for a very long time. Eggplants are native to India, some research credits Africa as a source, but central Asia also have naturalised or even native varieties. The form is so variable that it is hard to pinpoint is true origins. The shorter white ones look just like eggs.
The crossover to Europe has been said to have come from Goa with the Portuguese who incidentally are said to have introduced chillies, olive oil and olives to the East. Fair swap I reckon. A good example of this exchange is found in the kasoundi relish where 3 worlds meet with eggplant, chilli and olives.
Until chillies were brought back from the Americas it was Pepper that provided the spice that ‘hurts so good.’ Most of us like it hot, and of all the new nightshades the chilli received the most enthusiastic welcome, especially in Asia.
Columbus went out with pepper on his shopping list and came back with the chilli that made it possible to provide a hot spice with a great variety of flavour.
Pepper was hard and expensive to grow, but chillies requiring less exacting climatic conditions brought the world a cheaper thrill.
The excitement of chillies is in the way that the active ingredient capsaicin at first burns, then as our natural endorphins kick in they give us the equivalent of an athlete’s high.
This excitement translates to a heightened sensation of taste. The flavours of various chillies are also quite distinctive when you get past the pain barrier. These subtle differences are what add to the nuances in cooking of Mexico, Thailand and indeed any cuisine that has a strong tradition of using chillies.
The combination of chocolate and chilli goes back to the very ancient times and finds its peak in the Moles of Mexico.
It is possible to date dishes by charting the spread of this rather tasty form of ‘global warming.’ Pepper crab and Chilli crab provide a clear example.
In Australia we have more than 130 varieties of native Solanaceae and more than 60 varieties that have been naturalised.
There was widespread use of native solanaceae by Australian Aborigines for food as well as for hunting and ceremonial use. The most widely known is Pituri, a confusing name as it refers to many different native tobaccos: one of these Pituri, Duboisia hopwoodii, contains a very potent form of nicotine. It is rarely smoked but is used as a type of patch and is highly addictive; it is sometimes used to stun prey while hunting as is another native tobacco, Duboisia myoporoides. Less potent forms of naturalised nicotiana are preferred for stimulation.
I have seen eggplants grafted to Australian native tobaccos to produce vigorous and also perennial forms. Talk about fusion...
Those of us that subscribe to the Gondwanaland theory can put Australia right into the middle of the spread of this family of plants.
Many native nightshades resemble the early forms of tomato, eggplant and peppers and may yield some exciting new vegetables in the future. With the popularity of bush tucker native solanaceae like bush tomatoes have started to appear on our menus. Bush tomatoes are the original sun dried tomato as they are only edible after drying. We may find it hard to grow a really good tomato because the right variety has yet to be bred for Australia, and it may come naturally from a native stock.
Two other native nightshades the Kangaroo apple Solanum laciniatum and the closely related S. aviculare are only edible when perfectly ripe and should not be tried by the amateur. These native plants, from which we receive the least benefit, are among the world’s major sources of steroids used in the manufacture of oral contraceptives.
Like the macadamia nut they are mainly grown overseas. We do not have a local industry that utilises their properties that include pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of menopausal disorders and infertility.
The pomme d’ amour may yet become true blue as the kangaroo apple also contains alkaloids that are used to treat impotence.
But what does this historical trivia mean in the context of modern Australian cooking?
I believe that because we are in the middle of it, we cannot see that Australians are developing a really new way of looking at food. This new movement is not just coming from the frontline big time restaurants. There is a very fine sense of balance emerging.
Coriander and parmesan cheese type combinations are giving way to fine simple dishes. But while we have access to some quite good ingredients, I believe we have to face some hard facts.
Most of the produce in our mainstream markets is of a very mediocre standard if judged by its taste. While Australian produce may not be radioactive as in some parts of Europe, the flavours just do not come up to scratch. Unless you are plugged into the top of the food sourcing chain you may never know what a tomato tastes like.
Figs, melons peaches indeed almost any fruit are accepted under- ripe and tasteless. We would never accept a warm beer in a pub but why do we put up with flavourless food? All of our first quality produce is exported. Ripe food should not be a luxury item but try to get a banana that tastes like a banana, a simple cheese that has been matured properly. These foods are only for the wealthy, the home producer or the gardener.
In Europe we find a different dilemma. The markets are full of some great flavours, ripe cheeses and well grown and graded vegetables but inside the restaurant, that is often, right behind the market, time has stood still. The same old dishes without regard to season are monotonously offered. In Europe home cooking still rules.
Surreal jelly fluffs and prawn brain juice coming out of dada restaurant/laboratories are sexy enough for young cooks to include the foam gas bottle and pipette into the kitchen kit, but where are the role models for the next generation of growers without whom cooks are stranded?
Self righteous Sermon? maybe so, but if we can encourage young people to question the origins and pathways that give us flavour, this exciting free movement that is Australian cuisine can develop; if not, the ideas and cooks will go to where the flavour grows.
Once you have tasted home grown and in season, there is no turning back.
Anyone for a wolf peach sanger?
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
As he settled into the pointy end of the plane Hawkins reached for the stack of gastro porn on the shiny Mark Newson side table. On the front page of hot.ink was a fashionably distorted image of the latest restaurant concept by Michael McLean in Melbourne. The photograph was a close up of the cast iron art deco box office booth outside the Palais theatre in St.Kilda taken with a homemade pinhole camera. Veri.Tas, their Australian correspondent pronounced that it was simply ’the most important, ambitious and audacious restaurtainment project that Melbourne, the newly christened 2014 World- Eat-City, had ever seen’. When Gesualdi and Di Stasio opened Rosati in the eighties the Melbourne binge meter was being seriously stretched but this, Veri.Tas predicted, would see it re-launched out into another quantum orbit altogether.
But this was old news to Hawkins. The pingsters had squittered it selectively and the blind parrots had done the rest. First tweeted by Kozinski in Oslo, Veritas had now morphed it back it into hipster print. It was a hit before the stoves were even lit.
Veri.Tas was the nom de pad of that budding tweetmeister who had single handedly broken the 2013 Wordpress scandal, shaking the repositioned new ChefMaster food and wine portal into some serious legal backpedalling.
Hawkins knew this was to be his final junket from the agency and this time he was going to enjoy Rio with eyes wide open. Fifteen years ago the other firm had sent him on assignment to test drive the new Musso over the Andes for a feature in the motoring arm of the magazine. He thought it was a well earned reward for the hard yards he had put in over those formative years. The brand of car should have been a clue for when he returned his food editor’s job had been given to the Sydney office and he was out on his own again. It had taken two good books and some serious networking with the old school set, to get him back in print with the opposition. Slowly and carefully he had worked his way back up to his rightful place as the much loved and trusted über food critic of the Australian media again.
The London arm of the agency had acquired The Bottled Water World’s Most Important Foodie Awards Party rights when the 2016 Olympics city was announced and as a prelude the party was to be in Rio this year. He felt flattered by the scale of the kiss-off.
Horace, his deep throat at work, had confirmed to him a month ago what he had already gleaned from the office vibes and other internal leaks that the second big restructure was on and he was not going to make the cut. Nobody in the office was happy and he was looking forward to getting the Dear John letter. The firm had become a fragmented shadow of its proud printed past since the last downsize. Everyone was working on a web based plan B.
He eased himself into the comfy pod pleased with the knowledge that the Afghan coffee he had before leaving home was just about to kick in. He had convinced himself over the years that his taste buds were harder to fool and that his bullshit meter was calibrated to a much finer degree when he was caffeinated in this medicinal way. It also helped him sleep.
The flying sommelier offered him the list and he chose the top domestic fizz with the fresh oysters and finger limes. He couldn’t be seen to be going the French on Qantas.
As the svelte hostess adjusted the reading matter she congratulated him on matching the terroir of the bubbles with the oysters and placed a handwritten welcome note from the cabin chef with a number to ring in Rio if he needed some local knowledge or supplies.
He was proud of his achievements. He never took a freebie unless it was from trusted professionals who knew how much he deplored cash for comment. On this, his slate was clear; his reputation was pretty much intact. His contributors’ salary and small retainer had kept him in touch with the common man and every time he signed the corporate credit card he was able to empathise with Mr and Mrs Average when he delivered his score. Value for money was one of his key criteria when reviewing a restaurant and he understood that there could indeed be a great deal of value for money at the top end of the market when armed with a company credit card. He was just as comfortable, at least in print, at a hands-on owner operated local or a pop up and always championed the dwindling remnants of old school hospitality of his fading generation. He was a true Melbournian at heart. The Palais was a part of his youth both as a music venue and the original cinema. He thought it was an inspired spot for McLean to launch his new venture. As a school boy he knew how to sneak into all the theatres and amusement parks in St.Kilda and forged his street smarts and cultural cred in the front stalls of the Victory and Palais from The Three Stooges and Western serials, later to hot schoolie dates graduating to Irwin Rado’s exquisite film festivals and midnight post mortems over schnitzel and Jazz at the Black Rose. But the unbreakable bond to the building was formed while listening to the Stones, Roy Orbison and the Easybeats from outside the stage door one wild night in the 60’s in the rain.
The old theatre was being restored with a good whack of State and Federal government money. The new management consortium was born out of the original Save St.Kilda protest movement when the site was first mooted to be re-developed about a decade ago. But they had all grown up since then proudly thinking that a grass roots protest had been able to make a difference and save the character of the precinct. This time around it would be a softer touch. A careful restoration combined with sustainable use of a passive and public space. A single screen 3000 seat auditorium, while as beautiful and historically important as the Palais was, had only a limited commercial use. The idea was subtle. McLean’s model simply did not exist except when it was performing. Four hours after last drinks there was no trace left. An easily digested concept borrowed Adam Tiahny’s treatment of Le Cirque 2000 in New York that was housed in a heritage mansion with similar restrictions to the Palais in that nothing could be allowed to alter the fabric of the building or its interiors. He had also borrowed from Michael Pollan and Marshall McLuhan with more than a passing nod to Barnum and Bailey.
It was after Kylie had asked McLean to cater for a mega charity bash for the Breast Cancer Foundation at the theatre about 18months ago that the concept began to emerge from the thought tablet.
A portable village square would be grafted on to the Palais. Complete with a Banqueting Hall cabaret inside for the highflyers surrounded by an outdoor pop up hawkers’ market and circus with side shows and screens for the happy peasants out on the street.
Kylie had planned a modest $2000 a head sit-down supper of home grown seasonal produce for 300 after the charity show. The line up included local Greens member in waiting Paul Kelly. Prime Ministerial candidate Therese Rein led the charity auction bidding. Add a flying trapeze avec une burlesque chanteuse with Julia Zemero as ringmeister and what you got was grass roots St.Kilda style with serious money pledged for the cause.
The evening had been a triumph. In a curatorial coup Kylie asked Baz Luhrmann to choreograph the evening which was quickly rumoured yet again to be her last live performance. The show began with Nick Cave and Tex Perkins simultaneously sliding down wires from the gods to the faux Royal balconies to hand-start the propellers of a couple of Sopwith Camels. After a few false cranks and loud backfires Nick and Tex got the planes revved up and as the lights on the balconies came up they revealed the rhythm sections of the two bands building up a killer cross hatched syncopated groove. Kylie strolled on stage dressed in understated Jean Luc Goddard ‘68 Paris street fighting chic. The show was lightly rehearsed giving it a dangerous edge. Lots of gasp inducing guests. Kylie in cabaret, no safety net with serious oids in the choir, orkestra and airforce.
She closed the show with Gurramul and chilled the crowd for what was to follow.
Only a handful in the audience recognised that Baz had borrowed the concept from an 80’s big fuck off charity bash in London that Ian Drury and Elvis Costello had produced for the Living with Bi Polar cause at the Hammersmith Odeon but Baz was only too happy to acknowledge the homage.
McLean had managed to inspire the country cousin restaurants with kitchen gardens to provide the largely vegetarian produce and it was all volunteer hands on deck in the new Podmaster Catering Modules that were being simultaneously launched into the pop up street market by the white hot Slipstream Design Co-Operative.
On arrival the foyer looked just as splendid as it had always looked with no clues to what would appear later. There was no interval and at the end of the encores the side doors of the Palais opened and those without supper seats poured out onto the pavement where circus OZ had set up a stage amongst a village of sideshows and pop ups to ease the pain of those not going to the after party cabaret. The outdoor component of the concept from McLean was an historic nod to the original carnival that stood there along the promenade till the sixties. Luna Park was open. All profits went to the charity.
While the big show inside had been in progress the roadies had seamlessly bumped in an Asher Bilu styled cosmic cabaret installation with a small stage into the centre of the Palais foyer that had a trapeze over the top from the balconies. 30 tables of 10. It was pure Pinder Last laugh retro Melbourne. Perfect.
The food served was a hit parade of McLean’s last decade of signature small dishes easy to assemble from five different mini Slipstream modules. The rat pack of Melbourne’s A list front of house doorbitches babysat the student waiters and each table had a well known face who managed the table-hopping strategy while pimping bids for the auction on their handsets. The older guests were talking Capote the younger ones Cadillac Bar. Over three million dollars was raised from the tickets, TV, Download rights, product placements and the charity auction. Everybody had made a fair cop. It was a smash.
Some of the industry had begun to see a pattern in McLean’s rise to the top of the Melbourne food scene. But few understood that his method was simply to go with the flow and when the push was strong, the gut instinct overwhelming and the smart money pump primed, he simply knuckled down and got on with it to set the plates spinning into the air. The lifestyle and social press just followed. No matter how silly and transparent the concept was, the scribes could be relied upon to boost it to a mega profitable level very quickly. What else could they do? It was not like he had an army of PR people either; it was just that his charm and chutzpah were irresistible and he had learnt to take his trusted people along with him for the ride for a fair slice of the pie. Over the years the press had swallowed the high-rise blingatorium with as much ease as the five star Las Vegas meets Gustave Klimt super shiny hotel dining room. They worshipped at the dude food megastores with the same relish as at the faux Parisian post ironic brassiere two decades earlier. He had never let them down with good copy.
This was to be the new amorphous Speigltent that you could bump into any space. You even took all your own piss and shit away with you if the venue had no plumbing and get brownie points for dumping it back at the farm. A real karma chameleon. The backup batteries were solar charged, you ate from recycled everything depending on the venue. It could be a dinner for 200 on Sèvres and Jensen borrowed from the High Street dealers or equally it could be unpronounceable recherché produce on restrained op shop chic for the same price. Only the suburbs and funny money went after the expensive bling.
Catering had been in the hands of the staid establishment for decades it was time for a more relaxed, sustainable way to launch the next new German eco-car or provide a hitching post for the rapidly emerging urban green-washed economy.
The first Palais gig had created such a buzz that it was ready to be repeated before the night was over. McLean knew his brand was getting invaluable value for the volunteer effort and he also quickly grasped that the business model to come out of this A list focus group would have to be limited to a short summer season to stop the concept from overheating. It had no name but Veri.Tas eventually christened it the Palais Ideal after the mad postman’s folly in Hauterives.
Hawkins was old school, he was taught to let a new venue settle in for a couple of months before giving it his professional attention but these days even a small opening let alone the theatre style flash-mob preview nights that major players held were micro-managed for the web so it was a case of joining the neophilliacs and just sucking it in.
He had played no small part in the rise of Mr. McLean. Hawkins was the first to review him after his prodigal return from France. This first restaurant celebrated his working class background with a refined peasant bistro in an old bakery in Wattletree Road that had more than a passing reference to Chapelle. They had met at Mietta’s and McLean followed Chapelle back to France to be with the master. The intensity of that first kitchen was deadly and McClean had attributed part of its gravitas to a short stage with Loiseau just before the great man had shot himself. It all added colour to what in Hawkins’ considered professional opinion was simply to date, the best food he had ever eaten in Melbourne. This crown of excellence he had repeated over the years in reference to McLean from the coolest, the hottest the most sustainable, the most exciting, the most original, most authentic or just the most!. Now he had to conceptualise yet another adjective to sum up the latest project.
Hawkins had been careful to keep a respectable distance from the industry. He got on well with all the main players choosing carefully his targets of negative criticism. Then if they did not react with too much hostility he would over compensate them the next time the opportunity arose. If they fell over in the mean time, well there was really nothing he could do. He was sued a couple of times but won most of the cases. The company losses to date were minor. The board loved the rise in readership that a good court case could provide. Over the years he had learned a great deal about defamation, libel, slander, and their associated laws and he had developed a very considered style where if he wanted to sharply criticise a restaurant he would simply give the chef or restaurateur enough quote-rope to do the deed for him.
Positive reviews were easy to write provided there was something new to hold up the hubris. It was not important that the new new was an obscure recycled concept, or just a direct copy what was important was that it was new to Melbourne. A really original concept was risky. He had struggled with this latest review but after interviewing McLean at his home he quickly realised that a compass could easily switch poles if the magnetic force was strong enough.
He looked at his watch that was still on local time, safe with the knowledge that when his much awaited review of McClean’s new folly broke online he would be peacefully flying over the Pacific.