a hot march to autumnMarch 7, 2013
How good are the first few days of Melbourne’s 2013 autumn? Gorgeous blue sky, some leaves changing and others confused about the changing weather, sunshine, different from the constant hot, direct summer sun – but it’s still hot hot hot in Melbourne right now.
I had a crazy busy end to 2012 and all kinds of new year experiences, a few in particular.
A few weeks back Sharlee, Finn and I welcomed a new hooligan into our family – Jay Thomas Wilkinson Gibb. He’s an adorable little chap, good looking like his father, not yet quite up to cooking or gardening with his big brother, won’t be long.
Our own little garden has just harvested corn (sweet and delicious) and still has a fair few tomatoes ‘n peppers. I am starting to look like eggplant and zucchini I have grown and eaten so much of them. Apples, berries, grapes ‘n melons, radish, lettuce and celery still tasting so good. Looking forward to the new season’s mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, root vegies, onions, cabbage ‘n more.
At home we’re loving broccoli right now and the Belmont Farm DEMETER certified brown rice too (get some, it’s delicious and satisfying). I’m cooking from Rohan Anderson’s “Whole Larder Love” and Sat Bains’ “Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian”, both fantastic books.
Ben (my business sweetheart) and I opened Pope Joan’s produce store a few weeks back, making available to the flock the superb produce we use at the Pope and the Bishop. Very happy about this collaboration with our producing friends. Also doing Pope Joan’s sandwiches and coffee to take away making eaters happy.
Right now my head is full of fertility, babies and soil. Our post-WW1 industrialised food production has damaged our soil favouring synthetic fertilisers over natural ways to support soil nutrition and minimise erosion. Fortunately, there is a growing group of clever producers with an understanding of soil biology. I’ve been inspired and reinvigorated by my January visits to DEMETER biodynamic producers around Victoria. Wow. Biodynamic farmers understand and respect Mother Nature – smart because she can do outstanding work for you. They strive to preserve, enhance and regenerate the environment so that the food produced from living soil has proper vitality and nutrition – and, importantly, flavour. It just makes sense.
Mr Wilkinson’s Favourite Vegetables has just been published in the USA by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. so hopefully more people around the globe can tuck into some good salads and other dishes in the book. I intended to visit the States in the next month but this has been postponed, so much going on at home.
I’m cooking tomorrow at The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival’s Earth Masterclass. I’m collaborating with some amazing people, starting with cocktails jumping with Australian ingredients from the earth and a welcome to country by Aunty Carolyn Briggs. The afternoon workshops will be presented by Ed “local, organic & aloha” Kenney from Honolulu cooking in a traditional imu (we’ve already had too much fun Ed ‘n I), our very own Ben Shewry (cooking hangi style), Michael Stadtländer chef, farmer and culinary activist from Ontario and Massimo Spigaroli, fourth generation farmer and Michelin starred chef, from Parma in Italy.
My workshop, “The Life of a Vegetable”, involves my vegetable garden at CERES grown especially for this Masterclass. We’ll talk about the influences on the life of a vegetable, how to get the most flavour from a crop and the importance of ‘feeding’ the soil. I’ll also cook a summer salad of zucchini, corn with smoked yoghurt, wattleseed and herb emulsion. Then we’ll come together and cook an evening meal.
Last night we had a Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event at Pope Joan and the Bishop of Ostia. I teamed up with wine writer Max Allen to present produce of Victorian Demeter biodynamic farmers and winemakers. Our menu featured the outstanding fruit, vegetables, meat and grains supplied by pioneering Demeter farmers, as well as wines and ciders from Demeter-certified vineyards and orchards across Victoria. The producers came to dine with us and it was just a fantastic night.
The Pope and the Bishop host another MFWF event next Wednesday 13 March 2013 when I join my friends Hilary McNevin (freelance writer and author of Guide to Fish) and Sarah Robins (author of Seasonal Regional, recently published by the Sustainable Table) for a wet and wild evening of sustainable seafood fare and matched wines in celebration of the producers profiled in Seasonal Regional. We’ll focus on ways to support a sustainable fishing industry in Victoria and address the global issues we are currently facing re sustainability in the ocean.
Plenty on. Hope life is good for you. If you see me at any MFWF events or farmers markets please come and say hello.