Wednesday 24 February 2010

Summer's fading

Summer's on its way out here in the Southern Hemi. It's not's cool yet, but Autumn is on the horizon.

One of the loveliest things about eating seasonally is the cycle of foods. How just as you are grieving the last of the summer stone fruits, you are also getting excited about the lovely Autumn pears. The BBQ pan and the salad bowls slowly make way for tart dishes and slow cookers.

There are a couple of things that set off, in my mind, that Summer is ending. My birthday (being the last day of Summer) and also my Pesto Frenzy.

It seems that about mid way throught Feb, I suddenly realise that basil will soon be out of my reach, and I get all thingy about it. I buy up scadulous quantities of it (because it steadfastly refuses to grow for me, no matter where I've lived. I have a basil black thumb). I make up an enormous batch of pesto and freeze it, or jar it, to get me through the long, lonely days until it reappears magically filling the air with its peppery tang, somewhere around October next year.

Frozen and jarred pesto is lovely, but there is really nothing like the fresh original.

As per most really REALLY good things, it's simple, easy and takes no time.

Take as much basil as you can get your hands on, whack it in a container that you can get a stick blender into. Add a whole shitload of garlic ( I used 8 bunches of basil and 8 big cloves of garlic). Also add a handful of roasted pine nuts or (as I did here) roasted cashews and about 1/2 a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Blend the whole lot with the stick blender until pureed, adding a goodly amount of excellent quality olive oil ( I use Narbali olive oil). Don't scrimp. You will be suprised at how much oil you will need.

Whazz the whole lot up, until it has the thickness of beaten cream, season to taste and plate up. Add some crushed cashews/pinenuts and drizzle some more oil over the top. Most excellent on really REALLY good pasta (Don't bother wasting it on crap pasta. Spend the money on some good stuff, so you can showcase the pesto). It's also orsum stuffed under the skin of an organic chook and baked.. whack a nice organic orange in the cavity. Spread it on crusty pasta dura and top with sliced tomatoes and baby bocs.

It's best freshly made, just like this. It will keep in the freezer, or in a jar in the 'fridge for about 3 months. But that first, luscious spoonful, mixed through warm pasta is my idea of end-of-Summer heaven.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Eat. Drink. Blog.

As you know positions at the Eat Drink Blog conference are limited (only 45 available) and although it is based in Melbourne, we want all Australian Food Bloggers to be included. So we are opening up a form for people interested (this means you definitely can come) in attending. We will keep the nominations open for a week or so and then if needs be randomly select people on a state by state basis. Ideally this will mean that each state is equally represented.

So, get to it. Here’s the form to register your interest and be sure to fill out all of the fields.

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Vindaloo Against Violence Day

So when did going out for dinner become an act of nonviolent solidarity? Well, when enough people decide to do something creative and collectively in order to make a stand against violence.

Mia Northrop, a 35 year old, web designer from inner Melbourne had an idea whilst having dinner with her husband at her local Indian Curry house. Like many Melbournians, they were concerned about the high-level of racially motivated assaults, stabbings and even murders of Indian and Pakistani taxi drivers, students and night workers in the community, including a fatal stabbing of a 21-year-old Indian graduate, Nitin Garg in January this year. The violence is not all hate-motivated, but a lot of it has been and any violence at all has been becoming increasingly intolerable. Southasian students in Australia have told journalists how racist slurs and aggressive behaviour have often made them feel threatened in public spaces. Gautam Gupta, from the Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA), says that “Bloody Indian, go back home” is a commonly used insult during many of the attacks. There has been street protests, marches and vigils and increasing international media and diplomatic attention to the issue.

The idea that came to Mia and her husband was to put a callout for people to have dinner at any local Indian restaurant on the same night – February 24th, 2010. “Imagine if on one night thousands of people did this kind of decentralised flash mob and all turned up to Indian restaurants as a way of embracing the Indian community and showing solidarity’?”

Mia set up a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. She’s been ”absolutely overwhelmed” by the response. Over 10,000 people have ‘registered’ at the action’s website to hold or go out to dinner on the night. Restaurants across Melbourne are already booked out and many schools and companies have registered it as an event. The blogosphere, particularly the vast online culinary/foodie networks, have been spamming the idea along with Curry recipes.

Some rare critiques have labeled it a silly idea, “Self-indulgent shit that will only exploit already underpaid workers so white people can feel good about themselves” one blogger states. It’s certainly not going to stop any violence. So why do it?

“I’m under no illusion that this is going to solve racism or or stop attacks,” Mia has said, adding “It’s a small gesture, but when it’s made by thousands of people simultaneously, I think it sends a really powerful message.”

“It’s really not about the food. A night out at Indian restaurants is just a vehicle to tap the silent majority to put it across that they are against such attacks” Ms. Northrop told the Hindu newspaper.

There are many ways in which communities can respond to racism and to direct violence. Often, police and authorities prefer communities under threat to remain invisible and present a smaller target. Police in Melbourne have called upon Indian students to ‘dress poorer’ and try not to travel at night. Debate in the mainstream media has often focused upon the strained ties with India and the impact upon Australia’s foreign student market. The message is that victims are partially to blame and we must leave it to the police to solve.

However, communities often utilize a range of nonviolent tactics to highlight the violence, mobilise support and reduce the fear associated with hate-motivated violence. Community education campaigns, speak-outs, public meetings, marches and vigils. In Melbourne last year, Indian community members gathered at suburban train stations to meet and escort young students and workers home from late night shifts and study. Taxi drivers have twice occupied a major intersection of the city over night after the deaths of Indian taxi drivers. After the murder of Nitin Garg, friends, community members and even local residents formed a candlelit procession along his final walk to the place where he was stabbed. Some Indian students and taxi drivers have referenced Gandhi – whose Shanti Sena (Peace Army), responded to Hindu-Muslim communal violence in India with well coordinated teams of highly trained volunteers and inspired numerous global efforts. In many cities around the world Gay, Lesbian and Transgender communities have organised street patrols to actively deter and intervene in attacks. Act UP held powerful candlelit vigils at sites where gay people had been attacked or killed. Reclaim The Night marches are held every year around the world since 1976 to mobilise, protest and build resistance against sexual violence against women. One night in Melbourne’s Flemington, African mothers spontaneously came down out of the high rise flats en masse to protect their children after a series of police assaults on young African men in the area.

Solidarity actions by those not directly affected by the violence are perhaps not as well known but have also been common around the world. White Ribbon Day (on November 25th) was created by a handful of Canadian men in 1991 on the second anniversary of one man’s massacre of fourteen women in Montreal. They began the campaign to educate and urge men to speak out against violence against women.

In Billings, Montana in 1993, there was a spate of anti-Semitic hate crimes by local neo-Nazis. After a brick was thrown through the window of a Jewish house because it displayed a stencil of a menorah, local residents organised through their church, a Christian church, to display menorah’s in their own windows. By the next week menorahs were in windows of hundreds of houses. The local paper printed a huge cut out menorah and called for readers to put it in their windows. By the end of the week up to ten thousand homes in Billings were displaying the menorah as an act of solidarity with their Jewish neighbours.

Like many of these initiatives, Vindaloo Against Violence is simple, creative and is initiated by ordinary people, rather than authorities. It provides an avenue to draw in people who may not march but are concerned enough to take action. Most importantly, the action may serve to provide a degree of solidarity to those who are threatened. On a community level these actions break the attacker-victim monopoly that the violence creates. It sets up an alternative story of community and solidarity.

The violence against those in Melbourne of Indian or South Asian background is in the spotlight at present. But the racism and violence of the streets is only the most visible face of racism. Australian National University data shows fresh graduates of Indian or Asian background have 64 per cent less chance of finding permanent employment in their chosen fields. The deeper structural tenets of racism are much harder to act against and take much more than short term actions. Mr Gupta of FISA has said, “Australia as a society gives full democratic rights to everyone. [However,] the inherent racism is such that many new and emerging communities are locked out of many services and institutions….. social inclusion remains an issue for the community.”

But Mia Northrop seems to recognise this. In an interview with the Mumbai Mirror she said. “Everyday Australians don’t accept racially-motivated violence. I think we want to shift the focus from what Indians need to be doing to protect themselves, to finding out why is this happening in our society. Who are the people who are doing this? Let’s try and diffuse this criminal behaviour and get to the core of it. Flush out the reasons or the issues behind it.”

From Anthony Kelly at NonViolenceNet

To get involved in go to

Or RSVP at the Facebook event page

Or follow @VagainstV on Twitter

PG et al will be at Mirsh Masala Indian Restaurant,

24 Hamilton Place,
Mount Waverley
VIC 3149

Ph: (03) 9888 2133

If you wish to join us, drop me a line in the comments section here!

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Herald Sun "Taste" liftout.

Hmmm.. who is that most excellent looking goddess on the back page of today's Taste section of the Herald Sun? Oh why! It's me!!

Monday 8 February 2010

Comments Policy

In light of the increasing amount of spam being dumped in my comments sections, Here is the or-ficial AGITK Coments Policy. *queue stirring Hammond organ-like Dah-Daaaaaaah**

My blog is my little nation and I am the government. Currently, there are no rules or regulations, or blog U.N that to tells me how to administer my blog’s nation. I am in charge and I set the rules. And the first rule is making da rules public.

As the blog owner, I have the following rights:

  1. Control over content and comments.
  2. Ability to edit comments.
  3. Ability to censor comments.
  4. Ability to delete comments.
  5. Ability to prevent comments by specific persons or groups.
This does not mean that I will actually ever act upon any of these rights, but if you're the mother of a 14 y/o boy who you've allowed to view more porn than David Dutchovny, DON'T bother being offended by my description of food being orgasmic. I'll just delete your comments , and post them on Twitter, where all my fellow foodie friends will laugh at you and your lack of basic grammar. BUT, being the benevolent oligarch that I am, (think Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth run by a middle-aged hippie with a penchant for cheese and Nag Champa, but with a ratified Drive-By eugenics policy, ok), I'll pretty much put up with anything. So long as it's not stupid or clearly spam-alicious.

Part of my weird and ever-evolving spiritual belief is that, at birth everyone was issued with one pair of Big Girl/Boy/Gender Neutral Panties upon entry to this world. And you're expected to wear them! Yes, one size fits all - well, almost all. Amazing huh? But if you find they're getting a bit tight, you can swap 'em for a bigger pair.

All the below comments are kinda official looking and sounding, and given that I am often interviewed about this blog and the way I shop, eat and prep food, it's kinda necessary. But if you don't want to read the long version, here's the summation:


**Please note, that I can backtrack every visit here. The Interwebs have made the world a VERY small place.. and I can check and follow back every single hit on this blog..

  • Comment Form Guidelines: The comment form must be filled in with a proper or legitimate sounding name and URL. Comments using keywords, spam or splog-like URLs, or suspicious information in the comment form will be edited or deleted.
  • Email Privacy: Email addresses are required for commenting, and they are not published on the blog, nor shared. They may be used by the blog owner to privately contact the commenter.
  • Commenter Privacy and Protection: All email, snail mail, phone numbers, and any private and personal information posted in any comment will be deleted as soon as possible to protect the privacy of the commenter. To prevent such editing, never share this private information within the blog comment.
  • Language and Manners: This blog is “family friendly” and comments which include offensive or inappropriate language, or considered by the blog owner and administrator to be rude and offensive, will be edited or deleted. Play nice.
  • A Comment is Conversation: A comment which does not add to the conversation, runs of on an inappropriate tangent, or kills the conversation may be edited, moved, or deleted.
  • Limit Links: This blog is setup to automatically hold any blog comment with more than two links in moderation, which may delay your comment from appearing on this blog. Any blog comment with more than four links could be marked as comment spam.
  • How The Blogger Will Respond: Comments on this blog will only be responded to in direct response to the blog comment. The blogger will not respond privately via email or other communication method to a blog comment.
  • What To Do If Your Comment Does Not Appear: If you leave a comment on this blog and it does not appear in a reasonable time period, and you know that it does not violate these Comment Policies, contact the blogger.
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  • Comment Spam: Any comment assumed to be possible comment spam will be deleted and marked as comment spam.
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  • Hold Harmless: All comments within this blog are the responsibility of the commenter, not the blog owner, administrator, contributor, editor, or author. By submitting a comment on our blog, you agree that the comment content is your own, and to hold this site, and all subsidiaries and representatives harmless from any and all repercussions, damages, or liability.
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Because I am the Queen of All I Survey here in AGITK Land, these rules are subject to change without notice, so if I delete your comment, you might like to check back here.

Now, have Johnny Depp washed and oiled and sent to my tent, immediately!

Saturday 6 February 2010

Breakfast of Champions!

Breakfast of champions... Welsh rarebit with hand-milked salmon caviar

Breakfast cooked at home, caviar from:

Alpine Trout & Fish Farm

Mt Baw Baw Rd, Noojee, VIC, 3833

Phone number: (03) 56289584

Wednesday 3 February 2010


The mangosteen is a round, purple fruit slightly smaller than a tennis ball. To eat it, you can peel away the brittle, moist rind with your palms to reveal the pure-white delicacy inside. The bitter rind is inedible, and the fruit comes in the form of variously sized wedged segments, the largest of which may hold a solitary seed. The number of segments usually varies from 4 to 8 which is matched by the number of points on the protrusion from the underside of the fruit; therefore, you can discover how many segments you are in for before you open the mangosteen. Mangosteen trees will only grow (and more importantly, fruit) in ultra-tropical zones with consistent temps above 38C. The fruit can take up to 100 days to form and ripen

The seeds of the mangosteen are considered "recalcitrant." This means that they are very short-lived and must be kept moist or they die almost as soon as they dry out.

Mangosteen trees are dioecious, meaning that there are male trees and female trees. The only problem with this is that to date, no one has been able to find a male tree anywhere in the world so if they exist, they are quite rare. Globally, it is possible that there have never been any male mangosteen trees. This places the entire burden on the female tree to perpetuate the species. No males means no pollen, even though the female flower contains rudimentary sterile anthers where pollen would normally be found. Without pollen, there is no way to fertilize the female flower and create true seeds with variable genetic traits. Instead, the female mangosteen trees succeed in perpetuating the species by a process known as agamospermy. The wall lining the ovary of the female flower, the nucellus, supplies the material that will then develop within the fruit segments and becomes what is effectively an asexually produced seed. As a result of this, it produces a clone of the mother tree.

Wiki says:

There is a legend about Queen Victoria offering a reward of 100 pounds to anyone who could deliver to her the fresh fruit. Although this legend can be traced to a 1930 publication by fruit explorer, David Fairchild, it is not substantiated by any known historical document. In his publication, "Hortus Veitchii", James Herbert Veitch says that he visited Java in 1892, "to eat the Mangosteen. It is necessary to eat the Mangosteen grown within three or four degrees of latitude of the equator to realize at all the attractive and curious properties of this fruit.

organic mangosteens from Cape Trib now available at Heng's Organic Fruit and Veg, in Kerrie Road, Glen Waverley. Stop whatever you're doing and go there now. I guarantee it will be worth it.

Called "The Queen of Fruit", Mangosteens are still quite rare. And expensive. If you can get your hands on then, they are worth the $$$. Spectacular looking, with a taste that is quite indescribable. The edible arils have the consistency of a lychee, the taste of something like a peach crossed with a grape, and the perfume is sweet, almost strawberry-ish.

Apparently you can brew a tea from the rind, but I will content myself with the luscious fruit.