Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Food and Human Rights forum at HRAFF

From 13 to 23 November 2008 the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival will be on here in Melbourne, following the success of last year's inaugural festival.

HRAFF 2008

I volunteered at HRAFF last year and really enjoyed it: the team organised for some amazing films to be screened as part of the festival, followed by some really interesting discussion panels debating the human rights issues raised in the films.

This year, in addition to organising several film discussions and industry panels, "HRAFF's Community Forums continue the Festival's theme of presenting everyday human rights issues in an entertaining and accessible manner. The Festival's inaugural Community Forum series provide an opportunity to explore in-depth topics as Australian as sport and food, and how you too can incorporate human rights outcomes in your daily decisions!"

In my capacity as a food blogger and lawyer with an international law and human rights law research background, I have been asked to host a Community Forum called Bite into Rights: Food and Human Rights, which will discuss the ways in which the production and consumption of food is linked to human rights issues.

Two of the three guest speakers have been announced: Shanaka Fernando, the founder of the Lentil as Anything restaurants, who will be speaking about food and human rights in the context of education, training and personal responsibility, and Jeff Atkinson, Coordinator for Oxfam Australia's advocacy work on trade, agriculture and climate change. Jeff will be talking about food security, fair trade and equity.

If you are interested in hearing Shanaka and Jeff speak about these issues, and would also like to perhaps join in the discussion (I'll be opening the panel to audience Q&A for the last part of the forum), please come along! Details are as follows:

Bite into Rights: Food and Human Rights
3:00pm, Sunday 16 November 2008
Kino Cinemas
Gold coin donation (I think)

If you attend but are too shy to speak up in the forum, come up and say hi afterwards. :)


Even if you're not interested in attending the Community Forum, do check out the other events making up the Festival, such as the art exhibition and the film screenings. A great little trailer showing many of the films that will be screened can be viewed here.

Go West!

Go West

Yep, I'm taking advantage of Melbourne Cup Day and using a day of annual leave to ensure a loooong weekend, but will forgo tottering around Flemington wearing a fascinator on my head - instead I'm leaving on a jet plane on Friday and visiting Perth for four days! Yay!

I've never been to WA before, but I'm going with Schatzi and her hubby M, who lived for years in Subiaco. Schatzi said that after all the times I've introduced her to my favourite spots in Melbourne, she's looking forward to returning the favour for me in her old 'hood... :)

Does anyone have any good Perth food/cafe/bar recommendations they care to share? These are completely uncharted waters for me. I think on one of the nights we'll be having fish and chips on Cottesloe Beach, but that's all I know at this stage!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Red State Blue State cupcakes

Red State Blue State House Party

Yesterday afternoon I baked miniature cupcakes for the big house party DJ and I hosted last night. The house party theme was "Red State Blue State" (we're both obsessed with the US Election - I'm currently addicted to fivethirtyeight, it's like electoral polling crack!) so I wanted to make some red and blue bipartisan cupcakes to serve to our guests. I decided to make red velvet cupcakes with blue cream cheese frosting.

Red State Blue State CupcakesRed State Blue State Cupcakes
Red State Blue State CupcakesRed State Blue State Cupcakes

I pinched the recipe for red velvet cupcakes from Sydney food blogger Not Quite Nigella - see it for yourself here. These cupcakes don't have a raising agent in them, so they were rather pleasantly dense, but not stodgy.

Red State Blue State CupcakesRed State Blue State Cupcakes
Red State Blue State CupcakesRed State Blue State Cupcakes

They worked out great, except that I only ended up having 7ml of red food colouring, and the recipe called for 60ml!! So instead of being red like Alaska or Texas or Louisiana, the cupcakes were pale pink like West Virginia or Georgia... :)
Next time I'll add tons of food colouring so that they're fire truck red!

Red State Blue State Cupcakes

The cream cheese frosting came out a marvellously lurid shade of blue...

Red State Blue State House Party

...and Schatzi brought delicious starry cookies she'd made that afternoon! She also brought over the video of the Vice-Presidential debate which we screened mute on a continuous loop throughout the night, overlooking the dancefloor.

I'm a Llama for Obama

Essential party accessories were the "Governor Palin How To Field Dress a Moose Commemorative U.S. Election Tea Towel" and assorted badges by firstdogonthemoon, courtesy of my Crikey subscription. In addition to the usual house party booze, we drank jug after jug of Pimms and lemonade/ginger ale, mixed with cucumber and lots of weird and wonderful fruit, and partied like the mavericks that we are. I served the 50+ mini cupcakes at about 11:45pm, and they were all gobbled up in no time!

How to Field Dress a Moose

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Anada, better late than never

197 Gertrude St, Fitzroy (map)
9415 6101


My write-up of dinner at Anada has been on the back-burner for way too long, and I've been procrastinating mainly because I'm dissatisfied with the photos of the food... whilst the low low lighting was most atmospheric on the night in question, it makes for lousy camera work on my part, I'm afraid (despite A's best efforts to help by strategically placing our tealight candle next to each plate!).

Anada had been on my radar ever since it opened in February, but it was Lucy's and Duncan's suggestions following my write-up of Basque that were my catalyst for finally making a booking. I went there on a night out with the very charming A, after we'd seen a film up at the Westgarth. Rocking up at Anada after 9pm on a Wednesday night, we got the last available table for two.


The last time A and I had gone out together, we went completely over the top with ordering at Cumulus Inc, so had strictly promised each other that we'd behave this time. We started with a selection of tapas: St Helen's oysters with lemon ($3.70 each); a Marion Bay scallop with Iberico Jamon migas ($5.50), fried piquillo pepper stuffed with surf clams and coriander ($5.50); and a Western plains lamb cutlet with red Asturias anchovy and olive garum ($6). All good, especially the olive encrusted lamb cutlet and the ginormous oysters.

St Helen's (Tasmania) oysters with lemonMarion Bay scallop with Jamon Iberico migas
Western plains lamb cutlet with red Asturias anchovy and olive garumFried piquillo pepper stuffed with surf clams and coriander

But my favourite of the savoury dishes has to be the first of the raciones we tried, the bottarga with organic avocado and horseradish labneh ($18). Such a great combination of flavours - the sharp horseradish in the creamy labneh, the delicately cured mullet roe with the bursting-with-flavour avocado - we both loved it.

Bottarga (imported cured mullet roe) with organic avocado and horseradish labne

We were also pretty happy with the slow cooked South Western Highland pork belly in fennel seeds with smoky eggplant ($17.50) and the charcoal grilled savoy cabbage with aged cabernet sauvignon vinegar and black salt ($9), particularly the latter. The prices are very reasonable given the quality of food on offer - with the exception of the paella, all of the raciones are less than $20 each, which makes it slightly cheaper than Movida, an alma mater for both halves of the couple behind Anada. Not only is it cheaper than Movida, I found the staff at Anada to be friendlier and more down-to-earth.

Slow cooked South Western Highland pork belly in fennel seeds with smoky eggplantCharcoal grilled savoy cabbage

As well as this fancy mineral water, we each had a glass of Albariño then shared a bottle of the Artazuri Rosado de Garnacha 2006 (read a review of the rose from the excellent Melbourne-based Spanish wine blog Tinto y Blanco here).


We decided to finish off with two shared desserts: the crème Catalan ($9.50) and the pomegranate and orange blossom sorbet with sugared pistachios ($8.50). They turned out to be a great match - smooth creaminess versus pomegranate seed studded sorbet. I'd consider going back there just for these desserts.

Pomegranate and orange blossom sorbet with sugared pistachios

Very happy indeed with Anada! Now that best-friend-K is back in town I will be revisiting shortly. :)

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

O frabjous day!


My gorgeous brother Buster, who has been living in Italy since January and has been painfully missed by everybody, almost gave me, my sister Birdie and my Dad all heart attacks on Saturday night when he walked into Mum and Dad's living room. In a top secret (and I mean REALLY top secret - none of the rest of us had the faintest inkling!) mission, Mum had arranged for him to fly back home for ten days to help celebrate Birdie's 18th and Dad's 60th. We are all over the moon that he's here!!

On Sunday morning we had a brunch with the Italian side of the family to celebrate the birthdays - I made Mum promise to drop hints in advance to Nonna and Nonno about our Special Guest Star from overseas, as I was worried that they could have ACTUAL heart attacks upon seeing him...

Nonna and Buster

Mum excelled herself and served up an epic three course brunch. First course was smashed lemony avocado on toast, accompanied by marinated Persian fetta and mushrooms (including a few porcini mushrooms) sauteed with thyme.

Smashed avocado, mushies and fetta

Second course was scrambled eggs on toast with a choice of either smoked salmon and dill, or fancy Otway bacon. I had the former, Bird had the latter. Mum gets her eggs from a woman she knows who gets them directly from her chickens - I'm always impressed by the vivid colour of her scrambles.

Scrambles and salmon
Scrambles and Otway bacon

Third course was the fruit platter, accompanied by a tray of Nonna's freshly made crostoli, which always go down a treat. The three courses were washed down with champagne, freshly squeezed blood OJ and strong espressi.

Fruit platter

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
I chortled in my joy. :)

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Back-to-uni lunch at Animal Orchestra

Animal Orchestra
163 Grattan St, Carlton (map)
9349 4944

During the last week I've been having a ball back at Melbourne Law School, doing a work-funded, intensive, very useful Masters subject (thanks, work!). Of course the other huge benefit to being back (albeit temporarily) at uni, apart from catching up with friends still studying at or working at uni, is the chance to revisit all my favourite uni food haunts and write them up here on Melb Gastronome!

Animal Orchestra

Animal Orchestra is my favourite cafe within walking distance from the law school. It's up on Grattan Street opposite the Graduate Building, in an old double storey terrace that once housed a rather sad-looking French restaurant.

Back in 2005-2006, Animal Orchestra was run by brothers John and Marcello (ex-The European, if memory serves), who were always super-lovely to me and would let me sit in a decoupage-decorated corner for hour after hour with a never-ending caffe latte as I worked through my class reading.

Animal Orchestra

I took work colleague and fellow Masters student J there on Wednesday. As we walked up, I was rabbiting on about how much I loved their toasted panino #5 - the one with Viet pork, lettuce, carrot and hoi sin - only to find upon arrival that it was no longer on the menu! :_(

Roast beef foccacciaChicken foccaccia

Instead I got the new #6: roast beef, fontina, caramelised onion, Dijon mayo and lettuce. J went with the #1: chicken, bacon, tasty cheese, pesto and thyme mayo. They were $8.80 each and both were delish.

Animal Orchestra is pretty great at all hours of the day - long before I'd even heard of Birdman Eating I was coming to Animal Orchestra to get baked eggs in individual little pans with interesting combinations like leek & shanklish, sardines & fetta, or goat's cheese & caramelised witlof. In addition to lunchtime panini there are always a two soups of the day and at night you can get a few modest tapas with wines or boutique beers. Definitely worth a look!

Animal Orchestra

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Jeremy Oliver's Wine Annual book launch at Church St Enoteca

Church St Enoteca
527 Church Street, Richmond (map)
9428 7898

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the book launch for Jeremy Oliver's Wine Annual (2009 edition) - and yes, that's Jeremy Oliver the Australian wine writer, not Jamie Oliver the once-naked chef! The launch took place on Thursday over a six course degustation meal at Church St Enoteca, accompanied by the wines that were Jeremy's Wine of the Year finalists plus the Wine of the Year, and interspersed with interviews with a few of the wine-makers themselves. As you can imagine, after 13 glasses of wine on Thursday night my Friday was a bit of a struggle.

Church St Enoteca

I was doubly happy to accept my invitation once I knew that the launch would take place at Church St Enoteca. I love this restaurant - the Art Deco facade and interior are both gorgeous (check out the online gallery of their vintage posters), the Italian food is of excellent quality (the memory of the zucchini flowers I had there a few years ago still lingers) AND it's only four minutes walk away from my house. Score!

Church St Enoteca

The evening started in the Gallery (the larger of the two function rooms, out the back). I stood around chatting to friends and to a chap that does marketing for Chandon, and we were served two dry sparking wines in succession: the Dal Zotto Prosecco 2006 (scored 90/100) and the 2005 Chandon ZD Blanc de Blancs (94/100). These were matched with Long Nose Point oysters with superfine shavings of prosciutto and dollops of watermelon sorbet - a really fantastic combination of salty and sweet.

Thanks to Rumpole, my first hand model! :)


With the first of the seated courses, we were given two rieslings: the 2007 Mountadam Riesling (96/100) and the 2007 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling (also 96/100). Once Jeremy had stood up and spoken about each of these two wines, a third glass of Mystery Wine was brought out for each of us - Jermey Oliver's Wine of the Year (drumroll.......) - the 2007 Seppelt Drumborg Riesling!

Church St Enoteca
Jeremy entertaining us with a very funny story about how he got started in wine writing.

With the rieslings we had a green pea soup with foie gras. I'm not wild about pea soup as a general rule, but this one tasted lovely and fresh, and the foie gras gave it a nice savoury earthiness.

Green pea soup

With the next course we had the 2005 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay (96/100) and the 2005 Penfolds Yattarna Chardonnay (96/100). I must say that I found the former to be a great disappointment: don't get me wrong, I'm not averse to wooded chardonnays, but I felt this one really knocked you over the head with broad oak - no subtlety! The Yattarna (the so-called 'White Grange'), by contrast, was marvelous - it had a really great burnt toast and oyster character.

Church St Enoteca

The chardonnays were brought out with a salad of raw artichoke, fennel, broad beans and pecorino, served over shaved Fratelli Galloni prosciutto. The salad reminded me a bit of that I had a few months ago with the tuna a la plancha at Cumulus Inc. The flavours were all pretty delicate, which helped to emphasise the quality of the prosciutto.

Artichoke salad

The fourth course was a pigeon raviolo with radicchio di Treviso, walnuts and parsley. The Northern Italian in me is always a fan of the bitter flavour of radicchio, and loved with with the nutty/gamey raviolo filling. The dish was accompanied by two Victorian pinot noirs - the 2005 Kooyong Ferrous Pinot Noir (96/100) and the 2006 Epis Pinot Noir (95/100). The Epis was particularly fabulous, with hints of five spice.

A round of applause for A, my other glamorous hand model!

Pigeon raviolo

I was still working through the pinot when two glasses of shiraz (or Syrah if we're to be Un-Ostrayan about it) arrived. The first (pictured below) was the 2006 Clarendon Hills Astralis Syrah (97/100). The second was the 2006 De Bortoli Yarra Valley Reserve Syrah (97/100)... it had great liquorice and fairy floss flavours.

Church St Enoteca

They were matched with a damn good roasted Angus eye fillet, served with porcini and briciole di patate. My steak was still pink and I loved the crunchy crumbs. Overall I must say I was extremely impressed with the quality of the food Church St Enoteca put on for us, especially considering the number of servings required.

Roasted Angus eye fillet

We finished with cheeses (the one thing about wine-oriented dinners is that you'll almost always get a cheese course instead of a dessert... not that I'm complaining about the cheeses we were offered) - Tourrée de l'Aubier (soooooooooo good) and Casa Madaio Calcagno Liscio (not usually so enamoured of hard cheeses, but loved it), served with the appropriate accoutrements.


It was, all up, a lovely night out. In addition to being open for dinner every night (except Sundays), Church St Enoteca is open for lunch on weekdays, with a $24.50/$31.50 two/three course lunch special.

Church St Enoteca