A sixth sense about food
(Hand-picking dates for dinner)
There's diningm and there's responsible dining, and in Oman, Six Senses Zighy Bay has taken a socially responsible approach to culinary innovations that feature on new menus being introduced at the resort’s restaurants, Summer House and Spice Market. Embracing the farm-to-table approach, the culinary team has crafted a menu incorporating organic, seasonal ingredients and seafood sourced from local farmers and fishermen. This ensures the integrity of the produce and supports the local community while at the same time, it reduces the resort’s carbon footprint by minimizing food miles.
Summer House introduces a bistro style menu, including a new grill section featuring Omani lobster tail, grilled king prawns and Sous Chef Mohan's special of the day, which will focus on combining local seafood and produce for a flavorsome epicurean experience. Open for lunch and dinner, guests can choose an indoor or al fresco dining setting, perfect in the cooler months, with a tranquil garden backdrop and fresh sea breeze.
The resort has an extensive organic garden which provides produce for use in dishes on the menu. Additionally, Spice Market introduces a breakfast menu featuring a hot dish selection. Breakfast has been regarded as the most important meal of the day, a claim that Executive Chef Richard Lee also believes, “A healthy breakfast provides our body with the nutrients that we need to stay energized and focused throughout day. It’s one of the most important ways to balance our lives.”
The Middle Eastern themed Spice Market has taken inspiration from homegrown specialties to offer more varieties to the menu. Arabic Chef Mohammad Abukhadra takes guests on a gourmet journey through the region, with varieties of hot and cold mezze, lentil tajine and cumin and coriander coated duck breast including a special dessert of Zighy date crème brûlée. Dishes are prepared in the traditional mud kitchen for guests to enjoy in the relaxed ambience of the authentically accented interiors.
Six Senses Zighy Bay is located on the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman. The setting of 82 village-inspired pool villas is a spectacular bay, guarded by the dramatic Hajar Mountains and private sandy beach.
Guests have a diverse selection of memorable dining experiences from Sense on the Edge, a contemporary fine dining with spectacular views, to regional specialties at the Shua Shack and Spice Market, plus a Wine Cellar. More details....
Australia's longest lunch
If you have ever dreamed of flying off for a gourmet experience, that dream is about to come true. Air Adventure has just launched an exciting new tour, The Great Wagyu Adventure. Takeoff is from Melbourne's Essendon Airport and from there you can embark on what is sure to be a day that will not be forgotten.
Takeoff is at 0830 hours onboard the Outback Jet, capable of cruising speeds of over 300 knots (560kmph) which means that in just 50 minutes guests will land amongst the vines of Coonawarra in South Australia. Upon landing, guests are whisked across to Wynns Estate for a behind the scenes tour before slipping into a lab-coat to try their hand at wine-making.
Next stop, the multi award-winning Mayura Station in Millicent. Here, owner Scott deBruin purchased their first live full-blood Wagyu cattle from Japan in 1998 with a vision of producing and marketing highly consistent, premium quality Wagyu beef. Today their 1130-strong herd is raised on a 6000-acre property located in the heart of South Australia's Limestone Coast.
“Here guests enjoy a three-course lunch showcasing the diversity of this premium beef product, one course includes the signature 'Brand 9+' cut which retails at A$250 per kg,” says Dyer. There is also the opportunity to purchase Wagyu beef at cellar door prices. Each course is matched with a museum-release Coonawarra fine wine.
The return trip completes this memorable experience with a scenic orbit of the iconic 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Road. Guests arrive back in Melbourne at 1700 hours. More details.....
Air Adventure has been operating in Australia since 1977 providing small group, high-end all inclusive tours to some of Australia's most exciting and remote destinations.
Indian food insights
Thali is how traditional Indians eat! A thali is a stainless steel platter with little bowls consisting of a variety of different dishes providing a mix of textures, flavours and colours for a healthy meal in accordance with age-old Indian traditions of eating a nutritionally balanced meal in controlled portions. Thalis vary by the region and are indeed one of the greatest joys of eating in India.
In Rajasthan the thali has been an integral part of dining, both in palaces of the kings and the simple homes of the common man. Replete with papad, roti, rice, vegetables, curries and Indian dessert, a traditional Rajasthani Thali is a mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, influenced by the royal lifestyles of the Maharajas and the availability of ingredients in this arid region, where one must note that due to scarcity of water, milk is often used for cooking.
The dishes served in the Rajasthani Thali may vary a little from one region to the other but its signature dishes that one must look out for are Laal Maans-A thick semi dry tangy mutton curry prepared using butter milk or curd and lots of onions, garlic and Mathania Red chillies from Jodhpur; and Gatte ki sabzi-gram flour steamed dumplings, called "Gattas" dunked into a yogurt based curry.
Hyderabadi cuisine, like its culture and history stands high and unparalleled. In fact, for travellers one of the prime reasons for visiting Hyderabad, other than its rich architectural history is to taste the authentic Hyderabadi biryani. This aromatic preparation of basmati rice and mutton is meticulously prepared in the ‘Kutchi' (raw) biryani style, in which raw rice and raw meat are cooked together in a ‘handi' (earthen pot) with onions, saffron, and spices.
Biryani was brought to Hyderabad by the invading Mughal army of Aurangazeb. As the traditional Indian food such as roti, rice and curries would be too elaborate to prepare and eat in times of war, the biryani was developed as a quick yet full meal for the troops. The blending of Mughlai and Andhra cuisines resulted in the Hyderabadi biryani. Over time chicken and vegetarian variants of the traditional biryani have also become popular. The Hyderabadi’s can’t do without the biryani and after tasting it you too might want to take the recipe back home.
Hot, spicy and aromatic are the unique features of Chettinad cooking. A successful trading community of Tamil Nadu, the Chettiar community is known for their richly decorated enormous bungalows, their warm hospitality and above all their food, which is indeed one of the spiciest in India.
The dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas, and use a lot of sun-dried meats and salted vegetables. Chettinad Chicken, popular world over, is characterized by its predominant ingredients – fennel, star anise and chilli and is a feast for spice lovers. It is eaten with rice and rice-based accompaniments such as dosais, appams, idiyappams, adais and idlis. Every household will have its own recipe for cooking the Chettinad chicken, and will have both the dry and curry variants of it. But no matter which recipe you follow and which variant you try it is always spicy and finger licking good that leaves you craving for more.
This is probably the most well-known Indian dish in the world! One bite of the thick tasty gravy of this legendary dish and you’ll understand that the people of North India love chillies, saffron, milk, ghee (clarified butter) and nuts...all the ingredients that make the cuisine rich and hearty.
The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to Delhi. It is believed to have been first introduced by the restaurant Moti Mahal, when its chef hastily prepared it, for a hurried VIP customer who wanted “some” chicken dish. He tossed half of a Tandoori chicken with liberal amounts of butter, tomato, and garam masalas. It was so well appreciated that it became the signature dish of the restaurant, though modified a little subsequently to improvise it.
Although today various versions exists for the recipe, the one where the chicken is marinated overnight in yoghurt and spice mixtures including a host of spices like ginger, garlic paste, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli, is still the favourite of most people. A favorite of North Indians and a staple at most Indian restaurants, the butter chicken has made its place in every corner of the world!
(Information from Luxe India)
DIY tricks for your kitchen
(Image: flickr, banger1977)
Add sliced potato to over-salted stews
Unless you're Martha Stewart, says a popular website, chances are your kitchen could use a little bit of organizational attention. There's a myriad of obstacles to run into while cooking, whether it's lack of counter space, missing ingredients or an overabundance of condiments crowding your cabinets. Here you have 27 smart things you can do to make food preparation easier, more efficient, tidier and quicker.
Here are two of them (see #1 above):
(image: imgur, cracka_azz_cracka)
For more counter space, place a cutting board over a sturdy open drawer
Out of the box!
"In the late 1980's, I worked for a small family business in Noosa, Queensland," says Debbie Spohr, owner-manager of The Timber Cake Box Co. "Each Christmas, the owner's wife would make these deliciously super-moist Christmas fruit cakes. When I asked her for the recipe, she told me it was not all about the ingredients, but the container she cooked these in. To my surprise, she revealed her secret as being a timber cake box!"
This was the beginning of a new business for Debbie.
Even though she could not believe that you could cook in a timber box, with the help of her husband, who made the timber cake boxes, Debbie Spohr tested them over and over and, each time, the end result was the same, an amazingly super-moist cake, whether it was a traditional fruit, pumpkin or chocolate fudge cake.
These handmade timber cake boxes are made from sustainable natural hoop pine and are not only environmentally friendly, but you will only ever need to purchase one, unless you want a different size, as it will last for many years.
To keep them in excellent condition, season the box before use, line with paper when baking the cake, and never wash the box, simply brush any crumbs or spills out after use.
Escape to the River
For something a little different, plan on a culinary journey with Aboriginal Gourmet Experience at the Margaret River Gourmet Escape in November.
Aboriginal Chef Mark Olive (aka 'The Black Olive') and Josh Whiteland from Koomal Dreaming will combine a feast of bush flavours with contemporary international cuisine on Friday November 21, as they host Kambarang South West Aboriginal Gourmet Experience, as part of the 2014 Margaret River Gourmet Escape. Supported by Aboriginal hospitality students and Outback Academy apprentices and students, the culinary experience also includes a Noongar art exhibition and music from Gina Williams and Guy Ghouse. Proceeds from the event will go towards the Outback Academy Hospitality Program which encourages Aboriginal people to consider a career in hospitality, tourism and events.
The chefs will prepare a feast of bush flavours with contemporary international cuisine to tempt guests' senses and deliver a cultural culinary experience. "We will be taking you on a journey that you won’t get anywhere else and will leave you with an experience you are not likely to forget," is the promise.
Coffee to the rescue!
The Energy from Coffee Wastewater project by UTZ Certified has proven that is possible to generate energy, tackle climate change and protect water resources by treating discharges from coffee mills. The project started in 2010 with the goal of addressing environmental and health problems caused by the wastewater produced in the coffee industry.
Tailor-made coffee wastewater treatment systems and solid-waste treatment mechanisms were installed in eight coffee farms in Nicaragua, ten in Honduras and one in Guatemala. The positive environmental and economic impact of the project on over 5,000 people in the region has inspired UTZ Certified to replicate the initiative in other countries.
This is an amazing discovery! Only one percent of freshwater in the world is available for human consumption. A cup of coffee requires 140 litres of water to be produced. Over 70 percent of water used in Latin America is returned into rivers without being treated.
Latin America produces around 70 percent of the world’s coffee and is the continent where 31 percent of the world’s freshwater resources are located. Yet coffee production generates a great amount of wastewater that is regularly released untreated into rivers, affecting aquatic fauna and flora as well as downstream communities. Additionally, coffee wastewater comes along with tons of organic waste and high toxicity which affects the soil and generates considerable amounts of greenhouse-gas emissions, particularly methane, heavily contributing to climate change.
The Energy from Coffee Wastewater project has been implemented in a range of differently-sized farms. The achieved results of the project range from preventing local deforestation of native trees to better indoor environments for families who replaced firewood with domestic gas stoves for cooking.
UTZ Certified is currently introducing the technology in Peru and Brazil. UTZ hopes to get further funds and industry’s support to replicate the initiative in Africa and Asia.
A very sophisiticated 12-year-old
If the mention of whisky makes you think of Scotland, then you need to recalibrate your geography.
Hellyers Road Distillery is Australia's largest boutique distillery with the first flow of spirits taking place on 29 January 1999 and first product sales in 2006. The Distillery is located in pristine dairy farming country on the outskirts of Burnie in north-west Tasmania and is the only one of Tasmania’s nine major distilleries operating in this part of the State. It is a fully-owned subsidiary of Tasmania’s second largest milk-processing company, Betta Milk, and was established following deregulation of the Australian Dairy Industry in 1996.
Hellyers Road Distillery came about through the foresight of Laurie House, the former general manager of the milk business who today remains a company director. House took up the lead set by local industry pioneers Bill Lark and Patrick Sullivan to produce single malt whisky leveraging on Tasmania’s burgeoning reputation for producing high quality food and beverage. Eighteen years on, the vision of these men has proven to be inspirational with Tasmanian single malts quickly becoming a major force domestically and overseas.
Like Sullivans Cove, Hellyers Road has been heralded internationally for the quality of its whisky. At last year’s prestigious Whisky Live event in Paris the distillery’s Pinot Noir Finish variety was judged ‘Best New World Whisky’ in a series of blind tastings. In 2010 its peated variety was recognised by the Malt Whisky Association of Australia as the nation’s best single malt. In 2012 the distillery released its first aged statement whisky – 10 Year Original, and now it will release its 12 Year very soon.
The Burnie Visitor Centre attracts upwards of 25,000 people each year, many of whom take advantage of a fully interpreted ‘Whisky Walk’ which also offers the opportunity to pour and wax seal your very own ‘Distillers Choice’ single malt.
Guido Gobino is currently one of the most interesting chocolatiers working in artisanal chocolate production in Italy and indeed the world. The careful selection of the best ingredients, meticulous control of the entire production chain, the hunt for new flavors that still respect tradition, cutting-edge technology and the attention to packaging design are just some of the elements that characterize Gobino’s production.
A long-time friend of Slow Food, Guido Gobino has been moving closer to the association, ever since—with Terra Madre and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity—it shifted its priority to agriculture and began working all over the world, including with hundreds of small-scale cacao producers in Latin America. In the year his business celebrates 50 years of family management, Gobino has decided to forge an alliance with the Slow Food Presidia and start using cacao from Chontalpa, in Mexico, for a dedicated line of chocolate.
(Fave de Cacao - Cocoa beans cleaned, debacterized, then roasted whole. They are then unshelled by hand and enrobed with dark chocolate and dredged with icing sugar)
The project has also been started to raise the profile of Chontalpa, recognized as the birthplace of criollo cacao, the rarest and most prized variety, renowned around the world. The state of Tabasco is Mexico’s leading cacao producer: 67 percent of its surface area is dedicated to the crop and it is responsible for around 80 percent of national production. Though cacao is central to the lives of Chontalpa’s small-scale farmers, every day they must struggle against a hostile economic and commercial system.
Their difficulty in accessing credit and distance from the national market make it very hard for them to receive technical assistance, solve plant disease problems, process the cacao with suitable machinery and technology and produce a semi-processed product that would guarantee them an income proportionate to their efforts. The producers only have access to the local market, where middlemen impose their own often unfavorable prices. It becomes impossible to translate the actual quality of the raw material into market value.
Gobino is committed to buying cacao directly from the small-scale Presidium producers and supporting them by paying a fair price, which goes entirely to the producers, without any middlemen taking a cut. The chocolate will be made following a production protocol drawn up by the producers and Slow Food, and will be the first to bear the Slow Food Presidium brand: truly a good, clean and fair chocolate.