The week that was (4 August 2016)

Time Out are hosting a talk - “Is the nanny state taking the taste from our restaurants?” - at the Belvoir on Monday. “Rare, cold-pressed and unpasteurised foods are increasingly common in Sydney’s bar and restaurant scene. But what are the risks, both for customers and the establishments that serve them? Is the nanny state trying to step in and control our diets at the expense of quality? Which vendors are exempt? What happens when food laws are ignored?”

As it happens, I have been having this very discussion with a friend recently. Restaurants get away with a lot that manufacturers don’t. This could be a good thing, it might not be. Personally, I am not willing to give up aioli made with raw egg yolks, but the argument is important, as much to protect yourself and your restaurant as anything else. The panel includes John Fink and Jake Smyth, alongside a gastroenterologist and an investigative journalist. $35 gets you a ticket and a Mary’s burger and a drink. Done. 
- In other theatrical news, I went to see The Beast at the Opera House last night. A lot of it made my blood boil, but some of it was quite funny – particularly the parts pertaining to food. It made me think about some of the trends/ideas we carry on about, and the subsequent judgment we pass on others. That’s not ok. I admit I am occasionally guilty of it myself, I am a terrible food snob (particularly re sustainability/ethics) - and so it did give me pause for reflection in regards to how I respond to trends, to knowledge - how can we deal with moral superiority (and, that horror, dieting superiority), both in and out of the kitchen?

I think it may be part of a bigger problem as there is so much information available to us now. Of course, we can’t know it all (in fact, the more I learn, the more I realise I don’t know), but we need to be conscious not to confuse knowledge with wisdom, or knowledge with “cool”, and, perhaps most importantly, knowledge with power. Food is about sharing not segregating. 
The religious fanaticism with which we approach food needs to be tempered. Of course I want to encourage food that is sourced ethically and sustainably. I think we need to pay more for better quality food and make that (and ideas/education as to how we can make that produce affordable - in the way you use it and the way it fuels your body), but I also want people to enjoy it. I believe much of our societal angst around food comes from unnecessary guilt and questioning – too much fat/carbs/sugar/alcohol (ok, that last one’s for me). I think we need to kill that. 

There are some really interesting thoughts bouncing around at the moment regarding this psychology of eating – have we intellectualised it so much that it’s become hard to enjoy? if so, that’s a problem.

What would Lulu Peyraud say? What would Elizabeth David say? Bah humbug.

- And thus, I quite enjoyed this from the NY Times Wine School – in fact I like the whole concept. “Every wine lover’s history is littered with grapes, producers and styles that for one reason or another have been cast aside … everybody comes to his own conclusions for reasons that are as psychological as they are physical. But I would never presume to dispute matters of personal taste. We’re all wired differently, and sometimes even the same wine with the same food can strike two people entirely antithetically.” Let's extrapolate this out a little: If you don’t like skin contact wine, power to you. If you do like a red wine on a winter’s night, that’s fine too. Don’t like your beer sour, no sweat. Your tastes are yours and yours alone. Simple.

- Finally, further to last week’s note on Bloom, Brash Higgins’s Jura-style wine. Mike Bennie very kindly took the time to give me the background on that style in Australia: “The best example has been out for a while from Crittenden (‘cri de couer’ it is called, and they use savagnin which is the actual grape of vin jaune, rather than chardonnay), also Kangarilla Rd have a VJ offering using savagnin, and, of little note, but quite few others use flor in winemaking (hey, even Brian’s rizza is under flor and used by Brosé originally for their coq au vin d’Australie!).” Legend. Thanks Mike. x.