The week that was (12 August 2017)

- The delicious. Produce Awards have been announced for 2017. So many fabulous producers - it's something to make your heart sing. They don’t provide links on the delicious. website, so I have tried to add these for the winners in below, but you should click on the link above to find all the medalists. 
From the earth: Randall Organic Rice
From the dairy: Cedar Street Cheeserie, A Love Supreme
From the paddock: Piccolo Farm, Pastured Quail
From the sea: Richard Hamilton, Spanner Crab
Best new product: Camden Valley Veal
Producer of the year: Ocean Grown Abalone, Ranched Greenlip Abalone
In the bottle: Maidenii Classic Vermouth
Maggie Beer award for outstanding contribution: Will Studd
Outstanding artisan: Sharon Flynn, The Fermentary
Chef: Josh Niland
Outstanding native producer: Warren and Ewa Jones, Tumbeela Native Bushfoods
Alla’s Foundation Scholarship: Michael and Cress McNamara, Pecora Dairy
Despite the public's fascination with chefs, this is really where Australia's food scene starts and ends. Seek these producers out, get their produce on your menu …

- While we are singing the praises of the oft unsung, you may want to read this article in the WaPo about the importance of kps/dishwashers in every kitchen. Tets, Keller, Bourdain, Peps - a lot of great chefs started here, and every great chef knows their value. 
- Children’s meals in restaurants also had a little time in the sun – and as they should. Feeding kids shit food is shit. My beautiful friends at Racine brought it to my attention – where they serve real food on the kid’s menu. This should be the norm, not the exception. 
Postcards from Pantelleria:
Every day, around 5pm, the jellyfish hunter appears at the lighthouse. He comes prepared with net, a mat for the rocks (although he rarely sits) and his beautiful wife. They smile and chat happily as they scale the vertical cliff wall to the ocean, to his hunting ground. This easy athleticism belies their age, they must be at least 70.

Net in hand, he stands on the rocks, waiting for the inevitable cry - medusa - and, just like bindies at a picnic everyone freezes, carefully looks around, and then, if the coast is clear, swiftly exits the scene. The jellyfish hunter holds his ground, directing those with masks and snorkels to the place of the last sighting. If he can’t reach the medusa, he will throw in his net. It is the children he is protecting, from three and four-years old, they swim in the ocean largely unattended, at eight or nine they learn to dive and start jumping off the high rocks – the island disappears steeply into the Med and so the jumping is (relatively) safe. It's a community service he clearly enjoys. I love it.
The volcanic rocks and cliffs of the island make these trips to the ocean somewhat perilous. There are no beaches. Swimming holes are hidden and, as I have made friends, I have been taken to secluded places; dark, rugged moonscapes I would never have tackled alone. And yet, I am constantly impressed by the variety of people who make the effort. Beyond the frivolous holidaymakers and the majestic jellyfish hunter, spearfishing is a loved pastime and hauls of fish leave the beach on strings each day. There are also those collecting capers, quietly perched on the rocks filling their small buckets, while others gather urchins for their dinner. It is comforting to know that this will all be consumed. They are acutely aware of waste here.
The ocean is generally crystal clear, as we are way out in the Med, but there are certain winds that bring rubbish with them. There is so much plastic swirling around the Med (I was heartened to read the supermarkets et. al. are finally banning single use bags back home) and the Pantesco are conscious of the need to protect their small island.

Nino, the restaurateur at Altamarea, perhaps my favourite on the island, is also an artist. He creates incredible fish sculptures from the refuse he finds on Pantelleria's shores, including the colourful driftwood from the boats of desperation that come across from Africa. Knowing the original of these bright colours, now stripped back by the ocean, lends a potent melancholy to his works. Modelled on species from the Med, the eyes, fins and tails are fashioned from plastic bottle tops, string, net, toothbrushes and skateboard wheels. He gives the profits back to an association created to raise awareness for the plight of the sea. This connection between the people, land and sea is visible everywhere. 
Of course, waste is a terrible problem for us all. In the Gulf of Mexico they’ve just announced a “dead zone” the size of New Jersey – largely due to run off from agribusiness upstream. However, the most shocking for me this week was Caro Meldrum-Hanna’s report on ABC. It was an exposé on our recycling industry in Australia. Apparently, the bottom has fallen out of the recycled glass business – and so, instead of actually being recycled, up to half of the glass you carefully separate is going to landfill. It’s shocking. Watch it here.