Eight Days (15 July 2018)

The Basque Culinary World Prize announced their ten finalists for 2018. It’s an incredible list of great people, doing great things, for a greater world. The prize celebrates chefs who “have come to understand that they can use their knowledge, leadership, entrepreneurship and creativity to be part of the transformation of society.” The initiatives range from helping refugees and indigenous communities, reducing waste, creating good food for the sick, training for those who need it and food education. Click the link and read about the chefs and their work (including our very own Jock Zonfrillo). It really is an industry that does a lot of good.
- I also found some food for thought in this look at the video project run by Spain’s National Library, reviving the recipes of years gone by. “I really feel that our Western food culture has become obsessed with always finding the latest innovation, instead of really valuing the wealth of our past ... It’s important to understand that so much of what we consider new and fashionable already existed a long, long time ago.”
I love my old cookbooks, I love the meandering way they are written, the assumed knowledge, the joy of picking up a book that takes you somewhere else, to another place and another time. I am contemplating a project that celebrates these. If you have a favourite recipe, from a favourite book, the cult recipes you return to, would you be willing to share it with me? 
Postcards from Mudgee:
It is hard to imagine a tree more beautiful than a persimmon in full fruit, her branches naked save for the bright orange fruit, strung like lanterns for a festival.
My persimmon epiphany occurred over a lunch at the Zin House in Mudgee. We were sitting at a table overlooking the beautiful glowing orbs of persimmons hanging on their naked branches, when the fruit was served as part of the cheese plate. There was something magical about that persimmon. It had that taste of pheromones you can get with ripe truffles – a taste that was sensual, sexual even.
Earlier this year, that memory was at risk of becoming my last. Lowe Wines and the Zin House were at risk of being lost. For Lowe, that would include the beautiful organic vineyard, the grapes grown with biodynamic principles, the soil nurtured over decades and generations; for Zin, it was the restaurant and the gardens that feed it; a place that feels more like a home than a restaurant.
This was a hostile takeover, but it was about much more than taking the two (successful)  businesses; it was their home, their dreams, and the cycle they had spent decades creating. And, at the heart of it all was the farm, founded by David's great-great-grandfather in 1823 and the family home, a true country homestead built a generation later, with thick walls and deep fireplaces, with a comfortable veranda that looks out over the gums in the day and a sky full of stars at night. 
Kim and David, in their desperation, turned to their community, to our community, for help. And help, they did. At the eleventh hour, they had gathered enough finance to rescue the family home, the winery and the restaurant. Money was pledged from people all over the country, small amounts, large amounts, enough amounts to make it work. These are people all in the midst of their own issues, whether restaurants fighting to stay afloat or farms fighting against the drought, who found a way to pitch in for someone else.
I was back at Lowe this week to find it is again persimmon season, and while this year that tree did not bare fruit - they tend to produce bi-annually - the community certainly did. Each time Kim tells the story, tears well in her eyes. They are no longer tears sprung by the fear of loss, but tears of gratitude and awe at the community that enveloped them. Kim and David are now in the position to work out ways to give that love back …
While ours may be a tough industry to work in, often with minimal financial rewards and gruelling hours, there is so much to love about what we do. We are a community of nurturers. We are lucky to work with what we love and people we love. That's something to celebrate.