Moving Factories and an Arab Afternoon

Moving and an Arab Kitchen

The move is done… its amazing what you find, all that stuff that you sort of put away, food and trials that emerged from the backs of cupboards, boxes, backs of drawers and on top of shelves that were essentially out of sight, out of mind. It was weird, most of the bits and pieces I found, I kept thinking I may need them again and was busy fillings boxes with all manner of ancient stuff. There is no doubt that some would have been quite dicey had I been brave enough or silly enough to taste them. There was one that I did taste and this turned out to be a 18 litre  drum of something! I could not work it out, nor even remember what it was. I kept thinking that Worcestershire Sauce was discovered in a barrel hidden in the vaults of Lee and Perrin when someone had added some bits and pieces to a barrel of anchovies, was appalled by the taste/smell and just capped it off and hid it  Of course when it was opened, the world was  introduced to Worcestershire Sauce and the rest is history.

Image,

Sad to say that my rediscovery of a mystery liquid was not the start of something world shattering, but a semi sweet nothing and was consigned to the dump. As were, when I had regained my senses and sensibilities, all the other odds and sods that should, long ago, have been consigned to oblivion.

But it tells a story, a dream that started for someone who was passionate about food and who followed it. I made a lot of mistakes, I shared my dreams with some that I should never have shared with, they changed it, made it go to places that I suspect it should not have done. Took me on emotional roller coasters that occasionally muddied the waters and reduced my clarity. In time you learn or maybe you have always known, that if you want a dream, then you have to follow it, never let it go, don’t pass it to others, keep it nurtured and on course and in the end, it will come true.

I find myself more and more drawn to people who do follow passions, all types, religious, political, food, lifestyle… passionate people are the ones who set it all in motion, create the new, revive the old and ancient with renewed fervour. Discovery is something we all dream of, my dream is finding a locked house that had been given to me and then discovering it was filled with the past, left untouched, walk in walk out and it was a treasure trove of fascinating stuff…not riches, not wealth, just stuff. Hasn’t happened yet, but I have had one or two close things, a hollow tree on my Uncle Fred and Auntie Vi’s farm (called by all feather farm because Auntie Vi loved bantams and had many) that contained treasure, in fact the result of robbery and had to be handed to the police, a room in an old house in Prahran that friends were renting that was locked and one day, after I guess a flagon or two of wine, we decided to explore and it was a step back to the twenties. It was hard to walk away from that, filled as it was by old clothes, diaries, bits and pieces, but in the end it was not ours and there was no choice.

I suspect there is a fine line between passion and fanatic and that is often the cause for much unhappiness.

The new factory is much bigger. It has forced me to make a few decisions, one or two I have been loathe to let go. I have always loved the idea of creating and retaining the ancient methods of making liqueurs and what are called cordials (they are alcoholic and made from fruits etc) but even though I persevered for some time, it has become a distraction to the main game and I have to leave it. Perhaps in the future I will revisit this interesting area. The four stainless steel vats that I have are going to be used to make vinegar, real, proper, long matured and delicious. That’s the plan. It all starts with great wine, great cider and great beer and I am pursuing that now. Stand by for some damned fine vinegar!

We will continue to supply the products we have produced in the form of wine, notably the Vin d’orange, which is so delicious.

We are also moving the small wine license we have and for that we have had to submit a planning permit application to City of Yarra and that will take a short time.

Lets talk Arabic food. I suspect that it may well turn into the newest very BIG thing. I hear some of you laughing now, but my definition of Arab food is based on what is essentially member nations of the Arab League and their one defining collective is Arabic language and perhaps, but to a lesser degree, food.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_world

In the past when we spoke of food from the region we spoke of it as Middle Eastern this is defined as

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East

And it is commonly spoken of as a Eurocentric view of the region as well as narrow and ill defined. However when you start to explore the (in our case) foods that are now starting to make their presence felt on the international stage, it is clear that the use of the term Middle East is incorrect.  Take for example a blog which I enjoy a lot, it is done by a clearly Jewish man, from the USA, now living in France by the name of David Lebovitz. On a recent trip to Israel he posted the following mouth watering blog.

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2012/06/haj-kahil-arabic-food-tel-aviv/

It definitely got my attention.

We have also been extremely attentive to the guys from Ottolenghi’s and the several recipe books they have produced with their reliance on the combination of Lebanese and Israeli foods. Beautiful food that is gorgeous to eat, healthy and visually a complete treat.

I have also been lucky enough to be asked to review a recipe book on Arab foods called The Arab Table and it is very inspiring, I will share some more about its content later.

http://www.amazon.com/Arab-Table-Recipes-Culinary-Traditions/dp/0060586141

There is also of course and definitely not to be sneezed at, the book by our very own wonderful Abla

http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Ablas-Lebanese-Kitchen-Abla-Amad/9781921382215

We also have some great books now on the food of Turkey, we are indeed spoiled for choice. Don’t be fooled by the Kebab shops that are found in some places, whilst all may have some merit and even have a dish or two they do superbly, find the real deal.. how to do that!  Ask a Turk… they will not hesitate.

My curiosity is being assailed by the idea of long preserved lemons… found in many Arab countries but mostly associated with Morocco, this is a condiment and a garnish that is delicious and deserves to be found in many dishes. I suspect that we have often done it incorrectly and I have tried to take a look at that here… this is the simplest and best recipe I have found and is the one used for our own preserved lemons.

As many non waxed lemons as you can find. For every four lemons a cup of course salt. If you are unsure of the waxed or not waxed status of the fruit, plunge them into cold water and scrub them well with a strong bristled brush.

Take a small nick off the end of the lemon which connected it to the tree. With a sharp knife cut down the lemon as if you were quartering it, to within 2 cm or 1 inch of the bottom. Pack the cut sections with a quarter cup of salt. Place all the lemons into a container and allow to stand over night. It is also a choice if you add a bay leaf or two and some coriander seed, I even like a chilli or two. The next day the lemons should have given up some juice. Press down on the lemons and squeeze a little more juice from them and allow to stand (I just cover the top with some cheese cloth) and repeat this for 7 to 10 days. By that time you should have enough juice to cover the lemons. What happens next is fermentation and you need to have a way of allowing the air to escape the container and not let insects or too much air in. After a month they will be ready for use. They will continue to ferment and alter until in the end they are almost translucent. At any time the process can be stopped by cooling the lemons in a refrigerator. But it is important to remember that this is fermented food… think sauerkraut, think kimchee, think pickled cucumber and even fermented fish that ends up as fish sauce. It is a real method for preserving foods.

Try, grilled fish with finely chopped preserved lemons and parsley for garnish.

You are all invited to drop into the new factory and shop at

23 Robert Street Collingwood. Telephone and fax the same 03 9417 0209

http://www.peterwatson.com.au

~ by peterwatsonfood on June 30, 2012.

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