The most influential event that shaped the way the restaurant here has developed was the sixth Symposium of Australian Gastronomy that was held in Geelong in 1991 just a couple of months after we opened Sunnybrae the first time.
After a big weekend service I quietly sneaked away to attend this event where Margaret Visser was to give the keynote address "Much Depends on Dinner" taken from the title of her then just released book on the analysis of a simple meal.
On arrival I slumped onto a couch where a rather portly white haired gentleman greeted me with a warm shake and cheeky smile. Max Lake, I have not seen you at one of these before? where are you from?
Max's books on taste and wine had graced our shelves for years, it looked like it was going to be a great symposium.
During the keynote address Margaret Visser drew our attention [amongst many other insights] to the eternal contradiction of our need for the new [neophilia] and our fear of the new [neophobia] in all our choices, not just in food. When this gets out of balance we find our menus/lives also get out of kilter. It was a simple concept but all important ideas are simple when you finally understand them.
The symposium introduced me to many of my mentors. Now 17 years later, many are still good friends and one of the Symposiasts' recent visit has prompted this reflection.
For information on the next symposium click the following link. http://www.hss.adelaide.edu.au/centrefooddrink/symposium/
Margaret Vissers' next book was "The Rituals of Dinner" and indeed the rituals of our Food Life [Its a food Blog] has prompted a reflection of which rituals we follow.
For us here at Sunnybrae our rituals are quite regular and despite climate changes revolve around the garden. The garlic is usually cleaned in the shed after Christmas lunch .
This year lunch was Mud Crab and noodles, a salad of green papaya, perilla, Nashi, plus the usual suspects of the chilli/palm sugar/fish sauce trilogy. The neophillic member of this dish was a new cucumber pickle that I found at Footscray. There is a new section in one of the stalls that has Chinese/Vietnamese pickles: no not the imported ones, but made in Melbourne, and the chopped cucumber pickle
added a surprising flavour/texture to this now traditional salad.
Desert was white peaches from a friends' garden, hers are ripe a couple of weeks before ours are ready.
The question of Mud Crab? or Crayfish? surfaced only to be sent packing with "get into the moment will you, and pass the crab"
With a pot of crab on the table the question is obviously ridiculous.
The next Christmas ritual is making the Creme de Cassis. Last year's black currants have been macerated in Hardy's Black Bottle Brandy for a year in cryovac bags. They are passed through a very fine moulli and carefully blended with a good sugar syrup.
We make 2 types one unfiltered. With the filtered one, we make sorbet from the fine dregs. The blackcurrant ritual continues by picking the ripe crop for next year. Its a fine Christmas ritual especially the tastings.
The call came from Ken and Joy Campbell from Mount Duneeed this morning that the Morello cherries are ready. If you check the post under More Morellos Maestro you will see that this ritual is exactly a year since that post. Get amongst it as its a short season. Tel 52641281 for details
The next garden ritual is picking the white peaches on New Years' day and making the Bellini mix.... and so it goes
Now class! You will get nowhere with a clean nose.