Tuesday, 18 September 2012


 I caught up with A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, a novel that takes us into a post Twitter universe, the place where web marketing is taking or more accurately, has already taken us.  The book deals with the music biz but the parallels between the food world and Egan’s world is clear. The cluster like, but  interconnected nature of social media already has the flocks of Egan’s “blind parrots” that circle anybody on the web at every turn. The fossil media shakeups have also been profound. It’s been said that over 1000 years of collective journalist experience left the building in Melbourne and Sydney a fortnight ago.  So the web, we are told, is or might be? the saviour of the free press.....
On a more cheerful note we have had the wettest season for about 18 years. The dams are full and new drainage lines need to be dug in the vegetable garden to be able to get the mower in. We have not been able to sow the new grains yet, but if it stays dry for a week it should be right to go...we are planting Khorassan from our own seed again, some hard white wheat, some mustard and a lot of potatoes. Don the farmer is replanting half the spelt seed from last year's crop at his farm but in a much larger scale about 20 hectares. He has also bought a mill, ordered a spelt de-huller and an oil press for other seeds.
While in the city I stumbled upon some really wild Vanilla on the Pacific Island stand at the big food show.It comes from Niue and the charming Stanley Kalauni explained to me about the two basic varieties of Vanilla V.Planifolia  (syn. V. fragrans) and , V. Tahitensis.
Niue grows the less common Tahitensis. When you are surrounded by big piles of premium vanilla bean as I was at this stand your sense of taste is altered. You can still taste and smell but you have to fight to compensate in the same way as in a noisy restaurant where you need to make allowance for the background noise that changes your perception of flavour.
 There were beans from all over the Pacific of both varieties. But it was clear that Niue had the biggest softest most fragrant vanilla beans in the building. The fine details about the most popular flavour in the world  is a deep well of food chemistry and sensory observation. This is a good place to begin  http://www.vanillareview.com/vanilla-information/
I fear its only a matter of time before the Vanilla police will be taking photos of my larder and posting online as to how politically incorrect my Vanilla is. Thankfully we have a burgeoning vanilla industry in Australia that is no doubt “killing” the vanilla in the most sensitive way. 
Post script
 after using your vanilla beans there is another second use that while not as strong as the first use is still quite good.

 Wash, dry them carefully and cut them into small pieces and place in a bottle of Vodka  or other Hootch. Leave in a dark place for as long as possible and use your well rinsed coffee plunger to separate the solids or go rustic with all the bits left in as the recipe requires.

Other reading..

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