Results tagged Australia from David Lebovitz

Ginger Crunch

ground ginger

Origins of recipes are often funny and some of the stories are doozies. Many are found in more traditional places, like handed over from friends and relatives, some are found in cookbooks, and others are our own creations. Then there are those that come from who-knows-where, such as the one I found on a men’s room wall.

And then there’s this one, which got handed to me during a book event and meet-up that I had in Paris when a lovely woman from New Zealand gave me a tube of Vegemite, along with a photocopy of the recipe, saying it was amazing. (Interesting that she said the recipe was amazing, but when she gave me the Vegemite, she only followed that with a hearty chuckle.)

ginger slice recipe ingredients

At the time I thanked her and put it in my bag, then it was transferred to my kitchen counter where it rested amongst a pile of papers that is optimistically called “recipes to try.” It languished there for, oh, maybe eight months, until I picked it up and gathered all the ingredients to make it. Then I promptly put them in the pan and placed them in a corner, where they languished together for another few months. Until I finally decided it was time to try it.

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Kooka Boora Café

coffee at Kooka boora in Paris

I don’t usually venture out Sunday mornings because after years in the food business, I’ve learned that the one day I was sure not to be working would be Sunday. (I’d eventually made it my sole criteria when choosing where I’d work that I’d only work in places that were not open on Sunday, or for breakfast). I also didn’t think that it was fair that I should inflict myself on others before mid-day. And when I first moved to France, I was happy that only markets were open on Sunday, although I was a little vexed to find out that every store and shop was closed – until I got hip to what a good idea it was since it forced everyone in town to relax and loosen up for a day.

I’ve been dying to try some of the new “good” coffee places that have opened up in Paris but since I don’t drink coffee later in the afternoon (the disadvantage of a lifetime of working nights are persistent sleep issues) the idea of crossing town for an afternoon cup wasn’t in the cards. However since it was Sunday morning and the rest of the city was barely waking up, and I saw the sun finally shining outside, I took a leisurely hike up the barren streets and boulevards near Montmartre to Kooka Boora, for a cup of Australian coffee.

Kooka Boora coffee in Paris

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Lamingtons

Lamingtons

When I was in Australia, a couple of interesting things happened while I scooting around Sydney. One was that I went on the hunt for Lamingtons, and a number of people offered to send me recipes, but didn’t. And two, I got quite a few messages from people asking if I was coming to Melbourne. Then a food festival there rolled around and even though I woke up at all hours, checking my messages night and day, an invite to that city never landed in my Inbox.

Lamingtons

But instead of being tough and bitter, I decided to dive into something tender and sweet, and was compelled to whip up my own recipe for Lamingtons. (And it’s hard to remain mad at anyone in Australia because, truly, everyone was exceptionally nice to me during my visit to Sydney.) I did call upon one of those nice folks, the master of the Lamington, Matt Rothman, when deciding whether to go with a cocoa powder icing or one made with chocolate. And he responded that he makes either, depending on whether he wanted the glaze to soak in to the cake a little (cocoa powder) or for it to be more of a thicker icing (chocolate).

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Sydney Dining

Sydney Opera House

If I ever get back to Sydney, I may never leave. And not just because it takes the better part of a full day to get there, or to recover from the jet-lag, which Australians know about all-too-well…since for them to go anywhere, it’s a considerable journey as well. But what I found interesting was whenever I told any locals how great their city was, they’d say, “Yeah, it’s pretty great.” Most of the time when you talk to people who live somewhere, they’ll invariably have something to grouse about.

I liked walking around the small, but urban center of the city, with its tall buildings, shopping centers, and compact Chinatown. And I enjoyed putting on my walking shoes (and socks) wandering the various neighborhoods, which are eminently walkable and you can chance upon little cafés brewing up excellent coffee, sleek design shops, and ethnic restaurants with food that will blow your support hose off.

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The Lamington at Single-Origin Roasters

singe origin coffee

My search for the perfect Lamington ended this morning. If you don’t know what a Lamington is, you’re not alone. Yes, even I hadn’t heard of one, until a posted a picture of the Chocolate-Coconut Marshmallows from The Sweet Life in Paris on my Flickr page and they were mistaken for Lamingtons.

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Victor Churchill Butcher Shop

lamb shanks

Everything I know about meat could probably fit on a sirloin tip, but that still didn’t stop me from dropping my jaw when I went into Victor Churchill. When I was asking friends about places to visit in Sydney, Anissa Helou said to me – “You must go to that butcher!” I didn’t know who “that butcher” was, but a simple online search led me right to Victor Churchill.

Victor Churchill Sydney

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Kylie Kwong at Billy Kwong

lunch with Kylie Kwong

I crave Asian flavors, which became apparent on a couple of occasions this month. For one thing, it seems that I want to add chiles and fresh ginger to everything. Here is Sydney, Australia, where so much of the food feels Asian-influenced – clean flavors, fresh ingredients often cooked quickly over high heat (cooks using fiery woks always seem to be “attacking” the food, simultaneously pulling out and searing flavors), and served with immediacy – I mentioned to a dining companion that I loved everything I’ve eaten here. And what was particularly delightful was that my favorite flavors were used liberally in the food, including fresh ginger, which was so Asian. He looked at me, and said “Really? I think of fresh ginger as an Australian thing.” But when I said that I always saw fresh ginger piled high in Chinese markets, he said, “You know, it’s abundant in regular markets here in Australia as well.”

Being from California, Asian food is my “comfort” food and I never realized how much I depend on a bowl of spicy bibimbap for lunch in the winter or a light plate of cold buckwheat noodles with nori and ginger dressing in the summer. I like any and all Asian food, no matter what time of the year it is or where I am.

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Bourke Street Bakery

bourke street bakery pastries

Wow. I go to a lot of bakeries, but I’m rarely wowed all that much anymore. Living in France, where there is literally a bakery on every street corner (and a few on each block, in between the corners..), it’s not that I’ve become blasé. But to me, a bakery is more about just racks or showcases of pastries, lined up, then dropped into bags and sent off with a customer.

sticky bun croissant bourke street bakery

bourke street bread rhubarb tartlets

Without getting all gushy, bakeries are really parts of communities; places where people get their bread, but also places where friends gather for coffee or a snack. And as soon as I pulled up in front of Bourke Street Bakery here in Sydney, I felt it was somewhere very special.

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