Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Part of the Pools
June 2014

Reluctancy stuck to the soles of Hornwomans shoes and staff as she, Goatman and Edie the Kid commenced their unmarked trail to the Blinman Pools.
The trail had never been trod by human weight in their opinion. The goat tracks and a compass pointing south spoke of the Pools and that that is the path they should take.

 
The steep, shaled terrain kept her reluctancy acute for several hundred meters of traversing - concocting images of ankles at wrong angles, car keys lost in the vast surrounds and a big, blank read of No Service for phone reception to match.
Goatman found his staff first with thanks to Hornwoman's keener eye. With the presence of our first mascot by our ambling footed sides, the reluctancy and reliance on the compass began to slip.
Goatwoman relaxed into the path ahead. The vehicle road gone. A goat track curving west around the chest of the first of many creases.
A weightless silence filled the space between the three and the chitter of tumbling rock beneath the feet of ground dwelling wildlife. The silence but for their sound and the circulating winged sky life was delicate. Two human figures and a canine had joined the threadwork of the mysteriouus surrounds for an afternoon.
Pausing to gasp in admiration on countless occasion, at seemingly simple, intricate detail of a beautiful uninterrupted space.

 
Goatman, in an exhalation of epistomological thought: "Would you think that the animals marvel of the beauty of such a place as we do??"
Clothes fell to the dirt and sun danced into their eyes as the man and women were intoxicated by the discovery of the spectacular oasis and the feeling it aroused. The air pressed cool, ricocheting off the stone and prickles bit bald feet.
The clothes came off. The water pierced, fierce. Lungs retrieting as other body parts that came in two's did too. The clothes stayed off.
They jumped into the sky. Their decorum a reflection of the primitive landscape. Riddled with the desire to let go of what would be perhaps 'moonstruck' behaviour. That term representing quite what it is for the moment. The moon that week was as complete as the Goatman and Hornwoman behaviour.

 
Nothing to divide near and far, big and small, but the conditioned manner of human interpretation.

Friday, 4 July 2014

I walked through the city
8.30 pm 3rd July
 
The human anatomy of the neck and shoulders will
evolve to resemble the Homo Sapiens preceding us once more. We used to hunch to the ground to fossick for food & material. Reasons for the
future diminished pool of 'straight backed and erect' are for far more practical
consideration of course. Must be checking constantly that the phone, laptop, ipad, tablet, ipod isn't turning to food before our very goggly
eyes! 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


De Groot Move
(Beginning in the Summer of 2014)
July 2014
 
The commencing week of the De Groot Coffee Roastery at Rocky and Mick's 'Factory 9', Port Elliot was the beginning of new beginnings. The weather committed to the 30's c. Trev committed to the Middleton surf report. Lunch breaks to the Port Elliot Bakery meant a drive by Knights Beach. Little room was left for coffee chatter as we played beans in the generous space the Roastery had found.
 
 
Let me not deny the truth of Trevor and my interest for all things of coffee descent. Instead of drawing breath between surf updates and the hypnosis of the wave, we accomodated what would have been mainstream dialogue at Espresso Royale with the addition of new enthusiasm.

 
Routine altered slightly from our one of Magill Rd life.
Trev hits the bitumen Tuesdays and Thursdays to deliver the coffee to customers, bringing back tales of the city for Wednesdays and Fridays in the factory. Roasting prevails Monday, Wednesday and Friday - the preliminary months on the little red roaster until the big, black, PROBAT spaceship could be launched. The machine is now a living dream, almost completing the scene of the factory space. Trev and Bernadette prepare the interior for its public view days ahead when the Roastery Cafe will find its feet for summer 2014.
 
 
I will now articulate some subtleties around my working day at Factory 9. The thirty minute morning drive where the sun begins to greet the rolling green of the Fleurieu, as my blinking eyes adjust, is a remedy for morning weariness. My stop at Peter and Steven's 'Six acre Grocer', Port Elliot fills our fridge with produce gathered by local gardeners. People willing to share their home grown fruit and vegetables.
The community sense felt around the Peninsula convinces me that I have many, many friends in the region!! Perhaps they don't know be by name, but it feels as they do, without saying so. Personable folk enjoying the lifestyle of the plentiful and spacious, below the city.
The De Groot Coffee Co new headquarters couldn't be in a finer niche. My niche out here feels about right too.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Prairie - Meat muscling additions
May 2014
Third Prairie working adventure has passed. The transition of the hot days and mild evenings have dispersed for the Winter cool of the Flinders Ranges. The days are now temperate and the nights chilly and clear.
Simon muscled the Prairie's menu meat appeal somewhat further. Bringing back an old tradition of Kangaroo Tail Soup with vengeful vertebra of braised tail and Parmesan crouton. The Nomads are giggling with their thriftful paws around Kangaroo Tail shaped Pies. Men can't pass the 10 inch challenge of a Camel Sausage Roll with their pint of xxxx. The measure of 'how many inches he can do' won't die young.
Some delicate, pretty plates perfected for the after dark diners. Breaded two tooth hogget, goat cheese and saltbush smoked tomato tart is a tender, aged turn of the lamb cutlet, presenting with height, colour and a memorable smokiness.
 
 
Kangaroo, beetroot, pearl barley and chilli Pie with buttered peas and rivermint tatziki.
In the diffusing stream of North or South tyre hoofing adventurers, some blade driven, boot treading, camel guided visitors find the Prairie Hotel too. As did a parade of the new model Jeep Cherokees for three days for a 'drive in and drive out' five course luncheon to launch and test drive the youngest Jeep member. Where better to explore for 4wd and Australian culinary enlightenment.

Prairie Hotel Condiments put in the Jar
25th April
 
Prairie Hotel production of native plant and fruit based chutneys, sauces and cheese platter compliments have churned into another gear as the season of haste approaches rapidly.
Several of these jarred preserves have been a work in making for many years. The Quandong Jam and Bush Tomato Relish taking the reins in popularity.
 
The Quandong is a native peach of the ‘Sandalwood’ family, growing in the central and southern deserts of Australia. Its ability to tolerate drought, salt and harsh conditions of sand dunes and granite make the fruit a very impressive 'parasitic' candidate for Jam at the Prairie Hotel! The above environment is quite the reality of the Prairie and the surrounds.
 
   Fresh scones daily with whipped cream and Quandong Jam finds the Nomads nostrils mid morning and afternoon.
 
Sweet Lemon myrtle chilli Sauce is beautifully flavoursome and lifts the character of simple food combinations. The Lemon myrtle boasts the highest level of citral purity; higher than that of lemongrass. The leaves and flower are used in the culinary and healing worlds. A diverse, determined little plant!
   

At the Prairie, a salad dressed with this sauce of zing or a pyramid of wedges as vehicle, are ways you can sample the Sweet Lemon Myrtle Sauce with perhaps a glass of Bundaleer Rose.
 The Bush Tomato Chilli Jam gets all the Relish Lovers going. Its wild tomato character, born from a very ‘un-tomato’, eggplant related bush combined with a long simmer with onion, ginger and chilli accompanies the Prairie ‘Feral Antipasto Plate’. Cured kangaroo and pastrami, lemon aspin goat cheese, house made emu pate, Flinders Ranges olives and ciabatta. If you sample the chutney alongside these Outback delicacies at the Prairie, you are bound to find a jar with your name on it to take home.
Prairie Hotel preserve Range that provides one with a taste of native bush food with a stroke of gastronomy that you may take home. 

 

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Prairie - Parachilna
May 2014
Simon had discussed the idea of spending time in the Prairie Hotel kitchen on several occasions with Jane Fargher. Always ideas in passing as he made his way north then south for the Birdsville Races. The idea is now our fortnightly reality. The Prairie 'DIDO's'... Drive in and drive out.
   Approaching Easter, we stacked the 4WD with the necessities of our idea of downtime in Outback Parachilna. Sketch books, yoga mat, exercise weights, books, guitar, computer and Edie.
The bustle of activity awaiting us - that the Prairie stirs throughout the pleasant Autumn months made all these packed instruments for activity sit idol and untouched for the entirety of the ten days.
   What awaited us at the edge of the Northern Flinders Ranges was our commencement in generating a palatable taste of the Outback with the props of filthily spectacular sunsets, country character, art, the Ranges of reds and purples, warmth, stillness. Undisturbed surrounds. Only the generous company of the flies to remind you to always glance into your glass before your next swig.

Some Reflection
20th May 2014
The Murray in her northerly curves - motionless twilights and able and early galahs are memories of child hood and teenage years. The stillness of the Riverland and raging red rays of sun, the backdrop to silhouetted gums and fence line. Such impressions remained in memory and photograph for the next several years, where concrete, traffic light and too much sound prevailed. As the huge appeal of such memorable city things did lose its appeal, I found myself in the quaint and quiet seaside town of Robe - roasting coffee and working on my South Australian accent.   
   Robe ticked every box for four years, where my 22 years of age saw the turn of 26. I found some amateur writing and surfing feet and the owners of feet whom I have made life long ties with in the particularly small community of young people by the sea. I found a companion with pawed feet who appreciates the ocean, beaches and harmonic sound as I.
 
 
One more human male kind of companion became an intimate part of my existence somewhere there too. He has cemented some of my suspicions of living ingredients. I think we are doing a fine job at the recipe of just that together now.
 
    Curiosity killed that of the contentment I had with my night shift working with the beans by the sea in Robe. Particularly at the time of departure from my work at Mahalia Coffee, I was in search of neighbouring coffee roasting techniques and new inspiration in philosophy and routine with the crafting the bean. That which I could not find for quite some time.
The work and leisure in between, in a turn of times was one of such memory and experience, I often wish to rewind the tape to perform the six months perhaps once more. Working behind the coffee machine at the Robe Providore with Anthony and Evelyn proved to be reminiscent of my commencing working days in Robe. Pumping out pounds of ‘Willy’ lattes and devouring Anthonys Cinnamon Scrolls helped the jean girth in never feeling flaccid.
 Evenings in the musty, creaky floored booths of the Caledonian Inn – Robe, kept the night owl in me happy – bringing to the mouths of many the plethora of Limestone Coast, Coonawarra and Mt Benson, working alongside Simon Burr as the wonderful Chef he is, as his ‘floor’ partner in far from crime. Making cheese there, to cellar in the furry feeling, damp cellar beneath the hotel. Precision and patience that would be tasted months later.

 
The call I had anticipated but could never have predicted found its way. The voice of a curly brunette, Bernadette Stack greeted me with a request to meet! Delighted, excited and relieved at once. The pleasure of meeting the De Groot Coffee Co team on Magill Rd Adelaide upon return was the start of what I had imagined would come my way. I started the following week in a small and ethically considerate Coffee Roastery and haven’t glanced back.
For a number of months Simon and I made the drive along the addictively pungent Coorong from Robe to Stepney, weekly. I continued tamping out the ‘Willy’s’ at the Robe Providore each weekend as Simon managed the Calledonian Inn over the road. Sundays, the leisurely drive back to the land of city noise was an enjoyable one, as we both eased into our city work week of pleasant difference. So different our lifestyles became as we gravitated to that, where I happily roasted the coffee bean once again and Simon worked for ‘South Australian Research & Development Institute’ from 9 til 5. (“Fantastic chef hours” he says). I felt closer to the café and restaurant culture I adore, markets and galleries and music I appreciated greatly for the time we were so near to such things. To sip a latte in a buzzing corner café and sketch or write and be anonymous was freedom from being known by most in a small town like Robe. As much as I miss the proximity and care I felt in Robe, the space of being anonymous for an independent sort like I has been a wonderful thing. 
‘De Groot Coffee Co’, Magill road days were over as the De Groot family desired the lifestlye of the coast. Port Elliot became the new residence for the Roastery in a factory space on Hill st.

 
With the change of location for work and the approaching need to move from Simons fathers house in Stepney, the maps were out and rentals the agenda. Simon had always desired to live in the Fleurieu Peninsula with her rolling hills, green growth, vines of wines and produce. The proximity to town and the coast to roast gave the area bright green lights of approval for both of us. East terrace, Strathalbyn we found.
That is where I am and how I come to be in a fortunate time and place, such as now.


Monday, 31 March 2014

Feasturing' the Seventh Fairway
15th February 2014
 
So a tall and handsome Groom Luke was to escort his bride Aylwen up the seventhth fairway, in his first ever set of wheels, a series one Landrover, complete with rust dints and retired curves. The Goolwa golf course appreciated the gesture, as did wedding guests from near and far. As they chugged across the drought acquainted green I had my moment of presence in the celebration, sighing and leaning admiringly with a little fuzzy feeling that wasn't the Bird in Hand sparkling Pinot Chardonnay.
  The soon to be wedded ones were spotted in work wear of tired garments, mere hours before the isle walk - pottering in and around the marque that could have swayed with their incredible creativity. Considerate name tags, honey pots, straw bales, worn pallets, wine barrels for bottled beverages... Lighting that turned the sun's sleeping hours into a carnival of glow for dance, intimacy, mystery and fun. 
Aylwen smiled calmly as her dedicated flower arranging friends and family did their best with sunflowers from the florest that were supposed to grow to be natives for their special day. Patience indeed.
 
 
The soon to be in black and off white persisted and created, as the weather gasped undesirable exhalations around umbrellas, marques and straw. The meandering down the isle at Basham's Beach, Middleton summoned them away from their masterpiece setting for a reception. A place where one's eyes could film in crackling shades of brown and grey with a harmonic clicking camera tempo and the distant whinny of horses and wedding bells.
 
 
  Simon Burr arrived with the impressiveness of his catering trailor transformer, fit with a wood fired oven, electrical and water cables and the knack to be able to unfold in challenging function locations to perform as a commercial kitchen. Staff to assist the preparation and service of the wedding feast of the evening tiered into the kitchen marque to lend knives, hands and muscle to develop the canapas, two course and buffet dessert for 150 people. Porcini, parsley and parmesan Arrancini, prosciutto rolled king prawns, rustic chorizo, bean and thyme stew, pesto stuffed button mushroom, lamb kofta, falafel eggplant, flat bread with 'Oasis EVOO' of 13' that Simon was able to assist harvest and pressing. Lots of grazing fare for gradual injections of energy for the many that worked that dance floor like it was its last.
 The man of recycling, wonderful wood work, path mowing and guarding the venue is Kallan. Aylwen's Father sculpted a path for walking, later staggering, lined with garden lights at foot height. The arriving party smiled there way onto the converted golf green to greet champaign and a selection of beer for champions - Vale Ale, Squires and Boags among them.
    The spectacularly stark white of the marque, canapas plates and waitress blouses danced behind gradually brimming flutes of bubbles, amber bottles of yeasty goodness and eyes alight with delight for the loved one's day of fusion. The euphoria on the seventh fairway, stemming from the celebration of Luke and Aylwen finding each other in the world of warmth and hazy noise. A day of a contagious nature. Tears swelling in fellow humans, even strangers of the Bride and Groom.
   Functions of food, wine, flare and setting can be notorious for drama. As variables out of balance don't work to create harmony and pleasure in the event. An Aylwen and Luke kind of drama notorious gathering is the exception of such a rule. With their loved ones around them adding a feather of faith in the love of people - a wonderful patience and appreciation is born. I couldn't have picked a guest vexed with the ambiance on that seventh fairway of the evening, Saturday the 15th of February 2014.   
   Pleasurable food for pleasurable people on a pleasurable South Australian Peninsula.
  

Friday, 29 November 2013

Lets talk the taste
A piece motivated by my experience in the Q Grade course 
29th Nov 2013
 
 I’m polishing off a Doss Blockos Lager as the sizzling of my taste buddies ease from an obliterating Organic acids component of the Q Grade Exam schedule. At 300 Rosslyn St, West Melbourne, the tiresome wet November day is here, with a floor of coffee driven Professionals. The Professionals slurp, spit and concentrate, verging meditate, their way through layers of tasting noise. Squeezing answers from a sensory power, to succeed at passing the 24 elements required to qualify as a Licensed Q Grader in our Industry of Specialty Coffee. A tool to critique taste and quality in a language that is leaving Jibberish behind to welcome Coherent.
 
Three weeks ago my sensory hurdles began in an examination environment at the Single Origin Roasters Headquarters in Botany, Sydney.
Andrew Hetzel of CQI ‘Coffee Quality Institute’, in collaboration with volumes of coffee encyclopaedia tattooed to his retina’s led our small group of palates into a world where the depth of taste and smell extend beyond a false Tongue Map and 8 gm to 150 ml of TDS accurate, 93c brew water. Where it is a language, an exceptionally powerful and unique tool, that one must feel part Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from the novel 'Perfume' to completely comprehend.
 
 
I have gained the understanding of skills essential in the sensory assessment of coffee from the numerous days of preparing for exams. A prominent example being the Nez du Café vial kit. Identifying the smell for my nose and committing them to memory. The exercise strengthened my ability and believe in creating an investment in my palate memory. All the things a taster tastes and smells outside the cupping lab are his or her descriptive tools for the language required inside the cupping lab.
Organic acid tasting gave me the connection with Acetic acid and its tendency to throw out a balance of acids in some poorly processed Natural Coffees. Distinguishing subtleties that can indicate drastic points of difference in other layers of the crop to cup.
There is an ambiguous nature to cup characteristics of a coffee that requires clarity as to what is correct as a favourable and acceptable or undesirable depth to the cup. The yes to no answer is like an over caffeinated vision of a fine line. Some collaboration as a group of tasters here in Australia and abroad, with experience of such possible combinations and intensities of these characteristics, thanks to the coffee’s upbringing, would be a beneficial body for the developing palates in the industry. These palates often belong to Baristas and Roasters working with the bean in its final phases, where flavour attributes need to be communicated with precision for a consumer. Those enthusiasts who are at the far end of the coffee industry ladder, often in Café’s and Roasteries furthest from the origin of details like process, varietal, soil, farming practice, milling, sorting, transport. All such things effect that viscous juice resulting in the palms of our customers. That transparency word is quite appropriate hear.
 
 
Intimately related to this point of knowing how and who to convey and teach the fundamentals of a Cup’s makeup, are the conditions of the palates involved at assessing at each rung of the ladder individually. There is no Pythagoras theorem or formula to ensure we are ‘correct’. Each tongue and nasal passage has a memory of environmental and genetic impact that has developed over the time each of us have spent here. Individual perception of what exists on a cupping table and what one will prefer will never be precisely the same. Delicate palate memories. The training of one’s palate to differentiate personal preference and develop a palate memory of what is a favourable characteristic for a particular region, variety and roast, is the ignition point for where consistency and accuracy will advance the Specialty Coffee World – both in its progress from crop to roastery and from roastery to café. 
Quality assessment of new season arrivals and the discovery of new crops and new farms in new regions require the diligence of tasters with trained sensory ability to recognize fault in the crop through cup. Generating an initiative for farmers and mills to also have a diligence and care for their product is imminent. Once the small percentage of the industry that influence directly what coffee paddles its way in containers to our shores have done their job, the select few that do it well, where does the thorough assessment extend to and remain relevant, when it’s the Roasters and Baristas turn to sculpt the bean, nurture it and present it with a dialogue to the customer? Does it all come from the SCAA in house score between 70 and 100 and the spider web of cup attributes received with the delivery? These assessments are based on the resulting cup after a ‘sample roast’ roast nature. As a Roaster, it is unquestionable how the influence of minuet increment change in a roast or the time of a roast effecting the cup. Those blueberries in your Ethiopian Harrar were sensational at 12 minutes – gone at 13.30 mins. From the Coffee Broker to the Roaster there is some mentation of what could be expected characteristics when the coffee is roasted to ie city, full city, filter. As in the situation in a cafe where you’re Barista can suggest if the coffee is suitable as a milk based or black espresso.
However, these often regurgitated descriptions in conjunction with some naive sensory analysis procuring from the resultant roast or extraction could be informed and accurate representations of the cup, from its roasting and extracting masters. If the Professional tasters knowledge could gravitate to those in need of that extra nudge, the understanding of presently ghost like influences on the coffee; like altitude, harvest and mill conditions, sorting and transport would provide that transparency that so commonly and heavily lacks.
A network of some of our Q Graders in Australia exchanging samples and notes and conversation would generate some wonderful opportunity. Out of this, voluntary Roasteries or Cafes could host cupping sessions where such Q Graders, alongside interested developing palates can gain exposure to the diverse cup qualities on offer in the Specialty world of coffee. The more we all taste, the greater that palate memory and the greater the language.
 The top and bottom rungs of our industry would not seem so far apart if we all talk and taste together some more.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Union Café 
12th Nov
 
The Union Café - a hospitable hangout that warms the bellies of many as they bounce, amble and meander their way in for fills of healthy, wholesome and edible goodness. An energy contagious place. Locally roasted ‘East Timor maubisse’ Mahalia Coffee is always made with care. Your latte will be as consistent as the smiles on diles from Hamish and Alana and the uniting team.
    As the weather warms, tries to warm, the surfing community begins to swoon with delight with the change of water temperament and the step down of the thickness of wetsuits. Regular early morning runs for waves occur at a time when most are still intimate with pillows and pj’s… The end point for the eager friends of the sunrise, wax and waves is destination Union Café. Surf talk and sand battered feet chat and pat comfortably with thawing fingers clasping hot mugs.
 
 
 
The junction where the Union is perched opens into outdoor undercover dining that is blocked of the infamous Robe wind for when it blows with the force of Nature in a mood. On the days of calm, the wind shields ascend and the area is a communal spot to watch the center of town pass by, minus pedestrians walking close enough to breath over your Breakfast wrap with Cantina Kick and hash browns. A generous and inviting space. 
The best falafel wrap that I've had the pleasure of ingestion gets its introduction to plate by Hamish here. Grab it toasted if you have time. Burgers menu covers three that you really want to see. Mexican, Scotch steak and crumbed chicken. Shoestring fries as the side – your sodium intake is justifiable here as these babies are thin and crisp and not gleaming with oil as often one comes to expect.
Ben Howard or The Stone siblings often harmonise your audial experience. If you are in alone for your grasp of delectable Café solitude, the magazine arms on the wall by the table water will give your eyes and mind the time of ‘Surfing world’ to ‘womens health’ to ‘Marie Claire’. Jenny also loves a chat. The lovely lady with the biggest smile. Scones that have never gone wrong.

The man shredding a wave on the fridge doesn't mind an audience either...