Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Food Glorious Food

Since I spend a good part of the day, most days, working at my desk, my mobile phone doesn't see much action. When it rings it is usually from Guillermo or my friends, so when I received a call from a "withheld" number last month, I was a little surprised.

A man on the line started telling me about his magazine so I told him he had the wrong number. He went quiet then started over by asking me if I were the lady who gives classes in modern Australian and Asian cooking. "Si, si" followed and I found out that he had call to arrange for an interview with me on Australian food and wine. He asked for my address and the same day some guy came by with issues of the magazine, Club del Vino.

Food and wine; my favourite subjects but all of a sudden I felt ill-qualified. If I could be so bold as to quote Nigella Lawson "my qualification is in eating." I love good wines, so I've tasted a fair few First Growths. I love to eat well and therefore, I have learnt to cook well. That is all. I am not professionally trained to speak on the subject; I am no Stephanie Alexander or Jill Dupleix and this magazine seems like a quality publication.

From the couple of issues lying on my desk, the subject matters it covered puzzled me somewhat – one issue talked about Grand Cru from France and another ran an article on what the famous Argentine Polo players prefer drinking. Who buys this magazine in Argentina? How much do they charge per copy?

I became curious so I agreed to the interview. I said I prefer the interview to be conducted in English – I like to be very descriptive when it comes to wine and food so I prefer to have a safety net. That settled; all I needed to do was to prepare two dishes to be photographed.

I decided to forego pudding since it tends to look less interesting in a photo. I opted to go with a starter and a main course instead. Starter is a stack of beef salad with tomatoes, avocado, sautéed beef, mizuna leaves and wasabi mayonnaise. A mixture of tantalising colours and textures; the flavours of wasabi, mirin and the richness of mayonnaise and avocado somehow work beautifully.

I want to feature seafood in the main course because it represents the spirit of modern Australian cuisine. No such luck as to finding lobsters and king crabs in this city so it is pan-fried salmon with Cajun spices on a bed of mash potato. I intend to have the creamy potato balance the discreet heat of my spice mix.

We agreed to meet this lunch time at my apartment. The photographer was prompt; he quickly got to work on the props and lighting. I left him alone to shoot the salad while I cooked the salmon. When he was almost done with the main course, we both started thinking where could the journalist be after an hour?

Well, he turned up, Argentine time, more than an hour after the appointment. He was a charming young lad but gave no excuse for being late. Anyway, we went straight into the interview and the photographer started shooting me. I was surprised but it was useless protesting since neither of them could understand why a woman wouldn't jump at the chance to have her photograph in a magazine, so I just braved through it. Anyway, once I got going on my favourite subject, I forgot about the lens and the clicking sound around me.

We had a good chat about how modern Australian cuisine evolved from the multicultural food scenes of Sydney and Melbourne and how the general public has become a lot more sophisticated in their tastes in wines. I feel I have covered a fair bit of ground and hopefully it comes out well in ink next month.

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