Home' InDaily : January 15th 2010 Contents January 15 - 21, 2010
The Independent Weekly
Ann Oliver email@example.com
Last Saturday night I had friends
for dinner and made one of the
worst meals in a very long time.
My determination not to further
heat the house by cooking in the
kitchen where we eat meant there
were two things left to cook on the
outside barbecue and wok burner:
posh sort of lamb hamburgers with
pinenuts, and pickled lemon and
The duck breasts smoked
perfectly, but when it came time to
render the skin over a very low, slow
heat, the wind had picked up and
repeatedly blew out the wok burner.
Eventually I had to relent and bring
them inside to finish crisping the
The hamburgers were a disaster.
They have a high percentage of fat,
specially requested at the butcher,
and are normally roasted on racks
in a very hot oven. They expel most
of the fat and remain deliciously
succulent with a nice brown crust.
Well, once they were put on the hot
grill, the fat immediately started
to drip -- they caught fire and,
basically, the more they cooked the
more they caught fire. They were
incinerated and nasty.
At the table there was some relish
of my failure and, not surprisingly,
I was the butt of well-deserved
sarcasm. By this time my friend
from London was looking like she
was going to expire from the heat
and was probably wishing she was
snowed in at home.
My embarrassment was a little
mollified by the fact that at least
the starters of green olives, freshly
baked bread, dukka and beetroot
relish had worked well.
The mango sorbet with a salad
of pineapple, mango, pink paw
paw and a few apricots marinated
in a light green ginger syrup was
also a hit. The ginger julienne in
the syrup crystalises in the fridge
and offers a lovely ginger crunch
through the fruit.
My failure with the mains had
to be put down to not thinking it
through, and even though I like the
heat, it must have surely affected
This extreme heat exhausts
everyone, but spare a thought
for chefs working in kitchens at
temperatures at least 10 degrees
higher with air-conditioning that
fails to cope.
In some ways, wait staff have it
the worst. For them to run around
and never appear sweaty, the
clientele would have to freeze, and
there is the constant problem of
everyone in the room asking for the
air-con to go up or down. It s hard to
The Adelaide Central Markets
have been busy early and almost
deserted later as people cling to
the cool of their homes and offices.
Spare a thought for people who
sell and grow food. In the retail
situations, nicely displayed, it is
exposed to temperatures that are
not conducive to long shelf life.
Retailers buy less and discount
more, which doesn t make for profit
Try being a grower as you watch
your lettuces fry in the heat.
Anything small withers and dies;
they have paid for the seedling and
water, and get nothing in return.
Those lettuces that do survive by
February will have rotting brown
centres. Eventually the consumer
pays the price, when a couple of
months later some foods are so
scarce those few growers with
something to sell will at least be
able to demand and get their price!
So the retail trade and the pri-
mary producers get a double dose of
pain in this extreme weather. And
what about the poor restaurateur?
Unless you are absolute beachfront
or selling gelati, it s pretty likely
you re doing it tough as well.
In a normal summer, it is
catch-up time for most restaurants
-- the summer and autumn weeks
and months make up for winter,
when people venture out less often.
Everyone looks forward to the
summer days, when restaurants are
packed and customers are begging
for the best outside seats. On hot,
balmy nights, they linger longer
and drink more. But who would
want to sit outside in the past week?
So look at this scenario another
way: these restaurants are losing
about 30 per cent of their estimated
summer turnover. You don t have
to be too smart to figure out the
consequences of that financial loss
for a business.
My friend from London has a
little personal fan, and if she s
feeling magnanimous she waves
it briefly in front of us. The point
is, we need to get used to the heat.
When I was a kid (stop groaning
now), there was no air-conditioning
and definitely no restaurants at
the beach or with outside seating.
There wasn t an ice-cold beer or
bottle of fizz to be had on the street.
In fact, I can remember when Mum,
my brother Kym and I stood in the
shade outside a country pub while
dad went in for a beer and brought
us out raspberry lemonades in
schooner glasses with a single,
rapidly melting cube of ice.
The whole neighbourhood used
to drag their mattresses on to their
lawns and everyone slept outside.
In the morning, we would be woken
by the clanking of milk bottles as
the milky, followed by his horse
and cart, picked his way between
the sprawling bodies to deliver the
milk. The milk was nearly always
soured by the heat and left me with
a lifelong scent memory of bad milk
that still makes me gag.
For some reason, in those days
the heatwave nearly always came
immediately after New Year. All
cooking in the kitchen immediately
ceased -- it was Christmas ham and
more Christmas ham, but it was
what went with it that we never
tired of. Our father, who almost
never cooked, came home from
work with fresh white bread. From
my great-grandfather s garden (we
all lived close by) came tomatoes,
white salad onions and firm, sweet
and crunchy apple cucumbers.
The cucumbers and onions were
peeled and sliced, the tomatoes
cored and sliced. Ripened on the
vine, they are a flavour memory
equalled only by the time when
I lived in Greece, where we ate
tomatoes clinging red and absurd
from a dead and dried vine.
The onion, cucumber and tomato
was layered and seasoned between
each layer with salt and finely
ground white pepper, the tomatoes
with an added tiny sprinkle of
sugar. About 30 minutes before
we ate, they were covered with
Seppelts white wine vinegar (now
Vine Valley). Basically, we ate fresh
buttered bread, salad and ham, and
were never dumb enough to try to
get fancy even if we did have guests.
So when the next bout of high
heat comes, which it surely will,
keep it simple, keep it cold and stay
Sanity-saver recipes: www.
If you can t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
It's too darned hot!
IF YOU CAN THINK
HAVE WE GOT NEWS FOR YOU
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