As the editor of Cuisine I am constantly thinking about what we eat or drink and the people who grow, produce and cook it. And yes, the question of where a passion becomes an obsession is regularly asked by the husband on the rare occasions when I can spend an evening at home on our couch, watching food documentaries while I scour social media for inspirational food stories. A lot of information comes my way and not all of it makes it onto our beautiful pages. I’ve curated a few bits here that have caught my eye over the past weeks that I would have loved to have had delivered to me in one easy list, just like this…
As we become more and more aware of the dangers of a rapidly warming planet, food companies such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are grabbing headlines while forging deals with fast-food giants for their plant-based meat imitations. Environmental researchers are sceptical saying plant diets are healthier and less carbon-emitting than producing processed plant-based products.
This announcement by KFC was interesting. The chicken chain wants us to know that they have been working behind the scenes to meet what they call a “staggering plant-based protein demand”, to become the first quick-service restaurant (note the deliberate move away from the term fast-food) to jump into the plant-based space on the chicken side. It’s interesting because they have prioritised putting Kentucky Fried textured vegetable protein on their menu but have not shown any sign of offering a premium, free-range chicken option. One would hazard a guess that decision has been determined by cost, however, the demand for premium meat that has been ethically produced is on the increase as meat eaters start to make more informed decisions on the meat they consume.
I waded in to find out the state of play for chooks in New Zealand while musician/food writer and self-proclaimed burger nerd Samuel Scott was asking if real meat is in danger of becoming old school. A suggestion that New Zealand hospitals should lead the way by cutting out meat had an outraged Rod Slater, CEO of Beef + Lamb New Zealand Inc, insisting that red meat, eaten in moderation still has a role in a healthy lifestyle. And to top it all off the British Medical Journal is suggesting that people who eat vegan and vegetarian diets have a lower risk of heart disease but a higher risk of stroke. Sigh…
The message for everyone is it makes sense to have a well-planned diet and to eat a wide variety of foods. If you’d like a brilliant read that challenges both vegans and carnivores in the battle for a new ethics in eating, you must read Matthew Evans new book On Eating Meat. I am still devouring his confrontational and yet compelling look at our food choices. I don’t think I’ll ever stop eating meat, but the time has come to stop eating it thoughtlessly.
COOK CUISINE STYLE
Now to that sexy roast chook recipe that you absolutely need to have in your repertoire. Our latest issue of Cuisine is all about vibrant Asian flavour and this FIVE-SPICE CHICKEN WITH SICHUAN AROMATICS with its side serving of SPRING CUCUMBER & ASPARAGUS SALAD by Fiona Smith is a keeper. As for drinks inspiration, on a recent trip to Singapore at Spago in the Marina Bay Sands I discovered the signature Wolfgang Puck cocktail ‘Rough Love’ and I am still trying to squeeze the authentic recipe for this gorgeous concoction out of executive chef Greg Bess so that I can share it with you. Meanwhile, in anticipation, I am gathering the ingredients that I know are definitely in the mix and along with Champagne, gin and peach bitters, Japanese plum wine (umeshu) is one of them. Brilliant booze writer Tash McGill gives you the lowdown on plum wine and more Asian inspiration if you’d like to stretch beyond your usual cheap beer on the beach in Bali or taking a guess at the sake menu of your local Japanese joint.
News that rockstar and all-round bad-boy chef Marco Pierre White is heading to Auckland at the end of October had me fangirling and thinking we might try to produce a little one-on-one in the same vein as this one where I took Heston Blumenthal to lunch at The Sugar Club.
I’m actually a little relieved now that I didn’t pursue this train of thought. Old Marco has not been swinging his sizeable influencer powers in the smartest way in recent weeks, re-igniting a feud with Jamie Oliver and blasting Oliver over his failing empire. Jamie previously called Marco a “Mafia-don-type character” after he was described as “A fat chef with a drum kit” by Marco. Of course, this could all just be part of a click-bait grabbing media scheme but Marco’s recent comments about women being too emotional and unable to handle the heat in a commercial kitchen have left me cold. The Guardian succinctly describes him as a rambling dinosaur and I’m afraid I don’t get quite the same school-girl crush buzz when I look at him anymore. I’d much rather listen to chef Dominique Crenn talk about her earliest food memories, the first time she kicked a guy’s ass and why her three Michelin stars matter.
Speaking of Michelin-starred restaurants, have you heard that we have five internationally acclaimed chefs heading to Auckland from 30 September to 5 October for an amazing array of fine dining events at SO/ Auckland? I-CAN’T-WAIT. How often do you get six chefs under one roof who have worked in restaurants that have earned Michelin stars during their tenure? In Auckland!
The nostalgia factor and the role that food memories play within our evolving food culture are ever-present when I’m creating and curating content. I find the history of food and the way that we can tell our story through cooking fascinating. The Spinoff writer Hayden Donell takes us on a journey to find the person who invented Kiwi Onion Dip. It’s a ripper.
Before I go, this tenacious little tomato plant caught my eye and the ensuing speculation on how it came to be.
And for something totally non-food related (apart from the disturbing references to chocolate and vanilla ice cream) who can resist an article titled “A High-End Dry Cleaner Spills Everything About His Filthy Rich Clients”
Tune in to our podcast Cuisine Bites for more food for thought.
Oh, and make these crispy fish wings. The butter-chilli sauce is a revelation.
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