Changing Direction

Changing Direction

By | Advice for my daughters | 11 Comments

For some years, The Food Blog has been neglected. My own life has, during this time, had many twists and turns, and numerous highs and lows. I am now a father of two little girls, and this experience has changed me profoundly and continues to do so.

One of my major goals now is to try to be a better person every day, and to figure out how I can foster goodness in my daughters. My hope for them is to be self-empowered, intelligent, empathetic, strong, healthy, loving, kind, inquisitive, self-examining, open-minded, rich with friends, driven by accomplishment rather than money and, of course, happy.

There’s a concern in the back of my mind, which every parent has. What will happen to my children if I were to die? Who will take care of them? Who will support them? And who will mentor them on this journey?

Having left my country of birth at the age of 20, I have personally experienced a gap that otherwise would have been filled by my mother and father’s presence. I have throughout these 14 years in Australia found one friend who I can think of as having played the role of a mentor (edit: two friends, Matt being the most important of the two). Yet I have often had to rely on myself for guidance in most things, and have many times wished for there to be someone whose life experiences could enlighten me to make better decisions. I have had to find my own group of mentors in the form of books and self-inquisitiveness. Self-taught lessons have been pivotal in dictating my life’s direction, but having a mentor giving you the right advice expedites the learning experience.

This is why I am changing The Food Blog’s direction. I want my blog to be a space where I can document my entire spectrum of thought, not just the food, and also have the blog become a repository of advice for my daughters. It is my hope that through this blog, they will get to know me better; that they understand that life is a journey of constant change; and that they have a place of guidance to go back to when I’m gone.

For my readers who are food-focused, I hope you decide to come along on this journey as well. I do understand, however, that you might prefer a piece of cake over peace of mind. In that case, I bid you goodbye and wish you a good life. If you’re reading on, I thank you and will appreciate your comments as they will enrich the content of my blog and provide more human insight to those who need it. If we are to immunise our children against the empty culture they are born into, we need to start by telling the stories of everyday people like them.


Home for the Harvest

By | writing | No Comments

In October last year, I had a major article published in Saveur magazine, entitled Home for the Harvest. This is a story of my return to Lebanon in October 2013 to help my family during the olive harvest. I have to say, this is my favourite article yet and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to write and share this story. You can read the story on the Saveur website here, or you can download a scanned version of the article  here


Haute Cuisine: 5 Double Passes to Give Away

By | Giveaways | 10 Comments

I don’t usually do giveaways on the blog, but here’s one I thought The Food Blog’s readers would enjoy. The fine people at TM Publicity have provided our readers the chance to win one of 5 double passes to see what seems to be a beautifully made French foodie film: Haute Cuisine. You can see the trailer for Haute Cuisine here.

Entry to the giveaway is simple. All you need to do is like our facebook page (click here) and leave a comment on this post telling me what your favourite French dish is. We’d also love it if you could share this page on facebook or Twitter so that you can help spread the word on The Food Blog. It’s that simple. Winners will be picked at random and will be announced on April 21st; each winner will receive a double pass to use after the main release on April 25th. The giveaway is open to Australians only.

Here’s more information on the movie:

Haute Cuisine, (French title, Les Saveurs du Palais)

Hortense Laborie, a renowned chef from the Périgord, is astonished when the President of the Republic appoints her his personal cook, responsible for creating all his meals at the Élysée Palace. Despite jealous resentment from the other kitchen staff, Hortense quickly establishes herself, thanks to her indomitable spirit. The authenticity of her cooking soon seduces the President, but the corridors of power are littered with traps…

Haute Cuisine is a delicious drama with a generous pinch of comedy, based on the extraordinary true story of President François Mitterand’s private cook, Daniele Delpeuch.

It’s filmed on location at the Élysée Palace, in regional France and Antartica, and full of mouth watering dishes and incredible foodie imagery.

The film is directed by French film director and screenwriter, Christian Vincent and stars Catherine Frot (nominated for a Cesar Award for Best Actress), Jean D’Ormesson and Hippolyte Girardot.



Which Butter is Better

By | Eating for Health | 13 Comments

Before we start this post, please take a minute to look at this video about Country Valley milk and how John Fairley is turning his farm into one large living organism.

Can you guess what the difference between the two types of butter in the photo is? I asked that question on The Food Blog’s facebook page and one of my readers commented that “one has colour added”. Though it made me chuckle a bit, it was a fair comment; since we hardly see butter with such a deep yellow color, one can assume that the butter has somehow been messed with.

In fact, both butters are completely unadulterated and are handmade butters given to me by my favourite butter man, Pepe Saya. The butter on the left is Pepe’s famous cultured butter. The other one is an experiment he did with cream sourced from a commercially available milk. Pepe’s usual milk comes from Country Valley, a local dairy based in Picton. The cream he receives from Country Valley has a rich yellow colour similar to what you see in the photo. However, when Pepe looked at the commercial cream, he saw a pasty-white cream so different from what he was used to seeing from Country Valley. A bit of digging around and the reason for the lack of colour became obvious. As opposed to Country Valley cream which comes from 100% grass-fed cows, the commercial cream comes from grain-fed cows. Grass-fed cream is pigmented by beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant and a pre-cursor for vitamin A. Grain-fed cows get no beta-carotene in their diet (beta-carotene is contained in grass).

To make a fair comparison, Pepe made both butters in the exact same way. He added cultures to the two batches of cream until they became sour, and then churned them into butter. We tried both the cream and the butter, and differences more than just colour were obvious. Where the grass-fed butter tasted complex (I swear you can taste the pasturelands), the grain-fed butter fell flat. There was little flavour, with almost a synthetic taste and an odd mouthfeel.

Grass-fed dairy is far superior to grain-fed dairy. Here’s a list of why I think you should always go for grass-fed dairy:

  1. It tastes better
  2. It’s so much better for health
  3. You will be supporting real farmers, ones interested in the health and sustainability of their land, just like we saw in the video link above.
  4. You will be discouraging feed lots, inhumane practices and mass production
  5. You will be paying more for milk. That sounds like a bad thing, but milk should never cost $1. Real food costs real money and if you buy from farmers markets, more money will be going to the producer.
  6. Cows and other herbivores are fantastic at transforming solar energy into food. The cycle is simple: sun > grass > milk. Grain feeding changes this cycle: Fossil fuels > chemical fertilisers> grains > milk (and arid land). The importance of grass-feeding is paramount to future sustainability and supply of food.
  7. Grass-fed cows are healthier than grain-fed cows. Cows can not digest grains well and it makes them sick.
  8. Sick, grain-fed cows require much more medication and antibiotics which make their way to the milk (and meat).

There are great grass-fed products on the market that you should be going for when choosing your dairy products. I personally buy Country Valley milk. In supermarkets you can find Parmalat unhomogenised organic milk (which the producer has told me is around 95% grass-fed with a 5% supplement of hay and organic, non-genetically modified grain). Do remember that organic does not mean grass-fed since you can still feed cows 100% organic grains and hay and they might never see a blade of grass. Also, I’ve noticed that the Macro organic milk at Woolworth’s contains ultra-heat treated milk, which I personally avoid.

What brand of milk do you buy and why? Can you share what the deciding factor for you when it comes to choosing dairy products is? Can you think of other reasons why grass-feeding is better than grain-feeding? Or do you perhaps you believe grain-feeding is a better alternative? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and let me know.