Every blogger made the decision to start their blog. What we wanted to know was how they decided what would be their first post – and to reflect on something that has been hidden in their archives ever since. Sharking for Chips & Drinks are running the feature ‘Back to the Start’ over the next few weeks where we will introduce you to bloggers from Melbourne, Australia and much further afield. These are all great bloggers so I suggest you subscribe to their blog and follow them on Twitter.
When it comes to technology there is a ‘adoption lifecycle’ of when people are likely to start using a piece of technology. Take the iPhone, for example, there’s the ‘innovators’ who likely picked up the original model that was never released properly outside of the US; then there’s the ‘early adopters’ who grabbed the first model released in Australia; all the way through to the ‘laggards’ (technical term) who are probably still using 1980s bricks with batteries strapped to their backs. So on the food blogging lifecycle I probably sit on the slippery cusp of the bell curve, waiting to slide down into laggard territory.
Which is a longwinded, fact-filled (a recurring theme with me) journey towards the fact that I am a bit of the new kid to the food blogging and writing scene. So why start (especially with the avalanche of blogs already out there)? The easiest way is to sum it up in two points: I love writing and I love cooking/food/hospitality/dining.
I have always loved writing, words and telling stories, yet that spark of creative output disappeared under the deluge of essay writing at university and the mundane labours of work and life. Spending every day working on publishing other people’s words (I work as a Publisher for a living) sat as a constant reminder in the corner of the room that I was not doing something that I loved- writing. Biting the bullet, I was determined to get back to writing, and sitting down to write a novel seemed a rather unrealistic Everest to climb, whereas blogging would give me the chance to let these trapped words out into the world.
Food has always been, as with many people, a core of my life; from my earliest memories of growing up in Yorkshire, standing on a stool in front of the stove, next to my grandfather, stirring a steaming pan, most likely of vegetable soup. If I had the chance to go back to my final years of school and start again, I would likely choose to follow my heart and train and graft to become a chef, rather than head to university to become a lawyer. However there is never enough time in life for regrets, we have to live with the decisions we make and the missed opportunities we leave behind (or enter Masterchef and follow our dreams, but who pays the bills when we do that?!). So writing about food allows me to embrace the two passions that had fallen into an overgrown ditch of weeds by the wayside.
So heading back into the mists of time (last September), my first proper post was about the dessert degustation evenings that Burch & Purchese were holding every month or so. The blog was setup under the name ‘eat.Melbourne’, through a combination of my imagination seizing up at the thought of having to give a permanent name to something (how do parents do it?) and also the idea that simple is often the best route and it is not always a bad thing to call a spade a spade (I can also dream of spin-off’s in the future- eat.Jupiter anyone?).
Looking back at it now there is a definite evolution even from then to now, the biggest of which was dropping the ever-popular blog format of text-photo-text-photo. That was a decision for two reasons: one, I am never going to be the best photographer in the world and I rarely carry my lighting rig to restaurants with me; and two, it stood me apart a little from the crowd and gave me the chance to tell a story with words rather than a picture saying a thousand words for me. So while I still post photos, they appear in a gallery at the end of the post. I also like to think that I’ve become better at not describing every dish and ingredient with overly lavish adjectives, and making posts a more interesting story of the restaurant, people, food and experience rather than a live blog of each minute of the meal.
The best part of getting into writing about food has not been about getting back into writing or being able to do something I love doing, but that I am surrounded by people that are as passionate about it as I am. From fellow bloggers, writers and ‘foodies’ through to the amazing front-of-house folk who charm with stories and wit and put everything into making other people have memorable experiences, and the chefs who put so much passion and pride into every plate they send from the pass. All of these people do what they do because of the love and the passion that they have, and is the best reminder that food brings people together in a myriad of ways. I am lucky that I have been able to play a small part on the hospitality stage, if only an insignificant one in the grand scheme of things, but how else would I have been able to have a conversation with one of Melbourne’s top chefs and restaurateurs in the corridor to the toilets in a small pub in Collingwood during a popup dinner.
My First Post
BURCH AND PURCHESE: ‘SWEET STUDIO SESSIONS’
Monday, September 10, 2012
I would never identify myself as a ‘sweet tooth’ or a ‘chocoholic’ if asked, usually because the sweeter side of the menu has tended to lack variety and texture at many places. The generic ice-cream sundae, banana fritter, chocolate brownie etc, has me asking for the bill and heading for the door. Of course, good restaurants and top-end bakeries have long been turning that tide.
Darren Purchese’s Sweet Studio in South Yarra has been serving up inventive and playful cakes (and cake tubes) for a while now. They’re my ‘go to’ for birthday, or other special occasion, cakes.
Now they’re beginning to experiment with ‘plating up’ desserts at their Sweet Studio Sessions inside the Chapel St store with a series of three evenings. 4 dessert courses, matching wines, amuse, coffee and petit fours.
On a chilly Melbourne night the warm and friendly welcome was the perfect foil to the icy wind outside. Being the first group to book we found ourselves at our own table under the Inspiration Wall (hundreds of jars filled with all kinds of sweet and savoury ingredients) and with a perfect view of the kitchen.
First up, was the amuse. A ‘nitro’ gin and tonic, arriving at the table with nitrogen vapours whisping around (which a camera could never do justice to). The gin and tonic flavour came through, balanced by a green tea sorbet and the crispy shell adding a delicate texture.
The first full course was Rose, Apple and Beetroot Crumble. This was my favourite dish of the evening, a great balance of taste and texture: crumb, beetroot sponge, rose cream and jelly, crystallised rose petal. The sweetness was kept in check by the acidity coming from the pickled apple, fizzy apple sorbet and yoghurt elements. I can’t wait for the cake version to show up in the retail cabinet.
Followed by the Passionfruit Cloud, a play on the crisp yet chewy meringue clouds available at the shop. This was a celebration of passionfruit, is tangy acidic nature explored through technique and texture. Crispy passionfruit shell, creamy mousse-like centre, with ‘caviar’ and jelly beneath.
Next was the most creative dish of the night: Avocado, Pear, Cucumber, Eucalypt and White Chocolate. The Eucalypt was used with a light touch and never overpowered the other flavours, working well with the pear. A highlight was the lime jelly, and hint of lime in the white chocolate mousse which brought the dish to life. While not that common in many Western countries, the avocado works well as a sweet ingredient.
The final course was a classic for those who have ever visited Burch and Purchese before. Usually served as a glossy cake, this was a deconstructed Chocolate, Mandarin and Salted Caramel. It’s been called the Year of Salted Caramel, and it’s easy to see why. While the other dishes walked a tightrope of sweetness, this final plate was luxurious and decadent. The centerpiece was a sphere of delicate dark chocolate which broke open to reveal a rich chocolate and mandarin ganache and salted caramel. For me the component that made the whole dish come alive was the fantastic mandarin sorbet, its clarity brought the palate alive. The caramelised cocoa nibs added their wonderful crunch and cocoa hit.
Ending the night, with tea or coffee, was a selection of petit fours. A miniature bar of their caramelised white chocolate, mint white chocolate aero, ginger and chocolate tart (perfect!) and a chocolate cream nibble.
Overall, it was a decadent night of playful desserts showing off the techniques that the chefs out into each component. The experience was made even better by the warm generosity of the staff, including the chefs who were happy to answer questions about the dishes and preparation. Keeping with the trend of breaking down the barriers between the kitchen and the guest, the atmosphere made the experience even better.
Burch and Purchese Sweet Studio
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