Thursday 7 April 2016

A collection of observations on mostly mould

I grew up scraping mould off stuff. Not actively or anything: it’s not like I was handed a pot of something fuzzy and told to go play; but if, for instance, we wanted jam, we’d probably have to scrape off the mould first. That’s just how it was (is, actually) and we were fine with it. What made it funny was when guests wanted jam. What made it funniest was this one time we were playing a board game called Association or something where you have to give your teammates prompts via association, and an old friend of the family prompted ‘mould’ to her son (and teammate) who answered ‘PANTRY’.

See? Funny.

Where the US customs office would consider me a young-verging-on-old offender, I’d probably just call myself a mostly short-haired girl with a devil-may-care nonchalance when it comes to ticking the ‘nothing to declare’ box and a healthy disrespect for the FDA’s health concerns. Big men with big guns are not enough to stop us from rolling by with our bags full of whatever we’d emptied from the fridge packed in newspapers, and you can bet your $3,000 fine there’ll always be numerous newspapers wrapped around numerous cheeses (you can only import raw milk cheese into the U.S. if it’s been aged for more than 60 days. This makes the presence of a Mont d’Or or Tomme de Savoie in your suitcase both illegal and, more importantly, perfectly room temperature).


Another cheese memory is the time we ate a cheese my parents had been given when I was born. I was born in ’88 and we probably ate it four years ago. It was the best cheese I’ve ever eaten. I eat a lot of cheese. 


It was my mom that introduced me to the idea of eating raw egg with raw meat at a pretty young age. Now I’m of age, if I’m also hungover, I want Japanese. Always sukiyaki, a dish where you dip raw slices of wagyu beef into a broth and then raw egg yolk. The otherwise stern waitress smiles approvingly when we ask to have it with egg. Japanese customers get it standard.   


Raw milk is another ‘issue’ as I understand it, but not if the animals are healthy and allowed to roam and graze. It will also leave you spoiled for taste and unsatisfied when all you have to  wash down your cardboard cereal is pasteurised milk. I recently made yoghurt from milk that we tapped raw from a tank and have the best intentions not to ever buy yoghurt again. However we all know that this is the same material they used to pave the way to hell and at the very least I will be introducing my water kefir babies to their milk cousins. Read: probably replacing (even if only until its summer sun cocktail time) because at one point one gets worried about the amount of sugar one is drinking when one is drinking water kefir


The other day I got into an argument with someone because they were looking at the due date on a bag of carrots. This is not the way to live your life. 


Tuesday 5 April 2016

Chardonnay-schmardonnay: "La Bulle à Zéro", Gilles et Catherine Vergé

"La Bulle à Zéro" by Gilles and Catherine Vergé is a chardonnay raised by wolves are not my words but I wish they were because they’re true and better than mine. What I had: running barefoot, dancing leaves and flying kites by which I mean to say, a joy.

Tasting notes:

Breezy salt air licked off a rock-salinity, beer yeasts and earth bound walnuts with a whiff of whiskey apple cider air. Owl-eyes oxidised open a la Jura but we’re in Burgundy (Viré) plus:



Gilles and Catherine Vergé
"La Bulle à Zero"
Viré, Burgundy


Monday 4 April 2016

Fraud, food and natural wine

The article coincided with the week I happened to spend 100% more time on a farm than I usually do so it got me thinking. The reason I was on farms was to source (sounds better, really just buying) ingredients for our latest sit-down supper, the menu for which we’d promised would be entirely noord-centred and — (that word again) — sourced. No small feat during the dregs of winter but we did it and it was great. What exactly we did/made I’ll save for another story; but for now, it was all about kraut.

When I read it, the first thing I thought about was how impatient I’d been when required to wait 40 minutes while a lady on one of these farms counted out and calculated the cost of as many cheeses. She was operating at the speed of slow that makes you appreciate that little-spoken alternative use of the countryside: the pace of city life is just not for everyone (and mind you, we’re talking Amsterdam here). I don’t feel ashamed saying it: I had better things to do in that time, but the article made me laugh at the thought. Turns out this was a small price to pay for the (incidentally, excellent) cheeses we bought. At least they were what we thought they were.

Not so, it turns out, for many many more things than I thought (if I’ve ever really thought), says the article. So much not so, that in early 2015 the UK set up the National Food Crime Unit to fight food fraud; one, policy makers hope, that will one day be as good as the Dutch equivalent. 

Via a process that uses rapid evaporative ionisation mass spectrometry, scientists can test if what the food in front of them says it is, it really is. Be it a piece of cod or flakes of dried oregano (last year a UK institute found that 25 per cent of the samples supplied from supermarkets and online retailers contained substances other than oregano), the bottom line is that where there’s money, there’s crime, and where there’s big money, there’s big crime. Financial consulting firm PwC estimates that global trade in food fraud is worth around $40 billion a year.

But more on the things the authorities are finding another time. For now, what I’d like to write about is what we’re putting in wine

Fraud you say? Well, ish even though, technically, no. What wine makers put in to wine is legal. Not listing what they’ve put in on the label is also legal. And yet, people would probably be shocked to see the ingredients in a bottle of wine. Wine growers know that they would be shocked. Does’t this smack a teeny weeny bit, even if not exactly then something quite like, fraud?

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