NO, this is not a mis-spelling! It is the name of one of Melbourne’s iconic sweetsmakers. Having a small shop in Royal Arcade, Bourke Street, in Melbourne’s CBD, you can watch them make their wonderful handmade rock candy throughout the day. Here’s a link to their website: http://www.suga.com.au/ — watch the video to see how it is made; it will amaze you how they get the text and designs within. Here are a couple of photos inside the shop. Enjoy!
Related post: Coffee with biscotti
I don’t cook. I just think of it as my lack of culinary skill. By that I mean I am not a master chef nor a very good cook, nor even a reasonably average cook. But I have no problems with this!
I’m very good with opening a can of chunky soup, boiling some pasta and combining the two to make a lovely meal-type snack, after having added some sweetcorn, grated nutmeg, basil leaves, or whatever may be lurking nearby. This often keeps me going at those times when I don’t wish to do, or eat, anything else!
And I do not take the view that I must cook, or know how to cook, just because I am a woman. That idea went out with the Dark Ages! There are plenty of men who are great cooks, and certainly Master Chefs. In fact, I’ve always thought, and still do, that men make much better cooks. They’re not held back with the need to follow recipes to the letter and they use their imaginations more freely when creating new dishes. This comes from being natural explorers and unafraid of the unknown. But, this isn’t what this post is about.
My mother never really taught me how to cook. She was a ‘demonstration’ cook, i.e. she would make the dish in front of me, but I was almost never allowed to participate in making it despite my constant asking to and, therefore, I really never learned to cook. Like all good artisanal activities, one learns by doing, not by looking. Of course, one can learn some things by looking, but it is the doing of it that makes you learn. The constant practice, the constant making of mistakes, the constant taste disasters and successes are what we learn from in the field of cooking. I do occasionally daydream that I am Escoffier or Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver or Luc Nguyen or Kylie Kwong or Maggie Beer or Poh…well, the list goes on! Will I ever become like them with their high-level culinary skill…well, No! I just enjoy watching them create and produce something I know I would enjoy eating. Apart from Escoffier, the other chefs all have their own TV cooking shows, with the last four mentioned being Australians.
When growing up, and from a young age, one thing my mother did insist on that we do as a family was to go out each Sunday for lunch and eat at a different restaurant, the idea being to experience good food and ambience of various cultures’ offerings. I am glad she insisted. She viewed herself as a gourmet and, therefore, we learned how to tell the difference between truly good quality as opposed to mediocre food. In 1950’s Australia that was a hard thing to do, but there were a few such good places. Some names that come to mind from that era are Pellegrini’s, Florentino’s, the Latin Society, Top of the Town run by the famous Frank family, La Popotte, the Southern Cross Hotel, the Menzies Hotel.
As part of the eating experience, we also got to learn about good wines which, at that time, mostly were from Europe. As children, we had a ‘taster’ wine to go with our Sunday lunches and since then I have learned the difference between good and not so good wines, of European, American, Chilean, French, Italian and Australian origins. And, No, we did not become alcoholics in the process! Moderation in all things….
With the influx of European immigrants post-WWII, the diversity in food experiences has blossomed. Today, Australians are blessed with having such a great choice in true ethnic culinary delights to experience, especially with the growth in TV cooking shows from all cultures that have developed our taste buds. Australians have now become a society well-versed in what is good and what is not as they, too, have become culinary adventurers exploring differing tastes, different cultures. This has spawned a food revolution where Australian chefs, of many different cultural backgrounds, create fusion dishes that are uniquely Australian and which we can now say is ours, not the Sunday roast and three veg of the past of our English convict forebears.
There is now a much greater choice in eating-out dining experiences that one could go and eat in a new place each day of the year and never be bored. That is Melbourne! Melbourne takes justifiable great pride in being the cultural centre of the good eating experience in Australia, although Sydney also has fast built such a reputation, too! Having eaten in many wonderful restaurants in Sydney in the past, I give them the thumbs up.
There are many levels of good eating and then there is mediocrity, a bugbear of mine. I see no reasonable excuse for serving food to the public which is of such a low standard that I wouldn’t feed it to my dog, if I had one. To me, poor food design and/or quality speaks of laziness. You don’t have lazy people running a good restaurant, café or bistro.
What does eating and cooking have to do with knowing about good food? My view is that one doesn’t need to be a cook to know what is good food. My personal experience has proved it to me. I am a gourmet eating on a beer budget. I have developed a ‘nose’ for sussing out the good cheap eats, as well as those of mediocrity, as I am a good bargain-hunter and know good value for the dollar. Of the eateries I have spoken about within my blog posts, I am sure you will be able to judge for yourselves whether or not I think they are good, mediocre or even excellent.
Related post: Melbourne’s Best Eating
….shall I have…or, perhaps, I’ll get two, one for now and one for later, after dinner, as dessert. Mmmmm….scrumptious! I’m not sure I can control myself! LOL. :O)
This woman was seen outside the famous Europa Cake Shop in Acland Street, St Kilda, one of my favourite haunts throughout my years living in St Kilda as a child and for many years as an adult. The original owner, the baker, was a Polish man, an immigrant just like us whom my mother, and I, befriended in our early days here, and who was a gentle and kind man. I liked him a lot. I say ‘liked’ as he sold the business a few years ago and I don’t know where he’s gone or even if he still bakes. His cakes and biscuits were the authentic European style that would make us ‘foreigners’ feel right at home — the Hungarian Sacher torte, Kügelhupf (one of my favourites), the true Bavarian Black Forest cake, a proper French vanilla slice or croissant, delicious palm hearts, a proper marzipan-filled Christmas Stollen, beautiful small, different flavoured shortbread biscuits, as seen in the photo, and those teeth-breaking, beautifully chewy Florentines which I adored, and many others whose names I’ve now forgotten. Although the cakes and other sweets are still much the same, it is not the same any more….that feeling and those delicious smells have gone, so I go there now only infrequently.