Wednesday, 17 January 2007
Anna from Anna’s Cool Finds has initiated an interesting food blogging event “A Taste of Terroir”.
Although terroir is usually used to describe the geographical characteristics imbibed in wine (and coffee and chocolate), Anna believes there is more to terroir than the chemical makeup of soil or the temperature and weather fluctuations.
In this event she wants to apply terroir “to those foods and drinks which truly give a sense of place, or the taste of the place can be observed in them”. She has kindly invited everyone to document “an edible piece of your locale that you have a special connection with and would like to share with the world”.
So now I’ve had to think of something special to share with the blogging world.
Since I had covered Moreton Bay Bugs only recently, I didn’t want to rehash this and I couldn’t think of a dish both special to me and quintessentially Australian.
So much of Australian cuisine is coloured by the people who built this country. Nearly one quarter of our population was born overseas which makes us a very new nation. The food I eat on a daily basis may amuse or confuse many people. I’ll start off with char siu bao for a quick brekkie, have a döner kebab for lunch and at dinner fill up on dhal. Then the next day it’s bircher, pho and tagine. I love this mixed up diet and my tongue delights in all the possibilities.
So again, what to choose for terroir? I had to go to the local produce for inspiration. And then, at the Fish Market, I saw the delightful little beauties twinkling back at me: Sydney rock oysters!!!
But what to serve with them? Having had enough of lemon juice and mignonette dressing, I decided to do something bold.
In the January 2007 Gourmet Traveller I saw an interesting concept devised by The Press Club chef, George Calombaris: Greek salad smoothies.
Greek Salad Smoothie
Anna’s recipe inspired by George Calombaris. Makes 350ml.
50g fetta cheese
1 tomato, diced
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted
¼ cup good quality red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon crème fraîche
Juice of ½ lemon
1. Put the lemon juice, fetta, olives and tomato in a blender and slowly add red wine vinegar until it becomes a smooth paste. Blend for a minute to combine fully.
2. Drain through muslin or a fine sieve to remove tomato skins.
3. Whisk sauce with crème fraîche and serve over freshly shucked oysters.
Note: This makes 1½ cups of sauce. You could use it to dress two dozen oysters or even as a salad dressing.
Sydney rock oysters have a unique flavour that cannot compare to any other oysters I’ve tasted anywhere. They are small and creamy yellow in colour and their flavour packs a pungent hit of sweet meat and salty brine ending in the most moreish aftertaste that you can actually retain for days later.
An average Sydney rock oyster can take about 3 years to reach harvest size whereas the more common (and less flavoursome) Pacific oyster takes less than half that time.
Sydney rocks also have a longer shelf life than Pacific oysters since their growth period involves much harsher conditions and longer periods above the water line. Just to give you an indication, while the Pacific oyster needs to be eaten within three days of harvesting, the Sydney rock can survive in a damp sack for three weeks! Of course they are best consumed closer to harvesting.
If you want to read a little bit more about Sydney Rock oysters, I suggest the lengthy (and potentially obsessive compulsive) post I wrote last October after the Oyster Forum at Manta.
Be sure to visit Anna's Cool Finds to read the round-up of A Taste of Terroir.
Tags: morsels and musings food blog food and drink australia recipes entree appetizer Sydney rock oysters oysters greek salad greek salad smoothies taste of terroir