I wake up every morning thinking constantly about food, but the World Chef Showcase at Star City for the Crave Festival was the first time i’ve done it legitimately. Cooking demonstrations with Joe Barza, Greg and Lucy Malouf, and a delicious chat with Kamal Mouzawak, go a little something like this…
It was a Middle Feast Crisis in Calories for all with Beruit born chef Joe Barza. A Shrek-like, gentle giant with a knife and fork earring and a cheeky smile who, in endearingly careful English put the show into showcasing Lebanese cuisine – but with a freshness and lightness that still had bellies dancing.
We were artichoking back olive oil tears of joy at his sumptuous offering of glistening, ruby-red rare tuna, perfectly pirouetting across our palates in cardamom and tarragon, aloft some angelically pureed artichoke.
Generously followed with a sampling of voluptuously sticky and seraphic rice knefeh pudding, a luscious mouth tangle in orange zested-rose-watered milk and cheese. A bite of which had one stunned audience member standing up and officially declaring herself cured of a traumatic pudding incident that occurred back in boarding school!
I can’t say who was more won over, myself in the kitchen afterwards, poaching Joe’s legendary toum recipe from the wonderful man himself, or Garlic Devotee Jenny, from New Zealand, who brought her own toum for Joe to sample – Joe declared it perfectly authentic to a round of joyous applause.
The next presenter, Kamal Mouzawak, was as impressed with Jenny as Joe was. Lebanese born Kamal’s appetite might be exceeded only by his vision. He is proof that a passion for food involves the belly as much as it does the heart. Kamal’s is a beautifully inspired, revolution so toothsome. He has brought politics onto the plate by establishing a new culture of farmer’s markets in Lebanon, and in doing so, has been able to locate what was not so long ago a marginalized and socially insignificant group, within the sphere of cultural respect and importance. Food is the real language, it needs no translation and is something that we can all appreciate and understand. It has the power to bring people together – different ideas and ways of living are something we are usually closed to, but different flavours are always welcomed. Kamal is serious about good produce and values the people who it comes from. He is a sincere, inspired and thoughtful voice for a class in Lebanon that nobody has ever really wanted to hear. He encourages us to think about food, but also not to take it so seriously. We ought to try new ingredients and methods – except when it comes to the hallowed Tabbouleh, of course. No one dare reinvent that.
Some happy snaps of the Half Time Dumplings...
Didn't think i'd leave you hanging, did you? This is Joe's Toum. Get your dragon breath ready and prepare to alienate your loved ones forever...
200 grams of peeled garlic
200 grams boiled potato
2 liters of vegetable oil (olive is too heavy, can you imagine?)
2 egg whites
A little ice cold water (to dull the heat effect of the motorized blender)
Lemon, salt + pepper to taste
The potato tames the fire of the garlic, add the oil to the mix very, very slowly in a food processor or blender. The slowness of adding the oil makes for an incredibly creamy toum. My mum is probably going to take offence to this recipe, she hails from the old school toumites, they're all mortar and pestle, and only olive oil, garlic, salt and lemon.
She wouldn't dream of adding anything to tame the garlic, the whole point is that steam comes out of your ears, your head squeezes itself off your neck, grows little scurrying headfeet and runs over to the edge of filled sink to jump into and douse itself in!
What do you know, Joe! This man's a genius, no artificial intelligence going on here.
Love + garlic breathed thanks to my partner in rhyme, the Fantastic Mr Foo, found at http://thefoodblog.com.au.
Fouad, My Darling, foodied Friend
Good luck my way, you seem to send
Passionfruit at Lindt,
And other chocolatey hints
You were great with that mic, and not at all flustered
Now, don't forget to try that mustard
I hope the dinner was good, and well you slumbered
My days of fitting my jeans, are well and truly numbered
Hope Sara is with Daddy and its all a laugh,
Mr Stein, if he's smart, should've gotten your autograph
What a wonderful day, lots of Lebanese people talking + eating - can you imagine? They actually do that sometimes. Middle Eastern stream my ass, it was more like a bloody torrent.
Peace Out, A.
guys, SBS link is here: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/4487/world_chef_showcase