A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
FEW people would still need to be persuaded of the benefits and pleasures of olive oil. The question is: which ones to buy? Many inferior products and some exceptional ones are on shop shelves, from the traditional olive-growing countries of Italy, Spain, Greece and France, and now from Australia, and many of ours are extremely good.
There are excellent reasons for buying Australian olive oil, quite apart from patriotism. Freshness and purity are two.
TreetoTable:CookingwithAustralian OliveOil by Patrice Newell (Lantern/ Penguin, $59.95) is a beautifully produced and illustrated book in celebration of the Australian olive. It also gives enough information for readers to be able to make more informed decisions about the oils they buy.
Like the fruit itself, the look of this volume is earthy and rustic, with food photographed in darkly inviting, olivey tones and reproduced with a matt finish.
The opening 60-odd pages focus on the oil: how to buy it, how to store it, its chemistry and how it’s produced, and provide an update on the industry in Australia, which began in a small way in the 19th century but has become serious only in recent years.
We have about nine million trees across the country in commercial plantations, writes olive grower Newell (pictured), a tiny 0.7 per cent of the world’s industry; so let’s support it by buying local.
But back to the kitchen. The final 145 pages of the book feature wonderful recipes from some of the country’s best chefs: Serge Dansereau (bean salad with duck confit), Kylie Kwong (organic buckwheat soba noodle salad), Damien Pignolet (chicken salad with coddled egg vinaigrette). Janni Kyritsis is here, Greg Malouf, Maggie Beer, Stefano Manfredi, Stephanie Alexander and more.
From sauces, pasta, soups and hearty mains to desserts (Philip Johnson’s lemon and olive oil cake, Tony Bilson’s olive oil ice-cream, Tobie Puttock’s chocolate and olive oil tart). The sky’s the limit with olive oil. Judith Elen