The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence -

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

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