Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Eating with the Gods, and native produce

The Gods Cafe at ANU, that is. It's attached to the ANU Arts Centre theatre, on the edge of Union Court. It's not a student cheapie, it's a quality cafe which just happens to be on campus. They've recently won an award for the best ACT cafe restaurant. I had lunch there yesterday, and breakfast today, and then spent the rest of the morning at a meeting, in which our morning tea and lunch were catered by them. Over the top? Well, no. Judy and Tony do great coffee, and delicious food, and I'd happily eat my way through their entire menu if I had the time and the cash. Not that it's hugely expensive - my salad lunch was $18 with a glass of Pinot Gris, and breakfast about $15 with a large coffee.

I managed to keep up my healthy eating plan without much trouble. For lunch, I had their house salad with home-cured salmon, asparagus and avocado. Breakfast was a big bowl of the house muesli, with a berry compote; lunch was chicken and rocket wraps with fresh fruit. Morning tea foiled my good intentions a bit - the mini berry pastries were light and crisp and delicious. My visiting friend, who also hosted the meeting is also a big fan of The Gods. She powered her way through a dish of mussels and a side salad of rocket and parmesan at lunch, and next day had a big eggs benedict style breakfast with salmon and spinach. It looked terrific, but it was too early in the morning for me to cope with that sort of thing. I was more tempted by the croissants, from the Cornucopia bakery, or the blueberry maple marscapone bruschetta, but I resisted.

I'm quite excited to have got some comments on my blog from people who I don't even know. Hello!

Mako asked about sourcing native Australian ingredients. I wish I had a really good supplier, but no. It's all here and there, and erratic. Spices are getting much easier these days - even Woolworths & Coles now have some. So does Oxfam, and there is a man at the Saturday morning EPIC markets who sells a wider variety of bush spices, including aniseed myrtle and native mint. The Essential Ingredient in Kingston sometimes stocks frozen produce. I've seen bunya nuts and riberries, as well as some of the Vic Cherikoff range. The dried quandongs mentioned in an earlier post came from the Port Douglas market, so that's not too easy to repeat. Ironbark cafe in Manuka might be good people to ask; they often have native fruit desserts. And then there's mail order from Vic Cherikoff. If anybody else has good sources, please add a comment - I'd love to hear about it.

My friend Fiona, at Eat Australia, is busy planting out warrigal greens and midyim berries. She's the only person who's ever supplied me with fresh ingredients. I'm wondering about planting my own warrigal greens - Fiona says they are almost unkillable, so that would suit my dreadfully lax gardening style. I have a very tiny garden by Canberra standards, but I am trying for just a few native food plants. My desert lime survived the winter, though my brush cherry died. Oh well. I might try again and actually water it this time...

4 comments:

infoaddict said...

Native produce resources - Cath's picked most of the ones I'd be recommending, although as I don't make it to the EPIC markets a lot, I'm excited by the news of someone selling aniseed myrtle and native mint.

I would definitely be approaching Ironbark cafe and asking where they get their ingredients; they evidently have a regular supplier of fresh warrigal greens (which I call "tetragon" after Jean-Paul Bruneteau in "Tukka") for their fabulous warm cheesy greens dip.

The Food Lover's Deli in Bungendore is starting to source and supply native produce - they regularly have boab roots (the latest in Kimberly veggies, from all accounts; they're sort of like a slimy water chestnut in terms of taste and texture) and are likely to be an outlet for when I finally have enough fresh produce for sale.

The RNBG don't have a buchtucker garden as such (the Sydney Botanical Gardens do) but they have a lot of bushtucker tucked away. You're not _meant_ to eat it, of course, but if you smile nicely they might allow some judicious demonstrations.

Give me 6-12 months and I'll be able to supply one-off domestic quantities of fresh produce.

Otherwise, head online; there's an increasingly wide range of suppliers available these days, although suppliers of fresh produce probably only work on wholesale quantities.

You could do worse than head to http://bushfood.net (tends to be focussed on growing one's own) or the Australian Food Forum at http://www.tukkarestaurant.com.au/forum/ (focussed on eating), as good places to start. No, I don't run either of them. I do help moderate them both though :)

- Fiona (EatAust)

Nick said...

there is a post about just this thing (native ingredients) over on RiotACT (http://the-riotact.com/?p=5934#comments) although no-one has left much in the way of helpful advice yet except for the Ironbark cafe and where to get good native meat.

Cath said...

The riot act post is from the same guy who asked me - mako, aka saltwater native. He seems to be looking especially for fresh produce. I think that's a dream of the future. Get onto it, Ms Infoaddict!

I didn't mention meat, but anyway, roo is very easy to find at most supermarkets. Though sadly not at my local IGA, except as cat food. Emu, croc, possum and wallaby turn up frozen at Belconnen Eco Meats, and the chicken place at Fyshwick markets. They don't always have the whole range all the time, though. I think the possum is from NZ, not local.

Eco meats is fun. I have bison sausages in the freezer...

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