| |

Living well by doing it at home: Pa amb tomàquet , café con leche and English bitter beers

Travel does broaden the mind.  Among my many discoveries of a European sojourn last year were the following culinary delights:
  • The coffee culture of Barcelona with its everyday morning hit of café con leche (coffee with milk)
  • The durum wheat rich breads of Barcelona that make Pa amb tomàquet possible
  • The traditional English bitter  beers of the United kingdom.
Café con leche from Asturias, Spainhttp://shebrewsgoodale.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/boulevard-head.jpg

Once back home I took up the challenge of adapting  these cultural markers to the everyday  rhythm and swamp flow of downtown Northgate

café con leche

See full size image
Replicating the morning hit of coffee with milk  required  the addition of a new hardware item, the iconic coffee percolator.  I'm only usually a coffee drinker when out and about, as I prefer tea -- Madura either black leaf or green tea -- at home. But that hit of coffee in the earliest AM possible required not only the purchase of an outstanding example  of 20th Century design and the frequent hunt for a good bean, but the morning performance of a ritual that volume and taste dictate cannot be varied.

That's all -- just a morning coffee, leaving the rest of the day's fluid intake for tea. Ceremonial. Cherished. Absolutely the only way a day can begin.

Pa amb tomàquet

I learned early from my experiments with squishing tomato that the local bread available here in Australia did not lend itself to Pa amb tomàquet squashology. No stranger to bread baking, I decided that to get the quality and style of bread I wanted -- since purchasing handmade breads was an expensive indulgence -- maybe required home baking. So after creating my own sourdough starter I've more or less been baking our own bread every second day for the past so many months.

It's a routine.

I feed the sourdough yeast and leave it in the refrigerator over night. I then mix the leaven with more flour and rise it for about 4 hours before baking. Works every time. As well as a general addiction to the sourdough loaves and their ready marriage with a squashed tomato, I'm loving sourdough bread with a few slices of Camembert.

And Australian Camenbert is excellent esp Tasmanian Heritage Camembert
which in 2008 won best camembert in the world at international competition.

Simple. Delicious --  in fact 'heavenly' -- on both counts.

Much as I'd like to throw on a slice of Spanish Ham (Jamón Ibérico) I can't afford it.-- but I can grow my own tomatoes as I do in Garden Noir


Traditional English Bitter

While a dedicated tippler my usual  consumption habit had been a blend of wine , fruit juice and green tea mixed into a sort of Sangria with ice. My last major beer foray was several years back when I brewed my own version of Irish Stout -- home brewing being cheaper and, at the time , tastier than purchasing take home Guinness.

But this time around,in the wake of Europa,  I alighted on a cheap bottled bitter -- Tasman Bitter , brewed for Coles/Myer by James Boags in Launceston. I like it for its bitter taste  and kept buying it as I could not locate a bitter to match it at the major outlets. After some months sucking on this beer I was a bit concerned about the demand beer outlay was making on the family  budget, so I again got myself a Home Brew kit -- and Coopers kits are  great value -- and soon enough was brewing my own bitter: Coopers Traditional English Bitter .

This is  great drop although a bit sharper and a touch more abrasive than the bitters I remember from Ol Blighty. Unfortunately despite the fact that Coopers is distributed through supermarkets and Target and KMart -- supplies of this brew kit are unreliable in my neighborhood.

Local specialty brew barns have a nasty habit of being selective in what they carry and it can be frustrating trying to locate a specific  kit even from these suppliers on a drop in basis.

So after reviewing my options on the web I made a few surprized discoveries.

According to review resources such as www.hbkitreviews.com Coopers India Pale Ale (IPA)  is one of the best  beer kits in the country and rated more highly as a true English bitter than  Coopers generic bitter. But if you really want to tap  the source, Muntons ( and English brew kit maker) Yorkshire Bitter is on par with Coopers in the top brew kits available here.(I used to employ Muntons to make my stouts.)

So all I had to do was secure myself a ready supply of said five star kits. to satiate my perceived need for a glass of English bitter. Not so easy unless you use the web and purchase online.

I'm now using the Sydney based Brew Shop.

So that's what I do. Guaranteed supply. Delivery costs on par with the challenge of local travel to get to an outlet on the off chance they may have what you want. Two day delivery.Maybe all up one quarter to one third the price of buying readymade beers which inevitably don't taste as good.

So as I approach the anniversary of my Grand Tour I can report that  I'm gastronomically catching up on the fruits of my journey.

Bon appetit!

0 comments:

Post a Comment