Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunday sum-up

Rita has checked out a few old favourites this week, but won’t go into details about them – suffice to say that both Marque IV and Red Velvet Lounge are maintaining their standards.

Before we finish with RVL, I DO need to add that on the blog last week, the subject of the lack of apple items on restaurant menus was mentioned. Steve literally dragged me over to his display cabinet today and pointed out his Apple Pie (pictured above). So let us just recap – it is pretty unusual to find restaurants here with apple products on their menu – EXCEPT IF YOU GO TO RVL! Food miles ticked with RVL's Apple Pie!

I don’t know if the recent article in The Mercury about suburban dwellers getting more self-reliant with their food, growing their own veggies, and raising their own chooks had anything to do with it, but I found it interesting to observe in a front garden in King Street, Sandy Bay, a little enclave of chookies duly doing their ‘bit’ for their owner, all chook-wired off from the rest of the garden, and street! Good on them!

Today’s episode of Landline on Food Miles I thought was extremely interesting. It was a story about the impact of the food miles issue in Britain, and included interviews with Professor Tim Lang, from the University of City of London, who claims he is the guy who invented food miles in 1992; a rep from Austrade; Amy Russell from Australian Winemakers Federation, as well as assorted staff from Tescos and others.

Basically what the program said was that the poms are quite aware of the food miles issue, and way more aware than, say, Australians. Prof Lang told us to “Grow up Australia” if we have the attitude (expressed by Australian exporters and a rep from the National Farmers Federation on the program) that the food miles issue was dead. NFF rep said “It’s a nonsense”. Even our federal minister was quite patently not taking this issue seriously with his attitude seeming to back up the NFF reps.

In UK, so we were told, all the large supermarket chains have jumped on the food miles bandwagon, and carry stickers indicating the food miles on products as a result of their customers demanding this. The Austrade rep reported that when they had gone to negotiate with Tescos and Sainsburys about importing various Oz food items, the stores reps were talking about stickers with planes and numbers on them, which is when she started hearing warning bells about the feasibility of UK accepting many of our products.

Carbon Trust is a company that was set up in the UK in 2001 by the government to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy. They work with organizations to reduce carbon emissions and develop commercially viable low carbon technologies. They assess standards for measuring companies carbon footprints, and have set international standards. Tesco is using the Carbon Trust label on some of their products (detergent, potatoes, orange juice etc) because their customers want that information on their products.

In 2006, Lincoln University found that NZ lamb was produced more efficiently than UK lamb hence accounting for why you find more NZ lamb in the UK supermarkets.
The question Landline seemed to be asking us was if we think the public is really ready to understand the carbon footprint issue. I myself would say no. Much as I would like them to be, I really don’t think your average Aussie gives the proverbial rats about where their food and ingredients come from.

But there is light on the horizon as they showcased one Australian company who is exporting 8 tonnes of handmade Xmas puddings to Britain this year in time for Xmas, It’s a company called Pudding Lane who pride themselves on their holisticality (if there is such a word) (maybe it’s holisticity?!) using free range eggs from a farm nearby, handmade breadcrumbs from bread from a local bakery, pudding cloths made locally etc. They’ve addressed all the vital ingredients necessary for exporting to the food-miles-conscious poms, like production methodology, packaging, shipping and marketing, and come up trumps. They have just won Gold in the UK Great Taste Awards 2008 in Britain with their Macadamia and Brandy Pudding. Well done Pudding Lane.

The warning is there for all to see. Britain is doing it, and we all know the poms are a really hard race to accept change. They love sticking with ceremony and tradition, so if they’re doing it, we are miles behind! This issue is definitely here to stay, in Britain anyway.
Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

OMG! I saw that most scrumptious Apple Pie with my very own eyes today Rita!! Unfortunately I have a lactose intolerance and was unable to sample anything from the showcase of delightful deserts. I did however happen to have one of the most divine soy decaff latte's I have ever had and trust me; I am a connoisseur of all things soy. I was able to have one of the gluten/dairy free almond biscuits which was a real treat and a perfect accompaniment to my delightful coffee.
The ambience there is just perfect, even the music in the background. I just LOVED it! The only unfortunate thing that did happen was that one of my girlfriends had ordered the scones that arrived warm, but completely crumbly and hard. It was more like a biscuit than a scone really. Anyway the delightful waitress cheerfully removed the scones and replaced this with some of RVL’s bread to have with her Jam and cream – silence and happiness overwhelmed her!. Where did Steve get those fantastic light shades? I’m in love with them!
RVL is a place that I will be revisiting for sure and a place that I will recommend to all and sundry.

Anonymous said...

Ahh Apple pie. I am not alone. Looks like a Victoria sponge for accompaniment.
Good to see I am not the only one who makes his own desserts.
You know, the amount of people out there that buy in product is astounding. The fruits of this state are bountiful. We should be famous for our berry and apple delights, and they are food mile conscious too.

A lot of my food is state born. Its economically expedient and in the case of desserts provides a unique experience for the diner.
Good on Ya Steve for the apple pie. Apple and Blackberry in a few months when the bushes in my lane start providing. Poached apricot and Blackberries steeped in last years slow gin with vannila bean ice cream to follow. Ahh I love the summer trees beginning to fruit.


Michelle said...

Glad to see such a great post on food miles. It really bothers me about Australians lack of interest on this issue. I live in the Huon, which must be one of the best places to grow food in Australia, and have spoken to farmers who still believe that importing fresh food from China is the way of the future! As they go subdividing their land - Tragedy!

Wished I'd seen the Landline episode - it's such an important issue...

Rita said...

Anon and Cartouche - you're both totally correct. Steve's desserts are wonderful, and we need to keep nagging people to get down there and eat.
Michelle - Landline was repeated last night (Mon) but an abbreviated version. Bad luck you missed that one too! You're right about Australians lacking interest in this issue, but that's basically what the program was about - the fact that the poms have embraced it, and we haven't. The Huon IS the ideal place for growing your own, and from what you say, and from my own knowledge of inhabitants (I come from there!!) I'd say you're spot on with the general ethos that importing from China is fine, and obviously way better than anything grown locally!

rockoyster said...

You want real "food miles"? Check out the Wollies Select brand frozen chips. They are "Made in The Netherlands". True story!

Not a bad chip though - if you like that sort of thing.