Q: What is the oldest recipe collection in the world?

 It seems that wherever you turn at the moment, Europe is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Whether it's the Euro versus the dollar, the babushkas performance at Eurovision or the early morning Euro 2012 matches - European Culture is well and truly on the agenda in Australia. So without further ado, this week we're featuring traditional dishes from the hot contenders at the Euro 2012’s competition and celebrating the fresh produce that makes them odds on favourites.


Red Cabbage:


Availability: all year, best Mar – May
Appearance: compact head of smooth red-purple leaves with small white veins
Selection: choose heads that are heavy for size, with crisp, bright leaves
Prep: when cooking add lemon or vinegar to water to protect colour, beware of colour bleeding into other ingredients

Traditional dish: ROTKOHL (sweet & sour red cabbage) - often served with winter dishes such as beef in buttermilk

Modern inspiration: Mustard and sage pork cutlets with red wine cabbage and lentils



Tomatoes (Heirloom):

Photo: SG&S

Availability: all year, fluctuates
Appearance: compact head of smooth red-purple leaves with small white veins
Selection: choose heads that are heavy for size, with crisp, bright leaves
Prep: when cooking add lemon or vinegar to water to protect colour, beware of colour bleeding into other ingredients

Traditional dish: GAZPACHOraw vegetable soup served cold

Modern inspiration: Hand-pounded Gazpacho



Aubergine: aka eggplant

Image: freepik

Availability: all year, best Jan - Jul
Appearance: smooth purple fruit- pear shaped with glossy skin
Selection: look for firm, glossy, bright, skin. Should feel heavy for size.
Prep: highly versatile, can be sauteed, baked, roasted, fried, stuffed, stir fried, steamed or grilled

Traditional dish: RATATOUILLEvegetable dish often used as a side

Modern inspiration: Yotam Ottolenghi's Indian ratatouille recipe





Availability: all year, best Jun - Dec
Appearance: look likes red celery
Selection: choose stalks that are crisp, firm, glossy and bright
Prep: once leaves are removed, cook and add to pies, crumbles or even slice finely and add to a salad

Traditional dish: RHUBARB & CUSTARD

Modern inspiration: Rhubarb semifreddo and pistachio cream with a honey madeleine



Tuscan Cabbage: aka Black Cabbage or Cavalo Nero



Availability: all year
Appearance: sold in bunches of long dark green leaves. The leaves are heavily bubbled with a thick, white vein from stem to tip
Selection: look for firm, plump stalks and bright, fresh leaves
Prep: traditionally used in soups and pastas or steamed, also a fantastic stir-fry vegetable

Traditional dish: RIBOLITTA: Tuscan Cabbage bread soup

Modern inspiration: Ditalini, borlotti bean and cavolo nero soup





Availability: all year, best during cooler months
Appearance: bright red – deep purple tuber (often has white streaks)
Selection: choose beets that are crisp, firm, glossy and bright- fresh leaves are a good indicator
Prep: rinse in cold water, cook in boiling water, then remove skin

Traditional dish: BORSCHT

Modern Inspiration: Beetroot Soup with fetta


A: While many chefs have heard of ‘De re coquinaria’ (The Art of Cooking by Apicius) there is actually a much older recipe book in the Yale University Collection. The recipes are carved into ancient tablets dating back to approximately 1700BC. Originally believed to be pharmaceutical/medicinal in nature, it was only when successfully deciphered in the mid 80s that they were identified as recipes. Jean Bottero who translated the tablets describes the food as "a cuisine of striking richness, refinement, sophistication and artistry, which is surprising from such an early period. Previously we would not have dared to think a cuisine 4,000 years old was so advanced."



Q: With the urban sprawl of Sydney, do we have truly local produce available? 

The Crave, Sydney International Food Festival is well and truly underway with Sydneysiders (and travelling foodies) basking in the glow of World Class chefs and the latest food trends. Despite its international focus, the festival keeps some things close to home. The 100 mile meal challenge, is a series of events that throw down the gauntlet to Sydney chefs, challenging them to host an event where their menu is made up entirely of locally grown produce. There are over twenty 100 mile meal events being held this year, with sustainability champion Jared Ingersoll from Cotton Duck going so far as to host a 10 mile waddle.

 Outside of the Crave Festival, Sydney chefs are increasingly requesting local produce; actively embracing the market culture and the benefits of using seasonal ingredients with low food miles. A prime example is the redesign of Café Opera at the Intercontinental Hotel, where Executive Head Chef Tamas Pamer and Executive Sous Chef Julien Pouteau took on the challenge of using seasonal, locally produced ingredients in their signature buffet.

 Simon George & Sons works closely with Sydney producers and has a strong offering of local produce this Spring, much of which is grown within 50 miles of Sydney, never mind 100! To prepare your palate for the 100 Mile Meals series, here is a snapshot of some of our best produce from close to home:


Exotic Mushrooms-  Oyster (white, pink, yellow), Nameko, Enoki, Gold Enoki, Porcini, Shimeji, Shitake, Swiss Brown, Woodear

Heirloom Carrots-  Purple, White, Yellow

Carrots-  Golfball, Dutch

Beetroot-  Standard, Baby Beetroot, Baby Goldne Beetroot

Edible Flowers-  Season about to start 

Asian Veges-  Most ranges

Zucchini Flowers


Tomatoes-  Truss, Cherry Truss, Roma

Hydroponic Lettuce-  Baby Cos

Lettuce-  Cos, Iceberg

Garden Vegetables-  Shallots, Spring Onions, Radish etc

Herbs-  Basil, Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme etc

Sprouts and Shoots-  Bean Sprouts

Cucumber-  Telegraph, Lebanese




English Spinach






Get into the spirit of 100 Mile Meals with your own local produce menu. Contact Simon George & Sons for more information on this season’s best local produce.   

A: Yes. Greater Sydney produces 7% of the state’s total agriculture and 12% of its total vegetables. The Sydney region overall produces 90% of the fresh Asian vegetables consumed in the state and 80% of its fresh mushrooms (Ecos Magazine).  In 05/06, the Hawkesbury produced $61 million worth of veges, fruit and eggs, Penrith $32 million, Liverpool 19million, Camden $17milion and Campbelltown $3.4 million (Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036). Now that’s true local.