Tag Archives: The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

SWEETS: Tastes and Traditions from many cultures, Immigration Museum 2012 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

The majority of people love SWEETS and even those who are not gluttons for all sweet things are tempted by some sweets.

For example I am not a great fan of cakes nor large quantities of puddings but I do like dolcetti  (Italian for little sweet things) like biscuits, especially Sicilian almond biscuits and torrone.

Pasticceria Erice (Sicily)

 

How many of you have tried giuggiulena or know what it is? What about pignolata?  I love  small moist ricotta filled cannoli …. All Sicilian, all exceptional, traditional and exquisitely made….and where else (Melbourne and the world!!) besides Sicily will you be able to sample these sweets?

Pistacchio treat from Dolcetti in Melbourne

 

You can taste them in Melbourne at the small and brilliant pasticceria, Dolcetti, where Marianna di Bartolo carries on a Sicilian tradition of exquisite sweet-making inherited from her family. But you will also be able to taste and purchase her sweets at the Sweets Festival at the Immigration Museum on Sunday 18 March 2012 (11am to 4pm).

Dolcetti’s Marianna Di Bartolo, her sweets are ‘to die for’

 

And Marianna will not be the only one offering her sweets and demonstrating some of her craft. This one-day festival of food and culture is a feast of toothsome sweet (and savoury) food stalls, film, music and dance performances, cooking demonstrations and workshops. along with Marianna’s sweets there will be baklava, mochi,  moti choor ladoo and napolitains as well as numerous other delicious treats, along with flavoured teas, coffee and sherbet.

During the day there will be short tours of the Sweets: Tastes and Traditions from Many Cultures Exhibition – this exhibition begins on 15 March 2012 to 7 April 2013.

For the past six months I have been part of a group coordinating the Sweets Exhibition at the Immigration Museum. This is a Museum Victoria project and is also part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. 2012.

The Museum worked collaboratively with a number of Victorian communities to produce an exhibition and festival themed around sweets, highlighting shared cultural traditions, rituals and contemporary practices.The Italian, Indian, Mauritian, Turkish and Japanese communities have been invited to participate. Obviously I am a member of the Italian group.

These communities were chosen because of their differences in food traditions and their geographical diversity. I have always been interested in the historical and cultural significance of ingredients and cooking methods and the culinary variations between cultures and even within the same culture.

Readers of my blog and my book will know about my interest in the origins of Sicilian recipes shaped by the Greeks, Arabs, French and Spaniards. Mauritius, Turkey, Japan and India all have unique histories and very different cultural and climatic influences that are reflected in what they eat.

Cannoli in Palermo (Sicily)

There will be performances throughout the day at the Sweets Festival at the Immigration Museum on Sunday 18 March. Naturally there will be Italian performers but these are only some of the performances from the other cultures represented:

Tara Rajkumar Natya, Sudha Dance Company. The performance explores treats of two of the Hindu Gods – Ganesha’ s modakam dumplings and Krishna’s favourite pudding pal payasam.

A dance theatre performance by the Turkish Ekol School of Arts. Discover the importance of baklava at an Anatolian wedding.

A musical concert with a Japanese shiobue flute and taiko drumming from the Fuefukuro trio.

Sego Lebrasse and dancers will present a Mauritian sega.

The Bumbroo Dance of the Bumblebee by the Kashmiri Pandits Cultural Association.

A Japanese tea ceremony demonstration with the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Melbourne Association.

Small cassate Ragusa (Sicily)

 

I have just returned from a trip to Vietnam and loved sampling different foods and flavours from the street stalls to traditional eateries to sophisticated dining rooms. Desserts, as we know them, are not generally eaten in Vietnam. Meals are most likely to be finished with a selection of fabulous fresh fruit, if anything. But sweet snacks are available on the street all day long. Sweet cakes, snacks and specialties such as coloured glutinous rice enclosing sweet bean paste, are also made for special occasions, Buddhist festivals and other celebrations.

Sweet stall in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

It seems that wherever you go, there is always something sweet to eat. They may not always be nutritious but they always nourish some part of us.

Sweet stall in Market in Hanoi(Vietnam)

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BACCALÀ MANTECATO (Creamed salt cod, popular in the Veneto region and Trieste)

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 Ortigia, Syracuse

According to my Sicilian relatives, only Sicilians know how to cook bacca. Having lived in Trieste (north Italy), I was very familiar with this fish that is cooked in a variety of ways in this region. I particularly like baccalà mantecato, (boiled cod fish and then whipped or beaten with oil and garlic – one of the most representative recipes in Venetian cuisine). I tried to introduce my Sicilian relatives to this once, but they were not interested. Sicilians are particularly conservative about food that isn’t theirs.

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Baccalà mantecato is not easily found in restaurants (most restaurants in Australia cook Southern Italian food) but I have eaten it at Guy Grossi’s, The Merchant –an osteria in Melbourne with typical food from the north-east of Italy.  Most of the food is presented as cichetti— bite-sized morsels.

The food at The Merchant brings back many childhood memories, including the Veneto dialect used for the names of the offerings on the menu (very similar to the Triestino dialect spoken in Trieste) .

Baccalà mantecato, has the thickness of a creamy, mashed potato. The fish spread is served cold and in my youth i ate it spread on crostini – thin slices of white bread, lightly fried till crisp in extra virgin olive oil. We passed the crostini around to guests while they drank an aperitivo. – usually a vermouth. Needless to say, a glass of prosecco or soave is also a good accompaniment. In Venice, baccalà mantecato is more likely to be spread on crostini made with cooked polenta that has been lightly toasted ( lightly fried or grilled) .

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There are various recipes for how to make this and not all add milk. I was taught that the milk sweetened the taste and helped to preserve the white colour.

Thick pieces of salt cod (cut from the centre) are the thickest and the best. Leave the skin, but cut away fins and obvious bones. Cut into serving size pieces (7- 10cm). Rinse well in running water before soaking for 36-48 hours (over soaking will not spoil the fish, especially if the pieces of baccalà are thick). Keep it covered in a bowl in the fridge. Change the water at least 4-5 times.

INGREDIENTS
bacca, 800g, pre soaked
garlic, 1-2 cloves chopped very finely (I use a garlic press)
extra virgin olive oil, at least 1 cup
pepper
bay leaf, 1-3
parsley,  finely chopped 1-2 tablespoons
milk, 2 litres
water, 1 litre
PROCESSES
Cover the pre soaked baccalà with cold water and milk, and bring it slowly to the boil. Add a bay leaf.
Simmer gently for 30- 40 mins. Allow it to rest and cool in the liquid.
Remove the fish from the poaching liquid, pick out all the bones and remove the skin. Use a fork to break the flesh into small pieces.
Place fish in a bowl and add the garlic and about ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Begin to beat the fish with a wooden spoon and keep on adding oil as you would if you were making mayonnaise by hand. The mixture will look like a thick, white, fluffy cream. Keep on adding oil until the mixture will not absorb any more – it may absorb 1-1½ cups of oil.
The above process can also be done in a food processor.

The photograph of baccalà montecato was one of the entrées presented a couple of years ago as part of The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival; the event was called Around Italy in 7 Days – Travel north to south with a different gastronomic journey each night.

Massimiliano Ferraiuolo was the chef (originally from Naples) who was visiting from Italy for a week’s residence at Society Restaurant and cooking each evening. (This was the evening to celebrate food from the north of Italy). the baccalà montecato was presented on a bed of mashed fresh peas with black toasted bread (black squid ink was used in the bread mixture), sprinkled with paprika, toasted almonds and a fresh, red autumn leaf . Pumpernickel bread is also suitable.

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