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Locavores: California’s Latest Trend Goes Global

Mar 13, 2011
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Is the all season tomato history?

For lover’s of America’s East Coast, the idea of California as the leading Global influence from the states seems laughable. After all New York City has given life to Punk Rock, to Abstract Expressionism, to Jazz. It is New York’s streets that have coloured the popular imagination through film and TV, through Art and literature. It was the residents of New York that ran screaming through the streets in 2001, losing two towers and prompting two wars.

California has never laid claim on any of these distinctly New York touchstones. Author Jay McInerney once characterized California as the most American of cities, it’s inhabitance as far from old europe’s influence whilst remaining on the US mainland. Perhaps it’s this thirst for the ‘new,’ this hyper-modernism that has helped cultivate a unique culture of it’s own that spread throughout the Western hemisphere.

When the Beach Boys brought Surfing to the USA it starting in Califor-ni-a. When sunbeds, sushi, oxygen bars, organics, rollerblades and flight miles came to the West, they all landed first in the US Sunshine State. And so it is with Locavores – is this the latest trend to become a California export?

The locavore movement is focused on sustainiability, on eco-friendly agriculture and especially on locally sourced ingredients. From the same well of West Coast environmentalism that introduced the ‘slow food’ movement, locavores aim to reduce the reliance on mechanized agriculture to reduce their carbon footprint, and to promote in-season plant consumption.

They have some powerful foodie allies in this goal. Famed celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has thrown his influence behind a move to force UK restaurants to serve locally sourced seasonal produce. Is this the end of the all-season Strawberry?

In parallel with adherence to free markets and globalization the all-season market and fruit and vegetables has developed, producing all-year stocks from ever further reaches of the globe.

What do you think – is the locavore movement a ‘hippy-fad’ or is locally sourced seasonal food the ‘new normal’?

Eating the World’s Hottest Chilli, the Ghost Chilli

Mar 13, 2011
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World's Hottest Chili: the Ghost Chilli

Photo by Asit K. Ghosh

If ever you venture to New England’s northern reaches, forget the Diamond Joe Quimby accents, there’s one stop that’s bound to capture your attention.

Boston’s famed hell night is to chilli as La Tomatina is to tomatos: a knock-down throw-em-up no-holds-barred homage to the sainted hot pepper. By far the stand-out attraction of hell night is the Ghost Chilli, aka Bhut Jolokia, aka Naga Jolokia, aka Red Death.

The chilli is more than 100 times hotter than a Jalapeno, more than 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce, it is so hot that in parts of India the pepper is smeared on fence lines to ward off wild elephant.

At Boston’s East Coast Grill wandering pachyderms are the least of their concerns as tourist and eccentric locals pile in to go mano-a-mano with Naga Jolokia.

Man v Food’s Anthony Bourdain has taken on the skoville scale not once but twice. While his Boston trip may have only been a taste of what was to come, a trip to Sarasota Florida saw him take the Ghost chilli head-on in 420 Cafe’s “fire in your hole” hot wing challenge. The results speak for themselves.

Nova FM Interview QLD Reality TV Stars Mal & Bec

Mar 10, 2011
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Recently eliminated Urban Hippies Mal and Bec talked to Nova FM about their time on Channel 7, as news of death threats against the Tasmanian team surfaced on Today Tonight.

Life After TV: Reality Stars Mal & Bec Back at Work

Mar 10, 2011
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Mal & Bec Bring Brisbane Style Cooking to My Kitchen Rules 2011
Mal and Bec are back to real life after their departure from Australian reality TV show, with it’s heart squarely in the kitchen.

Their run on the show included great highs and lows, but for this Brisbane couple, it’s just great to be able to concentrate on what really matters in 2011: Lady Marmalade Cafe.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to run my own restaurant, and thanks to being on Season 2 of that Kitchen Reality show, my dream is now a reality” says Bec. “There were some great moments on the show, we got to meet the Home and Away stars which was fantastic, we won the first People’s Choice award which was encouraging, but ultimately the end goal was getting to where we are today – working for ourselves, and running my own kitchen by my own rules.”

Since opening in July, Lady Marmalade Cafe has attracting a diverse mix of Brisbane locals. Many drawn by it’s re-imagining of former discount shopping mecca Stones Corner as a pseudo-artistic enclave for students, families and musicians alike. Many local artists and celebrities have been spotted inside its grungy interior.

For Mal the opening was a culmination of a lifetime passion around food. “For me it was a great moment, I got to open my very own Cafe, on my birthday no-less, but then as the cafe was opening we were jetting around Australia shooting for Channel 7. It was challenging, but it’s an experience of a lifetime and we are both really grateful to have had the opportunity.”

For fans of the show, and Brisbane-ites alike, Lady Marmalade Cafe isn’t just a TV curiosity, its the start of a new wave of Brisbane entrepreneurs that are bringing a decidedly different flavour to Brisbane’s culinary scene.

Urban Hippies Mal and Bec at Lady Marmalade Cafe

Urban Hippies Mal and Bec at Lady Marmalade Cafe

Malopecia: The Secret Behind Reality Tv’s Hat Fiasco

Mar 9, 2011
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Alopecia Affects My Kitchen Rules Star Mal Gill

Mal Prepares Another Kitchen Masterstroke

When Queenslanders Mal Gill, and his partner of nine years Bec Saul, signed up for a Reality TV Show in 2011, they could scarcely have anticipated the notoriety it would bring.

Variously famed for his updated Mal-centric coleslaw (the Malslaw), and family nickname ‘the flavour enhancer ‘ (his initials are MSG), Mal has felt the fickle twists of fame bring to the forefront another, less friendly portmanteau: Malopecia.

The short-term hair loss associated with Alopecia was sufficiently troubling for studio execs that Mal was contracted to wear a hat for the run of the show. Mal had been reluctant to be ‘the hat guy’ but ultimately realised the show presented the opportunity of a lifetime for a lover of TV and self-confessed ‘food-geek’.

From early on however Mal’s hat wearing was a cause of much controversy among Channel 7 reality TV forum users. Unaware of his medical issues, and the associated contractual obligations, many fans read Mal’s ever present berets and pork-pie’s as an affront to good ol’ fashioned common decency.

From one user: “Hey Mal would just like to let you know it is rude to wear your hat at any meal table, you are supposed to be attending restaurants, maybe you should learn some manners !!!!!

From another: “You don’t wear hats at the dinner table, didn’t your mother teach you any rules?”

And yet another: “I don’t care what his personal complaints are – why did he go on this show if he had a PROBLEM!!!”

But it was not all negative feedback, many users in fact came to the defence of the softly-spoken Queenslander.

“I actually have alopecia. It is a very difficult thing to deal with and I feel sorry for him. I have had it for the last 3 years and the first time I lost my hair, I lost it form everywhere within 2 months. I totally understand why he wears a hat. Hey guys give him a break”

And from another supporter, this: “I personally do not mind him wearing the hat – that is his style. If it was a girl everyone wouldn’t be getting all funny about it.  That’s his ‘thing’ – doesn’t bother me one bit. He would look weird without that hat I think!”

Luckily for Mal the condition has since abated, allowing him to return to his pre-show hat-less-ness, with a full head of hair. Whether he looks strange without a hat, well, we will let you be the judge.

What do you think? Has Mal’s hat exposed a cultural divide between young and old? Are hat’s okay for the dinner table, or is this one social faux pas that should never be allowed?

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