NEWSLETTER: Winter 2009

What’s in a Name?

What's in a Name?

Herbs and spices sometimes go by several different names, for example black cardamom/brown cardamom, nigella/kolonji, and grains of paradise/Saharan nutmeg. It happens with Australian natives, too, and a case in point is bush tomato, which only refers to the small whole fruit. When it’s ground, it goes by the name akudjura or kutjera, even though it is the same botanical name, solanum centrale. It is not surprising that some herbs hitherto unknown to our modern cultures may find themselves with differing names as producers strive to come up with a name that will be easy for new consumers to identify. Such is the case with Eucalyptus olida (pic), also known as Strawberry Gum. The flavour of the leaf is a sweet and lively mixture of passionfruit and berries, and some producers chose the name Forest Berry Herb to reflect the delicious flavour. However, we notice that the name Strawberry Gum seems to be re-asserting itself, and in the interests of maintaining consistency and causing the least amount of confusion, we have changed the name on our label to Strawberry Gum. However, That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet,(to borrow from Shakespeare), and the wonderful flavour of Strawberry Gum, whatever name you give it, will enhance your next fruit salad, cheesecake or crepe!


Australian Herbs & Spices

Australian Herbs & Spices

While we’re on the subject of Australian herbs and spices, we believe they deserve more attention than a once-a-year fanfare as an Australia Day recipe feature in a food magazine. We don’t believe in pigeon-holing native spices as exclusively Aussie ingredients just because they grow here, and we are happy to apply our local ingredients to the world palette of flavours. A few examples:

· Lemon myrtle (pic) : Add a pinch of lemon myrtle to a stir-fry if there is no lemongrass handy. Sprinkle over fish fillets before cooking. We recently took advantage of a surfeit of home-grown rock melons to make a delicious rock melon and lemon myrtle sorbet. Our two-year-old grandson loves Native Lemon Pepper (a mixture of lemon myrtle, salt and native pepperleaf) on avocado.

· Bush Tomato/Akudjura: Add to pickles and relishes for a delicious tang and just a small amount to tomato-based pasta sauce. This fruity spice has a distinctive and unusual flavour, and if you’re not too sure about it, you may find it best to have it already carefully balanced and blended in our Native Barbecue Spice mix.

· Wattleseed: Whole wattleseeds are great for infusing to achieve flavour without texture. You can infuse in warmed milk, then strain away before making a subtle panna cotta or ice cream. Ground wattleseed marries superbly with chocolate, and gives a fabulous crunch to biscuits, cheesecake bases, and muffins. We use it in our Native Barbecue and Aussie Fish Seasoning mixes to add a warm, roasted note.

· Native Pepperberry/Pepperleaf: Love a pepper hit? The leaves and berries of the Tasmannia lanceolata have a lively, slightly oily peppery heat, the leaf being milder than the berry. Sadly freeze-dried whole berries are currently unavailable, so you’ll find the air-dried substitute that we’re driven to at present will be more pungent.

We hope you’re now sufficiently confident to add these Australian herbs and spices to your repertoire. If you’re still not sure, stick to our blends (Aussie Fish Seasoning, Native BBQ, Ockkah and Bushman’s Pepperpot are made using only Australian-grown products) and you can’t go wrong!


Tagine Spice Mix

Every winter we see the sales of our Tagine Spice mix go through the roof, and it’s great to know that so many of you love it. As tagine weather comes around again – what great comfort food it is on a chilly night! – you might like to ring the changes by making a tagine with Super Ras el Hanout . A little more subtle and less robust than the Tagine mix, Super Ras el Hanout perfectly enhances chicken, lamb or fish. Try it for yourself – the “super” version has over 30 ingredients, with the 23 original Ras el Hanout ingredients boosted by such exciting flavours as long pepper, lavender, rose petals, cubeb pepper, grains of paradise, mastic, Sichuan pepper and lemon myrtle. It may sound an eclectic mix, but you know that Herbie’s blending skills ensure a great result.


Argan Oil & Pricing

As many costs have taken an upward leap in recent months, we have finally had to review our prices. We always try to keep price rises to an absolute minimum, and we’re happy to say a couple of products are cheaper after the review. The contents of some of our $30 spice kits have been adjusted so that we have been able to hold the kit price at its present level.

Well, we have to admit it … we made a huge mistake. So entranced were we by the wonderful food when we visited Morocco last year that we impulsively ordered the unique Moroccan product, Argan Oil, to add to our stock list. We now find that it has quite a short shelf life, and we shall have to discard most of the oil that we brought in from Morocco. So we hope you have enjoyed the novelty and fabulous flavour and aroma of argan oil, because there will be no more available. It has been a costly exercise, however it’s a lesson well learned and experience – both good and bad – adds to the “rich tapestry” of our lives.


What’s New at Herbie’s

What’s new at Herbie’s? We’ve bowed to popular demand and given you a great Garlic Steak Seasoning for your barbecues and grills. Simply delicious! And in honour of NSW State and Regional Development’s parliamentary showcase of Hunter Valley and Central Coast food producers, we’ve created 32° – Just Hot Enough . It’s a fabulous spicy rub with the tang of lemon myrtle, inspired by the latitude of the area. Great results on fish, chicken and red meats, and, as well, two teaspoons in a cup of sour cream or cream cheese makes a simple, tasty dip.

Recently browsing an old book published in 1878, Culinary Jottings by Wyvern, (an English resident of Madras) we found this quote: “Spice, if necessary, should be doled out in atoms, the cook ought never to have it under his control.” One can’t help feeling sad for the colonial English, that with wonderful Indian food right at their doorsteps, they held fast to their English food traditions.

Our website will soon be having a facelift! Brighter, tighter and easier to use … check it out!

Don’t forget to cosy up your winter with nicely-spiced hearty soups, casseroles, stews and tagines.

Happy spicing!
Herbie and Liz