Sunday, January 08, 2012

Colin, crumbed















Revered South Aussie blogger River has recently shared photos of the cheeses she found (and is contemplating tasting) at Adelaide's Central Market.

Now, without wanting to come all Annie Get Your Gun over you and sing the entire song of 'Anything you can do I can do better,' she got me thinking about cheese available here, as well as other foods.

Cheesus.....! The variety here is mind boggling. Even modest old Migros, home to everything made in Switzerland with Swiss ingredients by only certified Swiss-nation-loving, national interest folk, has a fridge section that's a hundred metres long and full of cheese. If that's not good enough you can also visit their deli and have someone cut off a specific chunk of something different for you or get the unrefrigerated long-life soapy stuff next to the eggs.

In France, a mere 5 kilometres away, LeClerc has three aisles dedicated to cheese + the separate deli section but our newest discovery, Carrefour, outranks them both.

People with lactose intolerances start to double over in abdominal pain the moment they pull into the car park because this place sells not only televisions, champagne and bullock tongues but cheese. It's easily the largest supermarket I've ever been inside and roughly 40% of it is devoted to all things cheesey. Think goat, sheep, cow, buffalo and also ash, fig, garlic, vine leaf, straw, cloth and a ten thousand moulds and you might be partway there.

But cheese is the tip of the culinary iceberg (lettuce). Australia, Switzerland and France may all be commonly considered as well-off western nations with similar cultural concerns but foods found here still surprise me.



Take the humble yoghurt, for example. Plain, Greek or fruit is about all you get at Coles, but here we can freely grab pots of hazelnut, maple leaf, coconut and chocolate (nowhere near as nice as you'd think), mocha (ditto), prune and pineapple, rhubarb, cranberry, orange and ginger, caramel, winter chestnut.

The Christmas selection not only included Apple Strudel and Marzipan flavours but also caramelised pear and coffee bean. There might be a couple of reasons why these are only placed on the shelves for a couple of weeks per year: you only want to try them once and you either have locals with bad memories or trustful new UN arrivals who like the sound of them.

My utter favourite (apart from all and every permutation of berry) was fig and honey in Greek-style yoghurt. Sweet, creamy and delectable, so why-oh-why did I go and ruin it all by turning around to the back to read the nutritional (read: depressional) panel? Thirty grams of fat. Oh. Might as well be scoffing mascarpone...



The French-Suisse don't shy away from fats (see cheese above) or the origins of their foods. Some birds still have their heads, beaks and feet on not just in rustic market stalls but also in the supermarket meat section and nine times out of ten LC and I look at a tray of meat and, once the usual suspects of chicken, beef, pork, veal, duck, horse and rabbit are eliminated, are still none the wiser. Lambs' brains are vacuum packed in groups of three and were right alongside sheep hearts; inexplicably glad-wrapped in fours. (Did the butcher feel peckish and have the fourth brain on a baguette during his lunch break?)

Frogs (grenoille) started appearing just before the Silly Season all stacked up on kebab sticks like pink scallops, and snail cooking kits were lining the shelves next to the fondue kits. Yes, fondue is truly honestly eaten here by the locals, with Gruyere and Emmental (prepared ready for the pot) outselling the other million varieties of cheeses by ten to one.

Frozen fish comes from Alaska and Iceland and one particular brand caught my eye: Colin. Colin comes crumbed, but I've yet to find out what they did to Trevor or Dennis.

Yesterday, as we dawdled up and down the immense aisles of Carrefour in the afternoon***, at the end of each one, like Australia, there featured a small display of a special (or 'action') for the week. Packets of chips on one, bottles of pear cider on another and the obligatory stale Christmas cakes further along. However, seeing rabbit set up at aisle five was a bit confronting. They may have been mercifully stripped of their fur, but the butcher had displayed them agonisingly stretched out and left their eyes in, so we had an meaty mix of painfully nude and melted-wax-like pink bugs bunny displayed to win over our stomachs (nope) and our wallets (double nope).


I vowed to Sapphire that I would never eat rabbit. We owned and loved the adorable mini-lop bunny Skipper for three years before tearfully seeing him head off in Taka's car to the fertile, green organic garden of their home in Murrumbeena. The little bugger's apparently having a better time there than he ever had with us, with free reign to eat all the spinach he can handle, dig wherever he likes and stroll inside to take his place in front of the flatscreen in the evenings.

So when Love Chunks was peering at some pots of terrine to try, I hissed, "NO! Not that one! Try this one instead!" Not having Google Translate with us meant that we didn't know that the other flavours were, so he said, "Oh, she won't know," and popped it into our trolley. 

My heart sank with shame: I had promised our child that no relative of Skipper's would end up in my stomach and I'd stick with that to the very end.



..... My heart sank again later in the same day when I took the time to read the peel-back foil lid from Milly's dinner. Lapin !

They say things happen in threes, so I'm reading every single label before inserting whatever's inside into my mouth. Perhaps I'll stick to chocolate; it's a much safer option.

Ah Skipper - I miss the little guy.



*** The best time to go shopping is after 3pm when the rush is over. Peaceful and quick to the checkouts even if the crazy day's specials have all been snapped up and you're left with buying the 'Razzle Dazzle' scented laundry detergent based only on price and not knowledge of what the hell 'razzle dazzle' smells like.....

38 comments:

Andrew said...

Plain yoghurt is becoming increasingly difficult to buy here at the supermarkets.

Kath Lockett said...

We have oodles of the stuff here, Andrew as well as fromage blanc, blanc battu, yoghurt naturelle, quark...

....and the flavours of course.

nuttynoton said...

oh all those yoghurts yummy, miss NN the elder would love the cheeses as she was bemoaning yesterday why we only had orange cheese in the fridge. Sounds like you have found a giant supermarket there!
Great post as usual

The Elephant's Child said...

Mmmm cheese.
With you all the way on eating bunny though - quite apart from being a vegetarian. When I was growing up when money was tight (often) my father would go out with a gun and a fishing rod. Loved it when he came home with trout. Rabbit? Not so much. My mother was a good and inspired cook but rabbit is firmly (and irrationally) fixed in my mind as poverty food. An aspirational snob in the making.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

I commented on River's post about cheese. Cheese is great - I LOVE it.

And on my numerous trips to Zurich, I know that the Swiss love their cheese too.

At breakfast in the hotel I stayed at usually, there were so many cheeses on offer that I was so spoilt for choice I ended up late for work. In the end I just grabbed a handful before I left.

My cats eat rabbit flavoured cat food too - sorry :-(

:0)

Cheers

PM

Pandora Behr said...

I'd never survive over there - I'd have to try EVERYTHING - sounds great. Oh, and I'll keep my rabbit opinions firmly to myself... promise.

Oh, was round at Chokolait the other day for a chilli hot chocolate and thought of you - they now have chilli chocolate frogs - will have to be sampled soon.
Great post.

Cathy said...

Hi Kath!
I loved this post because it reflects so many of my own experiences! The first time I went past the cheese counter in our local supermarket in Calais I nearly passed out from the smell. Now, fifteen years later, I live by the maxim 'The worse it smells, the better it tastes'!
The first time I went into a Carrefour hypermarket I left a trail of breadcrumbs as I was afraid I'd never find my way out. Amazing place. My personal favourite in the meat section is a fully prepared tray of all things pig related - including feet, head, ears and tail all neatly presented and ready to gnaw. Haven't been tempted to buy me one o'them yet, funnily enough. We had snails on Christmas day and the boys had their very favourite terrine - wild boar. I don't know why it's their favourite - I don't like it at all. Give me a nice fattened goose liver any day!
I still can't eat rabbit even after fifteen years in France! Luckily most of our friends and family know this and, apart from an unfortunate dinner party when I first arrived where a friend had prepared her speciality dish of rabbit in mustard cream sauce, I don't have to deal with it.
I'm with you on the honey and fig yoghurt - its divine! But my all-time favourite is blackberry. Or black cherry. Or mango. Or...

Kath Lockett said...

Nuttynoton - Miss NN would *love* the cheeses here. Our usual method of selecting them seems to be 'close your eyes, and grab' and apart from one washed rind disaster, we've been thrilled with everything we've 'selected' so far.

E-Child, I remember my father bringing home rabbit a few times too. Mum told us it was 'chicken casserole' but I found tiny shot pellets in the bottom of my bowl!

You're right, PlasMan, they even do brilliant cheese at breakfast time. During our ski holiday I still stood at the cheese section in awe. 'Mountain cheese' was my particular favourite there but I have no idea of the animal who produced the milk, or the age of the cheese or what it's real name is.

As long as you don't eat any rabbit in front of me (or Sapphire), Pandora, you'll be fine. Ah Chokolait..... good old Ross and his chocolate pavlovas.... *sniffle*

G'day Cathy - I'm with you on the pong and our fridge now does what we call a 'Cheese Fart' every time we open it irrespective of how well we wrap them. We've got used to it now. And again on the blackberry, cherry yoghurts - or raspberry which is my 'go to' flavour....

Ann O'Dyne said...

our Skipper was called Thumper and he had that Murrumbeena-style life too (only in Brighton, where we found him on the railway line at night).

Going out now to buy some fromage.
a bientot.

River said...

3 aisles of cheese??
hundreds of metres of cheese?
It would take me a week to decide which to choose...
And rhubarb youghurt! Yum! over here it comes with raspberry, a small tub of rhubarb/raspberry yoghurt is very, very, nice! But it's made by an upmarket brand, so it's extra creamy, which means I can only have one tub a week.
I'm thinking of making my own yoghurt and adding my own rhubarb/raspberry mix, not so creamy that way.
Like Andrew said plain yoghurt is increasingly scarce in small tubs, there's one brand, but all others are only in the one kilo tubs.
Did you read Carolina's comment at drifting about putting garlic and rosemary into a wooden box of camembert then warming it to dipping consistency in the oven?
I am SO going to try that!! With a fresh french stick torn into dipping sections.

River said...

P.S. thanks for the link back.

Wally The Walrus said...

I *told* you that you would be bowled over by the supermarkets!

There are things you can get in Europe that boring old Oz just can't deliver on. The cheese is just one. The way meat is prepared and sold is hugely different (and if you speak the language, far more civilised to my way of thinking; if you don't speak the lingo though, best stick the the tray/vac packed muck).

When will we ever see the variety of cheeses, fruit, fruit-juices (blood-orange juice, for goodness sakes)? Try getting horse in Oz. That just leads to newspaper scandals. Bunny is hard to find. Even getting some roo is difficult.

Unfortunately in Australia, boganitis rules and anything beyond chook, piggy, beef or sheep is just too tall an order. Shame really.

Word verification: Fiest. Seems appropriate!

Radge said...

I want all the cheese.

Kath Lockett said...

Ann, I'm eating some fromage (gruyere on toast) right now, in honour of your Thumper. Oh dear, that doesn't read as innocently as I intended it!

River, they do serve whole camemberts and goat cheeses here, warm and on salads. My thighs exploded just thinking about it.

You're a braver man than I, Wally dearest. I *know* that it's not practical and has a dollop of hypocrisy but horsey and bunny just don't make my tastebuds water. My eyes yes, my stomach = no.

Radge, you'd be dead before you'd finished in aisle one!

Hannah said...

Food post! Hurrah! I tried chocolate yoghurt a few times in America and always found it disgusting. Maple and green tea yoghurt, though, I liked. So want to try that Marzipan one you saw!

Kath Lockett said...

Hannah, the marzipan one was the best of the 'Christmas special range' actually. I don't have the taste buds to even try to imagine how green tea and yoghurt can successfully pair up....

diane b said...

I agree with Wally. Oz food variety in stores is very boring. I blame the two supermarket moguls having such control on what we can eat.
Bill loves his Swiss cheeses and getting used to Australian food has been his biggest challenge in becoming Australian.Don't be a woos, just try everything.

Kath Lockett said...

dianeb, I can see why your Swiss hubby would find Aussie cheese pretty boring...

... but surely with the value and abundance of good old Aussie steak and seafood he doesn't miss eating horse or rabbit?

B Smith said...

I take it you haven't found any individually sliced and wrapped cheese...?

Kath Lockett said...

There are cheese slices, wrapped, B Smith, but, rather worryingly, they're located in a non-refrigerated aisle next to the 'Picnic Eggs' (hard boiled and dyed lurid colours).

River said...

@Wally The Walrus; getting roo meat is not at all difficult. Most supermarkets now carry some, and there is a stall in Adelaide's Central Market that sells nothing but roo meat. Steaks, sausages, mince, prepared patties, all roo meat.

Nicole said...

Mmh cheese. Mmm yoghurt. I ate way too much of both over xmas!

Kath Lockett said...

River/Wally, we even find roo meat here. The cafeteria at Love Chunks' workplace features it occasionally (along with wild boar and springbok, to name a few)

Nicole, I hear you and am very relieved that our 'setting up home' budget has not (and hopefully will never) allowed for a set of bathroom scales. :P

Red Nomad OZ said...

Hahaha! I guess chocolate rabbits don't count then ...

Louise said...

OH that sounds so amazing. I would love to partake of aisles and aisles of cheese. I've never had a rabbit as a pet, and whilst I know the meat tastes delicious, it's not something I cook at home and tend to avoid in restaurants. BTW people with lactose intolerance can often eat cheese (something about the cheese making process changes the lactose content). All those yoghurt flavours sound wonderful too. I loved the chestnut yoghurt in France. Goats cheese yoghurt was interesting too.

wilbo43 said...

Ahhh your description has made me feel homesick. Real food. A variety of food. I would love to spend some time (and money) in the cheese and yoghurt isles. Do the yoghurts still come in glass containers?

Kath Lockett said...

ANY animal in chocolate form is acceptable, dear RedNomad!

Louise, we have a couple of mates over here who are lactose intolerant and they pop some kind of magic pill before tucking into the cheese platter and reckons it hasn't stopped them from eating their share of Swiss and French dairy delights...

No glass containers any more, Wilbo43, but variety like I've never seen anywhere else before. There's no way that any of us are in danger of getting osteoporosis :)

Anji said...

You can eat a different cheese everyday of the year here.

Have you seen the creme brulée kits complete with blow torch?

Come and check us out ExposeYourBlog!

Anne said...

Suggest Lambs' Hearts are not as bad as they look. Even if you remember them as part of mum's lamb's fry from your childhood. I stuff and roast them slowly in the oven for about an hour- very inexpensive and tasty. Son loves them- and he's never had to have mum's lamb's fry. He also loves kidneys, grilled on skewers, as per our Iranian friends. I still can't abide liver, but enjoy roast heart, and tolerate kidney kabob.
Husband refuses to taste either- but adores kangaroo- which has become a regular in our mealtimes- very tasty, no fat, and tastes like a good steak.
Don't knock it until you try it.

Kath Lockett said...

Anji, I'll now keep my eyes open *especially* for the creme brulee kits (could be a great birthday idea for a couple of people I know and love).

Anne I quite enjoy kangaroo but suspect that having avoided offal for over four decades now it'll be hard to change my mind on it....

Anonymous said...

Mmmm...cheese! Even the run-of-the-mill sliced cheese was lovely! Especially loved one with peppercorns in it: we brought back some of that to the US (among more sophisticated options :-)) and I think I have one carton of fondue cheese left in the freezer :-) (yeah it's not supposed to be frozen, but I can't save it in the fridge until fondue weather!)

M

Kath Lockett said...

Hi Anon/M - just bought some fondue cheese today. We got ourselves the full kit the other day and it was a revelation, I tell you....

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

[url=http://bileteavion-paris.ro]Zboruri Paris[/url]

Anonymous said...

[url=http://tanie-loty-londyn.pl/tanie-loty-z-warszawy-do-londynu/]Bilety lotnicze Londyn Warszawa[/url]
[url=http://tanie-loty-londyn.pl/tanie-loty-z-wroclawia-do-londynu/]Lot Londyn Wrocław[/url]

Anonymous said...

[url=http://bileteavion-Roma.ro]Low cost Roma[/url]

Anonymous said...

[url=http://tanie-loty-paryz.pl/]Tanie loty do Paryża[/url]

Anonymous said...

[url=http://bileteavion-Madrid.ro]Zbor Madrid[/url]