Saturday 14 July 2007

Dench bread and Dukkah: simple pleasures

It is Bastille Day and I was all prepared to cook something almost French but I got distracted and didn’t end up cooking. Some days life is like that!

I headed over Gertrude Street, Fitzroy way today. I cycled along that way for work a few days ago and regretting not having the time to stop and check out some interesting looking galleries. If you are local and want a recommendation, I loved the photography by Penelope Richardson at Dianne Tanzer Gallery.

En route to Gertrude Street, I stopped at Dench Bakery. I love a good bakery that does dense interesting bread and Dench is my most recent discovery (109 Scotchmer Street, North Fitzroy Victoria 3068. Ph: 03 9486 3554). I am yet to stop there for brunch or cake but will do so soon, I hope. Last time I got bread there, it was a fantastic pumpkin loaf full of chunks of pumpkin and covered with roasted pumpkin seeds. Today I bought an olive and rosemary bread. The bread comes in a rustic looking loaf, dusted with flour and full of plump olives. But I am not sure I detected the rosemary.

So with the heady smell of fresh bread wafting to me from the back seat of the car, all I wanted for dinner was to eat bread and cheese and fresh vegetables. Sometimes it is the simple pleasures that are so hard to beat. I am sure the French would understand.

This sort of meal really makes me appreciate my vegetables. They really need so little attention to taste (and look) good. All I did for this meal was cut up the wonderful dense bread, some vintage cheese, cucumber, tomato, red pepper, avocado and season the vegetables with some fresh black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. The closest I got to cooking was grilling some zucchini slices under the grill. So easy, so satisfyingly delicious.

I have also had a tin of Egyptian Dukkah at home which I bought at the Vic Market weeks ago and keep forgetting about. So this was the perfect time to bring it out to meet this wonderful bread. I bought the dukkah for E after he was most impressed at friends, Kim and Jo, serving it as an appetizer weeks ago. He was as appreciative today and dipped both bread and vegetables in it. The ingredients in the dukkah are so simple and yet so delicious: sesame seed, hazelnuts, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper.

Lastly I will tell you about the small dishes in which I served the dukkah and olive oil. I used to love it when my mum took down a bowl and told me who gave it to her and I equally love the history attached to some of my kitchenware. These dishes I bought an a little antique shop in a village called Lindfield in East Sussex (south of London) when I was doing carer work for an elderly woman. I remember that the bank teller remembered me after one visit and the guys in the butchers talking about the ducks on the pond. Yes, it was one of the rare occasions I had to go into a butchers – I had the trauma of having to buy and cook the old dear a steak. Thankfully I was not there too long, but I have since read that Brett Anderson from British band Suede grew up there, which pleased me. So these small dishes don’t just look attractive but they are full of memories.

On the Stereo:
Twenty-Four Hour Party People soundtrack: various artists

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