Growing at TURBO speed

Last month Vorwerk, the creator, owner and producer of Thermomix released its annual report, and if you’re a Thermomix owner you’re in good company. Sales of the machine, no doubt buoyed by the release of the TM5, grew by 49.4 per cent, year-on-year, with sales of €1.4 billion (A$2.16 billion). Every indicator suggests the Thermomix phenomenon has really only just begun, with the USA now part of the sales mix, a mix that extends to 71 countries.

You’ve got to love the sales spiel for the TM5 in the annual report: “whether it’s a healthy breakfast, a romantic dinner for two, or simply inspiration for daily cooking, the best Thermomix recipe is only a few clicks away”. We thought romance was a hands on affair, not a push button, timer on, lie back and wait for the turbo to kick in, but maybe we’re old-fashioned!

What’s amazing from the report is the growth in sales in Germany, the home of the machine: an increase of 90.6 per cent; in France it was a growth of 53 per cent, Italy 37 per cent, and Spain 17 per cent. All these newcomers are yet to be engaged by the TMix+ magazine, but we’re working on ways and means to get into these lucrative markets. One of our books, In The Mix 2, written by Dani Valent, has all but sold out its first print run in Portugal. As noted in previous newsletters, TMix+, now has a digital subscription model, offering all content in both web form, and PDF. Our autumn/winter edition is now fully online in both forms, and is also now in newsstands across Australia. You can find out if your local newsagent has the magazine here

TIME WARP: One of our favourite sources of recipes—for the Thermomix or not—is a 1937 Australian book, The Woman’s Mirror Cookery Book. This book was produced by the company that published The Bulletin magazine; both publications, sadly, no longer with us. The Woman’s Mirror Cookery Book was a collection of recipes contributed by readers from all over Australia and the Pacific. In our autumn/winter edition we include a recipe for Bosworth Jumbles, updated and given a lift (with lemon icing) by our chef Lesley Russell. The original recipe was submitted by “Julia”, who may or may not have passed it on to her descendants. If not, here it is in its original form.

The recipes cover every angle of cooking, including lots of recipes for mutton and offal, emu eggs, rabbit, hare, and even one for “brer bandicoot”, from ‘Yam’ of Queensland, which, “though a pest in some districts, is, when properly cooked, a toothsome marsupial”.

But we particularly like the advertisements. This one took our eye, as it shares some of the hype of the marketing for the Thermomix: “Ordinary, slow-cooking methods are now out of date. The modern way is the Celta way. Celta…cooks food much quicker, and so pays for itself in reduced food bills”. Just like the Thermomix, but only 7½ pennies for a packet. What a bargain.

PS: If anybody knows what the magic formula in Celta is, we’d love to know!!

LAST MEAL? Quora.com is a community of the querulous and generous: those who pose tricky questions and the experts who provide their expertise. We were particularly taken by a question recently which wondered why death-row inmates in the USA are no longer able to order their last meals. The answer, from Arvid Frykman, who adds his own descriptor '10+ years of stuffing my own fat face', we’ll take on face value:

“Texas does not allow those sentenced to death a last meal after September 2011, when Lawrence Russell Brewer, convicted of a racially motivated homicide, ordered two chicken-fried steaks with gravy and sliced onions; a triple-patty bacon cheeseburger; a cheese omelet with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and jalapeños; a bowl of fried okra with ketchup; one pound of barbecued meat with half a loaf of white bread; three fajitas; a meat-lover’s pizza; one pint of Blue Bell Ice Cream; a slab of peanut-butter fudge with crushed peanuts; and three root beers for his last meal, claimed he wasn't hungry, and ate exactly none of it.”

On a more savoury note, many years ago, at another publishing house, I was approached by Terry Durack and Jill Dupleix, with an idea to publish a book that included the last meals of the great chefs of the world. Nothing came of it (this being the early 90s, when chefs were chefs, not celebrities), but the dynamic duo were ahead of their time. In 2007, Melanie Dunea (for Bloomsbury, USA), produced My Last Supper, the world’s greatest chefs and their final feasts. A fine list was gathered, indeed, including Ferran Adrià, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Anthony Bourdain, Hélène Darroze, Alain Ducasse, Fergus Henderson, Thomas Keller, Giorgio Locatelli, Nobu, Jamie Oliver, Jacques Pépin, Gordon Ramsay, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

I’ve eaten at the hands of Boulud, Darroze, and Vongerichten, and I’d be very happy if this brilliant trio would come together to cook my last meal, which would be very much less extravagant than that chosen by Bourdain, whose choice was “a soup, a foie gras terrine…lobster or langoustine; a fish course; perhaps some game bird such as squab, pheasant or partridge, a beef or lamb dish; a cheese course, and to finish, at least two dessert courses, followed by chocolates and petits fours”.

Mine would be somewhat simpler: a five-hour roast shoulder of lamb, served with roast potatoes in the style my mum cooked (in the lard left behind from last week’s roast!!), with fresh, just picked peas (as I devoured at the restaurant Etxebarri in Spain a few years ago (pictured below), the peas just warmed through and doused in butter from Normandy, followed by a raspberry and apple crumble, with vanilla and honey ice cream. To finish, an aged Rutherglen Muscat, served on crushed ice, with a handful of chocolate truffles to nibble away those last glorious moments of life. Adieu.

[My Last Supper can be purchased at Amazon.com, from $US3.42!!]

Coffee, My Way

The latest brouhaha about coffee being served—at Melbourne’s Weylandts café—in a beaker, accompanied by separate beakers of frothy milk and water is not about wankery, it’s about service. Take it from somebody who likes coffee just right, and who, whenever I can—especially in unfamiliar establishments—will order a short black, with a jug of frothy milk on the side. It’s all about balance, not about gimmickry or a “science experiment” or “hipsterism” as the twitterati have shouted. Most times, when the jug option is not available, I’ll order a coffee with half the milk, preferring the dominant flavour of coffee to being overwhelmed with milk. How many times have you been to the same café, ordered the same coffee, and ended up with something completely different? The Weylandts way puts it all on you, and all praise to them for being so innovative, and customer friendly. As the manager, Lisa Wearmouth told The Age:

 "Everyone wants their long macchiato a bit differently. Generally, people want to choose how much milk they want to put in that coffee. I'm quite a coffee snob myself and I find myself asking for more milk, or more water. If we just put it all on the table, they can choose what they want. I don't think it's [hipsterism] going too far, just catering for what people want."

Perhaps, to drown out the critics, Ms Wearmouth should put Frank Sinatra’s My Way, on loop, particularly the fifth verse:

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.