Dec 10

The white stuff

All froth? Choosing milk for your coffee is a serious business. Photo: Justin McManusMost Melbourne coffee drinkers take their brew with milk. A straw poll of cafe owners suggests about 85 per cent prefer white coffee.

We’re getting fussier about our beans but we’re still slow to care about the milk that goes into our morning cuppa. It does matter; a standard latte is only 15 per cent coffee, the rest is milk.

Milk plays a big role in how coffee tastes, according to Preston coffee roasting company Ducale Coffee. It holds regular milk-tasting sessions for cafe owners and in a blind tasting of six full-cream milks (served cold, warm and with coffee), Jonesy’s Dairy and Procal came out on top. The tasters found Coles milk insipid, while the unhomogenised Elgaars was too dominating.

Ducale roaster Rob Stewart encourages people to think about their choice.

A consequence of the “milk wars” between big supermarkets is that milk producers can reduce costs by diluting fresh milk with up to 16 per cent permeate, a watery byproduct of milk processing.

“Milks with added permeate tend to have less body, less sweetness and their micro foam collapses very quickly, affecting presentation,” Stewart says.

Milks with no added permeate enhance coffee’s natural characteristics without suffocating flavour. But unhomogenised milk is difficult to work with in a busy cafe because the milk bottle needs to be shaken every time it is used to distribute the fat through the milk.

Boutique or organic milk can cost twice as much as standard milk.

At Auction Rooms in North Melbourne, Andrew Kelly has switched to Schulz milk because it’s from a single herd and comes directly from the farmer to the cafe.

“Baristas used to talk about milk cutting through the coffee as if it was the enemy, but now we talk about milk complementing the coffee.”

While Kelly champions filter coffee, up to 85 per cent of his customers choose espresso-based drinks and of these, about 75 per cent are milk-based. While full cream is a better product, he feels he can’t take skinny milk off the menu.

Fleur Studd, of Market Lane Coffee, was initially nervous about not offering customers skinny milk but says it hasn’t been a problem. “We have found that lower-fat milk is just not as delicious and the flavour, body and sweetness of the drink are compromised.”

She also uses Schulz organic, unhomogenised milk from Timboon, which is pasteurised at low temperatures so it retains enzymes that help with digestion.

Sourcing a local quality product was a priority for Marinus Jansen of Padre Coffee when he chose St David Dairy milk for his cafes. It’s produced by regular customer Ben Evans, who has opened his own micro dairy in Fitzroy.

Jansen’s pet hate is a scalding hot latte. He says the ideal temperature for milk in coffee is 60 to 65 degrees but if a customer wants an extra hot coffee he will serve it.

Simon Michelangeli from Fugazza says his customers are attracted to the taste and health benefits of A2 milk. He’s developing a new blend to match the different taste profile of light milk.

Family-run Jonesy’s Dairy is a favourite with many roasters. Fed up with low prices for their milk, Wayne and Rhonda Somerville set up their own dairy in Kerang, in northern Victoria, in late 2009. Today, they sell 95 per cent of their milk to cafes, and to a few independent food stores (including Happy Apple, Ascot Vale; Village Grocer, Yarraville; Renaissance IGA, Hawthorn).

Business is booming and they expect it to double in the next year.

Rhonda Somerville says if cafes are spending a lot on coffee beans, they want quality fresh milk to go with it.

“Baristas are looking for consistency in flavour, frothing ability and minimal processing. Our milk has a good, clean, unadulterated taste that does not interfere with coffee blends.”Milky business – who uses what

■ Auction Rooms, Monk Bodhi Dharma, Market Lane Coffee – Schulz Organic Dairy

■ The League of Honest Coffee, Seven Seeds – St David Dairy

■ The Duchess of Spotswood, Two Birds One Stone – Jonesy’s

■ Fugazza – A2

■ The Maling Room – KyValley Farms

■ Axil – Pura

■ St Ali – Demeter biodynamic

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Dec 10

Kim Williams and Louise Herron deny reports of Sydney Opera House Trust spat

Guillaume Brahimi. Photo: Nic WalkerThe Opera House chief executive Louise Herron and the chair of its trustees Kim Williams have denied he stormed out of his final board meeting ”in disgust” over her handling of a tender for the Bennelong restaurant.

They released a joint statement on Monday also denying Mr Williams told Ms Herron at the September 17 meeting: “I’m over you.”

A source, however, insisted the pair had fallen out and that others among the 10 trustees had concerns about Ms Herron.

The Herald reported on Monday on the controversy over the departure of French chef Guillaume Brahimi and his restaurant Guillaume at Bennelong from the coveted site.

It said Ms Herron had received two tenders, one from Bill Granger in association with John and Leon Fink’s hospitality empire, the other from the operators of the Stokehouse in Melbourne.

Fairfax Media understands some trustees were unhappy they were not consulted about the management push for a more accessible, bistro-style restaurant at ”the people’s House”.

Mr Brahimi opted not to compete in the tender because he did not want to move away from fine dining. A few months later, on September 2, he was awarded the ”legend” prize and his restaurant recovered its three hats in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide Awards.

Following the joint response from Ms Herron and Mr Williams to the story, neither responded further when asked if there had been any conflict between them or if other trustees had concerns. Nor did they say if Mr Brahimi might be asked back to Bennelong, as the report suggested.

”The restaurant tender did not ‘force’ Guillaume Brahimi ‘from the building’,” they said. ”Mr Brahimi decided not to participate in a tender for Bennelong which did not specify fine dining.”

The trustees did not “implore” Ms Herron to “re-engage with” Mr Brahimi, they said. And Mr Brahimi and Ms Herron had not met “secretly” on Friday. Rather, a meeting had been held to discuss other matters and to ensure Mr Brahimi understood that the tender process was still in train.

They said it was ”inaccurate to say that only two tenders were received”, but they would not say how many.

”At no point prior to publication of the article were any of the facts or allegations raised … checked with the Opera House,” the statement said. Mr Williams referred the ”defamatory allegations” to his lawyers.

He had not resigned to Arts Minister George Souris after the September 17 meeting but to the Governor on September 6. He was going ”slightly early” – before the Opera House’s 40th anniversary celebration – so his successor John Symond would ”be better placed” for its renewal program that will run until the 50th anniversary.

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Dec 10

Mystery of grand final blood nose

The Tasmanian Government has been forced to defend a senior minister over an AFL Grand Final spectator fracas, instead of revelling in its sponsorship of victor Hawthorn.

Deputy premier Bryan Green called a media conference to flatly deny punching a Launceston businessman, Ian Goninon, who said he came away from the MCG with a blood nose.

The dispute overshadowed the struggling Labor Government’s day in the sun with the Hawthorn team, which plays matches in Tasmania under a $3 million annual sponsorship deal, and toured the state on Monday to celebrate.

Premier Lara Giddings was forced to issued a statement of support for Mr Green.

“It is regrettable that a fantastic game of football has been marred by this matter,” Ms Giddings said.

Mr Goninon, president of South Launceston Football Club, said he went to the match as a corporate guest, and Mr Green was sitting in the row in front.

He said he spoke to Mr Green.

“Look I thought the deputy premier may have been somewhere else, spruiking Tasmania and doing that type of thing,” he told ABC radio.

“But look I don’t know. I’ve got witnesses to the incident and that will come out.”

Mr Goninon said the incident happened on the final siren. “I’ve just had a bloody nose the last two days,” he said.

He denied ever saying anything derogratory to Mr Green, who rejected Mr Goninon’s version of events.

Mr Green said he was subjected to constant heckling by Mr Goninon both before and during the game, and towards the end of the day he turned and “forcefully remonstrated” with the businessman.

“I certainly absolutely did not punch Mr Goninon,” Mr Green said. “I didn’t push him. I argued with him. I did not in any way from my perspective physically assault him.”

The two men each said they were taking legal advice.

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Dec 10

Obese boy’s death examined by coroner

FILE IMAGE ONLYAT the age of seven he weighed almost 50 kilograms and had a body mass index roughly double what it should have been.

Despite hospital staff providing his parents with a weight management plan, the boy put on another six kilograms in the six weeks after he left John Hunter Children’s Hospital and two years later he was dead due to complications from obesity.

Newcastle Coroners Court is examining the death, including the role his parents, the Department of Family and Community Services and the NSW Department of Education and Training may have played.

The Newcastle boy was rushed to John Hunter Hospital on September 17, 2010, where he died 12 days later at the age of 10.

He suffered a massive brain injury due to lack of oxygen, which was related to his morbid obesity, Ian Bourke, Counsel Assisting the Inquest, said.

The child, who cannot be identified, had a lengthy history of health problems that were detected by a number of doctors and health professionals in the years leading up to his death, the inquest heard.

He was the subject of four ‘‘risk of harm’’ reviews conducted by the Department of Family and Community Services between 2008 and 2010, but on each occasion the department decided to close those reviews and pursue the needs of other children who were deemed to be at greater risk of harm, Mr Bourke said.

The reviews were conducted because of concerns over the boy’s morbid obesity, other health issues and his parents’ drug use, the inquest heard.

The boy suffered from sleep apnoea related to his obesity, and by mid-2009 he weighed close to 70 kilograms.

Numerous appointments were made for him with specialists and other health professionals, including a surgeon to decide whether the boy should have his tonsils and adenoids removed. However, the court heard that many appointments were missed and the surgery never took place.

In kindergarten the boy missed 44 days of school and in year 1 he missed 68.

In year 2 he missed 98 days, in year 3 he missed 101 and at the time of his death he had already missed 103 days of the 2010 school year.

On at least one occasion when the school inquired about his absences the boy’s sleep apnoea was offered as an explanation, Mr Bourke said.

On other occasions when the school said criminal action could be taken, the parents promised the child’s attendance would improve.

The state homicide squad investigated the death, but the circumstances leading up to the boy’s admission to John Hunter Hospital in September 2010 remained unclear, Mr Bourke said.

It appeared that the boy was found slumped on a lounge before he stopped breathing during the journey to the hospital.

Doctors were able to revive him and put him on life support, but after 12 minutes or more without oxygen he had suffered a massive brain injury, Mr Bourke said.

The inquest before Deputy State Coroner Elaine Truscott continues.

Dec 10

TOPICS: Ricky Martin likes our town

LATINO SUPERSTAR: Ricky Martin rehearses at Newcastle Entertainment Centre. Picture: Peter Stoop SOMEONE NEEDS A CUDDLE: Glen Fredericks, the founder of Hug a Drummer Day.

Glen’s logo for Hug a Drummer

RICKY Martin and his kids are in town, which means Novocastrians could be exposed to dangerous levels of swooning.

The Puerto Rican star and The Voice Australia judge is here in the lead-up to his show at the Entertainment Centre on Thursday, and he’s been out and about.

‘‘Just beautiful,’’ Martin told reporters, when asked the stock question about what he thinks of Newcastle.

‘‘I took a walk yesterday and it was very special – with the water, it’s very special, very beautiful.’’

Martin has twin sons Matteo and Valentino, 5, in tow. Through painstaking research (watching an interview on Ellen), Topics can report that the boys speak Spanish, English and French.

Have you seen Ricky on the town, dear reader? Swimming at Merewether, or shopping on Darby Street? Hoeing into a Harry’s Schnitzel?

Report your sighting to Topics. We’ll file it under Rickyleaks.

Cymbolic gesture

THERE’s a fair chance that, at least once, you’ve been swept up in a song and whipped out your air guitar. It’s a moment best enjoyed in private.

The invisible instrument is, going by your wide-legged stance, a noisemaker of epic proportions. It loves Queen and Def Leppard, and plays better when you close your eyes.

All of which is fine, says Glen Fredericks, of East Maitland. But where are all the air drummers? Why isn’t there Drum Hero on PlayStation?

It’s this howling injustice that drove Glen to declare October10 ‘‘Hug a Drummer Day’’.

‘‘I’m a drummer, and I want hugs,’’ says Glen, who has pounded the skins for 26 years.

‘‘But seriously, I figured that the guy or girl furthest back from the front of the audience, who is putting in the biggest effort (lugging all that gear, and then the physically demanding role of performing an instrument that requires every limb to be in motion) needs some appreciation.’’

The seeds of the movement were planted when Glen designed a graphic that read ‘‘Give a Drummer a Hug Today’’.

It was shared thousands of times on Facebook, and Glen knew he was onto something. He picked the date 10/10 for its international clout – ‘‘the Americans won’t stuff it up’’.

There’s also the fact that the ‘‘1’’ looks like a drumstick and the ‘‘0’’ can be anything from a snare to a bass to a cymbal.

Nearly 2000 people on Facebook have declared they are ‘‘going’’ to Hug a Drummer Day. If you want to mark the occasion, Glen says it’s simple.

‘‘Just remember drummers, show them some love and appreciation and give them a hug.’’

Popping hard question

A KAHIBAH reader has a grandson, who is five years old.

Recently the boy visited his great grandfather (Pop), with his mother (the daughter of our Kahibah reader).

‘‘Five-year-old boy goes out to the garage with his Pop to get some tools to play with, which is his usual practice, when he says to Pop, ‘When are you going to die Pop?’’’ reports our Kahibah correspondent.

‘‘Pop, a bit taken aback by the question, replies, ‘Not sure – not soon I hope’.

‘‘Caring five-year-old replies, ‘Well don’t worry Pop, there is still plenty of spaces left in the graveyard next to where [the boy’s sister] plays netball’.’’

Nothing like a caring youngster to ask the difficult questions.