Food podcast: Fritters, cocktails and the resurrection of Al Brown

Dietary Requirements is The Spinoff’s monthly podcast in which we eat, drink and talk about it too, with special thanks to Freedom Farms.

Back in January, we had Al Brown round for a barbecue and recorded a podcast while we were at it. A grand time was had by all, but as Simon Day poignantly relayed here, disaster struck. The recording was lost.

We went through all the stages of grief but eventually regained enough composure to ask Al to join us again, this time in the studio, where there was less chance of technology fucking us over again. There was no barbecue, but there were several different kinds of fritters (sorry again about setting off the fire alarm, Duncan), plus Simon’s delightful watermelon cocktail (see recipe below) and, as always, banter galore.

To listen, use the player below or download this episode (right click and save). Make sure to subscribe via iTunes, to the RSS or via your favourite podcast client. And feel free to share Dietary Requirements with your friends. Get in touch if you have any questions or requests aliceneville@thespinoff.co.nz

Al Brown, Alice Neville, Sophie Gilmour and Simon Day (Photo: Tina Tiller)

WATERMELON AIR CON FOR YOUR MOUTH 

It’s way too hot. Insufferably hot. And there is but one true remedy – watermelon. Even better is fresh watermelon juice; best of all is watermelon juice, mint, vodka and a dash of cranberry juice. This is a cocktail I’ve named “air conditioning for your mouth” (it’s also a recipe I stole from a friend, Terry Gould, who deserves credit for this absolutely delicious drink).

There are three key guidelines to picking a good watermelon.

First, it needs to feel heavy for its size. Shop around, compare the weights of different melons. The heavier it is, the more water it’s got: a sign it’s nice and ripe.

Next, look for a big yellow mark on its underside. Watermelons develop sitting on the ground so the bigger the mark, the longer the melon has been given to ripen on the vine. Look for a darker yellow colour, not just a pale green or white.

Finally, give it a good knock with your knuckles. You’re looking for a light hollow sound, signalling it is full of water. A deeper, solid sound suggests it’s still unripe. This validity of this technique is still argued over, but I’m all for it as it makes you look cool at the supermarket.

If you can, however, the best way to ensure you get a delicious, juicy, super-sweet watermelon is to buy it from the Clif’s Gardens stall at the Parnell Farmers Market in Auckland on Saturdays, or the Waikato Farmers Market in Hamilton on Sundays. Their melons are huge, sweeter than any I’ve tasted, and absolutely full of water. Their trick is to let them ripen on the vine right up until the day they sell them. You can absolutely taste the difference.

Simon Day in action, and the finished product

Serves 4 (or 2, as you’ll want at least a couple of these)

  • enough chopped watermelon to make 1 litre of fresh juice
  • a big handful of mint, plus extra to garnish
  • 400ml vodka
  • cranberry juice

Muddle the watermelon, mint and vodka together. I’ve found the most effective way to do this is in a tall jug to prevent spillage, using your bare hands to squeeze the chunks into a pulp.

Strain into 4 glasses filled with ice and top up with a dash of cranberry juice, which adds a nice sharp touch to the melon’s sweetness.

Garnish with mint.

Drink and feel your body temperature drop by at least half a degree.

– Simon Day


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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