Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Innovation in the Cafe

Greetings from table 24 at the Vanilla Bean Cafe for InnovationACT in 2010. at "spacedock" (aka John Curtin School of Medical Research), Australian National University in Canberra. Tonight's Seminar is a Panel Discussion hosted by Lighthouse Innovation on "The Innovation Mindset" with: Glenn Dickins and others.

Normally the innovation sessions start with drinks in the foyer of the medical research building and then we move into the lecture theatre for the formal presentation. This evening I was surprised when everyone went the other direction and instead filed into the cafe, on the other side of the foyer. This is my second favourite cafe on the ANU campus, after the Purple Pickle. The panel session is being held cafe style, with the MC at the podium in front of the drinks cabinet and the panelists on a sofa. The audience is at tables.

It may seem unusual to hold a university innovation session in a cafe. However, for many years I have done some of my most productive work in cafe, the informal atmosphere combines with a concentration of creative people. As an example, to day at lunchtime I was called over to a table the the Purple Pickle and introduced to someone who has $1.4M in government money for a project in an area I am working on. In addition "cabaret" style is a recognised type of education room design.

The setup this evening could do with some improvements. There are microphones in place but these are only used for the video recording of the event, not for sound reinforcement in the room. The presenters are in front of the drinks cabinet which has a noisy refrigeration system. It would work better to place the speakers at the opposite end of the room, which is quieter.

The audience are as interesting mix of people as the panelists: there are students from a wide range of areas from both the ANU and University of Canberra, as well as staff. One of my students came up to me and I was worried they would ask about the mark for their last assignment. Instead they asked about how the might implement the web interface for the innovation project they are developing for Innovation ACT. Another ex-student is working on e-government with NICTA.

After typing all that I have tuned in to what the panel are actually saying: "Never overvalue the time you sent on an idea: if it is not a good idea it is worth nothing." Glenn Dickins has just commented on the difference between two technology development: the super-capacitor and the iPad. He argued that the super-capacitor is revolutionary but will not be visible to the end user, whereas the iPad is an evolutionary development of existing technology but will appear revolutionary to the user. An interesting question from the audience was "Where are the women in innovation? All the panel and most of the room are men.". The moderator is female and commented that most of the innovators they see are male. However, they commented that women tended to produce social innovations, rather than strictly technical ones. This is an insightful comment, with many real ideas being about how to do something together, not a gadget to do it with.

I asked the panel if the Californian silicon valley culture translates around the world. I have been to Google Sydney's office and found that it was set up very much the same at Microsoft Cambridge Research Labs (UK). The panel commented that different cultures will have different needs (Microsoft Zurich Labs will be different as it is in a Swiss culture). The moderator then asked about the "Innovation Room" and the panel all nodded, but no one explained what this was all about. But I did find the book "Secrets from the Innovation Room" (Kay Allison, 2004).

The moderator suggested that to test if you really understand your innovative idea, try to explain it to your grandmother.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Devondale Skim Milk Problem

One of the Devondale Skim Milk 200ml Tera Brik cartons I purchased has swelled up like a balloon. It appears likely that milk is contaminated. As the container is still sealed, this appears to be a manufacturing problem, but has only occurred in one out of six of the UHT cartons purchased. Has anyone else had this problem? The carton is marked "29 APR 2010 G210 16:09 REG NO 1029".


Sunday, May 03, 2009

National Library of Australia Cybercafe

The National Library of Australia's bookplate cafe will close from 4 May to mid-June 2009 for renovations. In the interim the Paperplate cafe will operate from new lounge area on the lower floor of the library. This will have free wifi and power, as well food and coffee. The bookplate is the best library cafe I have experienced (easily beating the poor quality and high prices of the cafe in the British Library for example). In some ways the Paperplate will be better, as the Bookplate discourages WiFi use (the NLA has free WiFi in the public areas of the building).

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Grilled Sardines with Market Salad and Chilli Jam

If you are near the Purple Pickle Cafe in Canberra and have not yet had lunch today, then I recommend the Grilled Sardines with Market Salad and Chilli Jam. This is the best I have had this side of the Arch of Galerius in Thessaloniki.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Tamil food fair Homebush

Happened accross the Tamil food fair in the grounds of Homebush Public School, Opposite the Homebush South shops in Sydney. This has Tamil and South Indian cuisine cooked by a very organised team of community volunteers. The Monthly Food Fair is on the first Saturday of the month (10am-3pm). Most people were getting take away, but a few stayed for a picnic. The Biryani (rice), lamb and Dosa (crêpe) were excellent. The Egg Roti I had was custom made with the onion but leaving out the chilli (much like an omlette cooked inside a pancake).

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Seared Kangaroo Rump to Stop Greenhouse Effect

A few weeks ago I suggested the Purple Pickle Cafe at the Australian National Unviersity in Canberra add kangaroo to the menu. Professor Garnaut then released his Climate Change Report. This included a recommendation that Australians eat more kangaroo. Today the Purple Pickle served Seared Kangaroo Rump with potato rostie, roquette and roast garlic. This showed that Kangaroo meat is in no way inferior. Perhaps the Pickle should create a Kangaroo Garnaut-burger, in honour of the Professor's work to save the planet. ;-)

Australian marsupials emit negligible amounts of methane from enteric fermentation (Klieve & Ouwerkerk 2007). This could be a source of international comparative advantage for Australia in livestock production. For most of Australia’s human history—around 60 000 years—kangaroo was the main source of meat.3 It could again become important. However, there are some significant barriers to this change, including livestock and farm management issues, consumer resistance and the gradual nature of change in food tastes.

Edwards and Wilson (2008) have modelled the potential for kangaroos to replace sheep and cattle for meat production in Australia’s rangelands, where kangaroos are already harvested. They conclude that by 2020 beef cattle and sheep numbers in the rangelands could be reduced by 7 million and 36 million respectively, and that this would create the opportunity for an increase in kangaroo numbers from 34 million today to 240 million by 2020. They estimate that meat production from 175 million kangaroos would be sufficient to replace the forgone lamb and beef meat production, and that meat production from kangaroos would become more profitable than cattle and sheep when emissions permit prices exceed $40 per tonne CO2-e. The net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be about 16 Mt CO2-e per year. ...

From: Transforming rural land use, Chapter 22, Garnaut Climate Change Review Final Report, 2008
Kangaroo Cookin': 88 Simple Roo Recipes By Peter Winch, Andrew Thompson, Kent McCormackSee also:

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Nyonya Food

Precious Old China restaurant & bar is located upstairs in the Kuala Lumpur’s Central Market (to the left, just inside the front door). The restaurant is located inside a Chinese antiques store and the effect is like dining in a museum. On the night I was there, there were only about a dozen patrons. The food featured is "Nyonya", which is Chinese with Malaysian spices. One aspect of the restaurant which spoils the old world feel is the wireless device on each table, with buttons for ordering more food, water or the bill. But I guess when the place is crowded this saves time.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Canberra Wine Festival

Lerida Estate Winery Building by Glenn Murcutt.Wineries in and around Canberra hold two festivals a year, in March and November. The one last November was a lot of fun with Jazz and wine at the historic home of Professor Manning Clarke. and rabbit pie in a shed (designed by prize winning architect Glenn Murcutt).

The Canberra District Wine Harvest Festival is 31 March to 1 April 2007, with dozens of wineries and events (including the rabbit pie in the shed). The Canberra District Wine Industry Association has prepared a detailed brochure of the events, with a map. But unfortunately they did it as a very large 2Mbyte PDF file. This makes it difficult to download, so I extracted the list of events (minus the map). If you contact a winery, suggest they have their association do a better e-brochure:
  • Free wine tasting Garema Place 5-8 pm 23 March
  • Affleck Vineyard Indulge in our new releases and full range of wines. Bring a picnic and relax while taking in the view and the harvest action. Tel: 02 6236 9276. 154 Millynn Road, Bungendore Open: 9am-5pm
  • Athenabacchus Vineyard Enjoy the music, hear stories of wineries around the world with great musician and storyteller Brian Hungerford and his bagpipes, and learn about the harvest. Bring your own lunch and use our facilities, or taste ours. Enjoy a stroll in the vineyard and the rose garden. Experience the peacefulness and beauty of the hills around the vine yard. Tel: 02 4848 0288. 699 Lucky Pass Road, Collector Open: 10am-6pm
  • Brindabella Hills Winery Come and celebrate with us the sealed road to the vineyards! Join us on Sunday for a barbecued spiced chicken lunch and live jazz. Taste our fabulous first release Chardonnay Viognier - a wonderful wine. Tel: 02 6230 2583. 156 Woodgrove Close via Wallaroo Road, opposite Hall Open: 10am-5pm
  • Cafe Schonegg Enjoy an autumn menu featuring a Harvest Salad of smoked trout, almonds and grapes. We will be selling a diverse range of quality local produce including honey, handmade chocolates, lavender oils and works by local artists, craftspeople and jewellers. Sat/Sun 11-4pm. Tel: 02 6227 0344. 381 Hillview Drive, Murrumbateman Open: 11am-4pm
  • Clonakilla Taste the new release 2006 Viognier, 2006 Hilltops Shiraz and the 2005 Ballinderry Cabernet Merlot. A last chance to try the legen dary 2005 Shiraz Viognier. Taste our Murrumbateman extra virgin olive oil and some fine international cheeses from the Silo cheese room. Tel: 02 6227 5877. Crisp Lane, Murrumbateman Open: 10am-5pm
  • Dionysus Winery An action packed weekend with free wine appreciation sessions (White Wine 10am & 3pm, Red Wine 11am & 4pm daily), home made gourmet pies, a regional produce tasting, new release Shiraz and a special festival 16 to the dozen deal! Bookings preferred for wine appreciation sessions and pies. Tel: 02 6227 0208. 1 Patemans Lane, Murrumbateman Open: 10am-5pm
  • Doonkuna Winery Spend a relaxing day at Doonkuna. Enjoy tasting "Federweisser", natural fermenting sweet wine juice, traditionally served only during Harvest time, with our complimentary "Zwebelkuchen", a German Onion Cake. Children are welcome and a playground, barbeque and picnic facilities are available. Live jazz on Sunday from 12-2pm. Email: wine(a) Tel: 02 6227 5811. Barton Highway, Murrumbateman Open: 11am-4pm
  • Gallagher Wines Demonstrations of Champagne disgorging process: learn to riddle & disgorge! Light meals available including a Mediterr anean Platter and Fresh Berry Compote on Crepes. Tel: 02 6227 0555. 2770 Dog Trap Road, Murrumbateman Open: 10am-5pm
  • Grazing Restaurant A 'must visit' for the dedicated gourmand. A special harvest festival epicurean menu served in the historic stone stables. The region's largest offering of exquisite Canberra District Wines perfectly matched to innovative award winning cuisine and a variety of boutique cheeses. Bookings essential. Tel: 02 6236 8777. The Royal Hotel cnr Cork and Harp Streets, Gundaroo Open: Lunch & Dinner
  • Greystones Estate Experience the spectacular views of the Brindabella Mountains and surrounding countryside. Light meals available each day, 10-5pm. Big screen music video entertainment each day. On Saturday join us for live Irish music 6-9pm. $20 from every case sale to be donated to CanTeen. Tel: 02 6226 8700. 153 Magennis Drive, Murrumbateman Open: 10am-5pm
  • Helm Wines Witness the making of, and taste, some of Australia's finest Rieslings and Cabernets. The Helm Wine Options game will allow participants to test their wine knowledge and their palate and learn about wine styles (prizes awarded). Ken Helm will be on hand to welcome you. Tel: 02 6227 5953. Butts Road, Murrumbateman Open: 10am-5pm
  • Jeir Creek Wines Witness the winemaking process first hand! Taste the fruit, fermenting wines and the newly released 2004 Sparkling Shiraz. Educational tours on Saturday at 12pm & 2pm. Enjoy harvest platters and Botrytis wine matched with scrumptious fruit tartlets. Live music from Cassidy's Ceili, Sun 12-3pm. Tel: 02 6227 5999 Gooda Creek Road, Murrumbateman Open: 10am-5pm
  • Kamberra Wine Company Free wine tastings/winery tours (booking essential for tour). Wine Master Class for Young and Old Canberra Wines by local wine makers. Cheese Master Class by Bruce from 'Jones the Grocer'. Degustation Lunch on Sunday with our fabulous Kamberra and Meeting Place wines (some surprises). Email: events(a) Tel: 02 6262 2333. Cnr Northbourne Avenue and Flemington Road, Lyneham Open: 10am-5pm
  • Koonaburra Vineyard Taste an "Ice Wine" styled wine - a delicious dessert wine made from Riesling grapes. Try also our Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Rose wines. Tel: 02 6236 9019. Summer Hill Road, Bywong Open: 10am-5pm
  • Lambert Vineyards and Cafe View harvest activities and learn how we monitor fermentation. Celebrate with our chef's delicious harvest menu accompanied by live music on Sat/Sun 12:30-3:30pm. Bookings essential. New release tastings. Tel: 02 6238 3866. 810 Norton Road, Wamboin Open: 10am-5pm
  • Lark Hill Winery Enjoy a marvellous wine and food experience at Lark Hill's new Vineyard Restaurant. Share wine flights & museum wines, and the synergy of good food and fine wines during lunch and dinner. Live music in the restaurant. Biodynamic winemaking in the winery, Sat/Sun, Cellar door 10-5pm, lunch 12-3pm, dinner 6-10pm. Bookings essential. Tel: 02 6238 1393, 521 Bungendore Road, Bungen dore Open: 10am-5pm
  • Lerida Estate Winery 'Good Wine, Good Health?' lecture & wine tasting, Fri 30th 6pm, University House. Balloon ride over Lake George & breakfast Sat/Sun 6:30am. Bookings essential. Learn how to make red/white wines & taste fermenting wine, Sat/Sun 11am. Lunch and jazz: 'As Famous As The Moon' Sat, 'Mike Bukovsky Quartet' Sun, both 12-3pm. Espresso coffee/cakes all day. Tel: 02 6295 6640. Federal Hwy, Lake George Open:10am-5pm
  • McKellar Ridge Wines Taste our exciting range of award winning wines. Watch winemaking demonstrations. Learn how to decide when the grapes are ready to pick. Taste the grapes and see if you can identify the flavours eg spicy flavours in Shiraz. View the display of Janet's watercolour paintings. Tel: 02 6258 1556. 2 Euroka Ave, Murrumbateman Open: 11am-5pm
  • Milimani Estate Vineyard Taste the new vintage and take the opportunity to buy older vintages before they sell out. Bring the family, a picnic, and check out the spectacular views. Tel: 02 6238 1421. 92 The Forest Road, Bungendore Open: 11am-5pm
  • Mount Majura Vineyard Smokey Jack's gourmet wood fired pizzas available from 11:30am-3:30 to enjoy with a glass of wine. Relax with the Aron Lyon Trio playing vintage tunes from 12-4pm. Take your time and savour the moment with a gumboot tour around the vineyard to see how vintage is progressing 11am Sat/Sun. Bookings essential for tour. Tel: 02 6262 3070. RMB 314 Majura Road, Majura Open: 10am-5pm
  • Mundoonen Winery Enjoy the winemaker's delectable cakes, tea & coffee free of charge, take a tour of a working winery at harvest time and talk to the winemaker. Bring a picnic to have by Yass River. View the historic barrel shed and antique wine artefacts & corkscrews. Tel: 02 6227 1353. 1457 Yass River Road, Yass Open: 11am-5:30pm
  • Pankhurst Wines Celebrate harvest and the vineyard's 21st Birthday with our bubbly red & white wines amongst the hills and vines. Matched by lunch from Ginseng & bluegrass/folk sounds from "Round John Virgin and the Strange Bedfellows". Sat/Sun 12-3pm. Learn how to assess when to harvest and test grapes for ripeness with Allan Pankhurst 12pm and 3pm Sat/Sun. Tel 02 6230 2592 "Old Woodgrove" Woodgrove Rd, Hall Open 10am-5pm
  • Pialligo Estate Winery and Cafe Join in the vintage activities: in the morning test grape sugars, handpick grapes and foot stomp or basket press in the traditional way. Enter the boules tournament. Recover over a long harvest-themed 2 or 3 course lunch, accompanied by wine and relaxing live music. Bookings essential. Tel: 02 6262 6692. 18 Kallaroo Road, Pialligo Open: 10am-5pm
  • Poachers/Wily Trout Vineyard Come and spoil your taste buds with a tasting of our renowned smoked meats matched to the Wily Trout wines. Enjoy listening to Jazz whilst eating lunch in the award winning Smokehouse Cafe. A sensational experience that combines a wonderful mix of the region's food, wine and countryside. Tel: 02 6230 2487. 'Marakai' Namina Road, Hall Open: 10am-5pm.
  • Redbrow Garden B&B An oasis of natural beauty and tranquillity only 20 min from Canberra. Superior 4.5 star lakeview ensuite garden rooms. Tel: 02 6226 8166. 1143 Nanima Road, Murrumbateman Open: 7 days
  • Shaw Vineyard Estate Sunday ONLY: Sit back, relax and listen to the smooth tunes of Dos Locos, 12-3pm. Sample the delicious a la carte menu including traditional Italian style wood-fired pizzas and taste our award winning wines at cellar door. Breakfast 8:30am-11am, Lunch noon-3pm. Bookings essential. Tel: 02 6227 5827. 34 Isabel Drive, Murrumbateman Open: 8:30am-5pm
  • Surveyors Hill Vineyards Taste trophy winning 2006 Riesling and over 10 other wines including Halliday-rated and medal winning Shiraz, Touriga, Cabernet Franc Rose and Sauvignon Blanc. Try the Shiraz-Touriga 2005 Blend. Estate grown olive oil, other olive products, chilli jam and other farm-produced conserves available for tasting/purchase. Tel: 02 6230 2046. 215 Brooklands Road Wallaroo, Hall Open: 10am-5pm
  • Tallagandra Hill and Cafe Discover the delights of Gundaroo - Fine Art, Fine Food and Fine Wine. View the works of local artisans in steel, clay and paper. Sample locally prepared gourmet food matched to Talla gandra Hill's latest wine releases including Viognier, Shiraz Viognier, Riesling and Rose. Tel: 02 6236 8694. 1692 Murrumbateman Road. Gundaroo Open: 10am-5pm
  • Wallaroo Wines Come sit in the garden and taste our new Sparkling Riesling while listening to live music. Gourmet platters of local produce will be available. Tel: 02 6230 2831. 196 Brooklands Road, Hall. Open: 11am-5pm
  • Yarrh Wines Jazz it up at Yarrh Wines this Harvest Festival! David Brown and friends play cool jazz Sat/Sun 1-3pm. Enjoying our now-famous gourmet food and wine matching platters - $15. Take part in vintage activities. Tel: 02 6227 1474. Greenwood Road, Murrumbateman Open: 11am-5pm
  • Yass Valley Wines Explore the cool climate vineyard and enjoy food & wine matching; Yass Valley Wines matched with local produce. Tel: 02 6227 5592 Crisps Lane, Murrumbateman Open: 10am-5pm
  • Urban Wine Trail Dinner Mount Majura Vineyard, Pialligo Estate and Kamberra Winery offer six fabulous courses matched with twelve of their best wines, Milk and Honey Restaurant, Civic, Fri 30th. $110 pp. Bookings essential. Bookings close March 26. Tel: 02 6262 2333
ps: A technical person with some time to spare might like to do a mashup map showing where the wineries are. Google Maps already seem to have most of the wineries listed.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Flaming Cows and Australian Cheese

Flaming Cows by Lawrence FinnOn Saturday I visited the studio of artist printer Lawrence Finn:
"... primarily concerned with the psyche, politics and angst. My personal belief is that artists are somewhat the conscience of the geography, and as such we exist between the church and the prison. As a class Artists have no place in this "New World Order" but the human psyche has a terrible need to express itself. In spite of globalisation and economic rationalisation, artists will I suspect be here for a little longer."
His latest series of Linocuts "Shadows under the Blood Red Rock" is a dark and irreverent look at Australian history. One which caught my eye was "Flaming Cows"; this is a visualization of the common Australian expression of expression of frustration with the problems of rural life. It is a also a reference to the 1962 trading card series by Topps , which formed the basis for the 1996 Tim Burton movie "Mars Attacks!".

Lawrence uses traditional printing methods, similar to those I saw in Hanuman Kambli's workshop at the School of Art in Panjim, India. I forgot to ask Lawrence what printmakers thought of Giclee prints (an arty term for high quality ink jet prints). While not as traditional, these allow artists to sell their work on-line much more easily. Amazon has about 130,000 Giclee prints for sale.

At the gallery Regional Australian Produce laid on some of their Tasmanian shortbread, Western Australia cheese and Queensland biscuits. It is interesting how small Australian companies can use the the web to sell produce and how I thought Australian cheddar tastes better than the original from the English village of Cheddar in Somerset.

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