Lolli Redini in Orange NSW

Cheese Souffle at Lolli Redini

Cheese Souffle at Lolli Redini

Lolli Redini in Orange NSW is such a joy I can’t believe that no one in Sydney is doing anything quite like it. The crisp, clean Orange air, warm sunshine and an outside table at Lolli will put you to rights and that’s before the food even arrives.

Trying, a few days before the Orange Food Week festival began, to get a table at Lolli Redini wasn’t the smartest move, but with some last minute luck a Saturday lunch table was available. Life proves once again that it’s about being at the right place at the right time.

Simonn Hawke’s menu heavily draws on the surrounding regions produce and isn’t afraid to throw in ingredients and wines from Europe. Don’t let the pictures on its website fool you. The food is honest food, well cooked and simply presented. No, not rustic but it is displayed with an understated beauty that is devoid of the need to screech “Michelin”. A lot of chefs: watch, learn and repeat.

A few highlights from a proper long lunch included a cheese soufflé starter which managed to balance deep rich cheese with a light deft finish; the roasted hazelnuts made this a dish of the gods. I preferred that to the light but earthy beetroot and juniper cured trout and remoulade with its tangy crunchy finish. But that’s only because I set off in a direction of hearty.

I had beef cheeks so soft that they fell apart merely looking at them and were matched with a horseradish cream, mousse-like in texture. The gratin would have benefited from a stronger sense of garlic but how you extract that much sweetness from carrots I’ll never know – but they did it.

That Dessert

That Dessert

All this was just an entr’acte for the dessert – a pudding menu with some very clever, original ideas. There was simply no sense of sighing that you’d seen the same list of desserts at any other restaurant. Unable to decide, it was just easier to close my eyes and point to something randomly. I ended up with the Turkish delight, nougat & pistachio vacherin with rhubarb sorbet and vanilla cream. It had every texture ever invented on the plate – this was no happy accident, it’s a result of a very talented chef.

All the dishes were evidently well thought through, tested and flavours complementary not only within the dish itself but across the menu. Heck, you probably could have eaten the actual menu at this place and have been satisfied. This place is not just a good meal, it’s memorable. It will haunt you for weeks, driving you to despair that you don’t live close by.

Lolli Redini may seem like a special occasion restaurant given that it’s an easy 3.5 hours’ drive from Sydney, but it’s not. Just get in the car and go. Drive there and eat lunch simply because it’s Saturday and you can.

Lolli Redini – Tasting menu and wine by the glass approx. $110 per person
48 Sale Street, Orange, NSW, 2800
Telephone 02 6361 7748 

Help boost Australian music in the charts

The IFPI’s Digital Music in 2014 report had an interesting table on page 15. It’s a top 10 of non-English language speaking countries whose local charts contained the most local repertoire in record sales for 2013. Here it is:

ipfi Chart

Top 10 Local Repertoire Album Sales in non-English Speaking Countries

This chart, made up of non-English speaking countries, naturally will choose their own their local language artists. That makes sense.  But what if we could stimulate a nationalistic response to supporting local artists and local music locally?

In many respects Australian music has never been better in Australia for local artists. Triple J has a huge amount of new, Australian content – it also has unearthed to find more of it. VMusic is doing its bit too (sadly the AO music show is no longer). The live scene is pretty upbeat for bands.

It just hasn’t translated into sales for Australian artists on a similar level as in non-English speaking countries. The top 10 of albums sold in Australia during 2013 were by international artists, though Flume was just outside the top 10 at number 11. How do we change that? Surely not by removing English as our national language!

Australian radio has Australian content quotas for commercial radio of 25% locally performed content which are helpful, but is it perhaps time to redefine those to exclude some back catalogue or ‘gold’ rotation? Should the quotas overall by increased and maybe weighted in favour of new music? If so, does Commercial Radio Australia still object to that (thought it was never clear if that was about supporting content or feeling disadvantaged by different rules for digital content providers).

The IFPI report shows on page 12 that large acts, backed by massive marketing budgets sold the most records worldwide in 2013. An Australian act with a world-beating budget? That’s a tough ask and big risk in the Australian market, because the money it takes to launch that type of artist is huge. It would need to compete with the international artists and I can’t see a record company taking that risk locally.

Maybe Australian acts needs to do what INXS did – tour, tour and tour. INXS’ songs by the time the top-selling Kick album was launched had a mass market appeal about them (whether written that way intentionally or not). The success was widely appealing songs that were taken to the masses.

Taking appealing songs to the world has been historically successful for Australia. Silverchair, Bee Gees… the Wiggles all come to mind (who else?). The commonality is that: no matter the genre of music, the songs had wide appeal and were toured. Yet that alone, didn’t always translate to solid Australian sales, Tina Arena possibly and perhaps some of Kylie Minogue’s earlier catalogue.

This isn’t all doom and gloom for Australia as this IFPI case study about Australia shows. Australia had a stellar 2013 in music with digital sales passing physical sales for the first time.

We just need to figure out how to sell more Australian music to Australians when the main competition from the US and the UK all speak English, all have appealing songs to a wide audience and all the international artists tour Australia.

Please share and add your ideas and comments below.

Why streaming revenue is no match for live performance income

The continued engine for income and growth for recording artists continues to be live performance.  

The Music Network reported streaming payments from the streaming sites over a 2 year period and you can see the spreads per stream are quite wide at nearly 7.5 cents. Nokia pays out the most at 0.07411 per stream and Amazon trailing at 0.00012 – and that’s before deductions.

To highlight the point, music industry consultancy Music Next produced this graph to show how many streams from each main streaming service it would take earn the same from just one iTunes download.

Number of Streams to equal one iTunes download

Number of Streams to equal one iTunes download

At those prices Artists can’t consider streaming core to revenue, perhaps the glass is half full approach is to be thankful that there is some income from marketing and exposure of the music. As an aside, Pandora is absent from these figures and perhaps that’s something to do with its ongoing dispute with ASCAP in the United States.

If you think that record sales are not what they used to be, they seem positively upbeat when compared to the streaming economics. Not even the massive global artists are making much from streaming. The Guardian claims that Poker Face earned merely $167 from Spotify.

The Grateful Dead were right when they pursued a live performance strategy for creating income for the band. Creating a live experience that changes every night is still the best bet for musicians to secure a solid chunk of revenue. Even Lady Ga Ga’s shows echo this principle.

Naturally this assumes that the artist is not wrapped in a 360 deal, and that, is a different proposition entirely.

The big radio simulcasting switch off

RadioDesk

Simulcasts Switched Off

February 2014 – Australian commercial radio broadcasters switched off their broadcasting internet simulcasts. This was in response to a Federal Court Appeal backing the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia and a failed attempt to appeal to the High Court by Commercial Radio Australia.

This case calls into the question the value of a broadcasting licence in the internet age where platform is becoming increasingly irrelevant from a consumer perspective. Consumers want content wherever they are or whatever they are using. There may be a case to keep the licence for regulatory reasons such as media ownership dominance or balance but free it from the shackles of the delivery mechanics. The CRA position supported this idea, but the politics and law will need to catch up.

Commercial radio broadcasters are now no longer able to simulcast an internet stream of their licensed radio broadcast output unless they pay an additional and uncapped fee which is yet to be negotiated.

Outside the statutory 1% cap the sky’s the limit for what the PPCA may ask for the use of its master records under licence. The stations responded to the ruling by switching off internet streaming for music in February 2014.

In February 2013, the Federal Court in Australia examined the question about what a broadcasting service constituted. Commercial Radio Australia lost its argument that internet was included within its broadcasting licence service. The CRA said that the service was platform agnostic, meaning that so long as it was not breaching any licence conditions it was permitted to simulcast on the internet.

The PPCA said that the service and the delivery mechanism, in this case radio spectrum, were inseparable and that the internet fell outside this bundled licence permission. The broadcasters could only use their members’ works via the licensed radio spectrum.

The Federal Court agreed with the PPCA and the CRA’s appeal to the High Court was not allowed when the High Court ruled that any appeal “would enjoy insufficient projects of success.” The result is that until the PPCA and CRA can agree an acceptable rate for internet simulcast the streams will stay off. The battle to set the rate continues between all concerned at the Copyright Tribunal.

Trust your restaurant choices to friends with Yumhacker

Internet start up Yumhacker has found a way to bring trusted restaurants advice to the masses. It relies on your friends to guide you to good restaurants.

Yumhacker sits in the online-word-of-mouth space. It relies on your friends recommending something by naming the restaurant and saying why they like it.

Trust is the only reliable tool of the food critic or blogger. The voice of someone who knows a good restaurant from a great restaurant is who we turn to for comfort that the cash we’re about to spend won’t be wasted.

Others in search of a restaurant turn to websites such as TripAdvisor which offer reviews from the public – and in spite of the sites popularity finding a review that is not in the extreme – best meal ever/worst meal ever – is rare. Yet these sites flourish, even though we don’t know the reviewer, we place our trust in them.

Check it out, and over time, it will be interesting to see if your own friends’ recommendations correlate to the critics. You can read more about it in this blog entry.

Yumhacker currently tweets as @JenniferDewalt

Eat with supermodels at Café Bitton

Cafe Bitton

Cafe Bitton

Every time that I have eaten at Café Bitton it’s always been with supermodels. At least that’s what patron David Bitton tells me assuredly as he leads us to what is always “the best table”. The “supermodels” are my colleagues and I am reminded how “lucky you are” to have their company.

But it’s not just me. It’s every man who arrives with a woman – they all are supermodels and they all get the best table. David’s Gallic shtick (the website better describes as “charismatic”) is on the right side of charming and it feels like an old mischievous friend is welcoming you.

It’s early on the first visit and we managed to get the last table in the lively room (did I mention it was early). The coffees arrived fast and had strength, velvet-textured milk and were a readily drinkable temperature. Downing those beauties we ordered another to have as we poured over the menu.

In among the ham, Gruyère and mushroom crepes, the breakfast quinoa with cinnamon and berries, banana and coconut yoghurt was the sour cherry French toast with ricotta and grilled banana. Yes. Please.

Thick slices of egged bread spotted with sour cherries, long strips of grill-marked banana under a generous scoop of ricotta and then dusted with cinnamon. This is what I want to eat at breakfast forever. My companions chose differently and although extremely happy with the mix of crepes, grains, and croques there was an undercurrent of breakfast envy.

A return lunch visit (yes, again with “supermodels”) had a menu bursting with protein, as a French gaff should. Fish, Chicken, Beef, Lamb – it’s all there but there are French nods to Sydney and South-East Asia generally.  Some Chinese spices and concepts are drawn into dishes and the menu overall has lighter trimmings that appeal to the fats-carbs-avoiding Sydney-sider.  Naturally I order the steak-frites which was a blush over the requested medium however the fries made up for that indiscretion (oh my goodness, the fries – more please).

Bitton’s staff are knowledgeable, friendly without presuming to be your BFF but at times were overly efficient in clearing the table piecemeal as soon as something, anything, was empty.  But it’s all forgivable – even if David’s charisma is not to your liking. Café Bitton is perhaps-a-little too self-branded and self-aware but it has an excellent French menu with solid, competent cooking.  I’m going back tomorrow.

 

Café Bitton – (02) 9519 5111 – 36-37a Copeland St Alexandria NSW 2015. Short walk from Erskineville Station. Prices pretty good for Sydney.