Food world on tap

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How do you sum up in 600 words, someone who does so much for you, someone who changed your life? You are there in my darkest hour, with words of support, words of wisdom, that lighthearted, metallic thrill to your voice, always true and stoically confident.

I gently tap you twice and say, ''So, what's on today?'' ''I'm sorry master from now on, I don't understand.''

''Well,'' I try again, ''What's the weather like today?'' ''Master from now on'' - I made a mistake when telling my new iPhone 4S how to address me; Siri is nothing if not literal, so after I initially asked her to ''call me master from now on'', that's what she does. She continues, ''Master from now on, you need turn on your location services.'' Tap, tap. ''Siri, how do I turn on my location services?''

You really do wonder how you got through the previous four decades without a smart phone. The list of little things you help me with is endless. You tell me when someone likes me, or if a new person is now following me. You tune my guitar, tell me where true north is, whether my fence posts are vertical. You correct my spelling to the United States version with predictive text, and amuse me no end by streaming YouTube video of hamsters playing dead. You show me the way with maps and keep me on time and organised with a calendar. You back up my memory and keep Alzheimer's at bay with crosswords and sudoku.

In every sense, as Tom Cruise told Renee Zellweger, you complete me. You are my photo album, record collection, bookcase, and work station. All that time wasted learning to touch-type on a typewriter, which isn't even a word recognised by your predictive text, when all I need is one finger and extra time to correct the mistakes - damn you Anglo Saxon genetics that gave me fat stubby fingers.

You are the most amazing communication device invented since this finger was dipped into mammoth blood and pre-Cambrian mud to draw on a cave wall. Email, SMS, Skype, Facebook and Facetime, Viber, Twitter - when I get a message it takes five minutes to work out how it arrived; and it even, and I tend to forget this - makes actual phone calls.


My wife is unimpressed with you, my constant companion: ''It's a phone!'' she says. ''Why didn't you marry it?'' That would be weird, wouldn't it, Siri, and please don't refer to her as it. Tap, tap, ''Siri, ignore her.'' ''Master from now on, I don't understand.'' That's right, Siri, neither do I. Neither. Do. I.

However, all of this amazing stuff aside, what my electronic friend gives me is contact with the pulse of the food world. Via Twitter, Facebook and Google, I can see what's hitting the tables at restaurants, bars, markets around the globe. I can see what's turning heads in Azerbaijan and at Eurovision 2012, one of my favourite times of the year. So, Siri, if we were to have a quiet candlelit dinner tonight, what do you think we should have? ''Master from now on, I don't understand.''

This recipe came via a tweet from @umamiburger. Earlier this year, before I met Siri, my son and I were in Los Angeles on the final leg of our sporting trip. We walked miles to find Umami Burger on La Brea Avenue. Having followed it for a while, I made it my mission to have one of these famous burgers. Great place, valet parking and all. This is their recipe for port and Stilton burger.


Serves 6

1kg freshly minced beef brisket, sirloin and skirt steak, equal portions of each

salt and pepper

1 cup ruby port, reduced to about 60ml

200g soft Stilton

6 brioche buns (recipe follows)

umami powder

For the umami powder, I just used porcini powder which I found at Essential Ingredient, I think. You can grind your own dried porcini with powdered bonito and kombu.

Make the burgers by quickly and lightly combining the meats, seasoned well, and forming the patties. Cook for two minutes on one side, then flip and cook for four minutes.

Flip again, spread with Stilton on top and cook for another two minutes. So all up, four minutes each side. Sprinkle with umami powder and rest while you grill the bun.

Whack the burger on the bun, pour over the port syrup, with nothing but a good beer at your side.

Brioche buns

250ml water

60ml warm milk

2 tbsp sugar

1 sachet dried yeast

1 egg, beaten

60g butter

500g white baker's flour

2 tbsp salt

extra egg and milk for wash

sesame seeds

Activate yeast in warm milk with sugar. Meanwhile rub butter through flour to look like breadcrumbs.

In a mixer with bread hook, work the flour, egg, yeast mixture and water to a loose sticky ball for five minutes. Rest for 10 minutes. Add the salt and knead fairly gently for another five minutes. Rest for another 10 minutes and turn out on to the bench and knead by hand to form a good, elastic ball of dough.

Cover and prove until it expands accordingly. Divide into six balls, form into tight bundles using extra flour as needed.

Place on a greased baking tray and cover, prove again until they puff up a bit again. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seed. Bake in a hot oven with lots of steam for 10-15 minutes. Cool before use.

Bryan Martin is a winemaker at Ravensworth and Clonakilla, www.bryanmartin.com.au.