Morsels from the editor's desk

Don't graze; we're not cows. This has been ringing in my ears all week after seeing what cardiologist Ross Walker has to say on food and health – he's one of the speakers at a seminar near Bungendore on October 6. He also points out, and this is tough, that good health is about making the right decision over and again, many times a day – not to eat the biscuit, not to yell at someone, not to have that extra glass of wine.

Which is my downfall. The single biggest thing I, and maybe you, could do to cut my chances of cancer (short of drastic calorie restruction), is quit alcohol. Instead, I eat right, if you exclude the pudding obsession and a grazing habit, exercise right, and take supplements. Which have no credible official backing at all. Carole Hungerford, an outspoken GP who links loads of diseases to nutrition, admits to taking a bunch herself, and after speaking with her, I'm adding selenium and fish oil to my growing list, which already includes folate on drinking nights, vitamin D, and daily aspirin.

Which goes to prove how hard it is to do the right thing. Much easier to take a swag of unproven and expensive supplements than to just put down the glass and step away from the bubbly.

Also this week, Ben Shewry, astonishing chef. I'm always highly wary of describing food in terms of emotion, saying something like, it makes me want to cry, because I can see you all rolling your eyes and telling me to get a grip. Food only makes you want to cry in the world of food tossers with far too much money and far too few problems, or for real in starving Africa, I hear you telling me in capital letters. But when you hear Ben Shewry talk about translating a traumatic near drowning into a dish of clams and prawns and seaweed, sea lettuce and sea urchin; or coming up with a dish called Dry Your Eyes Sweetheart as a tribute to a fisherman friend who died, well, you kind of can't help but feel moved. Surely?

A drop of shiraz viognier

Clonakilla released its 2011 Shiraz Viognier at the beginning of the month, with just over 1000 cases available, which is half the year before – a big drop in income, considering the wine sells for $85 at the cellar door (less wholesale, of course). But last year was tough and Clonakilla diverted much of its fruit to lesser shirazes, and made no syrah.

Tim Kirk, who hosted a tasting of 20 years of the wine in Melbourne recently and presents some at Dieci e Mezzo tonight (sold out), says the 2011 is not as intense as the hot years of 2008 and 2009. The drought years produced the strongest shiraz viogniers, he says, and the 2009 is arguably the strongest of them all – the other "classics" being 1994, 1998 and 2001. But the "quieter" years, he says, can still produce delicious wines, more elegant than intense.


Murrumbateman Moving Feast

Shaw Vineyard exhibits the finalists and winning photographs in the Head On Portrait prize this weekend. You can check out the photos in this competition here: headon.com.au/gallery/2012. If photography is not your thing, head outside and watch the sheep dog trials from the Edgerton Kelpies, a Yass-based breeder of sheep dogs (Saturday and Sunday, 11am and 2pm).

The events are part of the Murrumbateman Moving Feast over the long weekend, which begins with a dinner announcing winners of the Australian Cool Climate Wine Show (as opposed to the International Cool Climate Wine Show in Victoria) on Friday evening at Flint in the Vines (at Shaw). Over the weekend, wineries taking part will offer a tasting plate ($18, and dessert, $12), and on Saturday wines are for tasting at the Murrumbateman hall (11am to 4pm, $15). Chocolate maker Robyn Rowe will be holding demonstrations (11am, 3pm, Chocolat d'Or, 1153 Nanima Road).

Testing Japanese food

Australia is scaling back its testing of food from Japan for evidence of radioactive contamination after the earthquake and tsunami in March last year. Food Standards Australia New Zealand says hundreds of foods have been sampled, with only a few detections of radionuclides and the levels were well below internationally accepted limits. The amount found in food outside Japan is "roughly the same as one dental x-ray" and usually far less, according to the World Health Organisation. The food standards agency says the risk to human health remains negligible, but because there is still potential for contaminated food to be imported, monitoring will continue for commonly imported food that has previously tested positive for radioactive caesium – which includes tea, dried mushrooms, and fish (fresh, frozen and dried).

Food writing festival

So obsessed has the world become (us too) with food, discussing it and writing about it in excruciating detail, that a food writing festival is now being held. Organised by Sydney food writer Barbara Sweeney (also regional editor of the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide), the one-day event next month is aimed at "everyone who reads about food, devours cookbooks and enjoys cooking, eating and thinking about it" – people "who love the idea of spending a whole day talking, eating and thinking about food". Twelve speakers, among them cookbook author Belinda Jeffery, author of Marie Claire cookbooks Michele Cranston, novelist and author of Love and Hunger Charlotte Wood, Gay Bilson, writer and co-founder of Berowra Waters, and political commentator Mungo MacCallum, who has just published Eat My Words.

The program is at cookbookclub.co/food-writers-festival (Sydney, October 13, $195).

Who's the sausage king?

Kambah butcher Cameron Fenson has once again taken a swag of honours in the Canberra Sausage King competition. Fenson is a regular achiever in this contest, and this month took first place in the "traditional Australian" category (beef, lamb or pork or a combo, plus meal and spices or flavourings, but no "additional ingredients such as tomato", which would be positively un-Australian). He also took first place in the pork (another strict no additives category) and lamb classes, second in "continental" (bratwurst, Italian and the like) and third in poultry. Lyneham butcher Geoffrey Martin also shone in these awards, coming first in poultry (with a duck sausage) and continental second and third in the traditional Australian category, second in the pork, lamb and "gourmet" (anything goes, a class for "innovation") classes. Alana Mathews, of Southlands Meats, was the other place-getter in most categories.

Feast near Nowra

If you're heading towards the coast this weekend, the Bundanon Trust, which looks after the Arthur Boyd bushland properties overlooking the Shoalhaven River near Nowra, has a day of food and talks on Saturday. The Future Food Feast includes talks led by Jenny Brockie, host of Insight on SBS on being "green". Sydney chef Jared Ingersoll will be preparing one of the Bundanon cattle for the feast, kids will be able to cook damper and bring their own lemons to make lemonade, and you'll be invited to get your hands dirty collecting fireweed. Like a giant working bee. Brockie's panel includes Professor John Crawford, whose work crosses soil microbes and human health, "futurist" Michael McAllum, Ingrid Just, from Choice, and Lynne Strong from the local Clover Hill Diaries.

10.30am-4pm, with a performance on the Shoalhaven River at 6pm, free, bundanon.com.au.