Snail outbreak becomes grilled escargot as fire services burn back plagued land

Did you know snails actually breed more than rabbits?

This may seem quite surprising for a species that’s not exactly known for its pace, but one pair of common white snails can produce about 400 offspring a year.

Millions of Common White Snails were detected and destroyed at an industrial site near Wagga Wagga in southern New South Wales.
Millions of common white snails were detected and destroyed to protect crops in southern NSW. (Supplied: Riverina Local Land Services)
That’s why an outbreak of the pest has sparked concern in southern New South Wales.

Millions of common white snail — not to be confused with the regular garden variety — made their home on a vacant 20-hectare block of land on the outskirts of Wagga Wagga in the Riverina.

Stopping snails in their tracks
Common white snails stuck between the tread of a tractor tyre.
Snails can spread via machinery and vehicles, posing a biosecurity risk for farmers. (Supplied: Riverina Local Land Services)
To combat the pest Riverina Local Land Services (LSS) coordinated a controlled burn of the site by the NSW Rural Fire Service and Fire and Rescue NSW.

“It’s a numbers game, like with many pests, so we want to kill as many as possible in one go,” Riverina LLS agronomist Lisa Castleman said.

Given the chance common white snails will take up residence in crops, silos and even on machinery.

“Snails are moist and sticky and their shells break up into many pieces,” Ms Castleman said.

“Someone might go to a French restaurant to eat snails, but you don’t want to find some snail in your loaf of bread.

On their own they can’t travel too far — in wet conditions they can only move about 200 metres in a month.

But these snails are great at hitching a ride.

“They will climb up on to a truck an onto the undercarriage, particularly when it’s wet or when it is dark,” Ms Castleman said.

“That’s when they are trying to find a place to catch a lift.”

Grain industry’s reputation at risk
Alan Brown, who farms at Borambola near Wagga Wagga, said the risk they pose to the grains industry can’t be underestimated.

“It’s got potential to cause some real problems,” Mr Brown said.

“As excluding them from grain is almost impossible once they are present in the environment.”

The shell of a Common White Snail following a controlled burn of land to eradicate the pest.
Fire is the most effective way to deal with snail outbreaks in sites where baiting is not possible. (Supplied: Riverina Local Land Services)
“We have to take action to make sure they are not there, so that’s another cost we have to bear, and we don’t need that.”

Ms Castleman estimated the cost for grain growers to eradicate would be more than $45 a hectare if they became endemic.

“They are not endemic in southern New South Wales, but it would cost our industry millions if not more and it would be ongoing, she said.

ABC AU

French online critic fined for posting negative review before restaurant opens

A French court has fined an internet user 2,500 euros ($3,860) for posting a false and malicious review of a restaurant five days before it opened to the public, France’s Le Monde newspaper reports.

The author criticised Dijon’s Loiseau des Ducs restaurant on France’s Pages Jaunes (Yellow Pages) website in July 2013 under the name The Clarifier, calling it “very overrated”.

“All for show and with very little on the plate. The most plentiful plate was the one carrying the bill,” the review said.

The High Court of Dijon ruled that the review “can not correspond to the expression of an objective opinion based on real experiences”.

Restaurant manager Ahlame Buisard told local newspaper Le Bien the case was a matter of principle and not directed at genuine customers who write honest reviews.

“We wanted to pursue this case because it is a lesson to people who write these reviews in order to destroy,” she said.

Loiseau des Ducs was awarded a Michelin star in February 2014.

The reviewer, who has not been named in French media reports, also has to pay costs of 5,000 euros ($7,725).

ABC AU

Eight questions for famed (and infamous) food critic Jay Rayner

He’s got the job everyone wants, and the one everyone thinks they can do.

So what makes British food critic and Masterchef judge Jay Rayner stand out? And why won’t his friends invite him to dinner parties?

Rayner made global headlines last month when his scathing review of French restaurant Le Cinq went viral, and he has compiled his thoughts in a new book, The Ten (Food) Commandments.

Now he lets us in on what chefs say back to him and answers the question he gets asked most often, which is:

How can I get your job?
The thing to understand about my job is that it’s a writing job, not an eating job.

I often receive emails asking me that question, “How can I get your job?” and I have a form letter that I wrote six years ago that I send out to them that basically says “learn to write”.

SOUNDCLOUD: Rayner speaks to ABC Brisbane radio.
But what makes you qualified to judge these chefs?
There are two elements to a restaurant.

There are the staff who are cooking for you and then there are the diners. And a restaurant doesn’t exist without the diner. And my job is to be a professional diner.

Rayner’s 10 food commandments
Thou shalt eat with thy hands
Thou shalt always worship leftovers
Thou shalt covet thy neighbours oxen
Thou shalt cook — sometimes
Thou shalt not cut off the fat
Thou shalt choose thy dining companion bloody carefully
Thou shalt not sneer at meat-free cookery
Thou shalt celebrate the stinky
Thou shalt not mistake food for pharmaceuticals
Honour thy pig
More to the point I’m there to present a sketch of what eating in that restaurant is like as the consumer, not as a chef who’s trying to dissect what their colleagues have done.

I’m trying to tell you how much pleasure your money will buy you.

Do your friends fear cooking for you?
I am rarely invited to dinner parties. I think because of what I do people are concerned to invite me to dinner.

I like to claim that it’s unfair and that I’m just there for the social stuff, for the company.

My wife says, however, that however polite I am on the night I will then get in the car and whinge.

So probably I am a horrible person.

Do chefs ever contact you after you’ve reviewed them?
Chefs sometimes get in contact to say thank-you for a nice review. To which I always say: “No need to thank me. You did your job and I did mine.”

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
AUDIO: What is Jay Rayner’s philosophy on food? He tells RN. (Blueprint for Living)
And I absolutely mean that.

Occasionally I’m contacted by a chef who says, “You know, you’ve got a point”.

I very rarely hear from chefs I’ve given negative reviews on.

Some of your reviews are scathing. Does anyone ever sue?
Le Cinq review extracts
“And so, to the flagship Michelin three-star restaurant of the George V Hotel in Paris, or the scene of the crime as I now like to call it.”
“Never did I think the shamefully terrible cooking would slacken my jaw from the rest of my head.”
“The dining room, deep in the hotel, is a broad space of high ceilings and coving, with thick carpets to muffle the screams. It is decorated in various shades of taupe, biscuit and f–k you.”
“The cheapest of the starters is gratinated onions “in the Parisian style” … It is mostly black, like nightmares, and sticky, like the floor at a teenager’s party.”
Source: Jay Rayner’s Le Cinq review
No. I know the laws of libel.

I mean obviously those laws are different in different countries, so I suspect I couldn’t have written that [Le Cinq review] about a restaurant in Australia looking at the way the laws work.

But one thing that has to be said is I didn’t do this so people would go, “Oh he’s so clever and witty and nasty”.

I did it because it’s a place costing $600 a head and that’s an enormous amount of money.

I went there to write a good review, not a bad one. And then when you get somewhere and it’s charging these extraordinary sums, from $140 to $200 for a main course, I just got very angry, very cross.

Do you have to dress in disguise when reviewing a restaurant these days?
I book all my restaurants under a pseudonym; they don’t know I’m coming until I’m there. Generally I use my companion’s surname.

There’s very little a restaurant can do to change the experience once you’re there, because a lot of restaurant food is what’s called “mise en place” — it’s in the preparation.

Jay Rayner

@jayrayner1
My picture of the onion dish at Le Cinq. Read about the restaurants version against mine here: http://www.jayrayner.co.uk/news/spot-the-difference-the-food-pics-supplied-to-the-observer-by-le-cinq-in-paris-as-against-mine/ …

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But the key thing is that it’s a writing job and not an eating job. And because it’s a writing job, if, as a result of a lack of anonymity, people stop believing my reviews, I will lose my job. And I’m determined to cling to it with my cold, dead hands.

Are you a good cook?
I am not a bad cook.

I say I’m not a bad cook because I can think of people who are absolutely brilliant. So I have a scale on which to gauge myself.

I can’t eat in restaurants every single night, but I am greedy so I need to be able to cook some of the stuff I actually want to eat from time to time.

I’m not a very good pastry chef because that’s chemistry and science and precision, but I’m pretty damn good at the roasting, the grilling, the sauces and salads and soups.

Do you ever get sick of the job?
No. I really don’t. I think I’d deserve a fair old slapping if I started whining about my terrible job being sent out to eat on other people’s expenses.

ABC AU

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LA GRANDE​
BOUFFE.

This wonderful Sydney French restaurant is nestled in the Southern end of Darling St Rozelle, the emphasis is on traditional French flavours with a delicate modern edge. From the accents flowing amongst the staff to the petit fours presented for dessert, this is authentic French dining at it’s very best. Opulent textured wallpaper, rich dark timber floors and sultry low level lighting all contribute to this warm and casual yet refined dining experience.
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4 courses Degustation Menu $95
$125 with matching wine