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Monday, 24 August, 2009, 09:24 AEST
Adelaide’s culinary young guns fire up
Right now three of Adelaide’s top six restaurants are run by some of the city’s younger chefs. They got together in August at The Wine Underground to show everyone what they could do. Here’s chef Adam Liston’s take on the event:
What’s this all about then?
At the moment three of Adelaide’s top six restaurants are run by guys under 30. The Wine Underground wanted to get us into a kitchen together to produce a degustation that reflected our own styles. I was aware that similar dinners happen in Sydney and Victoria, and we wanted to give it a try here in SA. It worked!Who are you guys?
Ayhan Erkoc is the head chef at The Manse and is extremely gifted. He worked at Marque and Pier in Sydney and just returned from a stint at Noma in Denmark. He has two stars in the Gourmet Traveller
restaurant guide and is cooking-cutting edge food. Tom Robinson is only 25, but he has worked at Auge under two recent head chefs who put Auge on the map for fine-dining in Adelaide. He cooks great Italian food from the heart and serves it in a very delicate and elegant manner. I’m Adam Liston and I’m the head chef here at the Wine Underground. I was the former head chef of the Melting Pot, where I was cooking when I was nominated for the Best New Talent category of last year’s GT
restaurant awards. We also achieved two stars in last year’s guide. Tell us a little about the dishes you thought worked best on the night.
Ayhan's first course was stunning, the house-made milk curd, fresh and cooked vegetables, beautiful herbs and flowers and the bacon broth [pictured] made the dish a perfect start. Our scallop dish was a crowd pleaser; I thought the pea puree against the sweet scallop and salty confit chicken wing worked really well. Tom finished the savoury part of the evening off with perfectly cooked venison, beautiful green spelt ragù and a stunning venison consommé.How do you think the rest of the country perceives the SA food scene today?
To be honest, I think the rest of the country thinks there is nothing going on down here. It’s been a couple of rough years for some of the older guys that made their names a decade ago and their status and involvement in kitchens has dropped in the eyes of the general public. Now there’s a good young crew coming up and knocking on some big doors. Apart from Ayhan, Tom and myself there are at least another three young guys running serious kitchens that are under 30. Matthew Goodlet runs two! The state needs some attention beyond the old-school guys. A lot of the young chefs have trained in the eastern states and know what’s going on the plates over there. There’s some seriously good food coming out of kitchens down here, we just need to let the rest of the country know.Is it hard to get out from the shadow of Maggie and Cheong?
Cheong is a hero. His cooking, attitude, creation and accolades are something any state would have trouble competing with. He’s also a big believer in supporting young chefs and does what he can to help that happen. Maggie has been a great ambassador for honest cooking and has been involved in numerous things that have helped the state’s food scene. Yes, it is tough to get out from under their shadows but I would rather be coming out from under their shadows than face the challenge that these two had fifteen years ago that said, "South Australia? What the hell goes on down there?" They put us on the map and for a while Cheong himself was leading the country. These guys are stepping back a bit now and it is definitely time for the rest of the hard-working crew to be noticed.What are you guys doing next?
We will continue to host and support similar events. I like the idea of bringing chefs together. We all really enjoy sharing ideas and learning from each other. The next step for the Wine Underground will be to bring over some high profile chefs from Melbourne and Sydney to do a dinner. We also have Matt Preston releasing his book in October here which will be fun. The restaurant is pumping at the moment, and we’re getting busier every week thanks to events just like this. That makes me a very happy man.Auge
, 22 Grote St, Adelaide, SA, 08 8410 9332The Manse
, 142 Tynte St, Adelaide, SA, 08 8267 4636The Wine Underground
, 121 Pirie St, Adelaide, SA, 02 8232 1222
INTERVIEW PAT NOURSE
Thursday, 13 August, 2009, 12:51 AEST
Perry Scott, bartender at Brisbane's award-winning Lark, provides the AAA backstage bar at the annual Splendour In The Grass music festival in Byron Bay for all the performing musicians. Here, he tells Gourmet Traveller
about his behind the scenes experiences.
"It all started out quite innocently in 2003, where I was asked to make a few cocktails backstage for Powderfinger, Coldplay and Goldfrapp. We introduced Chris Martin to the Dark and Stormy cocktail which he politely asked to take with a few roadies in their limo ride to the airport. We later found out his calm and pleasant nature was quite ironic as he had just put a brick through a photographer's window at Wategos Beach. My Pommie co-worker was also trying to chat up an American girl at the bar and only later realized it was of course Gwyneth Paltrow (he obviously wasn't reading the social pages at the time!).
In 2005, I was asked to make an original drink for the festival's co-owner Jessica DeCrou. She loves vodka and a mutual friend has a passionfruit farm near Byron. The festival's theme that year was 'The Casbah' so a reference to the late Joe Strummer from The Clash was inevitable. I actually served Joe in a restaurant I worked at in London; let's just say he obviously liked to drink as on his way to the toilet he fell arse up down the staircase. He made such a meal of it all that the staff thought he was dead. In true rock 'n' roll fashion he just picked himself up and proceeded to the loo.
After the Strummer's debut appearance of a solitary happy hour on the Saturday and Sunday the following year, this was extended to another happy hour and after five years of Strummers it seems it has grown to five happy hours each day. This year we made over 3000 Strummers for the artists and their friends, as well as 10 cases of Champagne and 25 cases of beer. Now that's a happy hour indeed (although the Happy Mondays seemed to be having their own special happy hour…)."
Perry Scott, The Lark
Tuesday, 28 July, 2009, 11:38 AEST
With a little help from local designers, sushi takes an interesting turn at Sydney's Sushi Choo...
We all know that how food looks on a plate is an important part of the dining experience, but what happens when you get a bunch of designers together and ask them to re-imagine something as simple as sushi? Sydney's Sushi Choo
did just that with 10 local interior designers and architects and will be serving up the edible designs for lunch on 1 August with event host KE-ZU (register at Saturday in Design
to scoop one up for yourself). Here are some of our favourites, each imagined by a different stylemaker (clockwise from top left: SJB, Lucette Qrelle, David Caon Design, Geyer), and all looking suitably delicious. - ROBERT MANIACI
Friday, 24 July, 2009, 16:32 AEST
OCRF brings la dolce vita to Melbourne
Last year, the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (with a little bit of help from Gourmet Traveller
) wowed attendees of its Silver Ribbon Exposure Gala with a Casablanca-themed party at the Peninsula in Melbourne's Docklands. This year, they'll be going back to the Peninsula and doing some time travelling as well: taking guests back to the sights, sounds and tastes of 1950s Italy. Here's a sneak peek at what you'll be in for on October 17, 2009 (for more info, visit the OCRF website
Thursday, 23 July, 2009, 14:13 AEST
A new Light shines in Adelaide
Adelaide's Colonel Light Hotel comes to life with a bit of a revamp and the help of chef Sarah Turner.
The business shakers who still do lunch in Adelaide have immediately flocked to the recently renovated Colonel Light Hotel (141 Currie St, 08 8231 4044), managed by Anton and Lyneece Schmidt, serial pub renovators through the 1980s and 90s. This time, the Schmidts have kept things very simple: big stark white interiors in unfussy open spaces. Meals are served in the enclosed balcony upstairs where rugged timber and exposed red brick sets a more earthy mood. The lunch crowd has every right to be happy as Sarah Turner (former head chef at Enoteca) is in the kitchen, getting the pub menu on its feet while husband Grant Sanderson works the front of house and their own small restaurant venture at Greenock in the Barossa slowly moves through the construction phase. Sarah’s plates at the Colonel Light are typically generous in size and flavour, reflecting her rural Barossan roots and embracing whatever is fresh from her farm contacts. There's some smart use of seasonal vegetables and fruits, such as beetroot and quince, and specials of seared duck breast served as a mixed fresh chilli salsa. Big tasting plates with bites of everything (chilli-seasoned squid with squid ink aioli being a highlight) are there to show off the diversity of an impressive and eclectic pub menu. - DAVID SLY
Tuesday, 30 June, 2009, 10:57 AEST
A Star is (re)born
The menu at Star of Greece, on the Esplanade at Port Willunga, SA (08 8557 7420) has become less formally structured under the direction of chef Harley Ireland, offering a selection of "nibbly bits" to cover the ambiguous area of small grazing plates designed to share, without being classified as entrees or misnamed as tapas. It's an immediate hit with customers, who are happy nibbling on serves of asparagus and manchego tortilla, shallow fried Port Willunga squid with kupi, tostada of white anchovy, avruga caviar and green tomato chutney, pork belly with pickled cabbage, fried chorizo with piquillo peppers and white bean puree, or sardines, guanciale and fennel seeds with soft polenta. Those settling in for main plates get a choice of four vegetarian options, a twist on seafood (seared kingfish, spelt and brussel sprout risotto with pancetta and mascarpone) and robust winter servings of apple-wood smoked duck breast with butternut pumpkin, beetroot and sherry vinaigrette. The same sense of freedom applies to the dessert menu, which has been renamed "sweetie bits" and features such playful dishes as chef Ireland's take on Violet Crumble. - DAVID SLY
Friday, 26 June, 2009, 14:06 AEST
Keep the cheese
Will Studd on how to store cheese properly at home:
"Temperature, humidity and wrapping are critical to storage of traditional natural cheese at home. Whenever possible, individual cheeses should be kept in their original packaging or box. If you're storing pieces of hard and blue cheese cut freshly from a whole wheel, ensure the open surface is covered to prevent it drying out. This can be done with cling wrap, but only cover the cut surface, and don’t smother the entire chunk in layers of plastic so it can’t breathe.
"A good cheese shop will always wrap most types of cut cheese in a special wax paper to keep it from drying out. This also allows the cheese and constituent living organisms within it to breathe. An added advantage of wrapping cheese in wax paper is that it can easily be brought to serving temperature simply by removing it from the fridge and covering it with a damp cloth to maintain humidity."
Monday, 22 June, 2009, 12:42 AEST
Smith Street continues to rule the waves with hot, edgy new food businesses. Joining the hip Collingwood cluster that includes Gigibaba and Monsieur Truffe is Boire, a wine bar and eating house opened by French wine importer Catherine Chauchat. The all-French wine list includes many labels that are exclusively imported by Chauchat and there is only one spirit available, an Armagnac. The brief, and daily changing, menu includes trad French peasant fare like pot au feu. - MICHAEL HARDEN
Wednesday, 17 June, 2009, 09:41 AEST
Brisbane's restaurant scene gets a makeover
They've certainly been keeping busy in Brissie. Matt Moran and his team are due to launch Aria Brisbane on 3 August at Eagle Street Pier on the old Pier Nine site and Urbane has called in the builders, pencilling in a grand re-opening for October. Chef Kym Machin will oversee both the revamped Mary Street fine diner and a new "innovative food experience" next door. At Southbank, Piaf owner Simon Livingstone has expanded, opening The Sardine Tin, a tiny eatery-drinkery overlooking the parklands and Martin Duncan has brought Freestyle to West End, replacing the former Mao Mao at 230 Melbourne St, with a second café. - FIONA DONNELLY
Wednesday, 10 June, 2009, 09:57 AEST
Yes you Kam
Sydney yum cha chain Kam Fook has opened its first Melbourne outpost on the second level at Westfield Doncaster. The swish 220-seater boasts a couple of well-appointed private rooms and some spectacular views of the distant CBD. Dumplings and roast duck are the repast of choice and lengthy queues are already a feature on Sundays. - MICHAEL HARDEN
Monday, 25 May, 2009, 11:29 AEST
On the Twitter Roll
Whether you want to call it the Tweet Directory or the Twitter Roll, here's our collection of chef's Twitter aliases across the globe. If you think we've missed someone, DM us at @gourmettweets
. Local chefs and restaurateurs
Mark Best, Marque, Sydney: @markbest
Stuart Knox, Fix St James, Sydney: @fixstjames
Guy Grossi, Grossi Florentino, Melbourne: @guygrossi
Dan Hong, Lotus, Sydney: @Dan_Hong
Buzo, Sydney: @Buzo_Trattoria
Gertrude Street Enoteca, Melbourne: @GertrudeEnoteca
Luke Mangan, Glass, Sydney: @LukeWMangan
Maurizio Terzini, Icebergs, North Bondi Italian food, Sydney/Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons, Melbourne: @morryt
The Three Weeds, Sydney: @3WeedsRozelle
Steve Cumper, Red Velvet Lounge, Cygnet, Tasmania: @stevecumper
Luke Burgess, GT photographer and former Pecora chef, now cooking at Hobart’s Islington: @lukeburgess
Dietmar Sawyere, Forty One/Berowra Waters Inn, Sydney: @dietmarsawyere
Michael Ryan, The Provenance, Beechworth, Victoria: @theprovenance
The Agrarian Kitchen cooking school, New Norfolk, Tasmania: @agrariankitchen
Peter Evans, Hugo’s, Sydney: @peterevanschef
Martin Duncan, Freestyle Tout, Brisbane: @dessertboy
Darren Purchese, Burch and Purchese, Melbourne: @whoareyouoohooh
Jimmy Liks, Sydney: @JimmyLiks
Jared Ingersoll, Danks Street Depot, Sydney: @jaredingersoll
Jonathan Ingram, Verandah, Sydney: @jonathaningram3
Matteo Pignatelli, Matteo’s, Melbourne: @MatteoPignatell
Chui Lee Luk, Claude's, Sydney: @chuileeluk
Kym Machin, Urbane, Brisbane: @kymmachin
Jason Peppler, Confit, Brisbane: @jpepplerInternational chefs
Jamie Oliver, UK: @jamie_oliver
Grant Achatz, Alinea, USA: @gachatz
Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill, USA: @Rick_Bayless
Mark Hix, Hix Oyster Bar, UK: @hixoyster
Henry Harris, Racine, UK: @racine_kitchen
Tom Aikens, UK: @tomaikens
Alex Stupak, WD-50, UK: @alexstupak
GT staffers and contributors
GT official Twitter account: @gourmettweets
Pat Nourse, features editor and restaurant critic: @patnourse
Lisa Featherby, food editor: @lisafeatherby
Rob Maniaci, web editor: @robmaniaci
Sue Dyson and Roger McShane, Tasmania editors: @food_tourist
Fiona Donnelly, Queensland editor: @fionadonnelly
Jane Cornes, Western Australia editor: @smartarse999
Wednesday, 13 May, 2009, 15:11 AEST
Blanc checks in
The saga of seafood restaurants in Adelaide called Blanc starts a new chapter, with the Thanakamonnun brothers now settled in their third abode to bear this name. The Thai brothers – front-of-house Sam and chef Norman – made a fist of their original Le Blanc restaurant in Hutt St before selling the site to Barbara Derham in early 2007 (she renamed it Blanc), and then the brothers opened a new city bistro in the foyer of the Grand Chancellor Hotel under the name of Blanc Bistro. Things got heated and confusing once Restaurant and Catering SA issued Hall of Fame status to Blanc for three consecutive award-winning years – and both proprietors wanted to claim the credit. It didn’t do either side much good; by early 2008, Derham had sold Blanc (it’s now the home of Norberto Spagnolo’s Buenos Aires Brasserie) and Blanc Bistro wasn’t gaining the city lunch traffic it had hoped for. It has now been re-badged as Café de Mar, and is being managed by Patrick Ly. This has allowed the Thanakamonnun brothers to refocus their energies on what they’ve aimed for all along – an upmarket specialty seafood restaurant, which they have called Blanc Bistro and Grill in the smartly redeveloped North Adelaide Village (Shop 31/81 O’Connell St, North Adelaide, 08 8361 8088). Customers are already supporting the new venture, with events such as a major Henschke wine dinner planned for later this year. - DAVID SLY
Friday, 8 May, 2009, 09:36 AEST
Xavier Padovani's favourite Aussie bars
Xavier Padovani, Hendrick's Gin's global brand ambassador, checks back in with his picks of Australia's best bars.1) The Beresford Hotel, Sydney
A classic place. As a unit it stands high and brings a level of quality you somehow expect but rarely see in a bar and restaurant. It carries a simple, authentic design with an amazing attention to detail and materials. I love the second bar, the one in the restaurant, mostly because bar manager George Nemec makes a Gin Gimlet like no one else. I love this place, and not only because it feels like a classic, but because the quality of the service and the ambience are so spot on.2) Madame Brussels, Melbourne
Ah, a place that stands out... Madame Brussels is quintessentially Hendrick's, as it is not for everyone. It may take you a little while to reach the entrance, but as soon as you do, you know you are quite privileged to be a guest of Miss Pearl's. As you continue towards the back room, everything makes sense: the bar is made of a multitude of objects that seem to have been collected while sailing around the world. The friendly attitude from the staff and the host make this bar very special. It is the kind of place where you know what time you got in, but don't quite know what time you’ll leave. Whatever happens, you won't regret it and you'll come back for more. 3) Bayswater Brasserie, Sydney
Like the calm in the eye of the storm, Bayswater Brasserie stands out in Kings Cross. What strikes me about this place is the consistency in the quality of the cocktails. Two years ago, the first bar I visited was the Bayswater Brasserie with barkeeper Max from Italy shaking a few classic concoctions. This trip, I again had to drop by for a couple of drinks from Max, and, to my surprise, Gregor, one of London's best known barmen. This bar produces good classic cocktails and gives its guests the perfect spot to escape the crowded streets of the Cross. Saying that, a few good water holes will welcome you in Kings Cross. Piano Room under James’ supervision is also a must drop by, Low 302, Gold Fish, Hugo's... 4) Gin Palace, Melbourne
It says it all in the name! Secretly hidden in a small dark street, Gin Palace is so smooth. As you open the door, you're welcomed into a very chill and cosy atmosphere. It takes its name from 19th century London's gin rooms, where the commoners would empty large barrels of Old Tom Gin and lose consciousness or their sight. You won't lose either of those things here, but they do have a very good selection of gins, an awesome menu, efficient service and fabulous/unusual toilets.
In Melbourne one also has to salute Sebastian's cocktail list at 1806 since it has taken the USA drink ceremony Tales of The Cocktails by storm and won awards for best cocktail list in the world. Golden Monkey and its selection of rum also must be mentioned.5) The Honesty Bar, Tonic, Lovedale, Hunter Valley
This is one of the most tranquil places. It is where I have had the privilege of experiencing Hendrick's in its most Australian form, in its best environment. As soon as you come off the main road, you wonder if you will ever find Tonic. When you do, and have checked in, you will be invited into the main building where the Honesty Bar is situated. The place is amazingly quiet with an impressive view of the vineyards and the Hunter Valley. With its open wood fire, the Honesty Bar concept encourages guests to help themselves. It's a bar worth the trip.
INTERVIEW PAT NOURSE
Tuesday, 28 April, 2009, 13:39 AEST
SA bistro beauty
Jam the Bistro has opened with a flourish, with experienced restaurateur John Pana refurbishing a derelict building in a quieter part of the city into a sharp looking luncheon bistro with a Mediterranean accent. The focus is more mezze than tapas, with mains including the likes of char-grilled quail with fig, orange, fennel, radicchio and walnut pesto and pan-seared snapper fillet with prawns, lemon and Szechuan pepper reduction. It straddles the line between a cosy neighbourhood eatery and an off-the-main-strip lunch destination. Breakfast is especially strong, and a display case of fresh baked pastries has ensured a steady flow of the coffee crowd. Open for evening meals on Friday only. 112-114 Wright St, Adelaide (08) 8231 7411. - DAVID SLY
Thursday, 2 April, 2009, 12:27 AEST
On the Bar with Xavier Padovani
Xavier Padovani, international bar consultant and Hendrick's Gin's global brand ambassador, gives us his top five places to drink gin around the globe and his recipe for the classic Gin Buck. Xavier Padovani's five favourite places to drink gin
"We have to start at Paris’s Experimental Cocktail Club
(37 rue St Sauveur) as their bar inspired me to create the Fantastic & Ridiculous Monday of the Unusual Rose & Cucumber Society. A small, stylish off-the-beaten-track bar, this is a must-visit on the Paris bar scene. The trademark lights above the bar were designed by Sander Mudler as a contemporary French chandelier using PMMA acrylic. The drinks list is short but stylish and they serve the Hendrick’s and Tonic in a special way: a miniature bottle of Hendrick’s, a bottle of tonic water on the side and plenty of cucumber slices. What makes this place so great is the three owners, friends who instead of following their destiny to the New York Stock Exchange teamed up with American interior designer Cuoco Black to realise their dream of opening a bar (it was designed in one week). The diverse crowd of every nationality imaginable also makes this place friendly. I have spent many an amazing night here.
"I must visit Le Lion
in Hamburg on a more regular basis (Rathausstrasse 3, www.lelion.net
). It has a speakeasy-style discreet entrance: a knock at the door and they whisk you into a dark, atmospheric room that makes you comfortable and opens your senses. Owner Joerg Meyer is also the creator of the Traveling Mixologist and a fierce member of the German blogging set. This guy has opened a dream of a place, with smooth service and sharp drinks. The bar is one of my favourites because the host understands his clients so well that every single night is a success.
"London has many excellent waterholes: Montgomery Place, Portobello Star, The Dorchester, The Connaught, Green and Red... the list goes on. One of my favourites is Salvatore at Fifty
(50 St James, www.fiftylondon.com
). To put it simply, this is where the maestro, Salvatore Calabrese, creates perfection. Service, surroundings, drinks, food, music – everything is fantastically well thought-out. Salvatore runs every single aspect of the operation with a watchful eye. I love finishing the evening here after a long journey.
"Over in Japan, High Five
(4F No.26 Polestar Building, 7-2-14 Ginza, Chuo-ku) is hard to find, but that’s just one reason why it's a classic Tokyo bar. It’s an amazing space, and even though it’s very small, it delivers. The lighting is soft and dark, while the scene may be considered jazzy with a few classic tunes from the 1930s and 1950s thrown into the mix. From the warm welcome to the first sip of the cocktail, every minute you spend in pioneer barkeep Ueno Hidetsugu's cozy space will be underscored by the trademark of Japanese bars: impeccable service. Amazing drinks in a discreet atmosphere.
"New York’s must-visit list isn’t short: Milk & Honey, Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club, Pegu Club, Employees Only, Angel’s Share... but I must say that I like to start with PDT
(113 St Marks Pl, West basement, +1 212 614 0386, reservation only). The “Please Don’t Tell” concept is quite amusing, and the bar is simply an ideal spot to drink cocktails when you’ve just arrived in the USA. The host, Jim, has made this place very special. A smiling face opens the door and after greetings you enter this hidden spot via a public phone booth, Maxwell Smart-style. Find your seat amidst the taxidermied animals, take a drink in hand and soak up your fantastic surroundings."My Gin Buck recipe
Pour 50ml of Hendrick's Gin into an ice-filled highball glass. Add a dash of fresh lemon juice (a squeeze of a wedge) and a dash of gomme syrup; top with ginger ale (for a spicier drink, use ginger beer instead).
INTERVIEW PAT NOURSE
Friday, 27 March, 2009, 11:29 AEST
Samantha Bakker, head chocolatier at Koko Black, tells you ten things you might not have known about chocolate.
1. Cocoa beans were once used as currency by the people of Mexico and Central America.
2. Chocolate grows on trees. The cacao tree's tiny delicate pink or white flowers bloom and produce fruit all year round in the wild. Only around five per cent of the flowers develop into fruit about five months after pollination.
3. Each cacao tree yields 20-30 fruits or pods per year. These big pods hang directly from a branch or a tree trunk. The seeds within the pods, following a process of fermentation and drying, become cocoa beans - ready for the process of chocolate making.
4. Think you know everything about wine? It's also possible to be a chocolate connoisseur. Similar to the grapes used to make wine, cocoa beans also vary in aroma, flavour, appearance and even nutrients based on the region where they are grown. So you can know your drops - and your blocks.
5. It is said that the French military and political leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, insisted on having chocolate and wine from Burgundy available during military campaigns.
6. Chocolate contains more than 400 distinct flavour compounds - more than twice as many as any other food.
7. Chocolate really is one of life's great pleasures. It contains natural substances that improve your mood, such as phenylethylamine and serotonin, and may act as an anti-depressant [ED'S NOTE: If you need proof of just how much pleasure chocolate can bring you, take a look at our 15 (shameless) chocolate recipes slideshow
8. If you've woken up on the wrong side of bed, don't eat chocolate. Negative thoughts provoke an acidic environment in your mouth, making it impossible to taste chocolate properly.
9. Chocolate is chock-full of flavonoids, a natural antioxidant that helps to maintain the body's health and to protect it against disease. Flavonoids are found in the cacao plant, as well as in red wine, tea, fruits and vegetables.
10. If you're looking for a quality treat, choose chocolate with a high cocoa butter content. It's the cocoa butter that plays a leading role in creating chocolate that has a beautiful gloss, a clean 'snap' and that melts in your mouth.
- Samanta Bakker, head chocolatier, creative centre at Koko Black
Wednesday, 18 March, 2009, 11:51 AEST
Taste of Sydney video recap
The inaugural Taste of Sydney kicked off with a bang – and we’re not just talking about the thunderstorm that swept through on the middle of the weekend. From Thursday March 12 to Sunday 15, thousands of snack-hungry Sydneysiders and visitors swept through the impromptu tent city set up in Centennial Park. Gourmet Traveller was there hosting wine tastings, a chef’s table and a demonstration kitchen, and with all the town’s top talent passing through, it was a true Taste of Sydney. Here’s what the chefs (from Armando Percuoco to Matthew Kemp) had to say…
Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 09:13 AEST
Top chef doesn’t love Vegemite
Thomas Keller is a man of refined tastes. The chef-patron of California’s French Laundry
and New York’s Per Se
, two of the top restaurants in the US recently spoke to us on the subject of sandwiches, and the subject of Vegemite arose:
“We both [Americans and Australians] grow up with sandwiches in our lunchboxes.” But we don’t do jelly with our peanut butter here.
“No? Here you can buy jars with the peanut butter mixed in.”That’s kind of disturbing.
“It is indeed.”What kind of J is preferred with the PB?
“Grape jelly.”We’re more about the Vegemite here.
“That’s tough.”Have you gone there yourself?
“It’s an acquired taste, that much I can tell.”That’s very diplomatic of you.
“You have to eat it religiously to acquire the taste, I’m sure.”
You can catch Keller at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
’s Langham Melbourne Masterclass (hosted by your friends at Gourmet Traveller
, naturally), 7-23 March, and to get the full low-down on Keller’s considerations for the humble sanga, including his BLT, roast beef and tuna Niçoise recipes, check out our April issue, on sale March 30. - PAT NOURSE
Wednesday, 11 March, 2009, 15:13 AEST
Tweeting the eats
Twitter is taking the world by storm and the food community is no exception.
Kitchen heavyweights such as Martha Stewart
, Alinea’s Grant Achatz
, Mario Batali
and Jamie Oliver
are, like comedians Stephen Fry
, Russell Brand
, musician P. Diddy
and our own PM
and leader of the opposition
, speaking directly to the world in 140-character snippets. Other notable edible identities such as American Gourmet
editor Ruth Reichl
, cookbook author Paula Wolfert
and New York Times
food section editor Pete Wells
are attracting followers, as are bloggers such as Chez Pim’s Pim Techamuanvivit
Back home, Australian chefs are yet to appear in any numbers, but bloggers have, unsurprisingly, been among the first to take up the banner, with the likes of Grab Your Fork
up and posting.
The official Twitter one-stop shop for Gourmet Traveller
” didn’t quite fit in the box and “gourmettravelle” looked a bit weird), where we post updates from the magazine and the website, as well as behind the scenes stuff from our kitchens and the occasional dialogue on the finer points of cooking, restaurants and travel. Our Melbourne editor Michael Harden
is an occasional poster, and our Tasmanian editors, Sue Dyson and Roger McShane can be followed on Food_Tourist
features editor and restaurant critic Pat Nourse
, meanwhile, has pledged to tweet everything he eats this year; his Twitter reports to date include bite-by-bite coverage earlier this month of Alinea, one of the hottest restaurants in the US [scroll down for the link].
We’d like to start a record of Australian chefs exchanging ideas on Twitter, so if you’re getting on board and you fall into that category, we’d love to hear
from you – just so long as you keep it under 140 characters.
Tuesday, 3 March, 2009, 10:41 AEST
restaurant reviewer Pat Nourse took a side trip to Chicago's Alinea
restaurant (the 21st best restaurant in the world according to the World's 50 Best Restaurants
) while on assignment in the States this week and got a little carried away with Twitter during his 30-course dinner. Follow his every tweet, bite and musing here
- read backwards from the bottom of the page - including what he thought of the jamón Ibérico pictured above. - ROBERT MANIACI
Monday, 2 March, 2009, 13:28 AEST
Gourmet for less
Five to six entrées for between $13-$16, a handful of mains for $26-$30 and this from a former Michelin-starred chef whose restaurant the fearsome critic AA Gill once described as ‘miraculously brilliant’? It’s almost worth the flights to Brisbane to visit Baguette Bistrot + Bar
at Ascot. Loubet says his autumn starters will include the chicken liver parfait with onion marmalade and grilled sourdough plus trad favourites such as saffron fish soup with rouille and croutons. Mains will range from Vietnamese sticky beef cheeks with green mango salad to chicken tagine with preserved lemon and sweet potato and confit lamb with grilled vegetables and anchoiade. Owners Marilyn and Francis Domenech are describing the menu as ‘market driven’. - FIONA DONNELLY
Monday, 23 February, 2009, 12:17 AEST
First look: The Buffalo Club, Brisbane
The chef would like to pay his respects and show his appreciation to those who have influenced his style and taught him the techniques he now uses.
So reads the note at the bottom of Buffalo Club’s menu. Pretentious? Maybe. But it’s an odds-on bet that by the end of the evening you’ll be doffing your cap to the chef Ryan Squires’ personal gurus too – a starry line up which includes Thomas Keller, Ferran Adrià and Wylie Dufresne of WD-50.
We’re met by security (Fortitude Valley can be a little edgy) and shown up by a kimono-wearing greeter. Our table overlooks Brunswick Street Mall, tonight a car park for several squad cars.
In contrast to the neighbourhood, the dining room is luxe and clubby in feel, with lots of wood and dark tones. A Japanese-style open kitchen takes up one corner, a chef’s table for 10 positioned to provide prime viewing.
On our table for two is a buff envelope, the embossed sheet within detailing our options for the evening – a nine-course tasting or a 15-course extravaganza, with or without matched drinks.
But first, a gratis aperitif of Lillet with a curl of orange, a portent of good things and a chance for us to decipher what look more like chef notes than a list of dishes.
What’s “Foie – Marshmallow, cello, Tamari, Almond”? Or “Big Eye – Aubergine, Lime, Yuzu, Scallop”? Two amuses of fairy floss arrive – a savoury version with thyme and olive dust and a strawberry, rose petal and milk confection. We giggle and choose the nine courses, opting to match wine as we go. A mistake, perhaps, when you have little idea what you’re eating. Better, clearly, to let the experts have their say. Next time.
Out come the Snacks: slivers of beef jerky, onion dust, a bitter foam made from olive leaves, a tiny hillock of frog spawn-like (and surprisingly bland) basil seeds, two Lilliputian chips and a doll-size pita puff. It’s intriguing, sets the tone and makes us eager for more.
A rectangular rice paper envelope containing a Campari sherbet, is next, with a frothy pink watermelon tonic to dip it in. This is fun but the foie up next is a tour de force. A small tranche of grilled foie gras with a rubble of tamari-splashed ground almonds, dabs of toasted marshmallow, and a jam made from limoncello (aka the cello.) The foie is the size of a large postage stamp but will stay in my food memory for ever.
Big Eye, meanwhile, translates as rectangles of Mooloolaba tuna with a zingy lime jelly, pink pickled ginger dust, eggplant puree, a scallop cracker and a splodge of soy-yuzu sauce, all laid out like an artist’s palette.
By the time the cheese rolls around – a fat nest of strawberry and white pepper fruit-leather obscuring a stash of fresh curds with nutty puffed wild rice – we’re wondering how much more we can take, but hoping to last the distance.
Sensibly the final course, the Buffalo Candy Box, with its Buffalo-logo embossed chocolate (pictured above), is a take-home option.
This is one Club that certainly isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking for a genuine food experience, with great, unpretentious service and an inspired chef, book quickly. The diner would like to pay her respects and show her appreciation to those who’ve influenced the chef’s style and techniques (and is planning to book for the degustation with matched drinks very soon).
Buffalo Club, 1/234 Wickham St, Fortitude Valley, Qld, (07) 3216 1323.
- FIONA DONNELLY
Thursday, 19 February, 2009, 11:20 AEST
Sat down under
On the eve of next month's Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
, UK star chef Sat Bains will be hosting an exclusive Gourmet Traveller reader dinner
at Vue de Monde
. Here's what he had to say about his virgin voyage to Melbourne, what he thinks of Aussie food and what you can expect from his menu for the evening. Are you looking forward to coming to Melbourne?
Very much so. This is the first time for us, and we cannot wait to get some sun. Yeah! And getting together with chefs is a great way to spend a few days on the other side of the world. I just hope Australians are ready, I’ve heard they're bringing some real dodgy chefs over from the UK.What do you know about Australian food?
I have about a dozen cookbooks from Australia - Pier, Banc and Tetsuya’s, to name a few - so I know there are influences from all over the world at play. There's phenomenal produce and it's a destination that takes its food seriously but also keeps things light-hearted.How would you describe your menu for the Gourmet Traveller reader dinner?
The menu was put together to give you a taste of what we do at Restaurant Sat Bains
in Nottingham. We'll be using some of the best produce on offer and will showcase some flavour combinations from our restaurant to create a sense of time and place. Restaurant Sat Bains only does tasting menus, so the reader dinner fits in perfectly with our philosophy of brilliant ingredients using differing temperatures and techniques to create the perfect showcase.What are you serving?
The scallop dish [scallop, Indian spices, 'cauliflower textures'] is something we've had with us for some years. It's influenced by my Indian background and uses soft spices and the very versatile cauliflower in different guises. The vegetable becomes the talking point in this dish and takes a starring role along with the scallop.
The hare [wild hare ‘tartare’, pumpkin ‘cannelloni’, blackberries, melon, watercress] is based on a real specialty of our region. The hare is wild, hunted; an elemental part of an English winter. It’s cooked sous vide and poached very gently in beurre noisette as there is no fat on the animal. We cook it for 12 minutes to set the protein, the trim is used in several guises (for tartare and as a rich ragù), and then we place the tartare with a spiced pumpkin puree and raw pumpkin cannelloni. The melon is compressed and brings a lovely texture to the dish and the blackberries are pickled in blackberry vinegar and verjus to add a great citrus burst. To finish, we add watercress for a peppery tone and, as the dish makes its way to the diner, grate 100 per cent bitter chocolate over the whole thing, so you can smell its complex aromas as it hits the warm hare.
INTERVIEW ANTHEA LOUCAS
Wednesday, 18 February, 2009, 10:19 AEST
Porkstars rock out
Step back, bacon bloggers, and cower in fear, mere meat enthusiasts, for I have a tale of pork excess which will curdle your blood and turn you weak at the knees. I speak, of course, of the Porkstars menu showcase tour 2009. A pigstravaganza organised by Australian Pork Limited
to show chefs and media just how far pork can go, it’s an event that has an excess-all-areas history. Last night’s Sydney dinner, held at Pilu at Freshwater
, however, took things to new levels of lard-leavened outrageousness. With Giovanni Pilu, Ash Street
’s Lauren Murdoch, Forty One
and Berowra Waters
’ Dietmar Sawyere and special guest Janni Kyritsis, it’s hardly surprising.
Canapés of Pilu’s signature Sardinian roast suckling pig, and Murdoch’s mushroom and guanciale crostini foreshadowed the serious porkarama to come. The entrée plate was a one-two punch of Murdoch’s crepinette of pork belly and chorizo on radicchio (or, to look at it another way, pork mixed with pork and wrapped in pork fat) on the left [ED'S NOTE: pick up our April 2009 issue, on sale 30 March, for the recipe] and Dietmar Sawyere’s densely meaty grilled brined pork loin with a deep-fried puck of trotter, cauliflower apple and salted walnuts.
Host Pilu brought on his saffron malloreddus with knife-cut Italian sausage ragù and then followed it up, after a genteel pause, with a hefty, juicy slow-roasted pork cutlet with mighty crackling and lard-roasted potatoes thrown in for good measure.
And then they dropped the J-bomb. The event’s not-so-secret weapon was special pork-loving guest Janni Kyritsis. The former MG Garage chef, revered as a sort of Yoda of Australian professional cooking, has a reputation for taking things to the next level where offal is concerned and this was no exception. Shreds of pressed sliced pigs’ ear cartilage and sausage and sliced tongues found a fine foil in his salad of bitter greens. Pigs’ ears, tongues and testicles, that is. Yes, the porcine prairie oysters were there in force: gently poached, crumbed and fried. And undeniably tasty, a sweetbread for the gastronaut set.
Desserts signalled no withdrawal from the thin pink line: Kyritsis all but outdid himself with a sweet Pithiviers with pig’s kidneys and saffron pears (based on a recipe of French chef legend Carême), while Sawyere more than kept pace with mini apple kuchlein, fried crisp in lard and teamed with a cinnamon Anglaise.
It’s a testament to the quality of the meat, however, that no one keeled over mid-course. In fact, it was a meal of surprising lightness – for eight courses of pork, at any rate. The bar has been set very high for next year’s players. Be afraid. - PAT NOURSE
Wednesday, 11 February, 2009, 10:05 AEST
Prawn counters. You probably know one. Hell, you might even be one yourself. Prompted by some feedback from a gourmet traveller who had found the three prawns in their $18 prawn cocktail at Sydney’s Etch
a little underwhelming, we thought it high time we asked around and established exactly how many prawns everyone expects in their entrees. Putting aside variables such as size and precise pricing, let alone setting and atmosphere, it appears that there’s a broad agreement around the country.
A snap poll conducted in the controlled environment that is the GT office revealed expectations lay between three and six king prawns. Our editor in Perth put her money on four, depending on the grading of the prawns, as did our Tassie eds, while our Adelaide correspondent was leaning more towards five. Michael Harden, our new Melbourne restaurant critic reckons six is closers to the mark, unless they’re of a good size. Neil Perry’s call was that it had to be a decent helping of small prawns, or two or three really big ones.
The official line from the Sydney Seafood School
, courtesy of its manager, Roberta Muir, is that entrée size is roughly 100gm of peeled prawns. This translates to roughly five or six medium king prawns, or three or four large size king prawns. Prices of course vary depending on the type of prawns and how they’re cooked. (The Seafood School is part of Sydney Fish Market, so it might just be possible they’re erring on the side of generosity there, too.)
Of course, when it comes down to it, you are the only one who can determine the value of your prawn portion. If eating it makes you float on a cloud of crustacean-ey goodness, then that is surely money well-spent. The lesson here: less counting, more eating, folks.
WORDS NANCY LEE
PHOTOGRAPHY BEN DEARNLEY
Friday, 6 February, 2009, 09:35 AEST
We know Gwyneth Paltrow likes food: she played what can only be described as a "big eater" in 2001's Shallow Hal
[pictured as Jack Black's hypnotised character sees her], famously named her first child Apple, went on a culinary tour of Spain with Mario Batali
, and started her own lifestyle/food website called, of all things, Goop
. So what's next? A cookbook
, of course. Titled My Father's Daughter
(and due for release in 2010), the tome won't include anything from her macrobiotic period, but will instead focus on family-friendly recipes, such as those found on her site
. - ROBERT MANIACI
Thursday, 5 February, 2009, 17:09 AEST
Never mind the bullocks
What's the world coming to? First, Snoop Dogg makes mashed potatoes with Martha Stewart
and now punk legend Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols
is credited with increasing the sales of British butter brand Country Life by 85% in one quarter
. Are we being Punk'd?
Tuesday, 3 February, 2009, 11:34 AEST
Sake to me
Sayaka Watanabe is sake sommelier at long-running Japanese hot-spot Zuma
in London. She visits Australia to help celebrate the second birthday of Surry Hills’ Toko
this month, so we’ve asked her to spill the beans – or the grains of rice, rather – on this appealing but little understood brew.Just how do you go about becoming a sake sommelier?
There's an organisation called Sake Sommeliers Institute in Japan and they run courses to certify you as "kikizake shi" which is a Japanese term for a sake sommelier. When I took this almost seven years ago, it was still a relatively new qualification, maybe 10 years old. I moved to the UK in 2003 and at that time there was no one working as a "sake sommelier". My company didn't know what job title to put on the work permit, so we created the title and now there's quite a few in town.When did you start drinking sake? Do you remember your first?
I'm not quite sure when I started drinking sake, but I do remember one particular event that got me interested. My dad bought a sake called Sayaka and I kept the bottle forever. It was just one of those moments I had with the sake telling me I'm supposed to do something. During the course I took to become a sake sommelier, one tutor explained how sake consumption was going down in Japan and the younger generation weren't drinking it anymore. I was shocked, growing up abroad when I was young I was always quite proud of my heritage, I just felt that sake could not be forgotten. Sake for me has been a mission as well as a passion from the start.What do you look for in a sake?
Clarity, balance, character and serenity.What are the key basics about the production of sake that we should bear in mind?
It's fermented, not distilled, so it belongs to the same category as wine and beer rather than spirits.
Many people think sake is like vodka, with a high alcohol percentage, but it's not at all.
Rice doesn’t contain as simple a form of sugar as grapes do, so there's one extra stage in the production process where the starch in the grain needs to be converted to sugar before it can start producing alcohol. We call this multiple parallel fermentation.
Sake is so delicate that the character of the water used to make it affects the flavour profile.
The amount of grain you mill off the rice (we call this milling rate) determines the grade of the sake.There seems to be some confusion about the temperature at which sake should be served – could you set the score straight for us?
Sake is a very versatile drink which could be enjoyed at different temperatures. The general idea is that the higher the milling rate, the higher the grade; the more delicate the sake, the more suitable it is to enjoy chilled.
A lower milling rate sake tends to have more umami [savoury flavour] which performs better when it is heated.Where do you think sake works best in the context of a contemporary Western-style meal?
Sake is a great partner of food and it is often said that it shows its true potential when drunk with food. I don't believe the food has to be Japanese in particular; there's a few non-Japanese restaurants that stock sake around the world [Sydney’s Aria
is just one of many in Australia – Ed] and even in Japan. But perhaps to a beginner, in a Western-style context, sake works best as a palate cleanser or aperitif.Ingredients such as asparagus and artichokes – not to mention hot chillies – are talked about as ‘wine killers’. How does sake deal with these tricky customers?
Chilli is also quite tricky for sake. Another tough match for sake would be a meat dish with a strong flavoured sauce. You could find a sake to enjoy with it, but a red wine might be better suited in this case.Are there some dishes or ingredients that sake works especially well with? Do you have a favourite pairing?
There are so many ingredients sake works well with. For me, sake is what makes that particular moment special and rich. Favourite pairing? Grilled matsutake mushroom, sardines and mackerel, uni and ikura don, matsutake tempura, curry... The list goes on and on.Many traditional Japanese chefs say sake is not the ideal match for sushi or sashimi – do you find this to be the case?
Sashimi, not particularly, but it is hard to match one sake to an entire selection of sashimi, as each fish has different characteristics.
Sushi, on the other hand, is hard to match because of the vinegared rice. Plus, sushi itself is such a delicate experience – whenever I go to a proper sushi restaurant in Japan I don't drink anything other than water and green tea.What are some good entry-level sakes we should keep an eye out for?
I normally recommend ginjo [premium] class sake as an entry-level sake, being quite light bodied, smooth on the palate and often extremely refreshing. Now [around the beginning of the year] is when the freshly brewed sake is coming out to the market, they're like the Beaujolais Nouveau of sake. They're crisp, super-clean and very fresh and lively. It's quite an experience.And what about a few really special bottles?
There are a few sought after sakes such as Jyuyondai, Kaiun, Isojiman, Kamshibito, Denshu and so on. They are all mind-blowing.What about sweet or sparkling sakes?
There are cloudy sakes, sparkling sakes and some flavoured sakes out in the market to attract a younger audience (the female market, too, often shuns sake, thinking it's too high in alcohol content). It used to be quite rare in London, but now there's quite a few to choose from, which is always nice to see. What’s your take on shochu?
I'm equally passionate about shochu, there was a time when I used to be really into it and that's all I drank. I travelled around Kyushu with a colleague of mine years ago. They have a very unique culture, which is a little different from the mainland, it's fascinating. Shochu to me is quite exotic, but I have to say it has been harder to introduce compared to sake. It's a beautiful drink with a rich culture behind it and health benefits too, but so far London has not caught on to it. I’m not giving up hope though; I heard it has taken off big-time in New York and Toko Restaurant + Bar in Sydney serve shochu tonics. How do you feel about sake in cocktails? Any favourites?
I'm all for it. My favourite? Anything Paul Birtwistle from Toko cooks up!What’s your baby-steps program for first-time sake drinkers?
Understand what it is all about first; acknowledge that it is a sipping drink and find out all the different types. That's a good starting point.
INTERVIEW PAT NOURSE
Tuesday, 27 January, 2009, 09:53 AEST
First look: Sparrow
Sparrow opened at 10 O’Connell St, North Adelaide (ph 08 8267 2444) in the last week of December. The third of the Trims’ restaurant stable, with The Manse (fine dining) and Farina Kitchen and Bar (funky Italian casual), Sparrow will position itself as a larger and more broad-offering version of Farina – a mix of tapas, pizza, sliced meats from a dedicated ham and smallgoods storeroom (yes - they have that antique red Berkel slicer that you’ve been dreaming about), with a la carte dining as well. The old Cibo wood oven is the only original décor retained, and will become the soul of the new room, around which a huge island bar will be built with seating for about 20 diners to eat casually. The rest of the room will feature a few long tables for groups or communal eating, and some small tables. The aim is to be flash casual, sort of like a clubhouse for local residents with smart all-day dining. Melbourne’s MoVida seems to be an inspiration, though this is not a direct imitation. Matt Trim says he expects customers to use the place in ways he hadn’t expected, and doesn’t want to be prescriptive about how it’s used – more keen to have it busy and buzzing at all hours. - DAVID SLY
Friday, 23 January, 2009, 11:11 AEST
Anthony Bourdain dishes on Mario Batali's new show
In our February issue, we told you about Mario Batali's new show Spain... On the Road Again
. The premise: run around Spain discovering the country's best food and wine with Gwyneth Paltrow
, New York Times
food writer Mark Bittman
and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols
. We'll let you decide what you think when it starts on LifestyleFood in February, but it turns out that Anthony Bourdain really
doesn't like it.
"I would love to do something with Mario," Bourdain told DCist
. "It's been an unrealized ambition to produce a show for Mario, honestly. He's so smart. The guy knows so much. He's easily the funniest and smartest celebrity chef out there. The Spain show. I'm disappointed. After seeing the Spain show, I see room for improvement. Life is good for Mario, he's got life by the tail. It was probably a lot of fun for him to make that show and not too demanding of his time. But I would very much like to produce a show where he tells us everything he knows about Italy. I think that would be good and informative television. I just don't know if he wants to put in the time commitment given all the businesses he has.
"Okay, I'll just say it. I think the Spain show is f***ing awful. Mark Bittman comes off unsympathetic to say the least. Bringing someone who cannot or will not eat jamón [Gwyneth Paltrow] to Spain is a misjudgment. My crew grinds their teeth with rage looking at the crummy production values. Bad camera work, bad sound, bad direction. The whole thing sucks. It's unfortunate. It's mesmerizingly awful."
No reservations indeed... - ROBERT MANIACI
Thursday, 15 January, 2009, 09:10 AEST
We’d like to give maximum respect to David and Erica Bailey, from Mullumbimby on the New South Wales north coast, for taking the time to shoot their version of the cake from the cover of the Christmas issue
. “Just thought you might like to see my wife's version of your Christmas issue front page recipe,” says David. We’re thinking if you receive a dinner invitation from the Baileys any time soon, your reply should be a fervent ‘yes’. - PAT NOURSE
Wednesday, 7 January, 2009, 09:01 AEST
Kit Kat Krazy?
We’ve seen some outré Kit Kat flavours in our time; green tea, on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, being formerly the strangest. But folks, there’s a new contender for the kooky Kit Kat krown in town. We’ve spotted a version of everyone’s favourite chocolate-covered fingers of triple-layered crème-filled wafer that blows the competition out of the water.
We give you the Muscat of Alexandria Kit Kat.
For $3.84 at shiny new Sydney Japanese supermarket Maxim, you can have a break and
be transported to the cradle of civilization via the flavour (from real juice!) of the ancient white wine grape. Reactions in the GT office ranged from “hmmm, floral” to “aaaaaaah!”. If you’ve tried it, or if you’ve spotted even more bizarre Kit Kats, we’d love to hear from you. - PAT NOURSE
UPDATE: Maxim Supermarket has now closed. We’re looking for a replacement source for outlandish Kit-Kat flavours – feel free to e-mail us
with your leads.
Wednesday, 17 December, 2008, 11:46 AEST
Menu for Hope
Tis the season for giving so why not take part in Chez Pim
's annual raffle benefiting the UN World Food Programme. The raffle is underway and gives you the chance to bid on everything from Moomin-shaped cookie cutters and artisanal chocolates to a day behind-the-scenes on a Gourmet Traveller food shoot (check out the prize list
and find out what a day with Gourmet
is like from last year's winner
). Best of all, the proceeds go to a school lunch program in Lesotho that buys locally to support local farmers. Get in quick, bidding ends 24 December. - ROBERT MANIACI
Tuesday, 16 December, 2008, 09:42 AEST
Queensland’s dining scene is changing faster than the gears on a Gold Coast Ferrari, so if you’re heading North for the summer there are a few things you should bear in mind. 1889 Enoteca
at Woolloongabba for starters. This relative newcomer, in its gorgeous heritage digs, has been described as a restaurant in a bottle shop. But what a restaurant and what a bottle shop. As you’d expect, there’s an extensive selection of wine, and at lunch there's plenty of hand-spun pizza, but in the evening the refined food is as much French in style as it is Italian. The menu changes daily and offers the likes of monkfish wrapped in jamón with a broth of asparagus, broad beans and artichokes and a risotto of red claw with zucchini flowers. Co-owner Dan Clark has the keys to the cellar, and you’ll find an unexpected stash of wines available by the glass, everything from the mineral rich Pinot Grigios of Alto-Adige to the ‘natural’ Sangiovese of Tuscany’s Bibi Graetz.
Up the road from Enoteca is the dinky Pearl Café (28 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba, 07 3392 3300), now doing dinner as well as lunch. It’s BYO, so stock up at Enoteca first.
In Paddington, the launch of Iceworks
has dropped the style temperature by a few degrees. Peak Fine Dining has James Williams at the burners and the legacy of his stints spent with both Russell Armstrong (Seasalt at Armstrongs
) and David Pugh (Restaurant Two
) is apparent, but he’s also adding his own stamp. A contemporary pot au feu bears little resemblance to the rustic French stew and arrives with an open tart of anchovy, olive and rosemary with wilted spinach and a garlic scented jus. For pud, try the dark and dangerous chocolate tart with orange granita and sherbet. Russell Armstrong’s new CBD baby, Barolo
, right in the heart of the CBD is also worth checking out for its modern Med menu.
Fortitude Valley-based Buffalo Club is the brainchild of The Bowery
owners, Cameron Birt and Stephanie Canfell, and should be on stream by early January. Chef Ryan Squires ex-Urbane and French Laundry is charged with turning out the innovative small plates. You can either book the 10-seater degustation table and buckle in for a 21-course extravaganza matched with drinks - everything from cocktails to fresh pressed juices – or lounge back on one of the distressed leather banquettes and order some ‘food to drink with’ while checking out the views of Brunswick Street Mall.
Around the corner on Ann Street is the multi-million dollar Cloudland [pictured above before its opening] with its crazy Nic Brunner-designed interior including a retractable roof, a twisted bar made from 17,000 glass balls and a massive sand-blasted steel staircase that appears to hang in mid-air. Michael Muir (formerly of Gianni Events at Portside) will be rocking the ladle when it finally opens towards the end of the month.
Staying on the Valley post-Christmas, forget about a table at Isis Brasserie
which closes for extensive renovations on the 24th and isn’t due to reopen until mid-2009. Gianni’s
in the CBD is also planning a revamp but will reopen at the end of January. Montrachet
, that little slice of Lyon brought to Brisbane will be shut until 2 February while owner/chef Thierry Galichet takes a break in the old country. Looking for drinks with a view? Try the open rooftop at the Limes Hotel
. - FIONA DONNELLY
Tuesday, 9 December, 2008, 08:39 AEST
The Padróns are back
Seasonality means precious little nowadays, but the cachet afforded those few ingredients which have a truly limited season at the market is something to behold. Witness the fervour in the GT offices, and at restaurants around the country, this week inspired by news that the first pimentos de Padrón were ripe and ready. The small green chillies have been nicknamed Russian roulette peppers for the curious fact that though they’re typically sweet and mild, around one in 15 is mouth-searingly spicy. Served simply sautéed with olive oil and dressed with salt as they are in their native Spain, they’re a peerless bar snack. They’re available at restaurants around the country, including Gianni in Brisbane, Sydney’s Bentley and Bodega, and Melbourne’s Cumulus Inc and Bar Lourinhã, but you can also order them direct from Richard Mohan, the grower (pictured above; see the October 2008 Spanish issue of GT for more on Mohan and his organic farm). They’re $32.50 a kilo, including ExpressPost next-day delivery. www.midyimeco.com.au
- PAT NOURSE
Tuesday, 2 December, 2008, 09:30 AEST
On the Bar
An occasional series of industry insiders’ thoughts on the classic drinks. This week: Cazadores brand ambassador Magally Franco on the perfect Margarita and how to drink a neat tequila.THE MARGARITAHow much tequila?
50ml (although in Mexico, bartenders tend to free-pour).What proportion?
50ml tequila, 25ml lime juice, 25ml premium Triple Sec.Silver, gold, reposado or añejo?
Reposado [or ‘rested’ tequila, aged for up to a year in oak].Ice or no ice?
Ice - three-quarters of the glass. Blender or no blender?
No blender - I always prefer a Margarita on the rocks. But in Mexico, blended Margaritas are more common.Lemon or lime juice?
Limes (lemons don't exist in Mexico). Is reconstituted lime juice okay?
Never! You must always use fresh juice when making a Margarita.Sugar?
A dash of sugar is optional; personally I like a Margarita without sugar.Salt, half-salt or no salt on the rim of the glass?
Half-salt.What kind of salt?
Ordinary table salt is fine.Cointreau, Triple-Sec or Grand Marnier?
Premium Triple Sec.Garnish?
A lime wedge, so that people can squeeze more lime juice into their Margarita if they wish.The perfect Margarita is...
Made with a premium tequila like Cazadores, fresh, sour, cold and with a rounded taste on the palate. Anything else we should be mindful of?
Many people think that Margaritas are a female drink, but in fact in Mexico they are just as popular with men, including even the Mariachi [traditional Mexican musicians]. While men tend to prefer the classic Margarita, women tend to choose the flavoured versions, such as strawberry.TEQUILA NEATSip or shoot?
Sip - it allows you to appreciate the taste of the tequila. Salt, lemon, or lime?
No. When you are drinking a premium tequila such as Cazadores, you don't want to hide the flavour with anything.Lick, sip, suck?
No - slowly sip and savour the taste without any salt or lemon.Sangrita?
Yes. Do you have a preferred sangrita recipe?
The traditional recipe includes citrus juices, chilli, salt, pepper and a dash of tomato juice.One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor?
My advice is that you enjoy tequila neat and take the time to enjoy it neat. Dark chocolate complements the taste.
INTERVIEW PAT NOURSE
Wednesday, 26 November, 2008, 10:37 AEST
You'll need to plan ahead if you want to secure a table at Piccolo, North Hobart's new restaurant and wine bar that's been a raging success since day one. It's not surprising really - the city has been crying out for a place like this. It's small (seating just 30), cute, informal and affordable. The kind of place you'll want to make your local, where the food successfully treads the line between inventiveness and classic comfort.
The inspiration is Italian, but in a city where that generally equates to pasta carbonara or Bolognese, overladen pizze, Parmigiana and commercial gelato, Piccolo's menu has come as something of a revelation. Soups sing of seasonal spring vegetables, soft polenta is teamed with mushroom ragout and poached egg (pictured), Sardinian-inspired lamb shanks are braised then baked with olives, pancetta, potatoes and a crunchy breadcrumb crust, and whole snapper comes grilled with braised asparagus and silverbeet and a rich chocolate pavé.
This is the first restaurant for Alex Jovanovic and Alisha Wilson and they appear to have got things right. And who knows, once the weather warms up and the rear courtyard opens (almost doubling the seating capacity) it might be possible to get a table. In the meantime, if you can't get a booking, try your chances at dropping in for lunch, which offers a daily changing blackboard menu, or just for a glass of wine and some antipasto.
323a Elizabeth St, North Hobart, Tas, (03) 6234 4844. All day dining, lunch and dinner Mon-Sun. Mains $24-$32.
- SUE DYSON & ROGER MCSHANE
Monday, 17 November, 2008, 09:50 AEST
I would like, if I may, to tell you about a place so uncool, so lacking in lank-haired barmen and chalkboard wine lists, it may never, ever, get a visit from a cashed-up footy player with something blonde and monosyllabic on one arm.
It's been a bit over a year since former Riverbank Winery head chef Louisa Iacopetta joined forces with fellow chef Kelly Yurisich to open Menu on James, on Guildford’s main strip. (Guildford, for the uninformed, lies at the gateway of the Swan Valley winegrowing region, and a mere 25-minute drive from the Perth CBD.)
It’s a nice enough space, this, but simple and unassuming. You certainly wouldn’t come here for a big, glitzy lunch out. Yet what the gals are offering food-wise is very special indeed.
By keeping the lunchtime menu brief, Louisa and Kelly are able to offer real food, warm from the oven or put together only moments earlier.
On a recent visit, my dining companion and I over-order but feel no shame. Cooking this full of sunshine deserves our full attention.
A well-dressed salad of baby spinach leaves, chopped dates, blood orange and lumps of tender duck flesh (half serve, $12.50) is all about texture.
Fat folds of smoked salmon ($18) are served atop a fat, creamy potato rösti cake with good hollandaise and the most amazingly intense oven-roasted tomatoes.
If you’re sweet-toothed, the cold cabinet is filled with house-baked fare I wish I could resist more wholeheartedly.
On another visit, I order a warm squid salad featuring curls of tender squid on a salad of chorizo sausage, warm, crunchy asparagus, semi-dried olives, chargrilled red peppers and English spinach.
Even the chicken involtini, so often a dry, shameful creature I have pretty much given up ordering in restaurants, is comely and moist, wrapped in prosciutto and filled with a crushed pistachio nut filling with ricotta and herbs. On the side sits a little salad of soft grilled figs and basil, topped with several golden hunks of pan-fried haloumi.
There will be those who see nothing special in this simple, produce-driven fare. A salad’s a salad, right? Wrong.
A salad is the sum of its parts, each of which speaks to the tongue. At Menu, those parts are exceptionally well prepared, from slippery strips of still warm roasted capsicum and gnarly old reconstituted semi-dried olives (adding a serious salty lift to proceedings) to garlicky dressings, quality oils and other locally-sourced ingredients.
If you're looking for modern excitement via flower petals and things made to look like what they are not, Menu may not excite, but if you're searching for real food, cheap food, local food, cooked with care and immense skill, the fat lady's singin' already.
Tizz- and testosterone-free never tasted so good.
Menu on James, 187 James Street Guildford, 08 9279 5828. - JANE CORNES
Friday, 7 November, 2008, 11:25 AEST
News from the restaurant front: South Australia
Regarding the Trim restaurant empire, Matthew and Olivia Trim plan to open a completely refurbished and rebranded North Adelaide Restaurant (formerly Number 10, and Cibo Ristorante before that) by Christmas – to take advantage of the great location and outdoor dining patio for summer. They have no name or specific concept as yet – only that it will move beyond Italian into broader Mediterranean food styles suited to al fresco sharing. In their haste to get this up for summer, they have stalled plans for GreenGrass, their take on a New York City-style steak house, until early 2009 – still in the same commanding location in Tower One, a new eco-friendly office tower on the corner of King William and Waymouth streets in the centre of the city.
In other news, Ky Chow – one of the legendary regional Chinese specialists along Gouger St near the central market – caused a ruckus among long-time fans when they closed early this year due to rent disagreements. Now the team has reopened further down the street in a smart new building (a few steps up from the formica tabletops of the past) at 27-29 Gouger St (08 8221 5411). The restaurant still focuses on dishes from Guandong Province, but now stretches beyond the ordinary, with less of a squeeze, increasing from a previous maximum of 55 seats to 90 seats, with outdoor pavement settings as well.
The Melting Pot has changed its style, significantly. The all-degustation menu is gone and it will close for two weeks for renovations, then reopen as The Pot Wine and Food. The offerings will now be simplified into a bistro format, with shared plates and a sort-of tapas focus, which owner Simon Kardachi believes will bring more customers. As a consequence, an unimpressed chef Adam Liston (identified as a rising star in the 08 GT National Restaurant Guide) moved to The Wine Underground and started cooking there at the end of October. Their style won't change - it's still flash a la carte - and a degustation will be offered.
There are still some ongoing kitchen capers at Auge. After the departure of head chef James Brinklow to become executive chef at renovated suburban pub The Brompton, Rebecca Stubbs (sous chef at Enoteca) was given the job. It didn't prove to be a happy marriage. Word is she went for ultra simplicity; not what the Auge brigade, owner or customers were looking for. Within a month, she had left. Former Auge sous chef Thomas Robinson has been promoted to lead the troops and owner Terry Soukoulos is delighted that Thomas has stepped up and is doing very well. As a final twist, an unhappy James Brinklow has quit his exec chef role in the pub, and has come back to Auge as a casual (Terry insists he won't be offered the head chef role again). - DAVID SLY
Tuesday, 4 November, 2008, 09:33 AEST
First look: Lamonts Wine Store, Cottesloe, WA
What does a talented workaholic with three dining rooms to her credit do for kicks? Why, open another dining room of course.
Kate Lamont has championed the cause of good food and wine in this town for more years than I care to remember. Her family’s Swan Valley café is still one of the most satisfying and least pretentious places to eat in that region, while the more upmarket Lamont diners in Gunyulgup, Margaret River and East Perth continue to attract acclaim for their full-bodied finesse and quality.
For her latest venture, Kate has teamed up with husband and wine merchant John Jens. Part tapas bar, part bottle shop, the new Lamont’s Wine Store menu features around 20 small dishes, with nothing priced above $15.50.
One fat, juicy scallop sits in its shell, surrounded by melted butter delicately flavoured with finely diced kaffir lime leaf. On top sits some crisp, diced pancetta.
Tender, sweet beetroot wedges are mixed with peeled orange segments, watercress and – the crowning glory, texture-wise – crunchy candied walnuts.
Dollops of thick, creamy goat cheese batter are deep-fried until crunchy and golden brown on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside.
All in all, it’s made-to-measure (with wine) fare.
The wine side of things is particularly interesting. If nothing on the café wine list appeals, punters can select anything in the bottle shop, pay a flat $18.50 surcharge and drink it with their meal. Choose a bottle of Moss Wood 2005 cab sav from the bottle shop, for instance, and you can take it home for $115 or drink it in-house for $133.50.
And, since this newest Lamont’s treasure operates under a tavern licence, you don’t have to eat to enjoy a glass or two. Yay.
Lamonts Wine Store, 12 Station Street, Cottesloe, 08 9385 0666. - JANE CORNES
Monday, 27 October, 2008, 11:22 AEST
On the Bar
An occasional series of industry insiders’ thoughts on the classic drinks. This week: Plymouth gin distiller Sean Harrison on the perfect G-and-T and the ideal Martini.
Gin or vodka?
Gin – there’s no such thing as a vodka martini.
Shaken or stirred?
For me stirred, but if you’ve never drunk a martini before and want to learn, shake for a while and work towards a stirred one. Shaking increases dilution and makes it easier to drink.
Olive or twist?
Twist – don’t do olives ever. Hate the things, please don’t push me! AAAHHH!
Don’t do these either!
Dry or sweet?
Dry-ish – I like to taste vermouth. The golden rule is that if you can enjoy the vermouth neat you will love it in a Martini.
What kind of vermouth?
Vye or Lillet. Vye is a dry Californian and Lillet is a nice fruity French.
A rinse or more? Less?
More than a rinse. About 10ml of vermouth is a good starting point for me.
How big should a Martini be?
As big as you want it to be. Good-day or bad-day syndrome.
How many should a wise person drink?
As many as they want!
The perfect Martini is...
Plymouth, Lillet and a twist, stirred. For me the KISS principle works.
Anything else we should be mindful of?
Don’t be intimidated by the concept of a Martini. Once you’ve cracked it, the Martini is one of the world’s great levellers.
Your preferred ratio?
Whatever will fit in a 10oz glass.
Tumbler or tall glass?
Do you have a preferred tonic?
Fevertree. Never tonic from a post-mix gun.
Yes. Lots and Lots.
Lime or lemon wedge?
Mint or cucumber?
Only if it has a large bore.
The perfect G-and-T is...
Take a 10oz tall glass, fill it with ice, pour in the Plymouth, top off with Fevertree.
Anything else we should be mindful of?
A well made Plymouth and Fevertree will refresh and be an enjoyable moment. A poorly made G-and-T will be the worst drink ever.
INTERVIEW PAT NOURSE
Monday, 20 October, 2008, 10:31 AEST
Ferran Adrià, live and in concert
"It's wonderful to think that we have filled a theatre, which is a symbol of culture, talking about food." So Ferran Adrià, the man dubbed the world's greatest chef, opened the first of his lectures in Australia trying to explain what he does and promoting his new book, A Day at El Bulli
. Speaking at Sydney's wonderfully baroque State Theatre on Friday night before a mostly full house of rapt punters and chefs, Adrià discussed the hows and whys of avant-garde cuisine as practised at El Bulli, the Catalan restaurant which is considered by many to be the world's best, and certainly one of the most progressive.
In working to make people happy, to introduce elements of humour, provocation and pleasure purely for pleasure's sake into the restaurant experience over the last decade or so, Adrià said that the El Bulli kitchen had created a new food language. "The simple fact of it is," he said, "most people don't understand the language we've created."
A video presentation, set rather too literally to The Beatles' 'A Day in the Life
', attempted to describe though a somewhat homely couple of regulars what the El Bulli experience was like (lots of oohing, ahhing and delighted rolling of eyes).
What was more interesting was the discussion of the nuts and bolts of Adrià and his brother and fellow chef Albert's push into 'natura', an aesthetic which Ferran says was inspired by flying over the Australian landscape in his last visit in 2002. Decked out in brown and grey checked slacks and an El Bulli chef's jacket and speaking with a cool, charismatic intensity through a translator, he kept the audience intrigued with details of 'mimetic fruit', flowers made from pistachio and the challenge presented by making a "really good" orange sorbet.
Sweet, rather than savoury food was the focus, and the presentation was heavy with such specialised gear as Thermomix machines and tanks of liquid nitrogen ("Is the nitrogen dangerous? Very"), but also microwaves and disposable plastic cups. Siphons were present, of course, though there was little in the way of the foams they're used to make and almost no mention of spherification, a process popularised by its use at El Bulli. Syringes, Adrià said, were one of his favourite kitchen tools, because they are so much more precise than piping bags. Demonstrating his technique for making the lightest possible sponge cake – the batter piped into a plastic cup from a siphon and then microwaved, he cried, "even a kid can do this".
At one point he hefted a loaf of bread from the nearby David Jones food hall to demonstrate the limits and nebulousness of the term 'molecular gastronomy'. "This," said Adrià, "This, is molecular cooking and it took many scientists of many kinds to create it. Something is wrong. Why is some cuisine considered molecular and this is not?"
He confided an admiration for French chef Michel Bras ("I'm interested in the way he thinks, and he cooks how he thinks,") and spoke of his interest in the food of Japan ("I am becoming a very small expert"). He also spoke of his culinary forebears in nations other than Spain: "I am what I am thanks to France."
Creativity, said Adrià, before bowing out to a standing ovation, can be a bitch. "But respect is the greatest pressure."See the October 2008 issue of Gourmet Traveller for AA Gill's description of his visit to El Bulli and inteview with Ferran Adrià. Read Pat Nourse's El Bulli primer online here. Ferran Adrià's A Day at El Bulli (Phaidon) is available in bookshops now.
- PAT NOURSE
Monday, 13 October, 2008, 10:19 AEST
Every year in early October, yabby farmers Michael and Mary Nenke swap their wellies and Drizabones for formal wear and become, for one glorious, candelabra-clad evening, the Wheatbelt’s most gracious hosts.
Guests travel from all over the World to Kukerin, a diminutive township which lies four hours' drive south-east of Perth. They come for the Nenke’s Cambinata Extravaganza, a unique silver service fundraising dinner for 300 held in a shearing shed in the middle of bloody nowhere.
Proceedings begin with a mini expo in one of the farm's outbuildings. In line with the Nenkes' desire to promote regional Western Australia, this offers patrons the chance to taste locally-grown produce and chat to producers.
After a while we’re ushered into the Nenke's folly - a huge shearing shed filled with carefully-naped tables, chandeliers and wildflowers. Old shearing machines hang from hooks, light from a mirror ball dances across the corrugated iron ceiling... the effect is quite extraordinary. It's a sort of Aladdin’s cave meets Crocodile Dundee flickerfest, with us as the extras.
Local wines are showcased throughout the meal, which begins with a tasting plate of locally-cured ham, chewy Yallingup Woodfired Bakery sourdough (truly, is there any better in Western Australia?) and fetta marinated in olive oil and lemon myrtle.
Then come so many courses that I lose count. Roast goat, pickled abalone, yabbie bisque (of course), panna cotta drizzled with local honey and topped with Persian fairy floss....
Keeping to the regional produce theme, fat bottles of unhomogenised Avon Valley Dairy milk are served with the coffee and house-made panforte.
The next morning, we head back to the farm for the Nenkes’ famed fry-up, put on for campers and anyone else capable of getting up before midday.
Inside the shearing shed, all is quiet. The room has yet to be cleared and bears the instantly recognisable trademarks of a dinner party done well - tablecloths topped with hillocks scrivened from melted wax, half-empty wine bottles, chair backs bearing the occasional forgotten jacket.
So was it extravagant, this Extravaganza? As Nationals State Leader and Wheatbelt boy Brendan Grylls MLA said a few years back, “Well done to the Nenkes and team on what would have to be the best night ever for promotion of all we are about in the Heartlands”.
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
The Cambinata Extravaganza silver service dinner is held every October. Proceeds go to The Royal Flying Doctor Service. If you’d like to go on the Nenke’s emailing list for next year’s dinner, email email@example.com or call (08) 9864 6054. - JANE CORNES
Tuesday, 7 October, 2008, 10:04 AEST
The Cookbook Q&A: Stacey DeMarco
Stacey DeMarco on her new book: The Coffee Oracle.
Who’s The Coffee Oracle for?
Well of course it makes a great companion for coffee drinkers but it’s for anyone who wants an easy way to boost their intuition and self knowledge. It would also make a great gift for someone who is interested in divination or a new modern way to gain insight every day.What will we learn from it?
You’ll learn about the fascinating history coffee as an oracle has, how oracles can impact favourably on your decision-making and personal growth and how to read the symbols in your cup (and those of others) accurately for actionable insights. You’ll also learn it’s a lot of fun and quite addictive!What’s your preferred coffee for reading?
You can read any good coffee. I drink espressos or macchiatos so there isn’t a lot of room for bad coffee to hide, so I would say just excellent quality. If I can I drink organic and free trade all the better. Does well-made coffee make for a better reading?
Absolutely! The role of the barista is important in the energetic result as well as the taste. Besides, a thick golden crema or rich milk foam gives a more reliable reading.Have you ever tried to read instant?
Instant? (splutter) Get thee behind me Satan!What do you think of people who read tea leaves?
I think they are doing a great thing by consulting an oracle. I just think coffee has a lot more depth and mystery and I don’t think it’s just the caffeine. Coffee is also infinitely more portable. It’s hard to read tea leaves in the car on the way to work!What’s the most beaten and trusted cookbook in your kitchen?
I have two that are barely recognisable now. One is The Cook's Companion
by Stephanie Alexander and Grand Livre De Cuisine
by Alain Ducasse. Which foodstuff is your preferred bookmark?
In a café: the metallic wrap from the square of dark chocolate I always order. In the kitchen: a big carrot.
The Coffee Oracle
October 2008 $26.95
Monday, 29 September, 2008, 16:08 AEST
New talent wins at the Food Media Awards
We’re very pleased to announce that Gourmet Traveller
walked away from the 2008 Australian Food Media Awards this weekend with some well-deserved gongs. Hugh Wennerbom picked up the Best New Writer prize for his contributions to the magazine’s In Season column, while assistant food editor Adelaide Lucas (pictured above receiving her award) was cheered as the recipient of the Margaret Fulton Award Recognising Potential in an Emerging Recipe Author. Peter Bourne and Andy Harris, meanwhile, were highly commended for their food and wine writing in articles published in Gourmet Traveller WINE
The awards were announced at a gala ceremony on Saturday night at the Darling Harbour Convention Centre in Sydney before an audience of food media, key advertisers and industry professionals from around the country. In winning multiple awards, Gourmet Traveller
’s teams upheld a tradition established at each of the past awards announcements. Hugh Wennerbom follows Emma Knowles (and Pat Nourse before her) in being recognised as Best New Writer for work published in Gourmet Traveller
, the Margaret Fulton Award’s previous recipient was GT food editor Lisa Featherby, and Gourmet Traveller/WINE have won or been the highly commended publication for the food and wine writing category every year since the awards’ inception.
We’d like to congratulate all our winners as well as everyone else on the team who helped make it all happen.
Monday, 29 September, 2008, 09:42 AEST
Many roads lead to Tasmania
Something special is happening in Tasmania's Derwent Valley. Gourmet Traveller
contributing food editor Rodney Dunn is putting the finishing touches on his much-anticipated Agrarian Kitchen cooking school (firstname.lastname@example.org
; ph 03 6261 1099), for a late October opening, just as the heirloom varieties of peas, broad beans and other spring vegetables in his garden hit their best.
Dunn left a full time position with Gourmet Traveller
and Sydney life early in 2007 and bought a property at Lachlan, about 45 minutes northwest of Hobart. He's been hard at work ever since, creating a vegetable garden, raising livestock and getting the school ready for students. And over the next two weeks he'll be seasoning his new brand new wood-fired oven, designed by Alan Scott and built by Alan Scott's son Nick.
Courses at the Agrarian Kitchen will include a one day Agrarian Experience, where participants can pick vegetables, gather eggs, and possibly even milk a cow before cooking the results of their labours. Agrarian Master Classes in subjects such as charcuterie and pasta making will also be available, and bespoke programs can be negotiated with individual groups.
Alan Scott, now in his 70s, spent much of his early life in Tasmania, only returning a few years ago to settle in Tasmania after many years in California. Since the early 1980s, he'd been designing and building wood-fired ovens, especially suitable for small-scale commercial bakers wanting to make real bread.
Since he built his first oven in 1982, he's been at the forefront of the international renaissance of baking bread in wood-fired brick ovens. You can see how pervasive his influence has been if you look at the oven list on his website, www.ovencrafters.net
— it lists bakers in almost every US state.
His impact in Tasmania is significant too. He's also designed ovens for Summer Kitchen, Leavenbank Bakery and Bruny Island Cheese Company
, all of which are making excellent bread. Scott's also working to restore the Callington Mill at Oatlands and intends to turn it into a working flour mill again, milling locally-grown grains. Tasmania was once renowned as the bread basket to the other colonies - at the artisan end of the market it might be about to happen again. - SUE DYSON AND ROGER MCSHANE
Wednesday, 24 September, 2008, 09:25 AEST
Swept away in WA
A recent visit to Broome found the town brimming with sunburnt visitors and a growing sophistication in the dining-out department.
The cost and reliability of sourcing ingredients continues to be a problem for restaurateurs. But the town’s chefs are wising up, learning to make the most of what’s grown and produced locally.
One of my favourite spots is Azuki (Shop 1, 15 Napier Tce, 08 9193 7266). Dishes meld Nippon finesse with hearty Western technique, which sounds a little worrying but, in chef Scott Thorpe’s safe hands, actually works really, really well.
In the centre of town, Ra Ra's (26 Dampier Tce, 08 9192 1395) is a modest little daytime-only hangout offering seriously good breakfasts with a Turkish bent and homely baked fare.
For classy fish 'n' chips and good seafood generally, head to The Wharf (401 Port Dr, 08 9192 5800), a friendly seafood café with views over the town wharf. The staff are some of the friendliest in town and the wine list is large and impressive. Spare time for a walk down the long and impressive jetty after lunch.
Two of the town’s best diners sit side-by-side opposite the courthouse. At Noodlefish (cnr Hamersley and Frederick sts, 08 9192 1697), where you eat in an open-air dining room within coo-ee of the main road. The service is average to middling and you drink your wine out of water tumblers, but it’s worth it for owner-chef Stephan Mitchell’s mod-Asian fare, which is very good indeed.
Next door at The Aarli Bar (pictured above, cnr Frederick and Hamersley sts, 08 9192 5529), ex-Stokehouse chef-owner Nick Wendland offers funky, well-crafted tapas and great breakfasts. Diners sit beneath the buttermilk blossoms of a spreading frangipani tree, screened from passing traffic by palms, crotons and other exotic greenery.
Café Carlotta (Jones Pl, Old Broome, 08 9192 7606) is still the friendliest and most consistent place to go for quality Italian fare, in an atmospheric al fresco courtyard setting. Clearly the locals agree. Bookings are essential.
Newest kid on the block is Café at the Pearle (14 Millington Rd, Cable Beach, 08 9194 0900), where chef Trent Scarr offers carefully-made, well-honed mod-oz fare and house-made pastries.
For wine hounds, the newly-opened Zeebar (4 Sanctuary Rd, 08 9193 6511) is a big, friendly wine bar off Cable Beach's main drag. Chef Tustra de Souza-Pinto’s wine-friendly menu includes various share plates and tapas. Fridays after work are noisy and fun, while sundays feature live music.
- JANE CORNES
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY TOURISM WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Monday, 15 September, 2008, 16:00 AEST
First look: Gusto da Gianni
Meet Gusto da Gianni: an unlikely sounding but successful mix of osteria, cantina, formaggeria, pizzeria and authentic tapas bar, offering the best in rustic eating from the homelands of both Catalan chef Javier Codina and Italian-born restaurateur Gianni Greghini, of Brisbane’s famed Gianni restaurant.
Overlooking the Brisbane River and occupying a corner position at Portside, the new venture is light, airy and bright with acres of outdoor seating, polished concrete flooring inside and plenty of pull-back glass to catch breezes and make the most of the views. Inside, it’s a chic mix of mismatched furniture – Starck ghost chairs up against rough-hewn timber tables, chocolate-leather banquettes and lots of funky lighting – notably the crazy black central chandelier which appears to have been made from desk-lamps.
A schmick marble tapas bar has seating for 25 to hoe into the likes of meatballs, cuttlefish with picada and pork skewers in adobo with mojo potatoes. You can also order the tapas in the main room, or even in the cantina or bar area.
The pizze are suitably simple affairs, divided into rosse and bianche (i.e. ‘reds’ – with a tomato sauce base – or ‘whites’, without) with just a succinct selection of both. These range from the Siciliana, with tomato, buffalo mozzarella, eggplant, basil and chilli, through to a rosemary-scented potato number oozing with mozzarella.
Almost all the pasta is made in-house and choices range from linguine with blue swimmer crab, bottarga and toasted breadcrumbs to a fideua (a Spanish pasta resembling broken lengths of angelhair) with calamari, garlic and oil.
On the rice front, you’ve got risotto (including a hearty version rich with shallots, radicchio, red wine and dolce latte) sitting next to a paella for two, and the meat and fish dishes are just as intriguing.
Kim Foster (ex-The Press Club, Melbourne) is the man running the floor but service here comes with a twist. Greghini’s answer to the chronic Brisbane staff shortage is to scrap traditional table service. Food is brought out and tables are cleared but everything else is up to the diner. There’s an order form and pencil at each table, you just tick off the dishes and head in the direction of the cashier.
It’s early days, but diners appear divided (some are even muttering darkly about Sizzler). Needless to say, other restaurateurs are also keeping a close eye.
As for Greghini, he’s confident he’s made the right decision. "They won't be able to complain about the service — only the food, and the food is going to be great — so there will be no complaints!" Gusto da Gianni
Portside Wharf, Remora Road, Hamilton, QLD, (07) 3868 2011. - FIONA DONNELLY
Thursday, 11 September, 2008, 10:56 AEST
We braved less than beachy weather at Bondi the first weekend of September to check out the cameo spot Skye Gyngell is doing at Sean’s Panaroma
for the month. Sean Moran and Gyngell, the Australian-born chef at Petersham Nurseries
in Surrey in the UK, decided to do a restaurant swap, taking over each others’ kitchens for a few weeks for a lark. In Sydney, the restaurant has a large WELCOME SKYE chalked on the blackboards (no one but Sean, apparently, is allowed to write on them), and a printed menu in the Sean’s typeface listing:
Porcini, potato and rosemary soup ($21)
Carpaccio of kingfish with chilli oil and shaved fennel ($26)
Salt-baked ocean trout with horseradish cream ($26)
Woodside goat’s curd with roasted Jerusalem artichokes, tomato and marjoram ($25)
Squab with barley and cavolo nero ($42)
Snapper with clams, aqua pazzo and aïoli ($43)
Rare fillet of beef with chickpeas, pumpkin and salsa verde ($45)
Asparagus, broad beans and spinach with crème fraîche and romesco ($29)
Zuppa Inglese ($19)
Blood oranges, rosemary and honey ($14)
Lemon ice-cream ($14)
I think the makeshift hybrid kitchen team might still have been finding its feet – some of the dishes seemed more rocket than anything else, while basic mistakes (such as the numerous bones left in the ocean trout entrée) marred others. But when things rocked, they really rocked – the pretty squab with barley and almost liquid cavolo nero (pictured) made beautiful textural music, the zuppa Inglese’s plating walked the rustic-chic line adroitly, and the rosemary and honey blood oranges is one we should all consider ripping off for our next dinner party. Despite the gale outside, local chefs turned up in force to fly the flag as diners – Kylie Kwong, Maggie Beer and Luke Mangan all in the same service, no less – and with plenty of interest following the release of My Favourite Ingredients
, her second book, Gyngell should have no trouble finding plenty of new friends on Campbell Parade.
Sean, meanwhile, has just posted his first menu at Petersham Nurseries
, including langoustines roasted with parsley, garlic and lemon and turbot braised with tarragon and creamed corn alongside such Panaroma signatures as the linguine with shredded rocket, lemon, chilli and parmesan and the sublime white chocolate and rosemary nougat. Tasty-sounding stuff, to be sure. We’re waiting on a first-hand report from the UK to see who has ended up with the better end of the deal, but in the meantime it’s an interesting interlude for restaurant lovers in both hemispheres. - PAT NOURSE
Thursday, 4 September, 2008, 11:44 AEST
New Perth Italian impresses
Punters who walk away from those $15 pasta nights feeling gastronomically fulfilled should stop reading now.
But if you hanker for house-made pasta so carefully filled with whatever’s in season, so gently poached to ensure that there are no hard bits, no soggy bits, just silken wonderful bits, each bathed in pesto or cream or whatever it is that owner Bruno Securo has planned for those particular morselettes of gorgeousness, Perth diners should probably go to Da Bruno's in Inglewood quite soon.
Da Bruno’s is one of those restaurants which polarises diners. Modest of decor and limited of choice, it’s pricier than you might, consequently, expect. If Mr Securo charged $18 for his starters and $35 for mains, you’d call the place jolly good value. But he doesn’t. Instead, entrees and pasta hang around the $25-28 mark, while big, protein-heavy mains cost up to $49.
Hidden behind a high wall in an old converted house, the restaurant exudes a gentle, old-fashioned ambience. The lighting is low and intimate. It’s a good place for romance. Securo’s wife Marisa used to take care of the front of house, but gave birth to their first child last year and now stays home. The lovely consequence of this is that Bruno himself now spends some of the evening out front, taking orders, opening wine and generally interacting with his clientele.
As for the menu, casonsei are a highlight. The little crescents of pasta are filled with a pea/broccoli puree and served with a cream sauce flavoured with walnut pesto. They're as near-perfect as anything I’ve ever stuck in my mouth.
Next up is the gnocchi. The lush cream and cheese sauce is a bit full-on for me but I managed to neck it down while my companion looks on with slim-hipped disdain. I tell her Jenny Craig really needs to get a life.
Mains are big, meaty and pretty much not what we want after all that heavenly pasta. Once Securo did a venison and chocolate version. I nearly died.
Of the desserts, the semifreddo is all about soft creaminess mixed with nutty crunchy bits and a gooey caramel sauce. A much more sedate poached pear lies back in a red wine syrup infused with warm spices.
Da Bruno’s is BYO and the wine service is not the most attentive I’ve ever experienced. Rather than use the house stems, take along the best red you can afford, pay the extra $12 and ask for Riedels and a decanter.
I like Da Bruno’s a great deal. It’s not cheap, but it feels like home.
Da Bruno's, 965a Beaufort St, Inglewood, WA, (08) 9272 3755. - JANE CORNES
Monday, 25 August, 2008, 12:58 AEST
It's a sparsely sunny Sunday, the lunchtime showing has just finished at an inner-burbs Como cinema and large numbers of ladies are piling into the Just Wine Bar Cafe next door for a post-flick debrief.
You can't blame them, really. It’s an ace little spot, this, with funky flock wallpaper on one wall and a juicy wine list full of exciting things. Better still, Chef Brenton Pike is producing full-bodied, beautifully executed contemporary tapas.
So what do these ladies order? Crisp smoked ham and fontina croquettes lolling about in a tomato reduction cut with good olive oil? Fat little involtini served with steamed sprout leaves and a ridiculously dense, creamy cube of Royal Blue potato gratin? Outrageously, no. Minor miracles are issuing forth from Pike’s diminutive kitchen and these silly women are drinking coffee. Probably with skinny milk.
But then it’s not easy being an edgy bar-diner in Como. Daytimes one eats a la carte but at dinner you have what you’re jolly well told. Not that this is anywhere near being a hardship. A single just-warm Coffin Bay oyster sits in a shot glass of silken sweetcorn veloute topped with creme fraiche. Crisp, creamy blue swimmer crab and fennel croquettes are exactly what I want to eat with wine.
But wait, there's more. Atop two fat plinths of crisp-skinned pork belly sit a brace of plump scallops which hold the ocean within their sweet, jellied hearts. Around the plate, a few boozy raisins in a sticky Pedro Ximenez reduction offer a suitably sweet/tart counterpoint. Everything is cooked to perfection. Only later do I learn that Pike is away and his sous has cooked the lot. It's impressive stuff.
Manager Sam Davies does a thorough job with wines and will offer guidance if you ask. I would. He knows his stuff. I'm hoping one day they'll introduce a matched-wines option. Then the fun can really
I’m not quite so in love with Pike's occasional forays into El Bulli-esque culinary eccentricity. I get his creative need for experimentation, but I question whether some of this stuff actually works, taste-wise.
Whatever. It’s a very small negative in a meal of otherwise consistent wonderfulness.
Just Wine Bar Cafe, 20 Preston Street, Como, WA, (08) 9474 1977. - JANE CORNES
Thursday, 14 August, 2008, 11:16 AEST
New Indian in Adelaide
A pair of smart looking adjoining Indian restaurants, British India and The Thali Room (270-276 Morphett St, Adelaide, ph 08 8212 2411) have been opened by Naveen Irkulla (former Jasmin head chef and owner of Adelaide’s successful Charminar Restaurants) to present a more contemporary angle on Indian dining. British India, with a nod to British Raj styling, has a few amusing references to Indian food influencing English tastes: shepherd’s pie (an individual bhuna gosht pie with Indian spices, vegetables and mashed potato), fish and chips (Kingfisher beer batter with cashews and sesame, served with chunky chips, home-made tomato chutney and tamarind mayonnaise), and Khajoor pudding (Indian-accented sticky date pudding with rhubarb and cardamom sabayon). Next door, The Thali Room is a casual extension of British India, serving traditional thali tasting plates of curry, daal, vegetables, rice and naan. They are trying to encourage casual dining at the bar (India meets tapas!) while the look is another amusing take on British India traits, with formal wallpaper and prints of English kings and queens and Indian maharajas. - DAVID SLY
Wednesday, 6 August, 2008, 15:44 AEST
Brisbane Masterclass Weekend wrap-up
Michelin-starred chefs, Begula (yes, Begula) pasta and more make a splash in Brisbane...
What's black and shiny and comes in a caviar tin? If you’re dining at US chef Michel Richard’s restaurant, Citronelle in Washington, the answer is probably lobster Begula* pasta, his quirky trompe la langue ‘caviar’ whipped up from an unlikely mix of squid ink and Israeli couscous and served with hollandaise, poached eggs and chunks of lobster.
Richard’s whimsical treat was one of a smorgasbord of dishes demonstrated and dished up to eager food-lovers at Hilton Brisbane Masterclass Weekend. Back after a two-year hiatus, this 13th gathering presented an intriguing line-up of international chefs and winemakers, including Brett Graham of Notting Hill’s Michelin-starred Ledbury and Xavier Pellicer from two-starred Barcelona restaurant Abac.
Pellicer got everyone’s attention (and the tick for most covetable piece of kitchen kit) when he produced a gizmo which rapidly turned potatoes into sheets of potato ‘lasagne’. The sheets were promptly rolled up and used in his tortilla de patata y trufa negra – a very elegant (and tasty) take on the traditional Spanish omelette. Pellicer’s other dish of bon bon de salmonetes con Bloody Mary came garnished with edible flowers with a pale pink bloody Mary consommé, taking honours as prettiest dish of the weekend.
Truffles abounded – Marque’s Mark Best rustled up pommes Pont Neuf (aka naughty, naughty fat chips) made from sweet, earthy, Desiree potatoes with onion dust on the side and a kickin’ mayonnaise loaded with indecently fresh shavings of black truffle (can’t we have more bar snacks along these lines - please?). Brett Graham then revealed how he saves cash in Notting Hill to put aside for spending in truffle season by making the most of pigs’ heads. These are apparently collected from the butcher, free, minus the cheeks, which the butcher flogs on separately. Tasting Graham’s fabulous celeriac baked in ash, served with grated hen’s egg, hazelnuts and a kromeski of pig's head, it’s clear this is a win for diners and owners alike. At The Ledbury, Graham salt-bakes the celeriac and cracks it open at the table allowing diners the full impact of the sweet aroma of the burnt hay ash. The former Newcastle boy’s cute but slightly macabre duck tongue ‘kebab’ also raised a few eyebrows. It’s unlikely to appear on many Brisbane dinner party menus, but the chestnut and truffle soup which it accompanied had definite mass appeal. - FIONA DONNELLY
*When Richard introduced the dish, the printer made a typo on the Beluga label and it’s remained Begula ever since.
Thursday, 17 July, 2008, 12:28 AEST
First look: Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney
It’s gonna be big, that much we can tell you. Construction has yet to begin on Neil Perry and partners’ multimillion-dollar new Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney project, but walking around the empty site five months ahead of its slated opening, it’s clear that it’s going to be impressive in its scope. The ground floor of the old City Mutual building on the corner of Hunter and Bligh streets in the heart of the city, with its two-storey-high ceiling, seems a perfect fit for a moneyed steakhouse. The structure is one of the finest examples of 1930s modern architecture in Sydney, and its marble and steel Deco trappings give it a timelessness and a gravitas that are an ideal foundation for the grand vision Perry has for the place.
Broadly speaking, the concept is something in the same vein as the Rockpool Bar & Grill at Crown in Melbourne, only more so. The menu will focus on top-dollar proteins, with designer beef and seafood at its core. Sides will be a big deal – and there’ll be maybe 30 of them. The timber-and-tile ground floor will seat 220, with another 40 in the bar. The kitchen will be planned along similar lines, “only with more firepower”. As with Melbourne, meat will be dry-aged on-site. A rotisserie is on the plans, as are po’ boys and sloppy joes for the bar menu, alongside the now-famous Rockpool wagyu burger.
Wine is going to be a key feature, especially old and rare Australian wines, and the great vintages of the big-name French houses. In fact, Perry says he wants the list to be the best in the country, and has budgeted somewhere in the vicinity of $4 million to make it happen. With 4,500 bottles on hand in the restaurant’s wine tower and another 10,000 in the vault upstairs, he’s looking as far as Las Vegas and New York to recruit a master sommelier to oversee the wet side of the operation.
Bates-Smart are doing the fitout, and they’re also handling the design of the basement – which will house another restaurant entirely. This other project, with a working title of Spice Temple, will be Perry’s chic-casual Chinese restaurant, incorporating a cocktail bar, and will open first. His brief to the designers was to make the 130-seater “resemble a rich jewel-box”, a room broken up into intimate sections rather than a yawning underground space, picking out the grey and off-white base in fuchsia, scarlet and black.
Intriguingly, Perry says the menu will be completely fresh, departing from Cantonese cuisine and from the dishes he has listed at Rockpool, Wokpool and XO over the years. His travels to China over recent years have ignited an interest in Hunan, Sichuan, Zhejiang and other Chinese cuisines less familiar to the Australian dining public. Live seafood from the tanks and dishes driven by spice are the key concepts.
Khan Danis and Catherine Adams will return to Sydney to oversee the Grill’s kitchens, while Rockpool-trained former XO chef Andy Evans is tipped to head up the Spice Temple kitchen. Spice Temple is slated for a November 2008 opening and Rockpool Bar & Grill should open January 2009. Stay tuned. www.rockpool.com - PAT NOURSE
Tuesday, 15 July, 2008, 09:23 AEST
A market worth the trip
Our insider's guide to Singapore's Chinatown Food Centre
There are hawker centres and 'hawker centres' in Singapore. We've learnt from experience that if you choose a real one that's frequented by locals, you'll find authentic dishes and a warm welcome as a novelty visitor. If you choose one that attracts tourists, it's a very different story - touts push you in every direction and there's a sameness about many of the dishes on offer. The Chinatown Complex Food Centre, which has just re-opened after a major refurbishment, is one of the real ones. Despite the lack of tourists, most of the 100 or so stalls have English signs, making it easy to order, even if you can't communicate in words.
If you're not staying in Chinatown, catch the MRT to Chinatown station. You can't miss the sprawling white building in the vicinity of Smith St. The hawker centre is on the first floor, there are general market stalls on the ground floor, and there's also a wet market in the basement. Better still, stay at the charming Hotel 1929, which is about 200 metres away.
Here are our highlights from a recent visit, but this is just the tip of the iceberg:
Tian Tian Porridge (#02-185)
At this breakfast stall, you find a nearby table first, then place your order and tell the order-taker your table number. When the porridge is ready, it's delivered to your table. It might take up to 30 minutes, but it's worth the wait. Try the fish porridge and make sure you order a side serving of raw fish, which comes with coriander and slivers of ginger.
An Ji Famous Fish Head Noodles (#02-194)
You should have at least one fish head dish while you're in Singapore and the fish head noodles at this stall are deeply satisfying. This one's for later in the day.
Nui Che Shui Famous Glutinous Rice (#02-40)
The disappointment on people's faces when they're told the day's supply is going to finish before they make it to the front of the queue tells the story of the popularity of this stall. Fortunately, the bearer of the bad news is so polite and gentlemanly that everyone accepts their ill fortune graciously. Until you try it, it's hard to imagine the fuss over a simple plate of rice with a crunchy topping of dried fish and garlic. It's a salutary lesson in the pleasures of simple food cooked well and its production is one of the best time and motion studies you'll ever see.
Fish Ball Soup Stall (#02-049)
The fish ball soup at this stall, which only has its name in Chinese, is a fantastic pick me up - the broth is delicious and the fish balls slightly springy and full of flavour. They also serve braised pigs trotters, and pig organ soup.
Xiu Ji (Ikan Bilis) Yong Tau Fu (#02-88)
There are two ordering options at this tofu stall. Choose the version with noodles and you'll get two bowls. One's filled with noodles topped with crunchy ikan bilis and chopped spring onions. Make sure you ask for the sensational house-made parang fish cake to be added as an extra. The other is a bowl of soup with various types of the best tofu you'll ever have eaten. Don't miss this stall. It's fantastic.
Lian He Ben Ji Claypot (#02-198)
Open from late afternoon, this claypot chicken stall prepares each dish to order and cooks it over little charcoal braziers. It's open from late afternoon and is in a cool corner of the centre, great for people watching while you wait. Order the mixed rice version to get chicken and Chinese sausage and don't ignore the slightly crisp and crunchy rice at the bottom of the dish, which is one of the best parts. It's a classic meal in one dish. - SUE DYSON AND ROGER MCSHANE
Monday, 7 July, 2008, 11:56 AEST
New Italian in Adelaide
Milano Cucina, on the ground floor of the new Channel 10 digital transmission building on the corner of Hutt and Angas streets in the city, has been created by Paolo De Battista and Italian chef Enzo Verdino (both who spent time at the popular Cafe Paesano in Hyde Park). It straddles authentic Milanese and modern dining trends – much like the décor, which is in rich royal blue and stark white and has cube seats at timber tables that get dressed with linen for dinner. Already popular among a very big crowd of Italian eateries in Adelaide. - DAVID SLY
Wednesday, 2 July, 2008, 14:49 AEST
The Cookbook Q&A: Fiona Dunlop
Fiona Dunlop on her new Mexican cookbook
Viva la Revolucion!Who’s your book for?
Chilli aficionados, anyone interested in the poetry of taste and anyone who has been to, or dreams of going to, Mexico.What will we learn from it?
You'll learn where Mexico is at today, gastronomically speaking, and how it was before the Spaniards rolled in. You'll find fascinating details about the revival of pre-Hispanic ingredients and techniques, whether in high-end restaurants or in the markets. The multi-layered flavours are often completely new to our taste-buds, bringing the food of the Mayas and Aztecs to life on your plate. Which recipe have you cooked the most?
Tzic de venado (“shredded venison”), a classic from the Yucatán which is like a fragrant meat salad. I cheat a bit by replacing the venison with beef. If we were to cook just one dish from it, what would you recommend?
Tricky to choose, but the roast duck with mango sauce, one of Monica Patiño's recipes, deliciously combines chilli, ginger and soy sauce with mangoes. She always adds an Asian touch.What’s the biggest challenge in the book?
Doña Juanita's fabulous mole (a traditional sauce to accompany poultry) has over 25 ingredients and is extremely time-consuming to make. But I've included other simplified versions of mole too. And the easiest sure-fire winner?
One of the prettiest and easiest is Victor Hugo's prawn ceviche with jalapeño chillies. It's deliciously fiery. For milder palates, Martha Ortiz' guacamole nacionalista hits the spot. What do we need to get the best out of the book?
Definitely a selection of chillies (dried ancho or chipotle, fresh jalapeño and serrano) lots of fresh coriander, avocados, garlic, maybe Seville oranges, black beans, some corn tortillas – and above all a daring palate!What’s the most trusted cookbook in your kitchen?
An old French book of Moroccan recipes full of evocative photos of the country and people.Which foodstuff do you always have in stock?
Preserved lemons (nothing to do with Mexico!) and fresh chillies.Viva la Revolucion!
On sale 1 July 2008 ($45)
Monday, 30 June, 2008, 09:58 AEST
It's truffle season again and the 2008 Tasmanian harvest is looking very promising.
In the early years when each time a dog sniffed out another truffle it rated a newspaper headline and the truffles found each season could be counted on one hand, they virtually all ended up somewhere else — a common fate for much of Tasmania's best produce. That's probably still happening, but this year there's enough for a good supply to make it into local shops. We spotted our first truffles at Wursthaus Kitchen
about a week ago and they've been available in reliable quantities ever since; with truffles big enough to really do something with, not just sit a precious sliver on top of scrambled eggs. Wursthaus Kitchen's truffles are being supplied by Tim Terry, one of the pioneer Tasmanian truffle farmers. Although the season has only just started, he's convinced 2008 is going to be his best year. He says that the combination of the increasing age of his plantations and some successful research, especially into how to treat the soil, has meant that this year many more trees are revealing the precious fungi than in the past. He's predicting a bumper crop and improved quality as well — so far all the truffles he's found have been first grade. The season should last until September so there's plenty of time to test his claims. - SUE DYSON AND ROGER MCSHANE
Friday, 20 June, 2008, 17:06 AEST
The greatest show on earth?
“With 24 restaurants, 14 Michelin stars, 10 books and six TV shows, I give you THE WORLD’S BEST CHEF, laaaaadies and gentlemen, it’s GOOOOOORDON RAMSAY!” Yes folks, we slipped out of the office this morning to go to the first of Gordon Ramsay’s live appearances in Australia, as part of the Good Food Show. Today’s Sydney performance saw 2,500 food fans rock up to gape at an endorsement-strewn stage at the Sydney Convention Centre in Darling Harbour while not one but two warm-up guys made sure the sponsors got their quota of mentions before old celeriac-face himself took the stage. It was James Brown meets James Beard.
Once the screaming and flash-flares died down, Gordon looked, in truth, a little shocked by the mass and vigour of his audience. “How are you doing, folks?” he asked. “I’m sh--ting myself.” But the patter was flawless. Dannii Minogue, vegetarians, Neil Perry, the cameraman and, repeatedly, Jamie Oliver, copped a serve. His first serious expletive was greeted with howls of pleasure from the massed crowd, and he went on to mention that he’d enjoyed a few drinks at Ivy on Thursday night, suggested it was cooking from Jamie’s cookbook that was making Australians fat, and then gave a gaggle of truant schoolgirls some frank advice regarding the preservation of their innocence.
Ramsay and his Claridge's head chef Mark Sargeant also banged out three dishes – a soup of butter beans and chorizo, some pan-fried lamb steaks on a salad of red onion and green beans, and pain perdu (“we call it eggy bread at home”) with raspberries – in just under half an hour. In 40 minutes, the whole thing was done and dusted: exeunt with full chorus of cheers, whistles, giveaway sponsorship items and a pointer to the book sales and signing session. Pretty good work for $40 a pop, all in all, and, as every true showman should, he left us wanting more, letting slip that he was about to film an episode of Kitchen Nightmares in Melbourne — at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen.
Stay tuned (read our interview with Ramsay here).
Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 11:06 AEST
Just when you thought technology was threatening to overwhelm restaurant kitchens, it makes an incursion into the front-of-house as well.
Wagaya, a new restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown goes one better than those PDA-armed waiters – they’ve got touchscreens at every table to take your order. Page your way through Sushi, Snacks and Starters, Grilled Dishes, Rice and Noodles and the like, tapping on the pictures of each dish for more information. Press the confirm-order button and within a moment, the food is ferried to your table by a plate runner (so there’s still a human factor of some kind). The screen keeps track of your bill as you go, and the cheque is delivered, oh pleasure of pleasures, with just another flick of the fingertips.
The room is attractively neo-Nippon, while the menu, though not as revolutionary as the ordering system, is izakaya contemporary classics rendered well. The gyoza are good, the yakitori and the wafu-style pizze are perfect beer-fodder, as are the schnitzel-like things covered in tartare, and the spaghetti dishes with various seafoody sauces (cod roe, sea urchin, scallops and squid all feature) are fun.
For more chuckles still, order the ‘SUSHIan roulette’, a platter of six pieces of salmon nigiri sushi, one of which is stuffed with a serious wallop of wasabi. Hilarious – just so long as it happens to someone else. The touchscreen-ordering also extends to drinks, whether it’s hot tea refills, beer or bottle-service shochu and sake for cocktails, replete with DIY accessories such as sliced lemons and limes, ice, sour mixes and Calpis water. And they’ve got bottle-keep, that wonderful Japanese innovation that sees the restaurant hanging on to your unfinished bottle o’ spirit until your next visit.
Dare we say this place pushes all our buttons?
Wagaya, Level 1, 78-86 Harbour St, Haymarket, NSW, (02) 9212 6068. SMS reservations 0416 200 223. Open daily 5pm-2am.
- PAT NOURSE
Wednesday, 18 June, 2008, 08:30 AEST
A Mongolian yurt in Hokkaido selling hawker's food? Sounds good to us...
Dining in a tent in deep snow country may not sound appealing, but the Mongolian yurt built to house Gentem Café Niseko in Hokkaido, Japan, is surprisingly warm and cosy while the temperature dips to -20C outside. Its unassuming low profile among snow mounds heaped beside the highway just south of Grand Hirafu village means you should keep your eyes peeled just to find the white tent. Inside, enclosed heaters warm a surprisingly large space, decorated with a scattering of carpets, low tables and plump cushions to sit on. Making the cultural mix even more confounding, Gentem serves Yatai-style hawker's food - mainly Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian-style dishes that take full advantage of the region's abundant fresh seafood. - DAVID SLY
Tuesday, 10 June, 2008, 16:22 AEST
Breaking news: Din Tai Fung
Famed dumpling house finally opens a Sydney outpost...
We interrupt our regular programming to bring you important dumpling news: Din Tai Fung
, the internationally acclaimed Taiwan-founded purveyor of Shanghainese dumplings has opened its first Australian branch, at Sydney’s World Square. Long on the hit-list of visitors to Shanghai, Taipei, Shinjuku, Singapore, KL, Seoul and beyond, the restaurant chain, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is famed for the consistent quality of its xiaolongbao, or steamed Shanghainese soup dumplings.
We’ve been hitting the all-but-hidden Sydney outlet pretty hard in the weeks since its early May opening. Entrée platters like the drunken chicken or the salad of preserved eggs and tofu are fine, and the noodle soups are clean and flavoursome, but it’s the dumplings that run the show. They’re all about precision at Din Tai Fung, as the kitchen full of white-coated, masked dumpling-pleaters in the pristine glassed-in kitchen attests (recalling not a little the high-tech cocaine-processing plants so beloved of 80s American cinema). Each dumpling skin weighs exactly five grams, contains 16 grams of filling and is folded 18 times.
When they hit the table, they’re smaller items than Sydney’s Hong Kong-style yum cha may have trained you to expect of a dumpling. Pop one into your mouth, though, and you’ll experience a world of flavour. Or pain. Between the filling and the dumpling skin is a layer of very hot soup, which is apt to scald and stain you if approached unawares. Our advice: let your tablemates brave the first couple of attempts, then take chopsticks in hand, retrieve a dumpling from the steamer, dip it in a little black vinegar with ginger or soy, and either confidently nip the top off the dumping and suck down the soup before taking a bite, or just pop the whole thing in your mouth, making sure your mouth is closed (we’d like to assume this is a given, but in these modern times it’s so hard to say) before you bite down. Repeat until steamer is empty and your friends start looking around hungrily. Now order another 20.
Some other advice: book your table in advance and bring a pen – the emphasis is on a brisk turnover, but there are still queues out the door most lunchtimes, and you’re handed a printed menu order form that you can fill out while you wait.
There are Chinese restaurants with more character, some with better food, others with better value, but Din Tai Fung offers a bright, friendly vibe, pleasant staff (yes, this is a Sydney Chinese restaurant we’re talking about), a liquor license and dumplings good enough to make it worth your while.
Shop 11.04, Level 1, World Square, 644 George St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9264 6010, www.dintaifung.com.tw
. Open lunch and dinner daily. Licensed. Major cards accepted.
- PAT NOURSE
Monday, 2 June, 2008, 16:39 AEST
The latest foodie news from Melbourne...
Chef Jocelyn Riviére, best known for his stint in Sydney at The Kirketon Dining Room in 2006 will be the new head chef at North Melbourne’s The Court House. The one-star dining room has bid adieu to Irish chef Stephen Burke; Riviére plans to make the modern French menu “more accessible”.
Chef Rita Macali has severed her ties with the Fitzroy restaurant Ladro after more than four years. Macali has been ill; she also became a mother for the first time and has been less than hands-on at Ladro in recent times. Macali’s partners Sean Kierce and Ingrid Langtry have bought her out; their chef Michael Patrick remains in charge.
The CBD’s Bistro 1 closed at the end of May after 12 years. Relocation was mooted when the restaurant’s site was bought by a hotel developer last year; however the restaurant’s owners, the Lee family, have chosen not to continue (they still have Italy 1, also in the CBD, with family links to Italy 1 Camberwell).
Fresh on the heels of his Surry Hills (Sydney) wine bar Millevini, entrepreneur Mauro Marcucci has announced plans for a new South Yarra venture. Bond Street Café Wine Bar is to be designed by Chris Connell, responsible for many previous Marcucci projects such as Pizze e Birra in Sydney and Melbourne. - JOHN LETHLEAN
Monday, 26 May, 2008, 11:33 AEST
Turn to Japanese in Adelaide
A pair of new Japanese restaurants that differ from the norm - Hotaru and Wasai Japanese Kitchen - are part of a mini-boom in quality Japanese eateries in Adelaide, already supported by the established Kenji Modern Japanese (Shop 5, 242 Hutt St, 08 8232 0944) and the authentic Yakitori Takumi (55 Melbourne St, North Adelaide, 08 8239 2111).
Wasai Japanese Kitchen (Shop 1, 9/15 Field St, 08 8221 6606) has a cool contemporary look - sleek cream-and-brown interior against rice paper lightshades and sturdy stone tables - and a menu that skirts traditional (sushi/sashimi and gyoza dumplings) and modern (takes on crisp-skin salmon with sour plum sauce and chicken with a garlic and chive mayonnaise). Taste-size flights of sake and shochu shots are also available.
Hotaru (162 Gouger St, 08 8410 2838), located west of Morphett St, is more cheap and cheerful, but very authentic, with many of Adelaide's growing legion of Japanese university students being regular customers. It offers sushi,sashimi and teppanyaki and features a tatami room for banquet dining. - DAVID SLY
Tuesday, 20 May, 2008, 09:33 AEST
Aussie bars get worldwide recognition...
We’d like to extend our congratulations to Matt Bax and the crew at our reigning Bar of the Year, Der Raum, for being among the finalists for the Tales of the Cocktail festival’s award for Best Drink Selection worldwide. Der Raum is competing with San Francisco’s Cantina, Berlin’s Trio Bar, Wellington’s Matterhorn, London’s Salvatore at Fifty, LA’s Doheny, Belfast’s Merchant Hotel and New York bar Death & Company for the title, which will be announced in New Orleans in July.
We’d also like to congratulate Sydney’s Bayswater Brasserie and Melbourne’s 1806 Bar, another fine pair of venues, both competing for the Best Cocktail Menu award, and sometime Gourmet Traveller drinks contributor and Sydney-based man-about-bars Jason Crawley, a finalist in the Best Brand Ambassador category. - PAT NOURSE
Wednesday, 14 May, 2008, 09:55 AEST
Fast food meets fine dining in Perth
Whether you eat it from a paper bag or on bone china, good food is a wonderful thing...
Jango opened on Perth's King Street in late April and is already redefining how sandgropers think of fast food. Take the UK's Pret a Manger
, mix in a bit of fine dining and you've got owner-chef James Webster's take on takeaway - most of which comes in biodegradable bamboo bowls but would be equally at home in a fine diner.
This is no coincidence. Webster recently arrived in Perth from the UK, armed with an impressive resume including cooking stints for the Beckhams, Richard Branson and the Prince of Wales. Whether this translates into being able to cook real food is, of course, another question entirely. Thankfully, Webster really can cook.
Visit Jango and you’ll find mayonnaise and other sauces made from scratch, along with luscious puds and restaurant-quality hot fare to go. There are no errant flavours, no shortcuts. A decent Caesar salad, albeit half baby cos and half iceberg, includes quality bacon, croutons and a little tub of anchovy-enriched mayo. There’s also a version with free-range chook on the side.
Further down the cold cabinet, locallly-produced Elmar’s pork bratwurst sits on a nuttily sweet braise of red cabbage. On the side is a German-style potato salad. This time, the little tub features grain mustard vinaigrette.
There are four hot dishes and several soups on offer, all of which change daily. The tender pork and cider casserole topped with mashed spud and caramelised apple is rich, creamy and pretty much faultless. A full-bodied ratatouille with mashed sweet potato on top has a wonderful, full-bodied caponata-ish sweet/sour finish. A fudgy Valrhona milk chocolate mousse is topped with grated white chocolate.
On the negative side, a prawn cocktail roll has gone soggy. Offering the sauce separately in one of those little tubs would solve the problem. And the croutons on the Caesar salad have lost their crispness. Again, packaging them separately might be the answer.
While Webster has spent a great deal of money perfecting the design and concept side of Jango, he's yet to get the food signage thing quite right. There’s nothing to tell punters that the various juices are squeezed in-house, or that most of what’s on offer is own-made. Nevertheless, Jango represents a huge step forward for quality food on the go in Perth. - JANE CORNES
Wednesday, 7 May, 2008, 08:58 AEST
Shanghai food safari
Singaporean chef Justin Quek takes you on a foodie tour of his adopted hometown...
Shanghai bound travellers can get into the local culinary groove on a gourmet safari organised by chef Justin Quek, who got his start in the kitchen at Bangkok's Oriental Hotel before making headlines at Les Amis in Singapore. Rather than select only one of his new Shanghai dining establishments, follow Quek's tour, which begins with snacks and something liquid at Fountain wine bar, in the heart of Xintiandi, Shanghai's trendiest dining destination. Open from 7:30am, the bistro-style eatery with outdoor seating and free shoe shines has been lauded for its eclectic fare from Singaporean fried toast to freshly shucked oysters. The safari's second stop is Villa du Lac, an elegant private club now open to the public and serving palace cuisine from the ancient court of Yangzhou - think drunken chicken and hand-cut tofu plus Quek's own re-crafted Chinese classics like dumplings in Champagne and peach essence. From this romantic Tudor inspired dining room, Quek moves diners to Le Plantane and his signature twist on French cuisine in a homey European-style stone house. Under slow-whirring wood fans, guests dine on truffle-infused foie gras xiao long bao and suckling pig crackling with spiced red wine. For dessert, Quek stays true to his French training with classics like tarte Tatin. (86-21-5383-2998; www.justinquek.com
) - CYNTHIA ROSENFELD
Wednesday, 30 April, 2008, 11:54 AEST
Wine knowledge is an invaluable marketing tool for a restaurant owner, especially if it's combined with innovative approaches for giving customers plenty of choice.
Years ago, we were impressed with the approach to selling wine at New Orleans bistro Herbsaint
, established by Susan Spicer (of Bayona
fame) and Donald Link who has now also opened the highly acclaimed Cochon
. Every full bottle of wine is available as a half bottle. It was all blindly simple. If you order a half bottle, the full bottle is decanted into a carafe holding exactly half a bottle. It's then up to the waiting staff to either suggest the remaining half bottle to other customers or to offer it by the glass. A bar area, that attracts single diners, is also an ideal place to find takers for that already opened bottle.
Since then, such innovation has become more common. At Luck's
in Launceston, any wine on the extensive and interesting wine list that's less than $60 per bottle can be ordered by the glass. Again, it's up to Damon Wecker to keep in mind what's already open when other customers ask for advice on wine by the glass. His customers trust his wine knowledge, so there's a good chance he'll be able to recommend the open wine to someone else.
A similar approach is being taken at Matthew Kemp and Lela Radojkovic's new Burlington Bar and Dining
in Crows Nest. Here each wine on the list is available by the glass or in measured 250 ml or 375 ml serves. The other innovation is that the half bottle price is exactly half the full bottle price.
At the charming and authentic French bistro, Le Pichet
in Seattle, which is named after the small pitcher that's sometimes used to serve wine in France, most bottles on the entirely French, reasonably-priced, wine list are available by the pichet (approx 500 ml), demi-pichet or by the glass, giving a perfect range of options.
Then there are those wise sommeliers (with a good memory) who get to know their customers so well that no rules are necessary. They'll open the right bottle and, because they'll only open something they believe in, will have no difficulty selling the rest. Nick Hildebrandt at The Bentley
in Surry Hills and Umberto Lallo at Nostro Baretto (G25 GPO Lane, 350 Bourke St) in Melbourne are our favourites. Every time we visit either of these places, we learn about an unfamiliar wine - and that's part of the pleasure of eating out.
The two common elements in all these slightly different approaches are great wine lists, where everything is worth recommending and knowledgeable staff can sell what's already open. The beneficiaries are customers, especially tables of three or less, who have far more choice than they otherwise would. - SUE DYSON AND ROGER MCSHANE
Thursday, 24 April, 2008, 08:35 AEST
The Italian food I dream of is full-flavoured, generous of spirit and relatively simple - fine, slippery pasta moist with intense, meaty sauce, hints of fresh tomato and herbs and, just occasionally, obscene amounts of really good olive oil.
I’ve currently got three fave Italian diners in and around Perth, where what you’ll eat is loosely based on cucina povera, the food of the poor. Galileo in Shenton Park is my pick for slow-cooked stuff and interesting desserty things. Da Bruno in Inglewood is all about the pasta. I’m still dreaming of the venison and dark chocolate ravioli I ate there a few years back.
And then there’s the truly excellent Bar One, owned by ex-Alto’s culinary impresario Steve Scaffidi. In a CBD which doesn’t exactly excel at serious lunch venues, Bar One is a shining light, a dimly-lit pocket of happy business folk and daytime drinkers hidden away under the QV1 building.
On a Wednesday lunchtime, I share an entree of fresh whiting fillets with a creamy potato and cornichon salad ($18.50). The fillets are small, perfectly cooked and go down a treat with a couple of glasses of Spanish rose. It’s not on the by-the-glass list but the staff got kind. This counts.
The place is pumping and full of beautiful, young businessmen in lovely suits. I could eat here a lot. Then come grilled scallops ($4.50 each) served on the shell with parsley, garlic, lots of buttery juices and a crisp topping of vanilla-flavoured crumbs. It tastes like pod, but owner Steve Scaffidi tells me he uses vanilla-flavoured salt from Europe. Whatever, it fair rocks.
Next comes a tangle of silken pappardelle rich with intense veal and vermouth ragout ($29.50). Like much of what’s on offer here, the apparent simplicity of the dish belies the work involved. The gentle braising of the veal, the reduction of the gravy to an intense, savoury syrup which clings lovingly to the pasta. And then there's the pasta itself, fed several million times through the pasta machine by Steve's mum Ada, who still makes it every day, until it reaches the requisite thickness.
Other pleasures include a glutinously good beef cheek pie, which is salty with too much speck (cured pork), but still manages to make perfect culinary sense with a side-serve of warm mashed peas.
The eclectic wine list runs to around 70 wines, many of them European. After lunch, the full menu goes away and the place offers quality tapas until late.
On Wednesday evenings you can also order from a small menu featuring risotto and Ada’s pasta. I wish more small bars did food like this.
Bar One, QV1 Retail Plaza, 250 St Georges Tce, Perth. Ph 9481 8400 - JANE CORNES
Monday, 21 April, 2008, 08:33 AEST
You know there's something you need to follow up on when, in the space of two weeks you read two different references to an ingredient you've never heard of but, as it turns out, is readily available.
That's what happened to us with fennel pollen. First there was Nancy Harmon Jenkins' recipe for Tuscan-roasted pork loin with wild fennel pollen in her book, The Essential Mediterranean
. Then, not too many days later, we found a reference to the same ingredient in Heat
, Bill Buford's lively chronicle of his explorations of Italian cuisine.
Part of the reason for our interest was a garden fennel bush. We had planted it as a seedling a year before in the expectation that it would become a bulbous Florence fennel, but it hadn't developed as expected. Instead, its strong stalks and fronds gradually took over a large part of our vegetable garden. It was as good as wild fennel. We'd started using the stalks with grilled fish, which helped keep it under control, and we harvested its seeds once the flowers died, but, clearly, it had further potential as a supplier of our own stock of fennel pollen.
We followed Harmon Jenkins' advice to gather the blossoms "at their moment of maturity, just before they start to fade" and set them in a brown paper bag to dry and release their pollen. After a few weeks we had a ready supply.
Described variously as the "spice of angels" or "fairy dust for food lovers," it's an extraordinary spice - it's so aromatic, it's almost heady. It works beautifully with pork, but mixed with sea salt and pepper, it's as good rubbed into rabbit, chicken or a robust fish like striped trumpeter or blue eye. When we want to use it, we just up-end the paper bag and use the golden powder that falls out.
Since this discovery (a little late admittedly - it was apparently the 'it' ingredient in the 2000 issue of Food and Wine
magazine), we've also had some success using it fresh. We now make a paste of fresh fennel flowers, still laden with pollen, garlic, salt, pepper, chilli and olive oil and use it as a starting base for braised dishes - our most recent experiment was with calamari. We've also sandwiched similar pastes between thin slices of radish to make a pretty canapé; the possibilities seem endless.
In her 2003 book (published in the US), Harmon Jenkins said that until recently she'd had to substitute crushed fennel seeds, but that now imported Tuscan fennel pollen was available from a couple of suppliers. Since then the demand for fennel pollen must have increased. There's at least one substantial supplier in the US, Sugar Ranch Fennel Pollen (www.fennelpollen.com
), which sells fennel pollen it harvests from wild fennel gathered in California. It also does international mail orders (although we don't know what the rules would be if you attempted to import it into Australia.)
We've yet to find anyone using it in a restaurant or selling it in Australia. Can anyone help?
- SUE DYSON AND ROGER MCSHANE
Monday, 14 April, 2008, 14:29 AEST
WA's small bars on the rise
The small bar legislation, passed in WA in May last year, is finally beginning to make itself felt.
At the time of writing, five new small bars are already trading and two others, both in licence-friendly Perth, aren't too far off. One of the newest of the small bars is sited within the just-opened Smith's Beach Resort complex in Margaret River and well-known restaurateur Kate Lamont will open her own bar, in the popular beach suburb of Cottesloe, later in the year. Actually, Lamont will be operating under a tavern licence because she wants to offer takeaway grog sales - something a small bar licence doesn't allow.
A small bar licence also differs from a hotel, tavern or restaurant licence in a couple significant ways. For starters, a small bar may cater to a maximum of 120 patrons, but in practice, many are much, much smaller. Take Fremantle’s Essex Street Organic Wine Bar, the first small bar to open in WA under the legislation, which seats just 49 patrons.
Small bars don't have to offer food either - though to date all those approved most definitely do.
Some local councils have been accused of dragging their heels on changing local by-laws to support the new small bar provisions, but not Perth council, which has already approved four small bars and has two more lined up for assessment. - JANE CORNES
Tuesday, 8 April, 2008, 11:16 AEST
Cod Piece, New Farm
With a menu note specifying the house preference for 'hand raked 100 per cent organic Portuguese sea salt', it's clear Cod Piece is not your bog standard fish and chippery. But there's more than a snazzy choice of seasoning to get excited about at this vibey New Farm venture. The latest from Guy Edensor, owner of New Farm's much-loved Anise
wine bar, Cod Piece cranked up for business on 14 March down the road from Anise on the site of the old Rivoli Theatre. Inside there are two main dining areas (pavement dining is expected later), a simple raised platform at the back with funky black wood walls and a relief sculpture of silver coloured fish, plus a lower floor with takeaway counter.
Only fresh (no frozen) fish from Australian and New Zealand waters are on the menu and all the chips are hand-cut. The catch chalked on the board on the second day of business included yellowtail kingfish, snapper, barra, red throated emperor, reef cod and Atlantic salmon. Opt for the `Fish Department' and you'll need to choose your preferred fish, specify a method of cooking it (beer-battered, panko-crumbed or grilled); and then select a salad (Asian herb, coleslaw or Cod Piece special) and a choice of house-made sauce (marie-rose, tartare, aioli, nahm jim or salsa verde). Choices, choices. Yum.
Meat eaters are also catered for. The Sea Cow is a 150gm wagyu beef burger with relish, oxheart tomato and iceberg on a seed bread roll ($13) and there's plenty of old fashioned UK treats to keep retro heads happy - mushy peas ($3), pickled onions ($1 for two) and deep fried Mars Bar with double cream and mixed berries (settle down, it's not compulsory). Edensor is still awaiting a liquor licence (BYO is a reasonable $4 per bottle) but promises an interesting list with around 10 whites, five light reds and three sparklings by the glass - and a mix of Old World and interesting Aussie producers. Also not to miss, though sadly absent when we visited, is the side of 'lottery chillis', so named because you never know when you'll get a hot one. Another reason to return.
Shop 5/572 Brunswick St, New Farm, Qld (07) 3254 4844 - FIONA DONNELLY
Wednesday, 2 April, 2008, 14:41 AEST
The Cookbook Q&A: Tom Kime
Tom Kime on Asian Bites: A Feast of Flavours from Turkey through India to Japan...Who’s your book for?
My book is for lovers of good food and travel. It will appeal to those who have traveled in Asia, and inspire others to be more adventurous in their food and holiday plans. The book is also for those who like to entertain, as there are recipes for barbecues or drinks parties, casual lunches or sumptuous oriental banquets. The reader doesn’t have to have a lot of experience in cooking because all the recipes are pretty easy to follow.What will we learn from it?
Asian food is full of elements that complement and contrast, so you'll learn how to make dishes from different countries and create a seamless meal without confusion; how to balance the tastes and textures of one dish against those of another. Which recipe have you cooked the most?
The seared scallops with fresh coriander green chili and coconut chutney because everybody loves the dressing. The chilled seared tuna with ginger is really delicious, and the Laotian spice-pickled spring onions are completely addictive. If we were to cook just one dish from it, what would you recommend?
In Asia, you never eat one dish in isolation, you are always eating a number of dishes at the same time. The South Indian mango pickle is delicious, and the yam som tam is one of my favourites. It’s always the first thing I eat when I’m in Thailand. What's the sure-fire winner in the book?
The cha ca nuong – North Vietnamese fish brochettes. They look stunning because of the turmeric marinade and the green herbs. They are dead easy to make and you will definitely get the wow factor from your guests as the start to a special meal or when served with drinks at a barbecue. What’s the most trusted cookbook in your kitchen?
Elizabeth David's Book of Mediterranean Food
is a true inspiration. You can smell her cooking in her writing. Claudia Roden's Food of Italy
is very well-thumbed. She’s a complete master. Madhur Jaffrey’s Flavours of India
is brilliant. I had the pleasure of meeting her at last year’s Tasting Australia in Adelaide. She definitely lived up to expectations. David Thompson’s first book Classic Thai Cuisine
is really brilliant. He started my love of Asian food and I really appreciate his expertise.
Asian Bites: A Feast of Flavours from Turkey through India to Japan
goes on sale April 8 2008 ($39.95).
Monday, 31 March, 2008, 14:32 AEST
Pearl Cafe, Woolloongabba
Our review of Daniel Lewis' new Brisbane cafe...
Two thick wedges of soft, white bread, succulent crumbed salmon fillets and chunky tartare sauce - the house-made fish finger sandwich ($14) at Woolloongabba's Pearl Café is nostalgia on a plate and the punters are loving it. Both it and a properly gooey, undeniably retro croque monsieur are shooting out the door, as is the duck and beans on toast and a hearty main of pork belly, celeriac mash, broccolini and apple compote.
Owner Daniel Lewis, formerly of the West End's Gunshop Café, has left powder-traces all over this latest creation. Bare brick walls, funky lighting and a great location in a 19th century terrace are all enhanced by fine attention to detail - witness the French style planters and touches like Taylors of Harrogate tea served properly in a simple white pot complete with a cute mini-milk bottle and wooden tray. The coffee is Genovese, the milk is from Barambah Organic - and another welcome development - there's no charge for corkage.
Lewis is living over the shop but the long term plan is to open a bar in the balconied upper story. He and the team are already catering the occasional private dinner for 10 or more friends, but this is only by request. If the day-time menu is anything to go by, we say yes please.
28 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba, Qld (07) 3392 3300 - FIONA DONNELLY
Thursday, 27 March, 2008, 16:02 AEST
WA for foodies
Just spent the weekend at the Taste Great Southern
food and wine festival, where the huge amounts of good food and wine I ate and drank were mitigated only by the fact I'd spent the previous four days suffering motion sickness, and all the unmentionable physical consequence this entails, on the beautiful, worthwhile but rather wobbly Leeuwin training ship.
Suffice to say that by the time I hit Albany I was grateful for a bed that stayed where you put it.
My visit found the Great Southern in great form. The Wild Duck
continues to be Albany's finest fine diner, and it's BYO to boot. Down the road at the just-opened Great Southern Distilling Company
, you can now do tastings of the various liquors on sale or enjoy them in cocktails. The place also serves up quality tapas.
Beer fiends need to check out the Tanglehead Brewery
. The place goes off pretty much all weekend, but there's a large, shaded courtyard with tables out the back which is much more restful.
At Bay Merchants on Middleton Beach, you'll get a classy breakfast (go the porridge with mascarpone, grilled banana and maple syrup) and decent casual (as in big sangers and fresh, well-made salads) lunches.
In fact, casual is kind of where it's at for Albany. Some of the best casual fare is to be had at the York Street Cafe, where much is made of regional produce.
Some 50 clicks to the west, Denmark is all hippy charm (think Nimbin without the funny ciggies) and ecological right on-ness. Hell, they've even got a soup kitchen. This is the place to stay if you want to explore the many wineries of the Great Southern. Some of them do a great job with platters, own-made cakes and the like – Karriview
spring to mind – and the state-of-the-art Forrest Hill
winery cafe is sleek, affordable and consistent. But brace yourselves: you ain't going to find a Berowra Waters or Vasse Felix in these 'ere parts just yet.
A further half an hour's drive west finds you at the historic Nornalup Teahouse
, which serves up honest, produce-driven fare, lovely cakes and well-made coffee to the weary traveller on a coastal strip which offers little in the way of culinary solace.
The Great Southern excels at many things and is the state's largest producer of biodynamic fare. Raspberries grow well in its cooler, milder climate and blueberries are a major crop. You'll find these and much more (local mussels and yabbies, asparagus, beautiful local milk) year-round at the Albany Farmer's Market, which recently moved to new premises on Collie Street. - JANE CORNES
Tuesday, 25 March, 2008, 08:47 AEST
Food goes floral...
This delicious dish of cured striped trumpeter, with ajo blanco and tarragon, from Pecora Café in country Tasmania, was garnished with seven types of flowers. It set us thinking that, unexpectedly, flowers have been front and centre in most of the memorable meals we've had in the last couple of years. (If you want to test your botanical skills and try to identify the flowers in this dish, they're listed at the end of this story.)
Why the resurgence given flowers largely disappeared from restaurant plates in the 1980s (apart from zucchini flowers, of course)? Michel Bras must be part of the reason. At his restaurant in country France, flowers are integral to many dishes, especially the famous le gargouillou, a dish which Bras says was inspired by runs through nearby fields "flooded with flowers and fragrance". It's one of the prettiest dishes on the planet, a colourful palette of colours, shapes, textures, aromas, and flavours. (At Bras, we also discovered that white borage flowers taste remarkably like oysters.)
The experience that had sent us seeking le gargouillou was a dish we'd eaten at Mugaritz, just outside San Sebastian. Andoni Aduriz's homage to le gargouillou looked more like a posy than food, but was pure pleasure to eat. Like le gargouillou, it relied on the intensity of each individually-prepared element but also a heady "emmental broth", which our waiter somehow managed to pour into the bowl at the table, without disturbing any leaf or petal. To one side, there was half a tiny yellow flower, Sichuan pepper. It was intense, numbing and powerful - as far removed from pretty petals as flowers can get.
It's not surprising that flowers play an important role at the Royal Mail in country Victoria, where Dan Hunter is cooking some of the most exciting food in Australia. Hunter spent a year as head chef at Mugaritz before returning to Australia last year. He uses flowers to great effect. So, a disarmingly simple starter of fine shavings of fennel gets its wow factor with blue borage. Two chive flowers float on almond gazpacho that surrounds barely-cooked lobster, and rocket flowers counter the richness of the last of the garden's artichokes, served with sweet pork and a rich pork jelly - dream food.
We've had other memorably good flower food recently too - rose petals at L'Atelier de Jean Luc Rabanel in Arles and saffron and violas at Le Grand Pré in the Rhone Valley.
The common thread that links them all though, is access to a garden. Flowers are so delicate and the flavours and aromas so ephemeral (well maybe not Sichuan pepper) that they're not easily transportable. You need to be able to pick them when you need them. And, if a chef regularly visits a garden, beautiful flowers must be a constant inspiration. There are gardens at Mugaritz, Bras, Le Grand Pré and the Royal Mail. Jean Luc Rabanel has a farm just outside Arles and Luke Burgess visited a local garden each day on the way to Pecora Café - clearly the day of the seven flowers he was especially inspired.
So, if you see flowers on a dish, be happy. Chances are your chef has spent the morning foraging and your food has to be better for it. - SUE DYSON AND ROGER MCSHANE
Sadly, Pecora closed on 23 March. If you didn't get there, you missed something special, but hopefully we'll soon be able to try Luke Burgess's food again in Hobart.
From left: coriander, caraway, sage, tomato, rocket, viola, scarlet runner bean, and more coriander.
Thursday, 20 March, 2008, 09:02 AEST
Margaret River's latest treat
Finding Xanadu in WA...
Fast gaining a reputation as one of the highlights of a culinary trip to Margaret River is the Xanadu Wines Restaurant
(Boodijup Road, Margaret River, 08 9757 3066), which really is close to the Margaret River township - most of this region's wineries actually lie a fair few clicks north or south.
New head chef Iain Robertson is cooking up Mod Oz tucker with both flair and finesse, and giving the region's legion of fine young surfie chefs a run for their collective money into the bargain.
A dish of Robertson's obscenely buttery Pemberton trout rillettes paired with a glass or seven of the Xanadu chardonnay isn't a bad place to start. The winery's Secession range of quaffers are great if you're on the budget, but if you can afford the extra dosh, go with the estate label wines which are way, way sexier.
I'm also grateful for Robertson's very sensible glossary of lesser-known ingredients on the back of the menu, even though we all knew
tukudani was a seaweed sauce, right? - JANE CORNES
Tuesday, 18 March, 2008, 16:41 AEST
One more fin
Tony Tan checks in with his take on shark fin...
If you’ve been following our shark fin discussion, you may have seen mention of shark fin’s celebration in Chinese cuisine. With that in mind, we asked our friend and contributor Tony Tan to don his Asian food historian hat and give us a small primer on the subject:
“Its place in Chinese (not only Cantonese) cuisine harks back to the Song Dynasty (960-1127), though there's some mention of it in the T’ang Dynasty (618-907) as well. It was also considered a prized-luxury ingredient and served at state banquets in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
“Although widely accepted as a food for the connoisseur (perhaps our terminology for gourmet), its properties as a tonic are widely discussed in Materia Medica (the magnum opus of Chinese medicine). Shark fin contains calcium and phosphorus and is a source of protein. As a food, it is considered by the Chinese to 'open the stomach', a term also used in other Asian communities to suggest readying the palate for other dishes to come. Because it is so expensive (on the same scale as abalone, sea cucumber, etc.) it is never served regularly and retains that aura of luxury. Eaten for its gelatinous and bouncy qualities (dependent on the expertise of chefs and good cooks), its preparation is exhaustive and time consuming. I recall our cooks and kitchenhands spending hours combing through the fins to remove the mucilaginous material and expose the 'needles'. It is also appreciated in some quarters in Vietnam.
“I believe the sustainability issue is a hot potato. It’s strange to think of the Chinese, normally so parsimonious in the kitchen, throwing sharks back to sea after severing the fins. In my formative years in Malaysia, we ate shark meat curry everyday in the school tuckshop.” - PAT NOURSE
Monday, 17 March, 2008, 10:09 AEST
Aussie wasabi gets real
Tassie delivers the genuine article...
You may not realise it, but it's likely most, if not all, of the wasabi you've ever eaten is imitation, with the colour coming from green food colouring. Even the best wasabi, which has some genuine wasabi root, will almost certainly be mixed with horseradish, partly because the heat in wasabi dissipates quickly once the root is grated and the horseradish is a substitute.
If you want to know what real wasabi tastes like you need to try it fresh - but that hasn't been easy because it's been hard to find in Australia - until now. A Tasmanian company, Shima Wasabi
, now has enough to be able to supply restaurants and the public by mail order with fresh mazuma wasabi root, wasabi leaves, and even petioles (the leaf stalks, we've just learned!). Orders are sent by Express Post or overnight courier so can reach most parts of Australia in 24 hours.
It's a dangerous decision though. Once you've grated fresh wasabi into a dish of soy, preferably at the last minute at the table for the best effect, your sashimi won't be the same again. It's more aromatic and doesn't have the residual sweetness that mars the preserved alternative. At $120 per kg, and currently only available as a minimum order of .5kg, it could become an expensive habit.
And, if you really get addicted, you might need a trip to Japan. Wasabi grows naturally in running water, and virtually all the wasabi cultivated that way grows in Japan. Tasmania's wasabi is grown under shadecloth - so isn't quite considered the holy grail. But, for the moment at least, we're more than happy with the local version. - SUE DYSON AND ROGER MCSHANE
Friday, 14 March, 2008, 08:51 AEST
Quay’s shark fin: the update
The investigation continues...
We’ve received a lot of mail regarding our earlier item on Quay’s shark fin dish, described on their menu as ‘ethically fished’, so I thought I’d get the story straight from the horse’s mouth. Here’s chef Peter Gilmore on the hows and whys of this most intriguing entrée:
“A year and a half ago I started talking to my seafood supplier here in Sydney to see if he knew anyone catching shark for the fish-and-chip industry in Victoria,” Gilmore says, ”because they use flake down there, and I thought if they were using the whole fish I could justify using the fin. No one was interested, but then I was speaking to my guys over in Western Australia at Mulataga, Chris and Dennis. They supply me with some marron and pearl meat, and get abalone and all sorts of great fish; their big business is exporting West Australian lobsters to China and all over the world. Anyway, they asked if I’d be interested in shark fin, and I said, tell me about it.
“They said it’s locally caught, a byproduct of the fish-and-chip industry. I asked if they were sustainable, if they were ethically fished and if they were catching the right fish, and they said they were. They go out for a week or so and fish for smaller black-tip reef sharks, which aren’t endangered [its conservation status is listed as ‘near-threatened’, as opposed to, say, southern bluefin tuna, which is considered ‘critically endangered’], and there’s a quota system, and the whole fish is used, just like any other fish. The fins are snap-frozen on the boat. They come in five kilo blocks, and are quite expensive – about $180 a kilo.”
We contacted Duncan Leadbitter, Asia-Pacific regional director of the Marine Stewardship Council, for his thoughts on the matter, and he suggests diners consider claims in this vein from restaurants with healthy scepticism.
“Sustainable and ethical, to me, are different concepts. It’s possible that this species from Western Australia is sustainably fished but it would be interesting to know what information the chef relied upon. I am yet to hear of a supplier telling an inquirer that the fish they are seeking is seriously over-fished.
“To me the ‘ethical’ question would relate to aspects other than sustainability. It sounds like the whole fish is used and not just the fins, which is good. One of the main aspects of the shark fin issue is the removal of the fins and disposal of the body (whilst the fish is alive, which sounds downright cruel to me and thus unethical).
“I suppose the real question for all these claims is what proof the claimant can supply to verify their claim? Claims such as ‘best in the world’ or ‘best quality’, people take with a grain of salt or they can evaluate based on their own experience. Claims about ethical production and sustainability need some reference point; otherwise it's just a self-claim that is open to challenge.”
At any rate, Peter Gilmore says Quay’s diners are interested in the dish and its story and have begun to order it. “We have five options for the first course, and out of maybe 80 customers, about 10 will order it,” he says. “I really like it myself. I think it works because of the interesting textural component and the richness of the egg yolk, and I love anything with consommé. You don’t think, gosh, I can’t wait to sit down to a bowl of shark fin, of course. It’s more an experience.” - PAT NOURSE
Wednesday, 12 March, 2008, 16:34 AEST
First bite: Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons
Checking out Melbourne's hottest new restaurant before the crowds...
It was a strangely surreal experience lunching (well snacking on the run) at Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons on its second day of business. Designer Carl Pickering was there, crossing Ts and dotting Is before heading back to Rome, where he lives. So was his photographer, Matteo, who apparently is the primo architectural photographer of Italy. Maurice Terzini was there, too, hobbling round on a still-mending broken foot in patent white lace-up boots. So was partner Robert Marchetti, looking absolutely exhausted. And the staff was all there, of course; waiters in white butcher’s coats, jeans and Converse hi-tops; chefs in traditional whites (not that you can see many of them behind the pass). All it really lacked was customers. Sure, the odd tourist used the place as a thoroughfare from Crown’s promenade to the inside shopping mall. And plenty came in to 'reccy' the joint. But paying customers? Well the 'soft opening' does have a down side. But anyone who hasn’t had a bite at GA & Sons yet has missed out. As one pundit said, if this place doesn’t excite you, then you just really aren’t interested in restaurants. A selection of breads; a salad of wild chicory, white anchovy and Asiago; and a briny spaghettini of sea urchin roe with garlic and tomato. Espresso. You don’t need a crystal ball to know Terzini et all won’t be twiddling their thumbs for long. - JOHN LETHLEAN
Monday, 3 March, 2008, 08:20 AEST
What we're eating: Organic Food and Farmers’ Market Leichhardt
Ahh bacon… great tormentor of the vegetarian and friend to the hungover since God created booze. In my book, whoever it was in history that looked at his pet potbelly one day and decided it might be a good idea to slice it up, shove it under a grill and cushion it between bread slices qualifies for a sainthood. Saturday mornings at the organic food market in Leichhardt, ahead of a Stepford-like queue of anything up to 30 salivaters, you’ll find Sydney’s finest proponent of the art form. A family-run stall churning out finely sliced honey and port-cured rashers, bundled with a fried egg (optional), into bread rolls as soft and white as a Ruben boob. Topped with an all-too generous squirt of chin-dribbling BBQ sauce, it’s enough to make you a believer. - ALLAN FLETCHER
Organic Food and Farmers’ Market Leichhardt, Orange Grove Public School, Cnr Perry St and Balmain Rd, Leichhardt, Sydney, Saturdays 8am-1pm
Wednesday, 27 February, 2008, 08:32 AEST
The end no more for fin?
Flicking through the menu at Sydney three-star Quay the other day, as I'm wont to do in idle moments, one of their new entrées caught my eye:
“Slow braise of ethically fished Australian shark fin, egg yolk confit, golden turnips, duck consommé.”
I'm down with "line-caught", "ike jime-spiked", "dry-filleted", "day-boat" and other fancy footwork with fish on menus, but "ethically fished" is definitely a new one on me. Shark fin has been absent from most fine-dining menus and the diet of most fine-diners because (a) it's fished in an especially nasty and unsustainable manner, with shark products of any kind topping most Do Not Eat lists published by fish welfare activists, (b) sharks, being at the top of the food chain, are likely to accumulate the lion's share of environmental pollutants, such as mercury, and (c) it's very expensive.
But certain gourmets – predominantly Cantonese diners and cooks – prize shark fin for its unusual texture. The largely flavourless cartilaginous "needles" that form the interior of the fins are sold frozen or dried, then soaked and reconstituted in changes of water before being cooked, usually in a dense chicken stock. Shark fin is sold legally in restaurants and shops in Australia, but for the reasons outlined above, as well as for its unfamiliarity among non-Cantonese patrons, it's seen little outside high-end Chinese restaurants.
Quay's chef, Peter Gilmore, is noted for his interest in unusual textures in food, and makes frequent use of other ingredients such as jellyfish, roast suckling pig, sea cucumber, abalone and silken tofu which are highly regarded in the Cantonese kitchen. He also has a reputation for going to great lengths to source cool and unusual products for his dishes, whether it's the baby vegetables and lesser-known herbs he has grown specially for the restaurant or the rare-breed pork, bluefin tuna belly and other delicacies that are staples at Quay.
A spokeperson for the restaurant says that Gilmore has been keen to put shark fin on the menu for a long time, but couldn't find a local fishery that he was comfortable using.
"After a lot of research," said the spokeperson, "he found a fishery in Western Australia who fish a sustainable species in sustainable fishing grounds and work under strict quotas so the species are not under threat." The fish in question, it turns out, is a black tip reef shark, largely fished for its meat, which is sold primarily in Victoria. Chef Gilmore lays claim to the fins which are sent over snap-frozen. "Peter is very pleased he now has a beautiful product to work with," she continued, "and, ethically, he can use it."
On the face of things it sounds like a very interesting development. We're looking into the details of the fishery further, but for now, the big looming question is this: is the dish any good? Based on Gilmore's track record, and the quality of the non-shark fin dishes Quay has been producing of late, we’re thinking that the answer is likely to be in the affirmative. - PAT NOURSE
Ed's note: Quay's shark fin dish will make an appearance in our April 2008 issue (out March 31) as part of our Best of the Best feature alongside other food, restaurant and travel trends.
Monday, 25 February, 2008, 10:00 AEST
Public enemy number 1: truffle oil
Reviewing season for the coming edition of the GT Restaurant Guide is well and truly in full swing, and though this is usually a time of great fun, we’ve discovered a new pet hate: undisclosed truffle oil.
I can’t stand this stuff at the best of times. It’s harsh, overwhelming, gratuitous and, frankly, stinky. I’m also blown away by the number of restaurant-lovers and, yes, chefs who think is has something to do with real truffles. For the record, it’s not like an olive oil flavoured with fresh herbs or parmesan rinds or even lobster shells. Truffle oil is a synthetic product ("the aromatic hydrocarbons 2,4-dithiapentane," Wikipedia tells us) that has never seen a truffle. Yet for some reason, though it’s a crime against flavour akin to serving that fake dehydrated ‘parmesan’ from a shaker in place of the real thing in a fine diner – or worse – lots of chefs can’t seem to get enough of it. (One of the many reasons to give it a wide berth, too, is that it changes your perception of what real truffles, which are a rare and beautiful thing, ought to smell like, as this piece in The New York Times notes.)
It’s bad enough picking your way through a menu avoiding the foul stuff (I’m starting to avoid whole restaurants), but innocently ordering dishes you think are stink oil-free only to have them come out with that unmistakable waft of wrongness coming off them? That’s downright appalling. It’s happened to me at two restaurants already this year, an entrée and a main at one, and both entrees at another. Stripping the stars from anywhere else that tries it might get the message across, and I’ll certainly be sending any offending dishes back from now on.
Chefs: it has to be stopped. Diners: vote with your wallet. Give truffle oil dishes a miss for the good of your palate and the good of the country. And if someone slips some onto your dish on the sly, let us know.
Ah, I feel much better now. Then again, I can feel a not dissimilar rant building about supposedly ‘produce-driven’ chefs describing Avruga modified herring product as ‘caviar’ on their menus (which it isn’t)...
But more on that later. Someone just gave me a bottle of truffle oil, I think I might take it down to the vegie patch and see if it’s any good for scaring off slugs. - PAT NOURSE
Wednesday, 20 February, 2008, 07:09 AEST
Our Features Editor drinks something stupid
Severed toes? Bacon grease? What's next?
Having now downed a drink garnished with a severed human toe, I feel duty bound to try any cruel or unusual cocktail that comes my way. So it was in Telluride, Colorado only last week that I walked off the slopes amid record snowfalls to investigate rumours that Fat Alley, the Texan-owned barbecue joint on Oak Street, offered a drink of some description that involved bacon. Standing there, though, I felt supremely silly asking the enormous counterman in the stained apron if they, you know, do anything like a bacon shot. He stared me down for a while, and the queue behind me seemed to press that much closer. Is this lynching country, I wondered to myself. "Sure we do", he smiles after an aeon, "It's called the Mitch Morgan." What is it, exactly? "It's a shot of whiskey rimmed with freshly fried bacon fat and topped with a piece of bacon. Our house pour is Old Crow." I'll take two, with Jack, please. It goes like this: you lick the grease, down the shot and then eat the bacon, like some perverse, porky parody of the lip-sip-suck tequila routine. And hey, you know what? It ain't half bad. A long way from the stupidest thing I've ever drunk, the smoky cinnamon sweetness of the bourbon really does chime quite well with the crisp bacon. Hell, they even cook the bacon to order. Next. - PAT NOURSE
Tuesday, 12 February, 2008, 08:42 AEST
GT Christmas party
Behind the scenes at the Gourmet Traveller Christmas party...
Sydney Italian restaurant A Tavola
hosted this year's Gourmet Traveller
end of year blowout, opened it with arancini...
moved on to braised pork salad, pappardelle with braised zucchini flowers (pictured) and rabbit triangoli with mustard fruits and sage butter...
then came out to prepare the final course at our table...
pandoro with Amaretto mascarpone and cherries. - ROBERT MANIACI