Enjoy the occasional wine over dinner or with an afternoon platter? Are you under 25 years of age and want to learn more about the different tastes of the fine grape? If so, Tognini’s Bistro Café Deli in Spring Hill has organised the perfect night for you. With a selection of three white and three red wines to taste accompanied by deli platters, Tognini’s Drink and Learn Workshop will not only fill your glass with wine to taste but also knowledge. Now no-one has to avoid the role of choosing the right wine for dinner!
Pacific Environments Architects describe it as “the treehouse we all dreamed of as children but could only do as an adult fantasy”. This unique restaurant located in a private forest north of Auckland actually started as a ‘reality TV’ advert for Yellow Pages. They posted an ad for an everyday person to run the project and the person could only source workers and materials from the Yellow Pages directory. Although the restaurant was only open for bookings between 9 January to 9 February 2009, they are now making plans to re-open the venue for functions.
Starting from the top of Latrobe and ending at Petrie Terrace, the smell of espresso is strong with already more than 15 different caffeine vendors dotted along the busy strip. New addition, Cartel Coffee Bar is located right on the edge of Paddington, across from Hotel LA on Caxton Street. It’s a tinyish almost hole in the wall espresso bar but quite open and airy with some clever outside seating. Serving up beans from Caffé di Gabriel, a Sydney based roaster, they encourage smaller style coffees like a short black, short mac or piccolo starting from $3. I like it! Recommendations aside, all coffees are available as is a simple breakfast and light lunch menu. Seemingly nothing out of the ordinary until one thing caught my eye, ‘Acai with muesli’. Acai (pronounced a-sigh-ee) is a Brazilian berry that tastes like a delicious blend of berries and chocolate! Not only delicious it’s super good for you too containing bucket loads of antioxidant power. The morning I visited, the staff (whom I assume were also Brazilian) offered me a taste and it was indeed delicious. They also asked if I’d like to try their first attempt at a freshly made pão de queijo, a cheesy bread ball that’s a popular Brazilian breakfast or snack. Apparently it wasn’t up to their standards but I thought it tasted great! With its Brazilian twist in combination with the busy location, great coffee and enthusiastic staff it’s a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.
A highlight on the Queensland food and wine calendar, the newly named Noosa Food and Wine Festival is held on the first weekend in May this year. Some of the country’s most talented chefs and iconic winemakers will be joined by serious foodies, food and wine media and restaurateurs over three days of tasting, drinking and discussing all things food and wine. Day 1 – Includes cooking classes with celebrity chefs, Italian lifestyle lunches, Noosa food trails, the opening concert and welcome party, the 1st Great Australian Degustation and guest chefs appearing at local restaurants River House, Coconut Grove, Ma’Mensa and Lindoni’s. Day 2 – The culinary exhibition begins showcasing some of the Vogue Entertaining + Travel Produce awards and select local produce, food and wine tastings from some of Noosa’s leading restaurants and Australias leading winemakers, celebrity chef cooking demostrations, live entertainment and the 2nd Great Australian Degustation. Day 3 – The day of the Great Aussie Picnic! Here’s your chance to critique the food critics. Sunday is their turn to impress on the food front. The culinary exhibition continues with more live entertainment, the 3rd Great Australian Degustation and guest chefs again appearing at some of the local restaurants.
If, mid-afternoon, your brain starts to slow down and your eyes are going all squinty from peering at your computer screen, it might be time to take a little afternoon tea break. Here’s a fun little tea-making gadget that will capture your imagination – the Sharky tea infuser from Argentinean designer, Pablo Matteoda. With a mesh underside, the Sharky tea infuser releases tea into your cup, while the sleek silver, air-filled fin floats above the waterline, which means there’s no fishing around for a sunken teabag at the bottom of the cup. What a great excuse to put on the kettle.
Radiohead did it with “In Rainbows”, Girl Talk did it with “Feed the Ainmals”, and now restaurants are doing it with food. According to the Evening Standard, a London restaurant is tackling the recession head-on by scrapping bills and letting customers pay what they want for this month. Peter Ilic, who owns the Little Bay restaurant group, will not present a single food bill to diners, leaving it up to them to decide how much the meal and service is worth. It isn’t the only restaurant doing this. Lentil as Anything in Melbourne also uses this idea and says “when it comes down to it, we just want to promote the very underutilized concept of trust”. Ibis Singapore are using it for hotel rooms, Good Magazine are using it for subscriptions, Free Culture used it for conference registrations and the Columbus Dance Theatre uses it for theatre tickets. I’m thinking I would like to use it for affordable housing.
Just how good can a cupcake be? Visit newly opened Poppy Cakes at Emporium, order one of their ‘Red Velvet’ cupcakes and find out for yourself. They do sell seven other cupcake flavours but I couldn’t tell you what they’re like. I can’t get past the gorgeous, deep red, vanilla heaven that is ‘Red Velvet’. It seems I’m not alone either as it’s the only style that owner Theo makes as a whole cake. This menu of delicious little cakes doesn’t stray too far from classic vanilla and chocolate flavours. It doesn’t need to. Placing spectacularly top quality ingredients like Neilsen Massey Madagascan vanilla and French Valrhona chocolate in the right hands is a recipe for greatness. Both are considered the finest of their respective food categories and it certainly shows in the end product! As averse as I am to a cliché it must be said, the proof is in the pudding. There I said it. It just is, and it gets better! Dining in provides opportunity for the perfect accompaniment to your cupcake experience by way of the Mariage Frere tea menu. As you’d expect, classic English Breakfast and Earl Grey are on offer but your tastebuds will thank you for being a little adventurous ordering a cup of Marco Polo, Wedding Imperial or the green Fujiyama. Trust me! In store you can order 1 or 100 cupcakes, depending on how early in the day you visit. Order in advance and you can have whatever your heart desires. They’ll even deliver, giftwrap or cater functions and events.
Foxtel’s Lifestyle Food channel devotees will be all too familiar already. The UK’s most popular cooking program ‘Masterchef’ is already a hit here with most foodies, so word of the Australian version travelled quickly last year amongst us. Masterchef Australia is apparently Channel 10’s big hope for 2009 – blah, blah! Who cares about that? As long as we have a similar format; two judges (one of whom on occasion states his willingness to marry a pudding), regular, everyday (sometimes crazy) people cooking off against each other with surprise ingredients, a cooking challenge in one of Australia’s more well known restaurants and the finale, a final cook off consisting of a two course meal of the contestants choice, then I’m certain we’ll all be happy. My fingers are crossed! Contestant applications for the show closed on January 9th and the auditions have already begun. (more…)
You wouldn’t have them on your weekly shopping list, not even the foodiest of foodies would either. It’s also safe to say that most Australians would not even know what they were. I’m referring to truffles. A type of fungus that grows underground, typically among the roots of oak and hazelnut trees. As quoted by famous French food writer Brillat Savarin, “The French black truffle is considered the finest of the edible fungi and has a place in gastronomy alongside saffron, caviar, foie gras and the finest of wines. (more…)
Imagine having a cow in the backyard. Or on the balcony. Slightly impractical, but that’s where Herdshare steps in. Herdshare is crowdfunding for wannabe cattle farmers. People can buy a share in a cow and pay a local farmer to board, care for, and milk the cow. The shareholder then obtains (but does not purchase) the raw milk from their own cow. Which neatly gets around the food standards regulations banning the sale of unpasteurised milk products for human consumption. The arrangement allows consumers to buy a share in a cow for about $50, plus a monthly agistment fee – yielding about seven litres of milk a week (or less, plus cheese and butter). Even better, it’s tweaking the food production paradigm, enabling consumers to become food producers. And farmers, instead of being primary producers, are paid to care for animals that are no longer theirs. The first Herdshare has hit Brisbane. It’s early days, and prices are expected to fall as demand grows. I’ll drink to that.
Ottolenghi, The Cookbook is definitely one of the stand out cookbooks of 2008. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi wrote this cookbook in response to popular demand from loyal customers of their Notting Hill Deli/Patisserie also named Ottolenghi. After reading the first sentence boldly stating “If you don’t like lemon or garlic… skip to the last page.”, I instantly knew this was the book for me! Focusing on light, super fresh food, the recipes have a Mediterranean influence with a distinct Middle Eastern edge. Fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and pulses are the star ingredients in many of the dishes (vegetarians will love this cookbook) and the recipes are nothing too fancy or over complicated, just great flavour combinations that are also visually stunning. Fresh herbs feature heavily throughout too. Fennel, cherry tomato & crumble gratin, Cauliflower & cumin fritters with lime yoghurt, French beans & snowpeas with hazlenut and orange are just some examples. Non-vego readers are definitely well catered for with dishes like Harissa-marinated chicken with red grapefruit salad, Pan-fried sea bass on pita with labneh, tomato & preserved lemon and Beef & lamb meatballs baked in tahini. A third of the book is dedicated to their passion and love for patisserie with recipes for cakes, cupcakes, tarts, biscuits, meringues and savoury breads and pastries. If you love cooking and eating fresh, healthy and happy food than you need this cookbook!
Once referred to as poor man’s pâté, rillette (pronounced ree-yet) is a deliciously rich sort of ‘meat paste’. Unlike pâté that is made from livers, rillette is made from only meat. A poor man’s pâté because originally only cheaper, less attractive cuts of meat would have been used. Perfect for picnics, snacks or hors d’oeuvres, the best way to eat it is with good bread and cornichon. The vinegary tang of the cornichon perfectly balances the richness of the meat. Rillette can be made from goose, duck, pork (more traditional), rabbit, salmon or sometimes a combination of two (as a general rule – pork goes with everything). Rillette is made by slowly, slowly cooking the meat over a very low heat in water and its own fat seasoned with herbs, spices, garlic and sometimes wine. For example, duck would be cooked in duck fat (and probably some pork fat). When cooked to the point of falling apart, the meat is then drained, shredded and stirred into until a paste like consistency. Store bought, it is generally sold in glass jars or ceramic pots. There are plenty of recipes online if you fancy trying to make your own. Here’s one I like the sound of… Rillette recipe.
Making your own Christmas cakes or puddings this year? It’s most likely that your recipe will require glacé or candied citron and other glacé fruits. This can be quite confusing as candied citron is also known as cedro. As its name suggests, citron (or cedrat lemon) is a member of the citrus family and looks like an oversized lemon or lime. It’s rarely used in its natural form as the intense sourness makes it unsuitable for eating. It’s most common in the Mediterranean and is unique in that the rind is actually the most utilised part of the fruit. If your recipe calls for citron then what you’ll need is cedro, the candied (or glacé) peel of the citron fruit. Apart from being candied, it is also the source of the note ‘Citron’ used in parfumery. Here’s a great recipe for a Carribean Christmas Cake.
We have had a lot of enquires about where to purchase the luscious French macaroons that graced our July ‘Eat’ issue cover. Although the macaroons are not available in Australia, the famed creator, Pierre Herme, has released a cookbook that reveals all the hidden secrets of the perfect macaroon, and more. Showing readers how to recreate the stunning pastry masterpieces, which range in flavour from green tea to black truffle, Pierre Herme’s book – Macaron – is a comprehensive guide to delicate and delectable French gourmet delights. Recommended for confident cooks and pastry specialists, the book tells you everything you ever wanted to know about macaroons. Please note that the book is currently only available in French.
We’re just about at the end of their short season, so enjoy them while you can. Some people say that they are hard work because they need to be double peeled (their outer casing can sometimes be bitter and tough in texture so is best removed). I say it’s worth the effort. I’ve also heard that the best way to eat these little gems is when they are very young and can be eaten, pod and all (like snow peas). However if you’re like me and don’t grow your own at home then it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever find them this young. When buying look for firm, bright green pods without blemishes. To cook, simply remove the beans from the pods and blanch in boiling, salted water and then refresh in ice-cold water. To double peel, make an incision in the outer casing, peel it back and squeeze the vibrant, green inner bean out. 1kg of pods should yield about 225g edible beans. They are brilliant used in salads, pasta or risotto using complimentary ingredients such as aged, sharp cheeses like Pecorino & Parmigiano Reggiano, lemon, olive oil, garlic, bacon, chicken, butter, proscuitto, fresh oregano & thyme, anchovies and asparagus.
Entering a supermarket these days is an ethical workout. With each item on my list, I try to consider the packaging used, the practices and resources used in its production, how far it has travelled, whether it supports the local economy, whether it fairly supports the producer, its health value and appeal, and its dollar cost. So, as a seafood lover, I’m ashamed to say that my main consideration when buying fish and seafood is freshness. But I’ve just picked up a copy of the Sustainable Seafood Guide. Produced by the non-profit Australian Marine Conservation Society, the guide and accompanying pocket-cards help consumers wade through a mire of considerations to make purchase decisions that support sustainable fishing practices. So, what’s the bad news? Southern bluefin tuna and scallops are overfished, while Atlantic salmon and barramundi are farmed using unsustainable practices. Choose whiting, bream, flathead, calamari and tropical trevally instead. Incorrect labelling in the marketplace is rampant, so it’s worth asking. The good news is that as consumers, we have an awesome amount of power. We can help improve the health of the oceans by voting with our wallets. And encouraging others to do the same. Check out the guide. And think twice about ordering those prawns for Christmas – give the guide instead.
A man I knew only as Mr John Macrossan (and my favourite customer) passed away recently at 78 years of age. I still recall our first meeting some time ago and our lengthy chat about our favourite cheeses. I would see John once every two months or so and each time we’d discuss our mutual interest further. Over time I came to know him by name and also his warm, friendly and down to earth manner. If asked, I would describe him as a very tall man with friendly eyes, a permanent smile and always enthusiastic! I look back fondly on our lengthy discussions in front of the cheese fridge and wonder if our paths would still have crossed were it not for our love of good food! Lastly, a quote from John himself – ‘Life’s too short to eat only Quickes Cheddar’. I couldn’t agree more John! We’ll miss you dearly…
Low GI, low fat, high fibre, low carb, preservative free, natural preservative – there is a lot of food lingo floating around that describes what people eat in contemporary society. Traditionally, the food pyramid drew the line between ‘good’ food and ‘bad food’, but recently there has been many ad campaigns in between, which are blurring the boundaries between the two. It is no wonder that food has become linked to our emotional state and we may experience feelings of guilt when eating ‘bad’ foods. All You Can Eat explores these concepts by portraying individuals eating their favourite foods. The closely cropped images focus on the subjects’ faces, as guilt battles pleasure in the ritual of consumption. All You Can Eat is on show at the Brisbane Powerhouse until October 26.
Describe your cooking style at home? It is not very different from what I do for the magazine – very produce-driven, with quite defined flavours. Often I build dishes around one or two key ingredients. At the moment I am taken with blood oranges but they will soon be gone and I will be moving onto lovely summer tomatoes. I often find that condiments, pickles and preserves that one has on hand are a wonderful way of taking a simple thing in different directions. I am a huge fan of the Spanish Forum vinegars, which I swear one could drink. Another favourite is a good Italian vincotto, which I like to use in sweet and savoury recipes. Good anchovies, olives and capers also give one huge mileage in the kitchen.