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Articles on this Page
- 09/24/14--22:15: _Mushroom burgers
- 09/24/14--22:29: _Vanilla 'Cheesecake'
- 09/24/14--22:56: _Belle Gibson's guid...
- 09/24/14--23:14: _Shed
- 09/24/14--23:17: _Introduction
- 09/24/14--23:37: _Mark's Shed
- 09/24/14--23:42: _Peter's Shed
- 09/29/14--18:38: _A Dinner with Bocuse
- 09/30/14--16:37: _Chilled Pine Nut Ga...
- 10/02/14--22:55: _Cover Shots with Fl...
- 10/07/14--16:06: _Matt Home
- 10/07/14--16:12: _Gary's Favourites Home
- 10/07/14--16:25: _Garden Life Home
- 10/07/14--18:26: _Dee Nolan Book Launch
- 10/07/14--18:50: _Cook-book Lunch
- 10/07/14--21:08: _Chocolate Brûlée
- 10/08/14--20:24: _A Food Lover's Pilg...
- 10/08/14--22:00: _Axpe
- 10/08/14--22:47: _Burgos
- 10/08/14--22:51: _A Galician Food Pil...
- 09/24/14--22:15: Mushroom burgers
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Line 3 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
- Brush each mushroom cap with oil and place, stem side up, on 2 of the lined trays. Season the stem sides of the mushrooms with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the thyme leaves and drizzle over half the remaining oil. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked through and still holding their shape.
- Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer on the remaining lined tray. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the remaining oil. Place in the oven when the mushrooms have been cooking for 15 minutes. Roast for 10–12 minutes or until softened.
- Meanwhile, place the beetroot in a glass or ceramic bowl. Stir through the vinegar and set aside for 10 minutes. Drain in a fine-meshed sieve, squeezing out the excess vinegar. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Place the avocado and mint in a bowl and lightly mash using the back of a fork. Season with salt and pepper then stir in the cucumber. Set aside.
- To assemble, place a mushroom, stem side up, on each serving plate. Use a wide spatula to carefully top each mushroom with 2 slices of tomato. Sprinkle over the grated beetroot, then top with a dollop of the avocado mixture and mint leaves. Finish with the remaining mushrooms, cap side up.
- 09/24/14--22:29: Vanilla 'Cheesecake'
- Place the cashews in a bowl, cover with plenty of fresh water and set aside for 6–8 hours to soak. Drain and rinse well.
- Line the base of a 20 cm springform cake tin with non-stick baking paper.
- Process the sunflower seeds and shredded coconut in a blender or food processor for about 30 seconds or until coarsely chopped. Add the rice malt syrup, coconut oil and salt and pulse until combined and the mixture clings together when pressed with your fingertips. Press firmly into the base of the lined tin. Refrigerate until required.
- Blend the drained cashews, coconut cream, extra coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a blender for 2–3 minutes or until very smooth.
- Arrange the raspberries and blueberries over the sunflower seed base. Pour over the cashew filling and smooth the surface. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, until firm. If you need to speed things up, place in the freezer for 2–3 hours to set. Serve topped with extra berries or fruit.
- 09/24/14--22:56: Belle Gibson's guide to detoxing
- 09/24/14--23:14: Shed
- 09/24/14--23:17: Introduction
- 09/24/14--23:37: Mark's Shed
- 09/24/14--23:42: Peter's Shed
- 09/29/14--18:38: A Dinner with Bocuse
- 09/30/14--16:37: Chilled Pine Nut Gazpacho
- Break the bread into pieces about the size of a walnut. Place in a shallow bowl, cover with cold water and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
- Use your hands to firmly squeeze out the bread, then place in a blender. Add the pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, sherry vinegar and salt and blend thoroughly to form a very smooth paste. Add 1.5 litres of cold water and blend again until smooth and velvety.
- Chill in the fridge for 2–3 hours before serving. Garnish with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil.
- 10/02/14--22:55: Cover Shots with Fleur Wood
- 10/07/14--16:06: Matt Home
- 10/07/14--16:12: Gary's Favourites Home
- 10/07/14--16:25: Garden Life Home
- 10/07/14--18:26: Dee Nolan Book Launch
- 10/07/14--18:50: Cook-book Lunch
- 10/07/14--21:08: Chocolate Brûlée
- Preheat the oven to 150°C.
- Heat the cream, milk and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat until the chocolate melts (do not let the mixture come to the boil).
- Use a balloon whisk to whisk the egg yolks and 70 g of the sugar together in a mixing bowl until thick and pale. Add the hot cream mixture and gently whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into a large shallow ovenproof dish (about 1 litre capacity) or divide evenly among four 200–250 ml ramekins.
- Place the dish or ramekins in a roasting pan and add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish or ramekins. Carefully place the pan in the oven and bake for 20–30 minutes, until the brûlée is just set. Remove the dish or ramekins from the pan, transfer to a wire rack and set aside to cool.
- Sprinkle the remaining 60 g sugar over the brûlée and use a kitchen blowtorch to carefully scorch the sugar until it forms a thin caramelised layer.
- 10/08/14--20:24: A Food Lover's Pilgrimage to Santiago De Compostela PB
- 10/08/14--22:00: Axpe
- 10/08/14--22:47: Burgos
- 10/08/14--22:51: A Galician Food Pilgrimage
There’s no need to miss out on burgers if you are vegetarian. These are just as ‘meaty’ and filling as their beef counterparts, plus they’re delicious and so good for you. A great source of protein and brain food.
8 large flat mushrooms (about 10 cm diameter)
½ cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 large roma (plum) tomatoes, thickly sliced
1 large (320 g) beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
¼ cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar
2 avocados, stones removed, flesh diced
small handful mint leaves, chopped
1 Lebanese (short) cucumber, halved lengthways, seeded and coarsely grated
It’s cheesecake, but not as you know it. Soaked cashews are blitzed with coconut cream and a touch of maple syrup to make a divine creamy ‘cheese’ filling, while chopped sunflower seeds and coconut oil combine to make an earthy, nourishing base. Studded with antioxidant-laden berries, this ticks all the boxes.
Tips: Using a blender rather than a food processor will give you a finer, creamier filling. Coating your measuring cup lightly in coconut oil will help the maple syrup glide out easily when you add it to the mixture, so you won’t waste any!
2 cups (300 g) raw cashews
1 cup (150 g) sunflower seeds
1½ cups (115 g) shredded coconut
¼ cup (60 ml) rice malt syrup
1 tablespoon melted virgin coconut oil
pinch sea salt
½ cup (125 ml) coconut cream
½ cup (125 ml) melted coconut oil, extra
¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or paste
125 g fresh or thawed frozen raspberries
125 g fresh or thawed frozen blueberries
extra fresh berries or fruit, to serve
When I talk about detoxing, I don’t just mean a once-a-year thing – I mean action you can take every day to encourage the body’s natural detoxification processes which occur through the skin, lungs, liver, kidneys, colon and lymph nodes. Every day we are exposed to toxins through pollution, cheap clothing, pharmaceuticals, unfiltered water, pesticides, preservatives and other lifestyle factors. Though our bodies go through a natural detoxification cycle each night as we sleep, the detoxifiying organs can become overloaded and need some help every now and then to eliminate the toxins which have built up, typically in fat stores. See a detox as a gift to your body – you’ve earned it.
Drink plenty of water. I drink around 2.5 litres of filtered water each day. As some of our major organs are largely made up of water, it makes sense to start here. Drink one large glass when you wake up, before eating, followed by a warm cup of water with lemon to help alkalise your system.
Eat more high-fibre fruits and vegetables, such as avocados, broccoli, artichokes and leafy greens like bok choy and spinach. All these promote a healthy digestive system and they also contain digestive enzymes which improve nutrient absorption and digestive function, helping to reduce or eliminate bloating.
Practise dry-body brushing. Each day, before showering, use a dry body brush to massage the entire body, starting from the feet and working upwards towards the neck in a circular motion. This is a great way to improve blood circulation, stimulate the lymphatic system and lymph drainage, brighten skin, unclog pores and reduce fluid retention. Shower afterwards to wash away impurities and dead skin cells.
Clean your tongue, not just your teeth. As we sleep, there is a build-up of toxins in our bodies, which we need to expel when we wake by going to the toilet, brushing our teeth and scraping our tongues (with a teaspoon, or ‘tongue scraper’). We all wake with morning breath and a white or yellow coating on our tongues – this is the body’s reminder that it’s done its job overnight. The coating is the residue of toxins, and is thicker when you’re sick or under stress.
If you and your body need a little more, recalibrate your digestive and immune system by undergoing a 3–5-day detox at least once a year. Listen to your body – it will tell you when it’s time. You might have sore knees or aching joints, feel lethargic after eating, or have headaches, constipation, bad skin, bad breath or excess perspiration. These are all signs that there is a build-up of toxins in your system.
To recalibrate and give your body a break, cut out high-fructose fruits (such as bananas, apples, pears, stone fruit, grapes and dried fruit), alcohol, caffeine (coffee and black tea), dairy, gluten and sugar. If you eat animal protein, limit yourself to steamed chicken or fish. If you want to take it to the next level and do a juice, smoothie or soup fast, it’s a good idea to talk to your dietitian, naturopath or integrative doctor first.
More Kitchen Tips
The Shed: A place of retreat, where we can forget the pressures of everyday life, work on a treasured project, store all those keepsakes we can't bear to throw away, or spend time with friends or with ourselves in silent meditation.
Photographer Simon Griffiths has an eye for the beauty of ordinary things; in Shack he showed us the eccentric living spaces and holiday homes that Australians have made out of simple dwellings. Now he takes you to peek inside some of Australia's most intriguing sheds. From fabulously cluttered artists' studios overflowing with creativity and inspiration to evocative abandoned ruins, these sheds will make you look at your own in a new light. A shed is a place of possibility; it can be anything you want it to be.
Probably the first sheds I can remember are my grand-father’s, on the farm he owned in the western district of Victoria. He had a huge number of them, all with different purposes, and he seemed to spend his day going from one to another. There was the garden shed: a dark space with a work bench, tools, an old chair and lots of interesting old stuff – cast-off items from the house, toys, a scooter, jars with nails and screws, funny bits of metal in wooden boxes. Things would scurry around in dark corners – rats and mice, I suppose, never seen but easy enough to imagine inhabiting the darker corners. It was always a fascinating space, if a bit scary with the scurrying noises in the dark recesses, and thick cobwebs on the rafters and on the dusty window. There was a cylinder gramophone and a cupboard full of blue cylinder records that my grandfather would crank up and play to amuse us; we’d hear strange, scratchy old voices singing half-forgotten songs from the depths of the shed. There were other sheds too: the wood shed, the chook shed, the tumbledown bluestone shearing shed, the tractor shed with a cage of ferrets (a long way from the house), the milking shed, a shed to store sacks of grain and, out in one of the paddocks, an odd shed full of rusty old rabbit traps.
In this book are some of my favourite sheds and proud shed owners. A mix of all sorts of different sheds: a few ruins, lots of workplaces, places to store collections or house obsessions and hobbies. A few are decorative, but most are workaday spaces built to serve a purpose. A few are ‘repurposed’, recycled buildings. All are beautiful in their own way.
Sheds are as variable as the people who own them; they cross all social boundaries, you don’t have to be rich to own one, and in fact the best sheds are created on shoestring budgets. Recycling and building with secondhand bits and pieces makes for some of the best sheds in this book. From bush poles and fencing wire to designer sheds – they are all here.
It took a bit of sleuthing to track down some of the characters who own these sheds, such as the shed that drove past me on a trailer one day in central Victoria. I would see it driving around town but it was a while before I established that it was farmer Darryl’s mobile shed. I also got the chance to visit some iconic Australian sheds: the boat shed on Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain and the amazing ‘Murtoa Stick Shed’. But there are friends’ sheds here as well, sheds that I have always admired or wanted! Is it possible to have shed envy? A few sheets of rusty corrugated iron
and some weathered old timbers is all it takes.
Australia is a land of sheds; it doesn’t matter where you go, there they are – country, city, the outback, the coast, the mountains; there’s always a shed. We store things in them, people work in them; some are old, forgotten and falling apart, but there is always hope as modern sheds keep being built and people keep inventing new uses for old sheds. They are as many and as varied as the population of Australia.
Long live the shed.
Mark Anstey is a woodworker, furniture-maker, boat-builder and artist. His is the only shed I have seen that has a boat tucked into a corner as a project for when he has a moment to spare. Mark runs Lot 19 (see page 41), a collection of sheds with a gallery and performance space in Castlemaine in Victoria. This is his own shed, which he built when he bought the property, and he runs his business from here. It’s a large shed, as you can see by the size of his boat (overleaf). Large metal-frame factory windows allow in plenty of light; a thin film of wood dust covers the windows and lights the space with a golden glow; huge racks of waiting timber line the walls and dust-extractor pipes snake through the shed. Large work benches fill the main space so more than one project can be worked on at any time. A pinboard holds plans for furniture and templates, and a picture of Elvis watches over it all.
Just about every day I walk past Peter Cole’s shed as I walk my dog. Its precise crystalline whiteness is striking against the blue sky. Peter designed the shed and it is as beautiful as one of his sculptures; every detail both inside and out has been considered and is aesthetically pleasing. A large sculpture at the front of the modern shed greets the visitor; a yellow cross perches on two squares and the sculpture casts interesting shadows on sunny days. Inside, the shed is broken into different work zones and large tables hold brightly coloured works in progress. Finished works stand waiting to be carefully packed for the next exhibition. It’s a busy and productive workspace. Even the way Peter’s tools are hung on the walls reminds you that Peter is one of Australia’s best sculptors. Neat arrangements of sculptures line the walls and the shed is spotlessly clean and light. I can see why Peter loves spending time here; it’s such a great workspace.
At L'Abbaye de Collonges, Paul Bocuse sits surrounded by his extraordinary collection of fairground memorabilia at the Bocuse banqueting venue. From A Food Lover's Pilgrimage to France - Photo by Earl Carter
In A Food Lover’s Pilgrimage to France, to be released 22 October, Dee Nolan travels from Dijon to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port: from Burgundy’s vine-covered slopes to the gastronomic capital of Lyon up onto the vast windswept meadows of the Aubrac plateau; along the dramatic Lot river; through the gentle hills of Gascony and, finally, to the trout-filled rivers of the Pyrénées.The cooks and farmers she encountered along the way belong to some of Europe’s most enduring food cultures. In this extract, Dee shares her memorable dining experience at the restaurant of Paul Bocuse, a legend among chefs. And if this extract whets your appetite for your own Bocuse experience, you can book now for the exclusive launch dinner for A Food Lover's Pilgrimage to France.
My meeting with Paul Bocuse is set for tomorrow morning and I’m as nervous as a kitten. It’s impossible to overstate Paul Bocuse’s importance in the French fine dining revolution of the second half of the twentieth century when the style of cooking changed dramatically and chefs emerged from the wage-earning anonymity of the kitchen to become the owners and faces of their own restaurants. This new generation became international media stars and entrepreneurs. They lent their names to products, wrote cookbooks and consulted far and wide. Celebrity chefdom was born.
Paul Bocuse took to this ‘personality cuisine’ like a duck to water and by the 1970s, in France and beyond, he was as famous as any film star or soccer hero. He still is. Not only is he an exemplary chef, but he is a born showman, an intuitive marketer and a natural leader. La Bande à Bocuse – Bocuse’s gang – was the name given to a highly influential fellowship of chefs that included Jean and Pierre Troisgros. Their hallmark was the nouvelle cuisine that had started with their mentor, chef Fernand Point. It showcased quality ingredients and liberated traditional haute cuisine from heavy sauces. It was a watershed moment in cooking worldwide and Paul Bocuse was its standard-bearer. Quentin Crewe spent time with him for his late-1970s groundbreaking book on French chefs. ‘All these chefs look to Bocuse as the master,’ he wrote. ‘Paul Bocuse has leadership in full measure . . . he is driven on and on. Partly, it is his overpowering energy, enough for four men.’
Now, even in his late eighties, he remains at the heart of a global business with restaurants, bistros and hotels in France, America, Switzerland and Japan. The jewel in the crown is L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, in a suburb of Lyon. I’ve never eaten in a Bocuse restaurant, so I’d made an online booking from Australia to dine at L’Auberge and when I arrive there’s no mistaking where I am. A life-size mural of the Bocuse family greets diners at the restaurant entrance. The photo on the cover of the huge menu is the Bocuse signature image: chin resting on one hand, his Bassett Hound eyes looking out from below the rim of a starched, pleated white skyscraper toque blanche. I know that the Bocuse family residence is beyond a door in the dining room. This side of the door feels like a well-to-do bourgeois family home, complete with its lifetime of memorabilia. The decor is yellow and watermelon: painted wood panelling, chandeliers, swagged curtains, large comfy armchairs, nineteenth-century oil paintings of milkmaids alongside photos of Frank Sinatra, black-and-white family photos, old postcards of the riverbank beyond the restaurant when Collonges was a village, a framed thank-you letter from Laura Bush and three perfect white roses on every table, as directed by Madame Bocuse. The service is seamless. Everyone speaks English and no doubt umpteen other languages. The welcome is warm.
I order the four-course Menu Classique, the cheapest of the three menus at 145€, but I hardly feel deprived because I start with the classic Bocuse casserole of lobster à l’Armoricaine (a tomato and herb sauce) and for my main course I will at last get to eat the prized Sisteron lamb from the thyme and rosemary pastured uplands of Provence. My glass of Olivier Leflaive Meursault has just arrived when a small tureen topped with a thin, golden dome of pastry is placed in front of me. ‘It’s from Monsieur Bocuse – you are a friend of Philippe Mouchel’s,’ says Charles, the maître d’hôtel. Back in Melbourne, Philippe had talked movingly of his years as a Bocuse’s executive chef who came to Australia to mastermind the Bocuse restaurant in Melbourne and never went home to France. Now, courtesy of their close and lasting friendship, I am about to eat a dish that had recently reduced a top New York Michelin-starred chef (April Bloomfield) to tears of pleasure. I pinch myself. This is the famous Soupe aux truffes noires V.G.E. created by Bocuse in 1975 for a legendary lunch with French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and La Bande à Bocuse to celebrate Bocuse receiving the Légion d’honneur. It’s on the menu for 80€. I crack open the pastry and up rushes a whoosh of truffley aromas. It is, in essence, a simple beef and vegetable soup, but it’s elevated to the sublime with truffles, and is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Another starter follows – salmon marinated with herbs – and so I struggle a little to finish my lamb, which is superb. Alongside are spring vegetables (new potatoes, peas and baby carrots) and a rich, rich potato gratin.
Suddenly, there is a frisson in the room. Paul Bocuse has appeared in the doorway. He’s dressed as if he’s stepped off the menu cover. Maître d’hôtel Charles is by his side. He’s greeting all his diners, I think, but no, moving slowly, he comes to my table. We shake hands and I can’t believe it when he slides into the empty chair across from me, his chef ’s hat towering over his small frame. Charles translates as he asks fondly about Philippe Mouchel and wants to know what I’ve eaten, what did I think of it? He mentions our meeting the next morning and then, before he says goodnight, he gives me a copy of an English edition of Best of Paul Bocuse. When I open the book I find it’s personally inscribed to me. I had read accounts of his extraordinary kindness, of not charging young diners who clearly love good food and of his absolute dedication to training the next generation of chefs. I reflect on how much I’m savouring my meal tonight – everything has been classic, nourishing, flavourful. Curious and inventive, Paul Bocuse has said that travel, especially to Japan in the 1960s, changed his cuisine. But he comes from a ten-generation line-up of local cooks, so the long tradition and extraordinary history of French cuisine is in his genes. While fads and fashions blow in and out of our modern food world like summer storms, Bocuse’s style of cooking is unwavering.
Charles returns with a dessert trolley as big as a small country. Truly, I say, I can’t eat another morsel. ‘You have to,’ he says. ‘Monsieur Bocuse will ask me in the morning what you had.’ I ask Charles which is his favourite dessert. ‘The rum baba!’ After the kindness and generosity of tonight, I’d hate to seem ungrateful but please, I say to Charles, tell him a little white lie tomorrow and say I had the rum baba. When I leave I’m looking forward to returning in the morning. How could I be nervous with such a gracious man? Quentin Crewe wrote that L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges ‘is a house of grande cuisine, yet not pompous or forbidding’. He also wrote that real generosity characterises all of Paul Bocuse’s daily dealings. Clearly, in forty years, nothing has changed.
- Dee Nolan
Join Dee at the Exclusive Launch Dinner for A Food Lover’s Pilgrimage to France
When: Monday 20 October
Where: Cutler & Co., Fitzroy, Melbourne
A four-course Bocuse and Burgundy dinner with wine especially prepared by Andrew McConnell with guest chef, Philippe Mouchel.
Book your ticket now!
Chilled Pine Nut Gazpacho - Photo by Alan Benson
I like to think of gazpachos as loosely related cold soups that have pounded bread and garlic at the root of their family tree. Added to this could be nuts, often vegetables or perhaps fruit – one of chef Dani García’s signature dishes in the past has been cherry gazpacho with anchovy. Ajoblanco is a deliciously refreshing pick-me-up and is usually made with almonds, but this version uses pine nuts, which are native to the Mediterranean coast. Keep a jug of this in the fridge on a hot summer’s day when family and friends are around.
Chilled Pine Nut Gazpacho
100 g two-day-old bread, without crusts
200 g pine nuts
½ garlic clove
100 ml mild-flavoured extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1½ tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon sea salt
Featuring a collection of clothes, food, images and objects that she loves, Fleur Wood’s new book Food Fashion Love celebrates the many things that give her inspiration and offer a little peak into her soul. And while the book is full of beautiful images, there are a few hands behind the scenes that help get everything set up. To prepare for the cover shoot, there was a team of people working to help Fleur look her best and get the wonderful photo we used for the cover.
The concept for the cover shoot was 'light and tonal' and Michelle Jank, who art directed and styled the shot, put together an amazing photo that captured this perfectly.
The key to achieving this look was the window used in the background for the shot. The team scouted a lot of locations, visiting old houses and buildings around Sydney to find the perfect window that would fill the setting with light. The crew finally found the right one in a dance studio on Castlereagh St, in Sydney’s CBD – a hidden gem.
Once the location was locked it in was just a matter of getting everyone else in the same place at the same time. Fleur now lives in New York and there was only a short timeframe to get the cover shot done.
Michelle, a talented stylist and fashion designer among other things, put Fleur in a hand-tailored tulle skirt specially made for the shoot, which added to the dreamy, light quality of the photo.
The cakes, designed by the amazing Michelle Noerianto, were used on the cover to marry Fleur's combination of food and fashion. The Lantern designers, art director Daniel New and senior designer Evi O, were able to lend a hand to help ice the cakes for the cover shot.
The photographer, Anthony Ong, had to use all these elements to come up with the final shot. He was able to shoot using the light and tonal elements and get a shot that everyone loved.
Matt Moran's fresh produce is turned into delicious dishes, such as Fennel, cavalo nero, chilli and dill salad, in Matt's Kitchen Garden Cookbook - Photography by Rob Palmer
Roasted sweet potatoes with tahini dressing, wild rice and pomegranate and Sticky braised pork ribs with lime from Gary Mehigan's Favourites - Photography by John Laurie
Richard Unsworth's Garden Life features garden design inspirations ranging from small spaces to the grand - Photography by Nicholas Watt
A Food Lover's Pilgrimage to France Book Launch with Dee Nolan
Please join us at Cutler & Co., Fitzroy to celebrate the launch of Dee Nolan's book A Food Lover's Pilgrimage to France with a four-course Bocuse and Burgundy dinner with wine, especially crafted by Andrew McConnell and guest chef Philippe Mouchel. Tickets priced at $195.
P 03 9419 4888
The Cook-Book Lunch
Good cookery books are as indispensable as they are inspirational to professional and home cooks alike — what's your favourite? As part of Good Food Month join Hotel Centennial in Woollahra for a special four-course lunch hosted by 702 Weekends presenter Simon Marnie, journalist and Lantern author Kate Gibb, chef Justin North and bookseller Lesley McKay to talk about all your favourite cookery books. It will be a day to share your own favourite recipes and inspirational books — while tasting the images right off the page. Cost is $95 (includes a selection of matched wines). Be quick - tickets are running out!
P 02 9362 3838
Chocolate Brûlée by Matt Moran - Photo by Rob Palmer
This little beauty can be made the day before and kept, covered with plastic film, in the fridge. If you don’t have a kitchen blowtorch, you can grill the sugar to caramelise it for the topping. The grill needs to be really hot, so watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t burn.
600 ml thickened cream
½ cup (125 ml) milk
180g 40% milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
6 egg yolks
130 g caster sugar
A constant on my camino was the powerful sensation of a message across time, a guiding hand reaching out to me from those who had passed this way before.'
A thousand-year-old pilgrimage route and food traditions stretching back de toda la vida – since forever. These are what Dee Nolan set out to experience on her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela – through the rich farming lands of southern France and northern Spain. The monks of the Middle Ages who came here planted grapevines from their homelands far away. Now food lovers come seeking the magnificent wines made using grapes grown in those same ancient vineyards, along with sublime cooking and fresh, luscious produce.
Dee's personal journey along the Way of St James – el camino de Santiago – took her back to the very heart of things: why we should care about what we eat and how it is produced, why we need escape, and why she found herself, after a long career in publishing, back on her grandfather's farm, connecting with the soil.
This joyful book tells the story of Dee's camino, of the pilgrimage itself and of the traditions that sustain us all. Following the route of those first pilgrims, Dee met wise cooks and farmers who are finding that the future lies in the past. And she realised why, in our secular age, we are so captivated by this medieval Christian pilgrimage.
The Camino Francés could just as easily be a produce trail for food lovers. The main pilgrimage route across northern Spain to Santiagio de Compostela starts in gastronomy heaven, the Basque country, then weaves its way west through a succession of glorious cuisines, ending in the seafood paradise of Galicia. Food for body and soul. In the first of my food pilgrimages within my pilgrimage, I had made a reservation at a grill restaurant called Etxebarri in the small village of Axpe, midway between San Sebastián and Bilbao. A review in US Men’s Vogue said that the only sauce used there was a drizzle of warmed olive oil. I’d met a top chef in Sydney who said that the simple grilled ingredients he had eaten at Etxebarri changed the way he thought about food. How could I resist?
Etxebarri is an asador, a Basque grill or barbeque restaurant, where Victor Arguinzoniz has taken grilling into a league of its own, and where the simple act of cooking the best fresh ingredients over coals has made Victor as much an icon of new Spanish cooking as the famous chefs with their molecular wizardry an hour down the motorway in San Sebastián.
If the Spanish love their food, the Basques are obsessed with it, and nowhere more so than in the northern coastal city of San Sebastián. Here the traditional and the avant-garde happily co-exist: old-style male dining clubs (txokos) and cider houses (sidrerías) alongside restaurants famous the world over for their cutting-edge cuisine. In the mid-1970s it was the birthplace of la nueva cocina vasca (new Basque cuisine), when local chefs, inspired by how French cuisine had been liberated by Paul Bocuse, Michel Guérard, the Troisgros brothers and others, began experimenting with their own regional traditions. Now, only Paris rivals San Sebastián in Europe for the proliferation of Michelin stars. For young aspiring chefs worldwide, San Sebastián is a mecca. They come here in their droves, dreaming of an internship at one of the stellar establishments, living in crowded dormitories and more often than not working for nothing.
Lennox Hastie was one of them. After training in top restaurants in Melbourne, London and Paris, he made the pilgrimage to San Sebastián. He won a coveted berth in a three-Michelin-starred restaurant but ultimately became disillusioned, realising he was no longer interested in the sort of modern cuisine that he believed relied too much on science and technique. He was working with great produce but felt paradoxically that it was out of touch with ‘real’ food. He had not yet discovered the true heart of Basque cuisine, and the mention of simply grilled produce fired his imagination.
Our walk from Villafranca Montes de Oca, up and through the mountains with their forests of pine and oak, and then down into the hamlet of San Juan de Ortega, was one of the toughest we did. In medieval times, this was one of the most dreaded and dangerous sections of the pilgrimage. Bandits and wolves preyed on pilgrims, whose only defence was to travel in groups. Their protector came in the guise of Juan de Ortega, who had worked with Santo Domingo de la Calzada building pilgrim refuges and bridges. He had to repair many of them after a destructive civil war in the early twelfth century that made life even more perilous for travellers in these parts. Juan built a monastery and the church, where a bell would be rung to let pilgrims know there was a safe haven.
We trudged for three hours in constant rain, sometimes sinking in clay over the top of our boots, so the church that now bears the saint’s name and his remains was a welcome safe haven for us, too. The sun broke through the clouds as we arrived, shining on the pale cream stone. The church stands in a clearing beside the monastery, which was reopened in the late 1970s, when there were few places to stay, by a priest and friend of the modern camino – Don José María Alonso Marroquí. His sister helped him and pilgrims were grateful for the simple garlic soup she made for them in the monastery’s kitchen. Don José María Alonso Marroquí would then urge the pilgrims to open their backpacks and contribute whatever food they had for a communal meal. He was eighty-one when he died in 2008, and had been the parish priest at San Juan de Ortega for more than thirty years. Some surrounding farmhouses and a little bar make up the rest of the buildings in the hamlet. We ordered our coffees there and joined the few pilgrims sitting outside in the sun, drying out. It was good to get the top layer of our wet clothes off, too. Nancy then took us inside the church, where we followed in the footsteps of the Spanish queen Isabella I, who visited in 1477 to pray for a child at the relics of San Juan, whose speciality was curing infertility. It appeared to work – she certainly became a mother – and in gratitude she gave money for major work in the church. The tranquillity in the church was palpable and we all lingered there a long time.
The city of Burgos was our day’s destination, but not before we’d made a detour for a Sunday roast – traditional Spanish style. This region is the Promised Land of the lechazos castellanos, restaurants where the connoisseurs’ spring suckling lamb is roasted in wood ovens. Lennox Hastie had sent me away from Etxebarri with Lo Mejor de la Gastronomía (The Best of Gastronomy), a Spanish food and restaurant guide as thick as a brick. In there I had found details of Casa César, eight kilometres down a winding farm road from Burgos. Lechazos castellanos are a very big deal in this part of Spain: the guide has a whole section devoted to them, each of the featured establishments displaying photos of their meat, and describing in great detail where their lamb comes from and how it’s cooked. Casa César is a modern, purpose-built construction in a small square in a newish suburb, and the number of cars arriving with families in church-best outfits, including a huge family group celebrating a First Holy Communion, indicated that this was definitely the place to be. Once inside, we had that peculiar sense of pleasure that comes with realising you are the only tourists.
We had just eaten live razor clams, moments after their little eyes, barely visible on the ocean floor three metres below us, had revealed their hiding place in the sand to Roberto, the eagle-eyed clam diver. He swooped, scooped them out and, surfacing again, handed them up to us over the side of the fishing boat. ‘It’s for you to eat,’ the boat’s owner, Luis, said. ‘Now.’ Down they went, saltwater sweet and slightly chewy. If they hadn’t met their end here, a few hundred metres off the coast at Finisterre, there’s every chance that tomorrow they would have ended up in the elBulli kitchen of Ferran Adrià. When you own the best restaurant in the world, you’re super-fussy about your razor clams, and the ones from these waters, called longueirón, with their straight shells and white flesh, pass muster at elBulli.
Back in port at Finisterre, in the kitchen of O Fragón Restaurante, the chef, Gonzalo, carefully rejected any broken clams and put the rest on a hotplate. He prized them open, squeezed lemon and squirted chilli and garlic-infused olive oil over them before a final flourish of cognac and a burst of flames. ‘When they fall out of the shell, they’re cooked!’ he said. Cooked. I liked the idea of that. Luis, Roberto and the rest of us tucked in. The long, thick fingers of meat were still chewy but rich and delicious, with a flavour unlike other small clams I’d tasted. With them we drank a young Albariño wine from vineyards that look out over the Rías Baixas to the south. There, a different member of the clam family is harvested at low tide by the women, or marisqueras, in their housecoats and gumboots, bent double as they rake through the mud.
Gallegos adore their seafood, as do markets and res-taurants much further afield. Those who understand the ocean and its tides, the effect of a mix of fresh- and seawater, how the wind creates eddies and back currents and how all of these elements and more combine to provide the right plankton and nourishment, say the rich harvest from Galicia’s rías is of superior quality. In Finisterre, the razor-clam divers know the longueirón will not be there if they don’t keep the water clean, so Luis and other volunteers remove rubbish from their ría. But this bounty is not without its toll. Some older marisqueras will never stand up straight again, and the risk of death remains real for the men gathering percebes on the perilous Costa da Morte.