Slow food and long lunches

Finishing touches

It was a casual enough invitation. Sent through by Jamie who I’ve recently been in touch with about the Perth Slow Food group.

On Sunday Vincenzo Velletri is holding a small luncheon to thank everyone for the support of the Terra Madre producers who went to Italy last year from Western Australia. We would you to join us if at all possible.

Vince is cooking.

Now I took that to mean a light lunch, a few antipasti type plates with tasty cheese and salamis and some olives, and a nice glass of wine or two. What I didn’t think it meant was that two fantastic Italian chefs would be creating an all encompassing taste sensation and a wonderful slice of simple rustic Italian food, presented in a 5 course meal that lasted the better part of 6 hours !

As soon as we arrived at Third Avenue Restaurant the wine was flowing, with a delicious prosecco and followed on with a delicious organic Sangiovese by Montefalco, and from there things didn’t slow down. A selection of antipasto including croutons with an avocado and pistachio mousse, an olive tapenade, and a roast pumpkin and blue cheese topping, were just the start.

The it was on to the first course with:

  • Organic silver beet and borlotti bean soup
  • Black cabbage and pig trotter soup
  • Polenta topped with Fondi-style sausage sauce
  • Ravioli filled with goats cheese and a hazelnut and sage sauce.

I’ll have dreams about the polenta and pork dish… it was so simple, but so good. And beautifully presented on a wooden plank, so you could easily make something handy out of it after you’ve finished eating… that’s ingenuity for you :)

Onto the second course, which was:

  • Wood fired garlic bread
  • Veal braised with Sangiovese and dried porcini mushrooms
  • Wood fire oven braised lamb with rosemary

The lamb was so tender it was melt in your mouth, It was just unfortunate that such a savage onslaught of dishes was beginning to take it’s toll. I did however, get special kudos from Verity James for making sure the bones were extra clean. What more of a glowing endorsement can you get, I ask you ?

Next was a cheese platter of local organic and biodynamic cheeses. My favourites been the camembert made by Cambray sheep cheeses, and the frais goats cheese made by Gabrielle Kervella (which I promptly went out and bought some more of on the way home).

Finally dessert, consisting of Fragola poached pears with cinnamon and clove. A refreshing and light way to end the meal.

The other highlight of the lunch was getting to meet some of the other people in the Perth food scene who really care about what they are doing, and are actively trying to make a difference to the way food is produced, sold, and appreciated. As well as hearing some great speeches from people who’s worlds have been changing by getting involved in Slow Food and the connections they’ve made through it.

It was quite inspiring stuff, and wonderful to think that food can be so instrumental in changing the lives of so many people. Definitely something I plan to be more involved with in the future.

The end. (by Abstract Gourmet)

Midday Inspiration

midday inspiration

Catching up on coffee:

  • Early morning meetings in the city have forced me out of my usual habit of making myself a coffee before leaving the house. Fortunately Clare and Jackson at Tiger Tiger have been keeping me well fuelled with excellent flat whites and macchiatos.
  • New purchases for my little home setup now include a tamping mat, a ‘latte art’ jug (with a new improved tip that’s supposed to make it easier to pour art… yet to be determined if this is true), and a new gasket for my Rancilio Silvia to try and stop the bit of leaking that happens occasionally. Thanks to for making my life easier when looking for bits and pieces.
  • Five Senses have recently added some of the infamous PNG PSC AA to their website for sale. This is a very rare and special grade of bean and from the double ristretto I pulled with it just now, I can see why. It’s full bodied, sweet, lingering and delicious (that’s as much as a flavour profile as I can manage). Try some if you can.
  • Grendel is going strong with his coffee fundraiser, having roasted up the beans now, it looks to be going well.
  • I also got a nice mention from Five Senses on their website. Thanks to Ashley for putting it up :)

6 more days in Sydney

Funnily enough it’s been a week or two since we got back from Sydney and I haven’t updated you (because of course you’re so interested) about the last few days of the trip. So here once again is my pictorial view of the harbour city, because sometimes words are really that great at trying to describe places and feelings and meals… although it’s mainly because I’m feeling lazy and really can’t be bothered typing too much.

On with the show. Oh, and if you’re reading this is a RSS reader, sorry for the oddness earlier, I had some issues with a plugin, and please click through to the site so you can see the photos properly in the gallery view.

Day 4

– Breakfast at Uliveto Cafe in Kings Cross, average coffee, great eggs.
– Walking the streets of Paddington, checking out as many boutiques as (um) we could.
– I take a break and check out the Australian Centre for Photography where the Head On exhibition is being shown.
– More shopping
– Break for a refreshing lemon lime and bitters at The London Tavern.
– I bought a Holga from the Lomography shop in Paddington.
– Walk back to Kings Cross from Paddington… See Hugh Jackman’s wife in a restaurant along the way. Ponder that she must find it annoying that noone remembers her name ever since she married Hugh Jackman.
– Dinner at Opium Den in Potts Point… much less opium than expected, but plenty of great Thai food.

Day 5

– A walk around Elizabeth and Rushcutters Bay to build up an appetite
– Breakfast at Bills in Darlinghurst. The ricotta hot cakes and scrambled eggs were great, I just can’t understand
why they use Vittoria coffee, which was terrible as per normal.
– Take the train out to Bondi Junction, and a bus to Coogee beach.
– Walk around the rocks from Coogee to Bondi, run across a bikini photo shoot and an old guy who lives on the side of a cliff… interesting juxtaposition.
– Dinner at Billy Kwongs after a stroll around Surrey Hills. Fantastic meal highlighted by the crispy skin duck in orange sauce, and scallop wontons… Didn’t see Kylie out the back cutting onions, but I guess she didn’t know I was coming ;)
– Dessert at Max Brenner chocolate in Paddington. Despite being stuffed from dinner, we figured exorbitant levels of chocolate would be a nice way to end the night. Max Brenner obviously knew I was in town, because he made a personal appearance in the shop that night, much to the suprise and delight of the staff, and anyone else who recognised the bald man with the earring.

Day 6

– Coffee at Toby’s Estate in Potts Point (take away double flat whites… not particularly great, but better than average)
– Wandered around Pott’s Point, towards Woolloomooloo
– Had one of the famous pies from Harry’s Cafe De Wheels, as well as a hot dog… and then another pie.
– Went to the NSW art gallery to see the Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astroboy) exhibition.
– Dinner at the very funky Jimmy Liks in Potts Point with the lovely Jules of Stone Soup, and Sue & J from Noodlebowl, and unfortunately not Deborah and LJ due to car troubles.
Highlights from dinner were crispy pork hocks, the massaman veal shank, the coconut fried banana and ice cream, and the wonderful company :)
– Said goodbye and thanks to Keong for his hospitality and went to Sue & J’s place.

Day 7

– Made it to Mecca Espresso in the city. Had an extremely tasty macchiato and flat white made on their lovely modded Mistral.
– Caught up with my Dad in the city for lunch, marvelled that we need to meet on the other side of country these days to catch up.
– Did some quick shopping for dinner in preparation for cooking for Sue & J.
– Whipped up a tidy little paella with some prawns and the closest thing to chorizo I could find ( a rather generically titled “hot Spanish sausage” ). Entree provided by Sue in the form of deep fried eggplant with sesame and honey. Wine choices by J including a rose, and red and a white that I forget.
– After dinner chocolates from Haighs
– Much fawning by Sharon over Nugget the wonder dog
– Pulling some shots of coffee on J’s kick ass Giotto and Mazzer Mini setup with some beans that I roasted for them.

Day 8

– Back into the city for more coffee at Mecca, laughing at business people running around in the rain while I sit inside drinking coffee.
– My first visit to Krispy Kreme… I ordered the original glazed and the cinnamon apple filled one. The glazed one was nice, the other one was nasty. All in all I can’t understand why anyone would line up for these things… but the world is a strange place, and people are gullible. Why else would George Bush get elected twice ?
– More wandering around the city, Sharon convinces me to try Krispy Kreme again because they are “So much better when they’re hot”. Sadly this store only sold cold ones as well… So I guess we’ll never know. But unless these things magically change flavour when heat is applied, I can’t see them doing it for me.
– Back to Sue & J’s place to go out for dinner.
– Catch a taxi to Enmore with the coolest taxi driver in Sydney. He was getting calls from his mates wanting him to come out to a Vietnamese karaoke club where they have competitions, but wasn’t sure if he would make it.
– Get out of the taxi and go into the Sly Fox for a drink before dinner. Realise that we have left one of the bottles of wine in the back seat of the taxi, who has now driven off.
– Have possible the worst cocktails ever made (chocolate flavoured ice magic on top of Sharon’s was a classy touch) before leaving to go to dinner.
– Walk outside and who should pull up next to us but our taxi driver, who had been driving around looking for us, and calling the number from the booking service to try and find out where we were… Amazing ! We got our wine back (a superb 2005 Malbec from Oakover in the Swan Valley) !
– Dinner at Emma’s on Liberty for fantastic Lebanese food. Highlights were the fried haloumi, arak prawns, spicy sausage, turkish delight, and cardamom Lebanese coffee.

Last Day in Town

– Finally get the meet the infamous Deborah and LJ for breakfast at the Fairtrade Coffee Company in Glebe.
– We talk a lot and I do my best to annoy and embarrass people with incessant photos, all of which were quickly vetoed.
– Wander around the streets of Glebe and head to the Broadway shopping centre where Deb shows us the Harris Farm markets.
– More wandering and shopping in Broadway, Deb gets me into the ladies lounge for more fitting room photography shenanigans.
– Say bye to Deb and LJ, head to Balmain to catch up with friends of Sue’s for drinks at an Irish pub, and then on to the 3 Weeds in Rozelle for more drinks, Anzac day rosemary branches pinned to our shirts, and two up inside the pub !
– Back to Sue & J’s to packup and head to the airport. Kisses, hugs, pats for Nugget, and off we go back in time to Perth.

All up it was a great time, we ate well, drank well, talked a lot, walked a lot, laughed a lot, took many photos (this is nothing compared to what I didn’t upload), spent time with old and new friends, and experienced a little slice of Sydney that we’ll remember for a while to come.