Signature Espresso

Kiwi fruit

Ever wondered how you can turn your insatiable need for caffeine into an all day affair ? Sure you’ve got your morning latte covered, and the midday piccolo and afternoon ristretto is a done deal. But there’s still that lingering need to fill the void between after dinner and bedtime with as much coffee as possible (doctors advice may differ).

Enter the Epic Espresso Signature Drink Workshop ! Not only can you fill your head with all sorts of interesting coffee related facts, but you can also learn a few tips and tricks on how to make some stunning coffee based dessert drinks, meaning you’ll never have to take too long a break from your caffeinated lifestyle.

Tonight’s signature drink workshop was the brainchild of Epic Espresso barista Jeremy Hulsdunk. Jeremy should know a few things about creating espresso based drinks… His creation of a pancake themed signature drink helped take him to first place in the 2006 W.A Barista Championships.

The pour Dubious

The format for the night was straightforward. A group of coffee lovers of varying levels of experience, gathered around to sample excellent quality coffees and learn a little more about how to work with flavours to create new and interesting combinations. We started with a double ristretto of the Ugandan Bugisu Sippy Falls AA, an excellent single origin coffee. Not everyone was used to drinking ristrettos, but after some dubious initial reactions due to the intensity of flavour in that tiny little cup… the consensus was resoundingly good. Flavour descriptors ranging from floral, citrusy, sweet, and smokey were thrown around, with none necessarily being wrong.

Then it was onto another fantastic single origin, the Bali Gunung Batur. This time in the traditional cupping method used by coffee tasters to determine varietal qualities and defects in coffee. The process is basically grinding a set amount of coffee relatively coarsely, adding water at a specific temperature (a little below boiling), and then breaking the “crust” of coffee grounds to inhale the aroma, before slurping the coffee down, aspirating it as much as possible in order to spread it out over your palate. Somewhat like a wine taster would when judging wine, and with probably as many (if not more) different ways of describing the flavours.

Jeremy gave tasting notes and points of interest on each coffee, and a fielded questions with consummate ease while explaining his choices for the evenings selection.

Then it was onto the signature drinks. We made two different styles, one called Strawberries and Cream, and the other called Espresso Fondue Martini.

A certain someone has promised a write up of the Strawberries and Cream, so I’ll cover the Fondue Martini. It was a rich and luscious concoction. Melted chocolate, espresso, and vanilla infused cream, with roasted hazelnuts on top and fresh fruit pieces for dunking. Take a minute to check out the photos of the night below before scrolling down for the full recipe straight from the horses mouth.

Espresso Fondue Martini

  • Pouring cream
  • Melted chocolate (we used Belgian couverture chocolate)
  • Fresh fruit (we used pineapple and kiwifruit, but there’s lots of options that would work)
  • Frozen Raspberries (to put into the cream)
  • 1 Vanilla pod (or 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste)
  • Crushed roasted hazelnuts
  • A shot of espresso (we used the Bali Gunug Batur)
  • Toothpicks / fingers (for dunking the fruit)

Methode ala Jeremy

1) Before you begin, infuse the cream with raspberries and vanilla by placing the cut vanilla pod and raspberries into the cream and stirring with vigour ! Let them stand together for a while so the flavours infuse nicely.

2) Place the melted chocolate (melted in a double boiler / microwave ) into a martini glass to fill just below half way (or more or less depending on how much of a chocolate fiend you are).

3) Pour a shot of espresso over the top of the chocolate.

4) Now add about 50 ml of the infused cream. Which should sink into the espresso / chocolate mixture with a layered effect.

5) Next sprinkle the top with the crushed roasted hazelnuts (an ingredient that compliments espresso and chocolate fantastically).

6) In true fondue style, go for the healthy option and dip fresh fruit into the dessert… making sure to stir up the chocolate and combine all the wonderful flavours for maximum effect.

It was a great night and a lot of fun for everyone. Check out the Epic Espresso website for details of when the next one might be. Thanks again to Jeremy and Corey for being excellent hosts. Here’s looking forward to plenty more great events, and more excuses to drink great coffee at all hours of the day ! :)

P.S – Apologies to anyone who has been trying to comment… I’ve moved to a new host and had inadvertently turned them off

We’re back online now :)

The Sausage King of Perth

So... who ordered the whole side of pig ? Meat Lovers Paradise

Vegetarians… I’d advice you to stop reading right now… Vegans… run for the hills. The rest of you carnivores… carry on.

Is there anything quite as wonderful as a well made sausage ? I think not… Well ok, maybe a couple of things… but good sausages are definitely up there. Top 10 for sure. So it will come as no surprise that when I heard Slow Food Perth were planning a day of old school sausage making, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve got to say I’m really starting to like these Slow Food events. A bunch of people who love food and wine as much as I do all getting together to learn about it and enjoy themselves, and possibly devouring vast sums of magnificent produce. What’s not to like ?

The title of this event was “The Best Cuts”, the setting was the home of chef Vincenzo Velletri, Slow Food chef extraordinaire, and one of the W.A representatives at the Terra Madre, Slow Food’s international conference, last year.

So our task was to turn a 120 kg pig into as many sausages as possible. A specially slaughtered pig was obtained from Spencers Brook Farm, an organic pig farm specialising in Berkshire pigs. Although ours was a large white pig formerly named “Chubby”, who we were told had led a happy life out on the farm for many years. So with knives and cutting boards at the ready, we filed into the kitchen at Vincenzo’s house in West Swan to begin the work.

These were no ordinary sausages to be thrown into a grinder and spat out the other end. But hand cut and mixed sausages of Monte San Biagio. Made as true to the origins as possible.

The Monte San Biagio sausage is now a part of the Slow Food presidia, which means they are actively being preserved and protected. So making them wasn’t simply a case of throwing a bunch of random ingredients into a grinder and spitting sausages out the other end.

Vincenzo cut sections of the meat into large chunks and then a production line of people helped to work it down into tiny cubes small enough to look like mince meat, but with much more body and texture than you’d gain from grinding it. The cutting took all morning. Which is why I suppose Italian families might only do this a couple of times a year, and why you’d get the whole family involved. It’s a lot of work. But short breaks for coffee (with maybe a little grappa), and marmalade crostata, made things fly by pretty quickly.

Then finally the cutting was done, and it was time to mix. Sea Salt in large quantities is added so the meat cures properly. Then it’s just crushed coriander seeds, dried chilli, and white wine. Mixed through the pork and combined well by the hands of a bunch of enthusiastic slow foodies.

So while we let the sausage mix settle, it was time for lunch. Another helping of the wonderful polenta with sausage mixture poured over the top. But this time I got to help make it :) A team of strong armed helpers took turns stirring a massive pot of polenta until it was just right, while I cooked down some of the sausage mixture in a pan with a little olive oil and white wine.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, another team of helpers were making fresh pasta using biodynamic flour and semolina from Dayle Lloyds Eden Valley Biodynamic Flour. Dayle had happily driven the 3 hours to Perth from Dumbleyung that morning to be a part of the day and bring some wonderful flour to use.

Lunch was again a sumptuous feast. Polenta and sausage, Fresh fettucini and passata, Italian broccoli, salad, fresh bread, wine, and when we thought it was all finished, more pork steaks seared on the bbq and drizzled with home made olive oil.

Our bodies rested and our souls restored, it was on to finish the job. Another group of likely ladies (Sharon included) took hold of the intestines that were to hold the sausage mixture, and squeezed all the air out of them (sadly I missed out on this bit). Then still more teams of people fed the sausage mixture into the funnel that pipes it into the intestines. The interesting thing being how easy Vincenzo made it look, and how hard everyone else did :)

Still, it was a great learning experience, and a lot of fun. We ended up the day with 4kg (count em!) of sausages to take home, which I promptly hung in the laundry to dry out. Being over two weeks ago that we went, I’ve since started using them to great effect… slicing pieces on their own for antipasto, and using it much like my beloved chorizo (which has taken a temporary backseat), in an arrangement of pasta and omlette style dishes.

How do they taste you ask ? Fantastic… Very spicy from the amount of chilli that went into them, and with a robust coriander flavour that becomes more or less intense depending on which piece you bite into. I’d highly recommend anyone give it a try. Just find your nearest Italian family and get stuffing !

Many thanks again to Slow Food for organising the event, and here’s looking forward to the next one :)

Vegan Hell Italian Sausages - Fonti Style

Autism Fundraiser Cafe Day

The crew

Thanks to Grendel for inviting me along to help out at a fundraiser he organised this weekend to raise money for the Autism Association Early Intervention Centre.

It was a great day, with lots of local coffee afficionados getting together to geek out and make coffee for a good cause.

Check out the man himself’s wrap up of the event, and check out a few photos I’ve pull together from it. All for a good cause of course :)

In other news

Mostly Rosetta with Heart

  • My article about Honduran coffee grower/importer/roaster Gerardo Barrios has made it’s way into this months edition of Spice Magazine, a most excellent (in my totally non-biased opinion) local food, wine, produce, anything you can think of that related to tastiness magazine.
  • Epic Espresso has a new website, which I may or may not have had a hand in creating, and the quadruple ristretto flat whites are totally kicking it at the moment.
  • Slow Food Perth has a new website (which I also may have helped put together), with updated content, rss feeds, and a bunch of other whiz bang fanciness. Slow Food Perth are doing great things in the local community to help promote producers, suppliers, and creators of quality food, and also to help educate people on where exactly our food comes from, and some of the more pertinent social issues surrounding it. I’d encourage anyone who loves food to check out their own local group, if only to score great lunches :)

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)

W.A Barista Competition wrap up

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Well the competition is over for another year. There were highs and lows, excitement and disappointment, showmanship and shakey hands, and in the end, quality coffee was the winner.

Well coffee and Nolan Hirte, showman and barista extraordinaire from Lemon Espresso in Claremont.

Nolan’s performance was funky yet refined. Getting the crowd going the way only he can with some old school beats (I can’t even remember the last time I heard Ini Kamoze – Here comes the hot stepper, but it worked so well ) and then wowing the judges with excellent technique and most importantly the flavour in the cup.

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The rest of the event was a showcase of Perth’s best baristas. Those willing to put their time, money, and reputations on the line in order to compete for the chance to make it into the national finals of the Australian Barista Championship, and then if successful, on to the World Barista Championships, this year being held in Tokyo – Japan.

The format is a set list of requirements that each competitor must accomplish in their allotted time, as specified by AASCA (The Australasian Specialty Coffee Association), an independent body that exists to promote knowledge of and further excellence in coffee in Australia.

So each competitor has 15 minutes practice time, 15 minutes competition time, and 15 minutes clean up time. During the 15 minutes of practice they will adjust the grinder to suit their blend. Arrange ingredients and warm cups, set up the area the way they want it. During the 15 minutes of competition time, the barista must make 4 espressos, 4 cappuccinos, and 4 signature drinks of their own creation. The signature drink must be espresso based, and show all of the baristas creativity and understanding of the flavour profile of their blend, in order to combine it with other interesting components.

After serving all 3 types of drinks, the competition time is over, and the sensory judges go off to collaborate their scores and assign marks to each drink in a number of very specific areas. Technical judges are assigned to look at all aspects of the baristas routine, and to ensure they are using hygienic practices at all times during the competition.

The technical score and the sensory scores are then put together to form an overall score for each barista. The only other thing affecting scores is time. If a barista goes over time they lose points for every 15 seconds they are over, up til a maximum of 2 minutes, at which point they are disqualified.

If any of that sounds like a walk in the park… let me tell you it isn’t. These guys are the top people in their field, used to turning out hundreds of coffees a day in their respective cafes, but with the spotlight on them and the time on the clock, it’s a whole other experience entirely. Sweat beading on brows, shakey fingers trying to arrange delicate ingredients into glassware and ferry them smoothly over to the judges tables… it’s a stressful thing. Which makes me glad that all I had to do was sit around and take photos :)

So the list of place getters was:

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1st Nolan Hirte (Lemon Espresso)
2nd Jen Murray (WA Barista Academy)
3rd Jeremy Hulsdunk (Epic Espresso)

Each of the winners were extremely deserving, but in truth there were a number of other excellent competitors who would have also been deserving of a place, and whose coffee I would happy to drink any day of the week.

So congratulations to all involved, it was one of the best competitions I’ve been to, and the audio/visual setup and camera work were second to none, ensuring the everyone in the room got a great view of all the action, whether they be at the judges table, or right down the back of the room.

The event was also a great way for many different people in the Perth coffee scene to get together and talk about how to make the industry better. Representatives from such local companies as Five Senses, Fiori, European Foods, Aroma Cafe, Rubra Coffee, and many other local cafe owners and baristas joined with interstate and overseas judges and officials to promote quality coffee.

Much love to Ben Bicknell for his tireless efforts at organising the event, and to all the other judges and volunteers who pulled everything together when it counted. Congratulations to Nolan on the win, and to all the other competitors for making it such a great event. Lets hope WA has the next Australian, nay WORLD barista champion amongst it’s ranks.