Mundaring Truffle Festival 2012

Another wonderful Truffle season is soon coming to an end. With every smile that accompanies the turn of the seasons from Winter to Spring, there is a corresponding sigh as there is nothing quite so satisfying as being fortified from a cold night outside by hearty food, robust wine, and intoxicating truffles…

The Mundaring Truffle Festival has become a staple event of my winter for quite a few years now, and this years was no different. I trundled up the hill to Mundaring on Saturday morning, expecting to have my ears and nose frozen off like normal, but instead found myself basking in the warm winter sun all day long.

Such a lovely way to spend the day tasting all the goodness on offer from stall after stall packed with truffle goodness.

After being greeted by the charmingly hirsute Earl of Maynooth (He was a character from a Sherlock Holmes novel, and I didn’t really get the connection, but he was a lovely man) we were pointed in the direction of great coffee courtesy of Re from European Foods. Coffee situation sorted we strolled down the boulevard of temptation and sampled their wares. Truffle infused pork dumplings from Jumplings, truffle risotto from Il Paiolo, Rabbit Spring rolls with truffle from Creative Catering, Beef ribs and morcilla from El Asador, a truffled apple tart from The Loose Box, and probably a bunch of others I’ve forgotten.

Perhaps my favourite part of the day however, was heading back into the kitchens for the truffle masterclass run by Guillaume Brahimi, Alain Fabrègues and Emmanuel Mollois. The three French chefs were at their finest on stage. Hamming it up and generally trying to outdo each other in raw Frenchness.

Alain was preparing a scallop entree, Guillaume a beef cheek main, and Emmanuel a tart tartin as you probably don’t know it.
So whilst they were out the front explaining the technique on stage, a small team of chefs were in the kitchens preparing the meals for the packed house of truffle fans.

Led by the head chef of the soon-to-be-open Bistro Guillaume at Burswood, alongside chefs from The Loose Box and Bistro des Artistes it was a formidable line up.

I did my best to stay out of their collective ways while scallops were sauteed rapid style, sauces and purees were blitzed and brought up to heat, and slow cooked meats were taken out of sous vide cocoons and slid onto plates with piping hot jus. Then virtually every plate finished with lashing of freshly shaved truffle.

If i hadn’t eaten earlier I probably would have died in that kitchen. A giant basket of truffles was carted around the pass tables and the smell of each successive truffle being shaved was enough to send my porcine senses into overdrive. I fortunately managed to keep it under control (ok, one or two scallops may have gone missing), and did my best to look respectable as the masters each took a turn of inspecting their respective dishes as they were being plated.

Then a small army of eager faced young wait staff marched dish after dish out to the tables. The flurry of excitement and energy lasting 20 minutes and then subsiding briefly til the next course was due to go out.

Many thanks to the Shire of Mundaring and the organisers for continuing to put on quality events year after year, and I look forward to my seasonal truffle treat next year all the more.

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Sole Meuniere

Sole MeuniŤre

Sole MeuniŤre is a beautiful dish. That is, if your understanding of beauty is watching a whole fish being powdered with flour and sauteed in butter, which of course it should be.

The MeuniŤre part of the name comes from the French word for Miller’s wife. Supposedly she’d come in from a hard days work helping out in the flour mill with her hands covered in flour, and basically anything she touched would end up covered in it. Which I can see getting tiresome after a while, and may have very well driven her husband to douse her in beer at some point, which of course led to beer battered fish and chips.

But I digress… randomly.

The classic version of this dish is made with the flat fish Sole (or Flounder), but Trout is also a very popular choice. The technique itself is simple and lends itself to many different types of fish.

How to do it

So take one fish, scaled and gutted. Dust it lightly in seasoned flour (salt and pepper). Add a few large knobs of butter to a hot pan and wait for them to melt and foam. Add the fish to the pan and sautee on both sides for about 5 – 10 minutes, or until the fish is firm but yielding to the touch.

Spoon the hot butter over the fish while it’s cooked, and towards the end of the cooking, add the juice of half a lemon to the pan.

Finish the dish with a handful of fresh chopped parsley, and some pan roasted flaked almonds (if you so desire).

Then serve onto a plate with a light green salad and a crisp glass of white wine. Enjoying it all the more because you didn’t have
to work in a flour mill all day long to be able to recreate it.

Incidentally this dish was shown to great effect in the movie Julie & Julia (It was apparently Julia Child’s first dish upon her arrival in France), and was given a revival from bloggers the world over not long after it’s release. In typical style, I’m slow to the party :)

For Perthians, this fish was bought at the Canningvale Fish Markets. They’re only open on Saturday mornings from 6am til 10am.
It’s a great place to pick up very cheap seafood in a range and quantity that you rarely see in a lot of fish mongers in the city.

Sole MeunièreSole MeunièreSole MeunièreSole Meunière

Rack of Lamb

Sliced racks of lamb

This is a fake post. Just to make you think I’ve written something when I really haven’t. But seriously, look at that lamb ! Is it not the sexiest looking thing you’ve ever seen in meat form ? I think so too.

I cook my lamb racks whole, first rubbing them all over with olive oil, salt, pepper, and then smooshing as much rosemary as I can into them. I then searing it all over in a very hot pan til it’s nice and brown. Finish it off in the oven for about 15 minutes on 180C to cook through to a lovely pink and juicy rare. Slice down through the gaps and enjoy the succulent pleasure of natures lamby bounty… always remembering that If God hadn’t wanted us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.

Incidentally, these would go fantastically well with a West Australian wine. I’d pick a Great Southern Shiraz from Frankland River (a Howard Park Scotsdale if I was feeling fancy), or something from Margaret River like a lovely Cape Grace Cabernet Sauvignon.

Also if you’re interested in seeing how crappy my photography used to be, check out this lamb based blast from the past: Rack of lamb with honey/balsamic sauce

St Pancras International Grand Champagne Bar

St Pancras Grand Champagne Bar

Aka, I was supposed to be in Paris. So finding out that the very day I had chosen to get the Eurostar to Paris there had been a massive fire in the tunnel, was not the best news I'd heard all week. A freight train was going through one of the tunnels and carrying a truck full of chemicals on the back of it. Somehow the chemicals caught fire, they suspected the fire started in a truck's braking system that overheated and spread to a tyre. 200 firefighters and a day later they had the fire under control, but all trains for that day (and the foreseeable future) were cancelled.
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