Posts Tagged ‘french’

13
Aug
2012

Mundaring Truffle Festival 2012

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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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17
Feb
2011

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
03
Feb
2010

Rack of Lamb

Tags: , ,
Posted in Eating In, Recipes

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

15
Oct
2008

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.

St Pancras Grand Champagne Bar Pommery NV champagne @ St Pancras International Pommery NV champagne Drowning Eurostar woes Canape Plate at St Pancras champagne bar All day menu - Barlow Canape Plate St Pancras Gravity defying hair 
Rather than sitting on my laurels however, I figured it would be good to get an accurate assessment of the situation from Eurostar themselves. Rather than desperating clicking refresh on their website every 30 seconds hoping to see that the trains were running again.

Turns out that the website was in fact, a whole lot more helpful than the people standing at the Eurostar office. With clipboards in their hands and stern looks on their faces, dealing with hundreds of other irate tourists who didn’t want to be in London either.

So rather than dwelling on the situation, we headed upstairs to the Champagne Bar to wet my sorrows (I would say drown, but one glass of champagne is not that big, and my sorrows are strong swimmers), and reassess the situation.

Canape Plate at St Pancras champagne bar

It was nearing midday, so the canape plate sounded like a good option for something to snack on while trying to make alternate arrangements to smuggle myself out of the country. It wasn’t overly impressive, and vaguely reminiscent of something you’d be served at a stuffy cocktail party hosted by people you don’t like. But then the two little tastes of foie gras with a crisp glass of Pommery Brut Royal NV did make me feel that little bit closer to Paris, if only momentarily.

13
Aug
2008

Mundaring Truffle Festival

Manjimup Black Truffle Very Fancy Egg and Truffled Soliders

Truffles… those precious little nuggets of earthy goodness that are fought over by pigs, dogs, and gourmet food lovers. There is nothing quite so revered in the world of haute cuisine as this ruddy little gem, though apparently only 0.05% of the entire population of Australia has ever tried one.

Making some effort at remedying that fact, is the Mundaring Truffle Festival, held in (wait for it) Mundaring (up in the hills of Perth). This was the 3rd year the Mundaring Truffle Festival has been held, and my first visit to the hills in a long while, to partake in the spectacle that only the truffle can create.

The festival was initially the brainchild of Alain Fabregues, French chef extraordinaire and owner of the renowned Loose Box restaurant who is as creative as he is entrepreneurial. He was a part of introducing truffles to Western Australia, and has been a very strong advocate for WA to become as famous for truffles as it has for wine.

Very Fancy Egg and Truffled Soliders What the box says * * On the Slow Food soapbox Shannon Bennett stirring Truffled mushroom consomme and truffle twist Shannon Bennett Vincenzo Trio of Truffled Bruschetta Jamie Pauline doing her angry face Truffle Polenta Lamb spezzatino with Truffle Sauce on Truffle Polenta The Sly Wine Lover Black Gold * * Slow Food lunchers A bag of earthy extravagance wobbly goodness Manjimup Black Truffle escape is imminent a delicious downfall 
My day started with a master class by none other than that orchestrator of all things magical in Melbourne, Mr Shannon Bennett. Head chef of Vue de Monde, and also restaurants in the Sultanate of Oman, and soon Singapore (in case you didn’t know, which I didn’t either). Shannon had been invited over last year to share his love of truffle and its preparations with us lowly mortals, and was back again this year for more of the same.

The whole event was sponsored by lots of umm, sponsors. They plied us with wine at 10:30 in the morning and gave us lovely brochures to look at while we waited for the show to begin.

Shannon strolled out looking like he’d had a hard night. Or perhaps a hard life. Most likely both. I’m not sure what it is about him, but the man does not look healthy. I think he’s developing a serious hunch from bending over too many pans of simmering sauces.

I do however, like his food. His commitment to absolute excellence in everything he does, and his ability to pronounce French words without putting on a ridiculous Franglais accent (Something Toby Puttock would be wise to take note of).

Shannon Bennett shaves truffles

So the dishes he prepared, were a mushroom consomme infused with truffle, fennel, more mushroom, onion, and a few other things. It was infused using the Cona coffee maker vacuum method that he’s fond of in the restaurant. It was served with a truffled pastry twist and a young Riesling.

He then followed it up with perhaps the fanciest egg on toast I will ever consume. A cep (mushroom) puree infused with truffles, laid at the bottom of a carefully cut egg shell. With a ‘confit’ egg yolk on top, that he made by very gently heating a single egg yolk in warm oil for a few minutes til it went gelatinous. To dip, nothing less than truffled soldiers. And not skimping on the truffles either. Thick pieces of bread rolled in egg and copious amounts of truffle and then fried. I may have died a little on the inside after that one. Knowing it will be a few and far between experience.

Afterwards Shannon hang around for a bit to sign his book, and after a quick handshake and a ‘yeh good onya’, I was on my way back to the main arena.

Next on the agenda was the Slow Food ‘Down the road’ lunch. I’m still not sure why it was called ‘Down the road’… as It was way up the road from where I came from. But that was all rather inconsequential in the end. [Edit: Jamie says it was called Down the road because all the produce for the lunch was sourced locally]

The chef for the day was once again Vincenzo Velletri. Master of more rustic Italian dishes that I know exist, and one of Slow Food Perth’s previous ambassadors to Terra Madre. On the menu was a list of simple dishes which have had the added lift that only fresh truffles can give.

We started with a trio of bruschetta with truffled toppings. A truffled pate, truffled mushrooms, and tomato and onion… with truffle (I think).

We then moved on to a wonderful truffle polenta. Dutifully stirred by Slow Food Perth co-leader Jamie Kronborg to a wonderful creamy consistency. Over the top was a lamb spezzatino (stew) with truffle sauce and (wait for it) fresh shavings of truffle.

So much truffle… it was enough to drive a man to drink. As our cunning aged wine loving companion
helped himself to a specially smuggled in treat, we grabbed a bottle of Myattsfield Cabernet Sauvignon. One of my favourite wineries in the Perth Hills district and makers of some fine drops.

* a delicious downfall

To complete the meal, it was that old classic, in all it’s wobbly glory, the vanilla bean pannacotta.
This incarnation was sitting atop a truffled syrup and ordained with a single perfect slice of shaved truffle on top. This was probably my favourite dish of the entire day.

The subtle earthy pungency of the truffle and the sweetness of the pannacotta melding into a wonderful array of flavours right across my palate, which If I close my eyes and tilt my head to the side in an oddly reflective way, I can still taste.

Which until next years season comes around again, is exactly what I may have to.