Tag Archives: slowfood

Slow Food Perth: Food sovereignty discussion

Slow Food Perth will join with Christ Church Grammar School’s ethics centre to present a forum entitled ‘Food sovereignty: what’s on your plate?’ at the school in Claremont on 24 August 2010 at 7.30pm

The panel will include:
Frank Sheehan – Priest & Christ Church Grammar School chaplain
Anthony Georgeff – Journalist and editor of Spice magazine
Dr. Felicity Newman – Academic, lecturer in food and culture at Murdoch University
Annie Kavanagh – Farmer, from Spencers Brook farm in the Avon Valley
Max Trenorden – Parliamentarian, Nationals leading Member for the Agricultural Region & chairman of the Australian Landcare Council
Kim Chance – Former Labor minister for Agriculture and Food (2001-2008).

Food sovereignty’ – the right of local people to decide what they grow and eat.

A burgeoning interest in knowing where your food comes from – who grows it, is it local, and how it’s grown – together with a heightened awareness of the cost of ‘food miles’ and the effect of genetic modification in staple crops, is encouraging support for local farmers’ markets and prompting questions at the local butcher

Date/Time: Tuesday 24th August 7.30pm- 9pm

Venue: Christ Church Grammar School, Chapel

Costs: Gold coin donation to Anglicare

The trouble with truffles

Truffle risotto arancini

Is that you can never afford to eat enough of them.

The above photo is what became of some left over truffle risotto made at the Slow Food Perth food piazza stand during the 2010 Mundaring Truffle Festival, and comprise perhaps the most expensive arancini (recipe below) the world has ever seen.

The festival was a big weekend. I personally stirred 24 kg of truffle risotto into existence, and have a right arm the size of Popeye to prove it. I would have loved to be posting lots of other photos of amazing truffle goodness from the festival but spending most of my time in the Slow Food Perth tent I didn’t get to annoy as many people with my camera as I have in previous years. Idle hands and all that, it was probably for the best.

It was an interesting event anyway, with a who’s who of local Perthonality chefs bringing their kitchens up to the festival to wow ever growing crowds of gourmet food fans with their wares.

I enjoyed the variety of foods and some of the amazing things people has created (Emmanuelle Mollois’ truffle macaron for one) and it’s always interesting to see the looks on peoples faces when given the opportunity to try truffles for the first time. “So that’s what it tastes like!” is the common theme.

Personally that’s the best thing about the festival for me. Seeing people who would never have had a chance to try truffles presented them in a way that’s affordable and accessible, so they can make up their own minds as to whether they’re worth $3000 per kg or not.

Slow Food Perth did a fantastic job over the weekend. With a tent to educate kids about food (where apples originated, the history of wheat and how to make fresh pasta), and in the food tent Terra Madre delegates were cooking up a storm. Turning out pizza, mushrooms and porchetta from the wood fired oven and truffle risotto, polenta, and Blackwood Valley beef rolls with truffle butter.

Hopefully next years event can keep hold of the organic community roots that made it such a unique event on the Perth food calendar.

...Riso CarnaroliAdam on polentaArm workMushroom girlSlow Food PerthSlow Food Perth stallHermanoWarren of Blackwood Valley BeefPorchettaSecret lives of critics talkTruffle risotto arancini

Truffle Arancini (or regular arancini)

First I should say that you should never make a risotto solely to turn it into arancini, unless you’re a caterer or a sadist (arguably the same thing) it’s just a waste of good risotto. If however, you are already making risotto, just use a little more rice and end up with more than you need, that way you can enjoy your risotto and have a guilt free path to arancini left overs the next day.

So to make truffle risotto arancini above you basically take a whole pile of cold truffle risotto, some small balls of bocconcini or fresh mozzarella, flatten a layer of risotto onto the palm of your hand, place a piece of cheese in the centre, and wrap the risotto around the cheese. Then roll it into a ball, dip it into a beaten egg, and roll it in breadcrumbs.

Shallow fry in olive oil or deep free in vegetable oil til golden brown, then drain onto absorbent paper and leave to rest so you don’t burn your mouth off when you try to eat one.

The result should be a delicious crunchy exterior and a cheesy truffle risotto interior that gently coats your mouth with goodness.

Mundaring Truffle Festival : Slow Food Perth

Slow Food Perth - Truffle LunchSlow Food Perth - Truffle Lunch

Truffles are not just for culinary elitists and food wankers. That was hopefully the message put across by Slow Food Perth’s down the road lunch at this years Mundaring Truffle Festival held a few weeks back. Of course if you call yourself a culinary elitist or frequently get called a food wanker, then you’ll also fit right in.

Being a Slow Food Perth member, and sometime committee meeting attendee, I was very proud to see such a great response to the lunch from people of all walks of life, interested in trying some truffles for themselves in a setting that isn’t necessarily anything to do with haute cuisine.

Slow Food Chef extraordinaire Vincenzo Velletri once again crafted a simple, honest, but delicious meal based around the now famous Manjimup Black Truffles, which the festival celebrates. We started with truffled bacalau (salt cod) balls, then bruschetta with truffled mushrooms and roast capsicum, moving onto an epic truffle (stirred by these very arms) risotto with shavings of fresh truffle over the top.

The main dish for the day was a whole wood oven roasted pig, boned out and stuffed with herbs and more truffle shavings. It was served with oven roasted potatoes, mushrooms, and a roast capsicum salad. A truffle sauce, a sprig of rosemary, and another good shaving of fresh truffle over the top completed things.

Finally poached pears with a berry sauce and truffled cream finish what was a wonderful meal. Though not one I actually could partake in. As a committee member I was up the back, stirring risotto, shaving truffle, taking photos, getting in peoples way, and generally making a nuisance of myself. Whilst this mean I couldn’t sit down and enjoy the meal in the comfort of the marquee, what it did let me do was create the mother of all staff lunches.

truffle pork sandwich poached pears

A thick piece of fresh bread, layered with roast pork, crackling, truffled gravy, and shaved black truffle over the top. Not too shabby a snack by any stretch of the imagination, and perhaps one of my favourite truffle experiences to date.

It was a great day, and thanks to the many volunteers it came together nicely. Overall I was very impressed with the whole festival, which to me did a lot to further the appreciation of truffles and the burgeoning industry in WA around them, to the general community. There were many options over the course of the weekend for people to smell, touch, and taste truffles in a way that didn’t cost them the earth. Be it a truffle risotto or a pizza with truffle shavings.

It’s definitely the kind of event I enjoy going to, In a beautiful setting up in the hills with locals and travelers all enjoying something new and different.

Make sure you book your tickets for next years lunch, and make time to check out the festival yourself. Also do check out Aun’s fantastic blog over at Chubby Hubby. He’s based in Singapore and made it down to the truffle festival recently too. His photos and words are a wonderful summation of the event.

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Slow Food: Oysters and Sparkling Wine

Slow Food Oysters & Wine Slow Food Oysters & Wine

If ever you needed an event to tell you how great an organisation Slow Food is, this was it. Slow Food Perth recently hosted a fantastic event featuring freshly schucked oysters courtesy of the oyster man himself Jerry Fraser, paired with two stunning local sparkling wines, The Sparkplug Riesling from Oranje Tractor and Cosham Method Champenoise Pinot Noir Brut.

There’s something about the combination of oysters and sparkling wine that just works. The fresh zing of the wines, and the soft effervescent bubbles are a great counter point to the lush creaminess and briney essence of the sea of the oysters.

Along with a bit of a chat about the wines, Jerry gave us a breakdown on why you should never order pre-schucked oysters, and how best to appreciate them. Cooking is definitely out… Kilpatrick sympathisers should stick to cheese on toast as far as Jerry is concerned, and to fully appreciate the flavour they should first be swirled around your palate and then pushed to the roof of your mouth, much like a good wine might be. The difference in flavour when you do it this way is remarkable. The creaminess coats your mouth each time and lingers long after, til the wine works it magic.

Oyster virgin Jon came along and was hooked after the first one. Deciding eventually that a squeeze of lemon juice was the perfect accompany for him, to which I’m inclined to agree. A zest edge to the oysters creamy salt. We ate and drank our fill for as long as we could keep it together, before going out to continue the festivities.

Now having acquired an oyster knife and with Jerry on speed dial, I know how I’ll be seeing the New Year in. For a bit of help as to how the man himself schucks, check out the pictorial below.

Oyster Schucking Pictorial

Oh, and join Slow Food. You don’t need to be an activist to enjoy great food and wine with like minded people. Thanks must also go to Rochelle Adonis for offering her beautiful new nougat studio in Northbridge for the event, and for letting Jon and I sample her wares ;)

Slow Food – Asado las ovejas

Lamb The matriarch of cool

Take one ram lamb in the prime of it’s youth, one fire stoked up and a pile of hot embers, combine with rosemary and about 5 hours worth of cooking, and you have a recipe for deliciousness.

Add to that a group of wonderful food loving people who all bring things to eat and drink that they’ve either made or produced and you have the makings of a great day.

I’m very lucky to know some wonderful people. People that have introduced me to many great moments of eating pleasure. Ranking high on that list of late are the wonderful people at Slow Food Perth, and in particular their illustrious leaders Jamie Kronborg and Pauline Tresize.

I’ve lately enjoyed a day of truffle extravagance as Slow Food Perth hosted a truffle lunch at the Mundaring Truffle Festival, and then today was fortunate to be invited along for an Argentinian bbq up in the Perth hills.

No words and no time to describe it all, so take a look at the photos for what can only be described as a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Great food, great wine, great people… and 84 year olds wearing novelty glasses who give you hope that maybe you’ll be as cool as them one day :)

My next update will be from Europe… the countdown has begun.

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.

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.

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