Tag Archives: wa

Stonebarn Truffles Pemberton

Stonebarn Lodge and Truffle farm

Oh the lure of the truffle! That delicate little nugget highly prized by gourmands and well to do pigs the world over for it’s musky and intoxicating aroma, and its ability to sex up any dish it’s added to.

I’ve been very lucky over the years to have my winters punctuated with some very special meals where I’ve indulged in my fair share of fungi, and so this year when I was invited to go and stay at a working trufflerie, I gladly accepted.

Now it might seem that truffles are popping up all over the place lately, but I can assure you they are no overnight sensation. A tree that’s been inoculated with the spores to produce black truffles (tuber melanosporum) can take up to 7 years to produce its first truffle. So it’s not exactly a business to enter into lightly.

Stonebarn Lodge and Truffle farm

Fortunately for us Sharon and Dion Rangé were just the hopeless romantics needed to pull such an undertaking off. They originally discovered a piece of pristine bushland 15 minutes out of Pemberton on the banks of the Warren River and only had thoughts of buying it so they could bring their kids up in the country. Of course a property like that tends to have a life of it’s own, and after ideas of planting grapes proved…fruitless, a fortuitous conversation with a former colleague of Australian truffle pioneer Dr Nick Malajczuk put Dion onto the right path and a plan was formed. A guest house and a truffle farm.

Stonebarn now exports it’s truffles to restaurants around Australia, and the world, and have increasingly large harvests each year. The trees are a mixture of Hazelnut and Oak (Dion sourced the acorns from the 100 year old Oak tree in the main street of Donnybrook), and Nick Malajczuk is entrusted with the important job of inoculating them with the truffle spores.

Stonebarn Lodge and Truffle farm

So there we were, a mere 12 years later, with my beautiful wife and son, owners Dion & Sharon, their business partner Graeme, Executive Assistant Adrianne, bride to be Hannah, and pasta guru Danny, eating one of the finest truffle meals of my life. Harold had a great time playing with Peri the truffle dog, and made some more new friends on Sunday when were joined by Aviva Shpilman and her kids. Aviva is the Paris based, Australian architect of the Stonebarn.

Stonebarn Lodge and Truffle farm

We took their generous offer to come and relax for the weekend in the guest house, and stocked up the pantry with some great produce from Newy’s Vege Patch in Kirup, enjoying a Jeruslaem artichoke soup, wood oven roast chicken, and the most decadent Colombian arepas with truffled scrambled eggs. Suffice to say we enjoyed ourselves. The accommodation is wonderfully luxurious and we felt immediately at home. With ducks and guinea fowl living around the house, and Peri the truffle dog entertaining our son, it was a magical weekend.

We managed to do some truffle hunting of our own, and watched the process as Peri marked locations in the trufflerie and every time a truffle was uncovered in that exact spot. It’s still a hard and very manual process mind you. Following a dog through a few kilometres of farm land and digging small holes is not a way to make quick money. Thus the lure of the truffle continues.

Stonebarn Lodge and Truffle farm

I for one am very grateful that people like Dion and Sharon are around to do the hard work to make sure we can enjoy a little taste of perfection every winter.

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Stonebarn Lodge & Trufflerie
phone +61 8 9773 1002
email info@stonebarn.com.au

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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2010 W.A Barista Competition – Day 1

2010 WA Barista Competition

It’s been a huge day today as day one of the Detpak W.A Barista Championships got underway. This year W.A has 16 awesome baristas vying for the title of the states best, and a chance to be flown to the Gold Coast to represent W.A in the national finals early next year.

The first day of competition today at the Mount Hawthorn Community Hall had 11 competitors all strutting their stuff. Everyone competing admirably and doing their bit to further the appreciation of good coffee in W.A.

Tomorrow sees a further 5 competitors round out the barista competition, and the the states best latte artists will take to the stage
to see who can take away the Pura Milk Latte Art championship.

Finally, the who’s who of Perth’s coffee palates will compete in the Fairtrade Cup Tasting competition, a fast paced race to pick the odd coffee out of 8 sets of 3 cups. The winner is whoever gets the most right in the fastest time.

The event is open to the public and everyone who is into coffee at all is encouraged to come down. We have a coffee cart selling $2 coffees made by our competitors, and coffee roasting demonstrations run by local home roaster Trevor Green.

Tomorrow’s action will get underway at 9am and run through til the afternoon, so there’s plenty of time to come along and see what the best baristas in the state have to offer.

Here’s a few shots from todays action taken by Jon Wilson:

2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition2010 WA Barista Competition

Directions to Mount Hawthorn Community Hall

Spanish Flavours

Rosa Jamon

** Update **

Rosa and Spanish Flavours have finally moved to their new location at the top end of Oxford St, Mt Hawthorn. They are no longer in the Wembley Food Court. The new premises has the deli section as before with chorizo, jamon, and cheeses, and then on the other side is a cafe where they’ll be serving coffee, churros and breakfasts.

New location is 413 Oxford St, Mt Hawthorn (or close to it, look for the Spanish flag coloured building).

I’ve been telling everyone I know about Spanish Flavours since the first time I found about it myself. It is the only (to my knowledge) Spanish providore in Perth, and more importantly, the only one run by Rosa, the dynamo proprietor and doyen of all things Spanish.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a home cook or an award winning chef who’s been running restaurants for years. Rosa will tell you how it’s done. Her cheeky smile and attitude are what fills the humble little store with life and makes it something special. Just ask a few stupid questions (like I do every time), then sit back and wait to be educated.

Rosa’s chorizo is used all over Perth by the most discerning chefs. You’ll find it on the menu at Cantina with her name attached in homage. I really can’t quite say just how much I love it. There was a phase not so long ago where I think I lived on it for the better part of a few weeks. I’d put it in omelettes, paella, risotto, pasta, grilled, fried in red wine, fried in cider, fried in it’s own luscious fat and juices. Friends and late night visitors to my place will attest to just how satisfying it is to mop up a bowl of Roas’s fried chorizo with a thick piece of bread smothered in butter.

flaming chorizo

Aisde from chorizo, her’s is also the best place to find jamon iberico, jamon serrano, manchego cheese, a delicious goats cheese that the name of which escapes me, quince paste, guava paste, saffron, tortilla flour, smoked paprika, paella pans, cazuelas, paella rice (calasparra), and everything else you need to make your next Spanish dish as authentic as possible.

Also, *plug plug plug* if you’d like to know a little more about the delightful lady that is Rosa and her possible links to the world of gypsy magic and mind reading, check out my article in the latest edition of Spice Magazine, which aside from what I scribble down on napkins and throw at Anthony to print, is a rather quality publication with fantastic local content.

Rosa was kind enough to donate some of her time doing what she loves best (talking) so I could put together a little story about the shop, where she’s come from, and where she’s going.

Jabugo La Jabuguena JamonSpanish Flavours :: Guava pasteSpanish Flavours :: ChorizoSpanish Flavours :: PimentonSpanish Flavours :: Paella seasoningSpanish Flavours :: GuayaquilSpanish Flavours :: Papa CriollaCazuelaJamonJamonSlicing Jamon at Spanish FlavoursSlicing Jamon at Spanish FlavoursSlicing Jamon at Spanish FlavoursRosa from Spanish FlavoursRosa from Spanish FlavoursRosa from Spanish Flavours

Spanish Flavours
413 Oxford St
Mt Hawthorn
(08) 9284 1313 (unless it’s changed)

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2010 W.A Barista Competition

flat white rosetta

This is an informational post for people looking for information about the WA Barista Competition for this year.

The event is scheduled to be held on the 7th and 8th of November, at the Mt Hawthorn Community Hall, on Scarborough Beach Rd in Mt Hawthorn.

Over the course of the weekend we will be running the local W.A heats of the Australian Barista Competition, the Latte Art Competition, and the Cup Tasting Competition.

Entry for the competition is done online via the newly launched AASCA (Australasian Speciality Coffee Association) website. Links to all the categories being run on the day are below:

Entry for Australian Barista Championship WA State Heat

Entry for Latte Art Championships WA State Heat

Entry for Cup Tasting Championship WA State Heat

The links above will take you to the AASCA site where you can either use your existing AASCA membership number to enter the competition, or else sign up for a new AASCA membership at the same time as you register. The website also handles online processing of competition payments.

More information in regards to the event will be released, including barista jams and information nights, will be released as they come to hand, but for now if you are interested in competing (and if you’re a passionate W.A barista then you should be), please head across to the AASCA site and get your entry in, then get practicing !

2009 WA Latte Art and Coffee Cupping Competition

Tanghy limbers up WA Latte Art and Coffee Cupping Compeition

We had another great day at the Latte Art championships and the Cupping Competition last Sunday. I bravely stood up to the plate again and sacrificed my tastebuds to the cause of coffee to judge the latte art competition in the morning, because as we all (should) know, latte art is much more than just drawing hearts and flowers on top of coffee. The milk temperature and texture and the way it combines with the espresso is paramount to getting a good score. So no matter how lovely your patterns are, if your coffee tastes like microwaved nescafe, you will lose.

Fortunately the competitors on Sunday were a much classier lot than that, and after some stirling efforts from many competitors, the winner once again was Production Supervisor and latte artiste extraordinaire, Kim Godleman of 5 Senses.

Sadly I was judging the whole time of the comp, and with no minions to run around taking photos for me, I didn’t get many shots of the actual competitors during the day. The 5 Senses team did get a few shots though, that you can check out here.

Next up was the cupping competition, and true to form, I had not practiced once. Still, my steely nerves and trust in my palate was strong. I managed to get a break for lunch in between the latte art and the cupping, so I primed the tastebuds with a potato and ham calzone and a lemon lime and bitters. A lunch of taste champions no doubt. A few swirls of mineral water just to round out the bitters and we were good to go.

What is cupping you say ?
Cupping is the traditional method for breaking down the flavour profiles of brewed coffee. You roast a bunch of coffee to a certain level (generally lighter than for espresso), grind it to a specific courseness, and then let it steep in hot water (not boiling) for a set period of time. Then breaking through the crust of grinds on the top and inhaling deeply the aromas of the brew, and drawing out as much detail as you can about the nose, before slurping it as you would if you were tasting wine. Aerating the coffee across your palate and assessing the acidity, body, and length of finish etc.

The cupping competition is designed to be a high speed spectacle that mirrors this tradition. Each competitor is given 8 sets of 3 cups. 2 of the cups in each set are the same coffee, and one is different. The point then is to guess the odd one out, in as fast a time as possible.

The winner of the world cupping championships last year scored 8 out of 8 correct in less than 1 1/2 minutes. That’s 24 tastes of coffee in under 90 seconds… and 100% accuracy on what he was tasting.
Whilst I doubt I’ll ever be in that league, I’ll explain the method I use for this competition (If you can call it a method).

How I do it
Basically I taste the first cup in a set, slurp it across my palate and look for one single defining character of that coffee. Some coffees are predominantly sour, some particularly bitter, others are really earthy, or acidic, or just have some weird kind of funk to them. I then use that one characteristic to match against the other cups. If the next cup has it too, then they are likely to be the same, if the next cup doesn’t, then test the third, if the third has it, bingo. You can also try and use things like the heat profile of steam coming out of cups, and the colour of the brewed coffee if you need a little help. Though often it’s just more confusing.

So in a sense, you’re really not tasting coffee at all. You’re pulling out one flavour component that you can use to match against. Of course being a professional coffee taster, those flavour components are going to be a lot more apparent to someone who does it every day than to a weekend cupping warrior. But the concept is still the same. Of course the problem arises when the coffees all start to taste like each other, or when your mind starts to wander, and the taste you were matching against suddenly slips from your mind.

So how did I do ?
Well, not bad, but not good enough to take out the win this year. I was dead certain of the first set, which I pushed out after only one sip of each cup, and later found out I had it wrong. Which still confuses me as to how I could be so certain, but then these things happen. I managed to get 5 out of 8 sets right in a little over 4 minutes. Pipped by a stirling performance by non other than barista to the stars Ben Bicknell, who managed an outstanding 7 out of 8. A host of other competitors also came in with 5 out of 8 actually. So perhaps we’re all just talented :)

For the record, here are the results from the two days of competition:

Barista Competition Final Results

1st: Mark Chandler from 5 Senses Coffee / WA Barista Academy 546.5 points
2nd: Jespa Bood from Ristretto 454.5 points
3rd: Charles Stuart from Rocketfuel 453.0 points

Latte Art Final Results

1st: Kim Godleman from 5 Senses Coffee
2nd: Dale Fewson from Caf 54
3rd: Natalie Donaldson from Epic Espresso

Cupping Competition Final Results

1st: Ben Bicknell from 5 Senses Coffee 7/8 in 3 mins 58 secs
2nd: Angela Kowalczyk from Epic Espresso 5/8 in 3 mins 32 secs
3rd: Matt ODonohue (that’s me!) Executive Producer of Abstract Gourmet 5/8 in 4 mins 7 secs

W.A Barista Competition – Winner

W.A Barista Comp 2009 W.A Barista Comp 2009

Just a quick update with some photos and to announce that Mark Chandler of the WA Barista Academy has taken out this years WA Barista Competition. Mark had an excellent routine and amongst a small but quality field came out on top to take the win.

Mark signature drink of a pear puree, blueberry reduction and espresso with beetroot dust on top was both tasty and well constructed, and his overall routine and technique were enough to put him over the line.

Great effort this year by all the baristas though, who despite the hurried time frame, came together to put in some fantastic performances.

I was lucky (?) enough to judge all 9 competitors over the course of the day, and despite being massively over caffeinated now, really enjoyed the day. Big thanks to Ben Bicknell for pulling it together, the rest of the judges, runners, helpers, and competitors, and current Australian barista champ (and runner up in the WBC) Dave Makin for swinging over to lend a hand with judging and keeping things in check.

Look for more photos from the latte art and cupping competition tomorrow !