» Archive for the 'Wine' Category

Grasse to Paris

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010 by Tina

…so I left you in Piedmonte, Italy. The journey then continued in our little Alfa across the border into the south of France and the fragrant region of Provence.

We had a forgettable lunch in Nice. Somebody please give me some tips for next time because I thought it was trashy, touristy, dirty and awful. But then again, we were only there for a few hours so maybe that’s not fair. Anyway, we were relieved to get out of Nice and into Grasse, a beautiful little place full of Perfume factories. I dragged Dave to the Fragonard museum and gift shop. Have you seen that episode of Mr Bean in the perfume department? :)

We were staying at a little B&B called La Surprise run by an English couple and we had the best breakfast of our trip here. The combination of good (strong) tea and coffee with home made fresh fruit salad along with fresh bread and patisserie from the local boulangerie was magnificent. A pity we only stayed one night.We had a wonderful dinner at a little town 5 minutes drive from there and were lucky to get the last table at a tiny restaurant swathed in red fabric with an interesting looking menu. The waiter was the husband and his wife was the chef.

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A spiced dip to start

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Deep fried fish balls, delicious though quite rich

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A savoury cheesecake

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Pesto risotto and pan fried white fish

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Some local cheeses

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Bananas in baked custard

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Some beautiful house made macarons

The next morning we took our host’s recommendation to get off the motorway and take the scenic route to our next stop, Aix en Provence (called ‘Ex’ for short) via the stunning Gorge du Verdon.

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Dave did a stellar job of navigating the windy roads with no guard rails and drivers who don’t slow down for blind corners!

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It’s embarrassing just how pleased I look with this apple tart that I bought at a little town we stopped at for lunch on the way to Aix-En Provence.

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A laid back restaurant we found in Aix that had a delicious foie gras and specialised in grilled meats:

http://restaurantlabrocheriepaysaix.com/

Our accommodation was amazing, one of the most memorable of the trip…Le Clos des Freres Gris:

http://freres.gris.free.fr/

We dropped our car back at the TGV train station where we caught the fast train up to Paris. Less than 4 hours later and we arrived in Paris! A cab to our apartment where we were met by our greeter who showed us around the apartment, handed us our keys, left us with a bottle of wine and some restaurant recommendations. We felt at home already.

Roman holiday

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 by Tina

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Sorry for those who have had to wait so long for this itinerary, but here it is: our first dive into the north of Italy, the south of France, and a week long stay in the Marais in Paris.

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My lovely Dave, who managed to look Italian in Italy, then French in France. I’m pretty sure he could easily do Spain and Mexico with a little bit more stubble :)

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Roman pizza and Campari

Our original plan to have a few days on an island a few hours from Bangkok was foiled by riots in the city centre, so instead we just broke our flight at the Novotel Bangkok, had a shower and a Thai massage and continued straight on to Rome. We stayed near the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish steps) at the Frattina Terrace, a little B&B which is only open during the month of May. We were five floors up, and as the lift was broken we worked off our pasta on the stairs.

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It took us a few nights to find a decent place for dinner, as we were a bit jet-lagged and slept through most dinner times stumbling out at 9 or 10pm for a little bite, but on our fourth and final night we were determined to eat a proper dinner at a tucked away Italian eatery, so we stopped at the wine bar on via Frattina for olives and a glass of wine to fortify ourselves before we stumbled on a delicious and authentic restaurant called Settimio All’Arancio, on via dell’Arancio just a few blocks from our place on via Frattina. The dish above is baby octopus in a delicious sauce.

You can visit their website at settimioallarancio.com

After purchasing some leather gloves and hiring an Alfa Romeo, we were all set to tackle the Italian countryside, Italian roads however, another story. Dave, to his credit managed to steer us safely through, and though we did think Italian drivers slightly mad with the speed at which they took corners, they also had the skills to back it up.

On we went to Greve in Chianti where we stayed at an agriturismo, visited a wine museum, found the most delicious smelling shop for lovers of prosciutto and a sweet little restaurant we loved so much we ate there two nights in a row.

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Terre di Baccio, an agriturismo with an outdoor courtyard, vineyards and just down the road from the wine museum.

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The Museo del Vino at Greve in Chianti, you can visit the website at museovino.it

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I never wanted to leave Antica Macelleria Falorni, the norcineria (butcher) in Greve in Chianti, the most wonderful house of prosciutto I have ever come across.

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I have been transported back here by a piece of pungent pancetta that I recently cooked with, amazing how powerful and emotive smell is.

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Nerbone is worth a visit, the regional dish of calves hoof was richly savoury, gelatinous and wonderfully rich, I’ve never had a dish quite like it.

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Our favourite agriturismo called I due Ghiri (the 2 mice) was in La Spezia, about 40 minutes drive from the Cinque Terre, set in the mountains on a farm. Behind our room were some lovely sheep grazing on the side of the mountain and at the start of the driveway some well cared for chickens. We ate Gaia’s delicious regional cooking with Gaia and Stefano and a few other guests.

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A day trip to the Cinque Terre. We parked in Monterosso and had lunch and then took the train down to Riomaggiore.

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The local seafood was fresh and tasty

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Our next destination was La Morra in the Piedmonte region in the north of Italy near Torino. We stayed at a small winery that made beautiful Barolo wine called Cascina Ballerin.

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Per Bacco, a popular restaurant in La Morra with wonderful food, a great local wine list and exquisite service.

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The seafood plate

After eating the rich carbonaras of Rome, we welcomed a lighter style of food in the north. The reputation is for rich food, but somehow we found a lightness and modern approach that was delicious and refreshing. I would head back to this area in a heartbeat. Every wine we tried was great, even the cheap wine on the menu was wonderful. A new white wine variety I tried was Favorita, a white wine vaguely similar to Sauvignon blanc.

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The tomatoes were so flavoursome, little mini romas…

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Home made grissini and soft and chewy fresh bread made with olive oil, delicious.

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We ate here two nights in a row as well

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The view of the French alps from La Morra

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A fun night out with four Danish travellers who shared our love of Barolo

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The print on this plate reminds me of something from my mother’s wardrobe. The steak tartare was delicious.

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Egg linguine with a ragu sauce of three meats was a dish we ate at several restaurants, and we didn’t mind at all.

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Here ends our Roman holiday, the next instalment will be from the South of France up to Paris.

Filicudi

Friday, October 16th, 2009 by Tina

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A few weeks ago we went to Filicudi, an Italian restaurant that came highly recommended by a colleague. So highly recommended in fact that discussion of my future firstborn arose. Don’t worry I didn’t promise anything.

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Fiore di Zucchini. These were beautiful and cheesy, but starting with garlic bread and then these was not really a good plan considering we ended up having three courses.

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Gnocchi Ragu- tender succulent gnocchi with a simple sauce studded with meat chunks.

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Penne Granchi (blue swimmer crab in a ‘pink’ sauce is how this dish was described). This was probably my favourite dish, it absolutely tests the love in your relationship- if you’re willing to share this one then you know you’re on to a good thing.

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Costolette d’Agnello. Marinaded lamb cutlets (garlic, rosemary and olive oil?) grilled to the customer’s liking (medium to medium-rare) on a bed of soft polenta that was neither dry nor bland.

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Baileys Creme Brulee. With enough Baileys added to the mix so that you can actually taste it. The top was satisfyingly hard and shattered on a firm whack of the spoon.

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Written up on the specials board quite simply as ‘Mascarpone’. Described by the waiter as a house special, it was magnificent, a rich, creamy, liqueur-laden tiramisu. I want to go back and try the Pere Filicudi- poached pears.

I also think the pizzas are worth trying as we saw several people walk past, arms laden with pizza boxes looking quite pleased with themselves.

BYO is accepted, and for $2 per person is fantastically reasonable.

Filicudi

11 Ramsay Rd, Fivedock

9713 8733

African Adventure

Sunday, March 8th, 2009 by Tina

The biggest challenge with having an African dinner party was which region’s cuisine to choose, so we didn’t! We just left it quite open and this is what we ended up with…

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Clockwise: In the large white square dish is doro wat chicken, injera bread, bobotie, rice, bulgar salad, tomato salad.

Coriander Bread (Pain Nord Africain au Coriandre) Recipe

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2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm milk in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except all-purpose flour. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to make dough easy to handle. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes.

Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up. Cover; let rise until double, about 1 hour. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Punch dough down; divide into halves. Shape each half into an 8-inch long loaf. Place loaves into two greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Cover; let rise until double — 40 to 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190 C or 375 F.

Cut lengthwise slash in top of each loaf. Bake until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped — 35 to 40 minutes; remove from pans. Cool on wire racks.

Egyptian beetroot dip

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serves: 4

ready in: 1 hour (15 mins Prep – 40 mins Cook)
Serve this beautifully vibrant dip with chargrilled pita toasts for a casual start to a barbecue, or use it as a scrumptious sandwich filler.
ingredients

5 red beetroot (1 kg)
1¼ cups (325 g) plain low-fat yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon paprika
pepper to taste
preparation method

Cut off the beetroot stems 1 cm from the roots (no closer). Scrub the roots very gently but thoroughly, being careful not to nick the skin.

Cook the beetroot in a large pot of simmering, salted water for 40–60 minutes until tender. Drain. Allow to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, cool slightly and rub off the skins. It is a good idea to wear rubber gloves when doing this to prevent your hands from becoming stained.

Finely chop, grate or process the beetroot in a food processor, then transfer the flesh to a serving bowl.

Add the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, oil, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and paprika to the beetroot and mix well. Season to taste with pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until required. Serve with warm crusty bread.

Kosayi (African Dipping Sauce)

500g or 9 Baby red capsicums
90g or 3 long red hot chillies
30g or 7 small red hot or habanera* chillies
2 tbsp vegetable oil
75g sugar
75 ml white vinegar
1 tsp salt
Olive oil

*If replacing the 7 small hot chillies (with habanera chillies) you must remove the seeds and veins before blanching them in boiling

Method
A good kosayi should be not too hot, you can just feel the heat. The mixture will keep for about 6 months in the refrigerator – the older it gets the better it tastes.

Place the chillies and the whole capsicums in a large pot of cold water and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 25 min or until soft. Cover, turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
Drain and seed both chilli and capsicum, then peel the capsicum. Place in a food processor and blend to a creamy paste.

Press mixture through a fine strainer to remove any remaining skin.

Stir in sugar, oil, salt and white vinegar then place in a jar and allow at least 2 days to mature.

bobotie

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1 kg beef mince
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp ginger, grated or chopped
2 slices white bread
1 tbs jam
2 tbs chutney (Mrs Ball’s is the authentic safe chutney)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 tbs vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup raisins (variation is 1/4 cup raisins + 1/4 cup grated apple)
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbs curry powder (Indian spice mix)
2-4 bay leaves (fresh or dry doesn’t matter!)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Oil in pan, saute onions, ginger and garlic and remove from pan.
Saute curry powder in oil to develop flavour then add mince. Cook mince until brown and crumbly, remove from heat.
Soak bread in milk, squeeze dry and shred.  Add to mince along with onion mix.
Add salt, pepper, tumeric, cloves, vinegar, raisins, jam and chutney and mix through.
Place in baking dish, press down and top with bay leaves.
Bake for about 50 minutes @ 180 degrees. After 30 min in the oven, beat the egg and milk together and carefully pour over mince in the dish, return to oven.
Remove from oven when topping is cooked (may not need the extra 20 minutes).

rice

2 cups white rice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 tsp tumeric
1 tsp sugar
1 tbs margarine
1/2 cup raisins

Boil saucepan of water. Add all ingredients except raisins to boiling water and top up water as required during cooking. About 5 min before rice is cooked, add raisins and simmer until rice is tender. Drain and serve!

chef kurt linsi’s queen of sheba salad

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700g          ripe tomatoes, cut into small wedges with seeds removed. Nicole used ‘kumatoes’.
1                   red onion, finely chopped.
1                   clove garlic, finely chopped
1                   small red chilli, finely chopped
1/2 cup      tomato sauce or ketchup
Few drops tabasco sauce
1 tbsp          vinegar
1/4 cup      olive oil
1/4 cup      medium dry sherry
1/2 tsp       worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp       salt
grind of     black pepper
In a bowl Combine salad ingredients. Combine sauce ingredients. Marinate the tomato mixture in the sauce. Serve in sauce dishes without lettuce or drain well and place in the center of the Injera bread.

bulgar salad

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225g (8 oz) bulgur wheat
285mL (1/2 pint) boiling water
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
salt
pepper
1 red capsicum, grilled, peeled and sliced
1 bunch of plump spring onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cucumber, coarsely chopped
115 g (4 oz) feta cheese, crumbled
lime wedges, to serve
oil-cured black olives, optional

Place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl, add the boiling water and leave to soak for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with a fork, until the water has been absorbed. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice and seasoning. Pour oil mixture over the bulgur wheat, add the herbs and mix well. Then mix in the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill until required. Serve garnished with lime wedges.

doro wat chicken

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Feeds 10-20

Wat
1 whole chicken, plus an extra couple of chicken breasts or thighs
3 lemons
500ml of white vinegar
5 kg brown onions
50g finely ground cardamom seeds
100ml olive oil
100ml Nit’r Qibe (spiced clarified butter)
6 tbsp berbere spice mix (chilli powder)
4 tbsp tomato paste

Mixed spice
2 tbsp cardamom seeds
2 tbsp nigella seeds
2 tbsp ajwain (or fennel seeds)
1 tbsp African basil leaves, seed and leaves
2 tsp black pepper corns
3 tbsp salt
2 tbsp ground black pepper
12 hard boiled eggs

Remove the skin completely from the chicken and cut into 21 portions. (This is the traditional Ethiopian way.) Any excess blood or fat on the chicken needs to be removed, as it will affect the flavour of the sauce. After the chicken has been cleaned, soak it in the vinegar and some wedges of lemon in a non metallic bowl.

Finely dice the onions and place them in a large pot with the lid on over a medium heat. Do not add oil or liquid. Cook the onions until they have reduced by at least half. This process usually takes about an hour.

Once the onions have reduced, add the olive oil cook for 30 mins. Then add the spiced ghee (nit’r qibe) and berbere and stir into the mixture. Add the 21 portions of chicken. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the temperature and allow the chicken to cook through, making sure the onions do not stick to the bottom of the pot.

Grind together the mixed spice ingredients and once the chicken is partially cooked, add the mixed spice and stir through. Add salt. Allow the mixture to simmer slowly and stir occasionally.

While the mixture is cooking, prepare the eggs. Bring water to the boil, add salt and hard-boil the eggs. Once cooked, peel the eggs and allow to cool.

Cut vertical groves into the eggs to ensure flavour seeps in. Spoon out some of the excess oil that settles on top of the mixture. Add the eggs when you are about to turn off the heat.

This is better the next day and even better the day after that. Just make sure you reheat thoroughly.

N.B. A berbere spice mix is available from Herbie’s spice shop in Rozelle and it includes many of the spices mentioned in the ‘mixed spice’ section of the recipe and not so much chilli, so I used 6 tablespoons of Herbie’s berbere mix and added the tomato paste to round out the flavour and add a redder colour as it was bit dull brown and too clovey. The heat seems to come more from the pepper than the chilli so add some more chilli if your spice mix is not hot and you like spicy food.

Serve with Injera bread. Here is the recipe for it below…

injera bread

makes 8-10

1 cup amaranth flour (available at health food shops, you could also try buckwheat or wholemeal for a nutty flavour)

2 cups plain flour

3 cups water

pinch salt

Mix flours with water until smooth in a bowl, cover.  Leave to sit for 2-3 days (even overnight will do if you don’t have time, it just won’t be as sour) until it starts to bubble. During this time you can mix it a few times with a spoon but otherwise just leave it covered. You want crepe batter consistency so if too thin you can pour off some of the liquid that has risen to the top before you mix and cook the batter.

Stir in the salt. Heat a large frypan until when a few drops of water are added the water dances on the surface and evaporates. Quickly wipe the surface of the pan with a paper towel dipped in oil. Add a ladle of the mixture and cook slowly until air bubbles rise to the top. Do not let it brown, and make sure that it is not too thick. You can tip the pan so that excess batter runs to the edges. Do not turn over, only one side gets cooked, just wait until it is cooked through then slide off to a large plate. Repeat until the batter is used up.

Cover with clingfilm once cooled until ready to serve. You can cover the plate with one injera and use it to mop up sauce, by breaking off a piece with your fingers and any extra injera can be rolled up into a ‘cigar’ and cut in half and used to dip into sauces.

m’hanncha (the snake) with caramelised fig

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* 150g chopped almonds
* 75g granulated (raw) sugar
* 1 tablespoon butter, melted
* 2 teaspoons orange flower water
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 8 sheets filo pastry
* 40g butter
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 cup icing sugar
* 8 fresh figs
* 4 tablespoons brown sugar

Put the sugar, butter, orange flower water, almonds and cinnamon in a blender and blend until smooth.

Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and place each lengthways down the side of one piece of filo pastry. Roll the pastry around the mixture. The finished thing should resemble a sausage shape.

Coil it into a kind of snail’s shell then set aside and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat this with all 8 pieces.

Heat the butter in a large pan and then fry the pastries until they are browned on both sides.

Sprinkle the pastries with cinnamon and icing sugar and serve. They can be left to cool if you wish to eat them cold.

Figs: Depending on the quality of the figs, they can be sliced or quartered and eaten fresh if very juicy or if a little dry then cut in half from top to bottom, lay cut side up on a baking tray lined with baking paper and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a 180C oven for 5-10 minutes until the tops start to caramelise. Keep an eye on them as they burn quickly.

A dollop of thick sweetened yoghurt flavoured with a little cinnamon and honey would be a delicious addition.

Wine

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We had a couple of bottles of South African red wine, called Pinotage, which were so different to each other you would have sworn they were different types of grapes.  Nice to try though.

Rabbit and Chambourcin

Thursday, December 18th, 2008 by Tina

It was meant to be a simple dinner, using up ingredients in my overflowing freezer and pantry, which I did, but it wasn’t simple. That’s what happens when I have a day at home to cook…

I found a rabbit in the freezer (I know that sounds crazy but it was from work and no one else wanted to take it home), some tomatoes that were bordering on over-ripe on the counter, some limp carrots and some ok celery from the bottom of the fridge. I hunted through The Cooks Companion, always reliable for hearty basic recipes, and I wasn’t disappointed tonight. A basic pasta sauce using hare legs, I thought using rabbit would be fine, which it was.

Here is a photo of the results, a homemade pureed tomato sauce with carrot, onion and celery then added to a whole rabbit, browned in olive oil and slow cooked in a casserole dish with garlic, red wine, bay leaf and fresh thyme.

The wine was a Chambourcin bought at the Rouse Hill Growers Market and worked quite well in the dish and in my glass.

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Oh and by the way, it was delicious.

Young Chefs’ Dinner 2008

Saturday, November 15th, 2008 by Tina

The 2008 Young Chefs’ Dinner hosted by the Sydney Morning Herald as part of Good Food Month was held in October at Coast Restaurant at Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour.

A few old uni friends decided to check it out…

Below are a few photos of the event, which are not brilliant but at least they’ll give you an idea of what was served.

Coast Restaurant Sommelier Brendon February recommended a few wines, and I tried the 2007 Farnese ‘Casale Vecchio’ Pecorino ‘Terre di Chieti’ IGT, Abruzzo, which was light, grassy and perfect with the tomato and yabby appetiser below.

Yabbies and tomato on toast. Josh Davidson, Coast Restaurant

The flesh of the yabbie tasted fresh and sweet which worked well with the sweet/savoury combination of the tomato jelly which was cleansing on the palate and then the textural crumbliness of the pastry underneath gave a robustness to this light appetiser.

Macadamia, wattleseed, lemon myrtle, red rice. James Parry, Oscillate Wildly (Winner of the Young Chef Award 2008)

This dish played with texture and the diner’s expectation. The creamy macadamia ‘mousse’ was savoury as were the ‘toffee shards’ and the red rice jelly.

Breast of Burrawong Farm quail, ham hock and quail leg terrine, beetroot syrup, lemon-scented celeriac puree. Michael Urquhart, No2 Oak Street Bellingen

The terrine was delicious, the puree was tasty, but the quail was a little too simple. I can see that the chef was wanting the true flavour of the bird to shine through and didn’t want to play with it too much. Great theory, but in that case the bird needs to be perfectly seasoned and perhaps with a crisp skin, or one feature that makes is interesting. It let the dish down which is a shame as the chef is obviously passionate about Australian produce.

Neck fillet of lamb, artichoke, olive paint, white bean puree, mint jelly, peas. Marc Williams, Foveaux Restaurant+Bar

Tender, succulent lamb brushed with the mint jelly so you couldn’t see it, only taste it, lovely. This was the least mentally challenging dish, and also the most enjoyable to my taste, as I could just relax and enjoy.

Osso Iraty, dates, gingerbread. Josh Davidson, Coast

A well rounded rectangle of sheeps milk cheese wrapped in a thin sticky layer of fresh dates is a wonderful parcel of sweet and savoury. Tiny beetroot leaves and slivers of crisp apple with a very light appley dressing on a not too sweet gingerbread base. This was my favourite for aesthetic appeal, flavour balance and more-ishness! Well done!

Nougat parfait, mustard citrus fruits. Luke Powell, Tetsuya’s

Intense, challenging, interesting. I enjoyed the mental challenge of this dish, trying to uncover all of its secrets. It was not my favourite flavour-wise as it was not balanced or cleansing, rather it is a richer dish, however it was certainly one of the most daring and for that Luke shold be commended. The serving size may have added to the richness, half the amount would have been sufficient for such a dessert.

Caramels, house made petit fours by Josh Davidson.

This was a disappointment as I love caramel in all formats, but these were oily and under-sweet. A thin sliver of dark chocolate would have been a better end to such a feast.