Thursday, December 31, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
There's nothing more satisfying - or necessary - than sitting down with a soothing cup of peppermint tea and putting up your feet after hosting a successful Christmas Day lunch. The food has been devoured, the dishes washed and put away, the wrapping paper tidied up and presents sorted. In my case, I have a lovely stack of glossy new cookbooks to add to my pile. I can't wait to start cooking from them.
We hosted 16 people at our Christmas Day lunch but it was nowhere near as daunting as that sounds. Everyone was delegated to bring something: drinks, nibblies, a salad or two, dessert etc. As hostess, I was providing the ham and the turkey and lots of salad bowls and white platters for presentation.
My family likes a traditional Christmas lunch (by that, I mean the Anglo traditional lunch, with ham, turkey and plum pudding) but we are happy to add our own twists and interpretations. None of us are huge fans of a whole cooked turkey and I didn't want to spend Christmas morning trapped in the kitchen with a hot stove. So I ordered a turkey breast roll from my excellent local butcher (much faster to cook, with lots less angsty) and found a recipe for roast herbed turkey roll in the December 2009 issue of Gourmet Traveller (a magazine that Suzie from Munch+Nibble and I are focusing on this month in the We Made This challenge, where we aim to cook as much as we can from a selected magazine each month).
This is a lovely recipe - very stress-free for Christmas Day, with an excellent end result that belies the minimal effort involved. Combined with ham, roast chicken, a vast array of salads (including seafood, sweet potato, green salad, roast potatoes and a beetroot, walnut and feta salad) and several bottles of Seppelts Sparkling Shiraz, this dish was part of our stunning Christmas feast that satisfied all and meant groaning stomachs could barely accommodate dessert, let alone tea that night.
Roast herbed turkey roll with Meyer lemon mayonnaise
Recipe from the December 2009 issue of Gourmet Traveller
1 turkey breast (about 1.4kg), skin on (note - my turkey breast was 2kg and I did not adjust the recipe but this portion was adequate)
1 cup (loosely packed) each basil, flat-leaf parsley and mint, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Finely grated rind of 1 Meyer lemon (Meyer lemons are slightly sweeter than regular lemons, but it is fine to substitute if you can't find Meyers)
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
Meyer lemon mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
25ml Meyer lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard
150ml light olive oil
Finely grated rind of 2 Meyer lemons
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Place turkey breast skin-side down on a work surface and make an incision lengthways along the thickest part of the breast to butterfly. Open flat and season to taste.
Combine herbs, garlic, rind and half the olive oil in a small bowl, season to taste and spread evenly over turkey. Roll into a long cylinder, tucking ends under, then tie securely at intervals with kitchen twine./
Place turkey on a wire rack in a roasting tray, drizzle with remaining oil, season to taste and roast, basting occasionally, until golden and juices run clear when pierced with a skewer (1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes - longer if your turkey breast is larger). Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, for Meyer lemon mayonnaise, combine yolk, juice and mustard in a small bowl, whisk to combine, then add oil in a thin, continuous stream, whisking continuously until incorporated. Add rind, season to taste and set aside.
Serve sliced turkey with mayonnaise to the side.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
For many years I've made a chocolate panforte at Christmas. No matter how full we are, everyone always finds a small hole in their stomach when the plate of panforte, dusted with icing sugar, comes out with coffee. In last year's Christmas issue of Gourmet Traveller, I found a recipe for panpepato, which is very similar to panforte. With a newborn in the house last Christmas, there was no time to make the panpepato but it was one of the first things on my list for this year (as this recipe came from the December 2008 issue, it doesn't strictly fit into the We Made This challenge that Suzie from Munch+Nibble and I are doing, but I'm including it anyway, as I haven't had a chance to cook as much from this year's edition as I'd hoped!)
According to Gourmet Traveller, panpepato is a Christmas specialty from the Siena region of Italy. It is similar to panforte but is spiced up with black pepper and cocoa or chocolate. "The hsitory of panforte and panpepato are intertwined and it's difficult to distinguish which came first and what their true provenance is," Emma Knowles wrote in her article on panpepato. "Legend has it that panpepato possessed powerful aphrodisiac qualities and also had the ability to stop husbands and wives from fighting, both of which are great reasons to whip up a batch yourself."
Panpepato is easy to make, although you will need a sugar thermometer and some confidence in cooking a soft caramel. The mixing stage needs to be done very quickly or you end up with a big, gluggy, unusable mess on your hands.
The recipe specifies that the panpepato should be baked in five 10cm-diameter springform pans. I made mine in a 20cm springform pan, as I don't have the smaller pans, and adjusted the cooking time slightly. The end result was fine but I do think the smaller versions would work very well if you wanted to give these away as gifts. Panpepato would make a wonderful gift for your friends: this is a wonderful cake, like a sexy older sister version of panforte. The dark cocoa gives it a luxurious element, while the spicy aftertaste of peppercorns lingers teasingly on the palate. This is a dish that I will definitely be making again.
Recipe from Gourmet Traveller, December 2008 (available on the GT website)
2 sheets of confectioner's rice paper
50gm plain flour
40gm Dutch-process cocoa
1 Tb ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp coarsely crushed pink peppercorns
200gm candied orange, coarsely chopped
80gm almonds, roasted
80gm each walnuts and hazelnuts, roasted and peeled
150gm caster sugar
Pure icing sugar, to dust
Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Lightly grease five 10-cm diameter springform pans, line bases with baking paper and then rice paper, trimming to fit. Sift flour and cocoa into a bowl, add spices, orange and nuts and toss to coat well in the flour mixture.
Heat caster sugar, honey and 2 Tb water in saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Do not stir again, as mixture may crystallise. Bring to the boil and cook until mixture reaches 120 degrees on a sugar thermometer (soft ball stage). Working quickly with a lightly oiled spoon, pour caramel over nut mixture, mixing well. Spoon into prepared pans and smooth tops with an oiled spatula. Bake for 10-15 minutes (time it carefully because this cake will not firm up or colour as it cooks). Cool completely in pans, turn out, then dust liberally with icing sugar. Serve cut into wedges (note that this cake is rich and a little will go a long way).
Panpepato will keep, wrapped in baking paper, and then plastic wrap in an airtight container in a cool place, for up to one month. To present as a gift, wrap panpepato in baking paper before wrapping as desire.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Lack of time and lack of cooking knowledge are often blamed for the increased reliance on packaged or takeaway food. But a new cookbook, The Thrifty Kitchen, by Suzanne Gibbs and Kate Gibbs, aims to inspire people to eat more healthily and cheaply at home.
Kate says the global financial crisis has helped focus people’s minds on their expenditure and be more careful with their money, and this was part of the inspiration for the cookbook.
The Thrifty Kitchen contains plenty of useful tips on how to shop thriftily, including how to get the best value at the supermarket, how to get your money’s worth when buying meat, and essential items to keep in the pantry.
While cooking your own food gives you ultimate control over what you put in your body, it is also much cheaper to cook for yourself, and using up leftovers helps reduce waste and lessens the impact on the environment. But Kate says it is important that cooking is realistically integrated into people’s day-to-day lives and the book shows people ways that they can best use their time to fit cooking into their life.
“We’ve given lots of useful advice along with the recipes, including some clever ways to be thrifty in the kitchen. We believe cooking is connecting with food. It’s about knowing what you eat and knowing how to develop and incorporate variety into your diet.”
Kate comes from a fine food pedigree: her grandmother is the doyenne of Australian cooking, Margaret Fulton OAM, and her mother, Suzanne Gibbs, is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef who published her first cookbook at 24.
Food was integral to Kate’s childhood. She and her sister would often awake to delicious cooking smells wafting from the kitchen. Over breakfast , they would plan meals for the weekend and Kate says she always wanted to be involved in the cooking.
Talking to Kate, recipes flow freely throughout the conversation. While pondering the answer to a question about her favourite recipe in the book, she digresses into a quick list of ingredients to make ricotta pancakes for breakfast.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
1. For speculaas spice, finely grind cardamom, cloves, star anise, peppercorns and mace in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Transfer to a large bowl, add cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, stir, add to flour and baking powder and set aside.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
My name is Melinda and I'm addicted to food porn. My books are pushed aside to make way for more glossy cookbooks, out-of-season food magazines are stored in boxes in the cupboard until their seasonal time arrives, and I have storage boxes stuffed full of recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers. I want to organise them and file them but every time I pull out the box to do so, I get side-tracked by hypothetically conjuring up the dishes until I've run out of time. The clippings are piled back into the box and put away until the next time.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Yet the tradition persists. To me, the aroma of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves are the essence of Christmas and conjure up images of sweet treats that we can eat with a reckless abandon that doesn't exist during the rest of the year (or why else are the January magazines full of post-Christmas diets?)
It is a time of excess, particularly in relation to baking. A slice of panforte here, a wedge of fruit cake there, here a mince tart, there a spiced biscuit ... there's plenty of excuses to indulge.
Despite my mounting pile of recipes, it's nice to return to some old favourites. I adore spiced biscuits and cakes - put the word "spiced" into the title of a recipe and you have my attention immediately. These cute little spiced biscuits by Donna Hay, finished off with a dusting of snowy icing sugar, are a perfect way to offer season's greetings.
Sugar-dusted spice biscuits
125g (4 0z) butter, softened
3/4 cup (150g/5 oz) brown sugar
1/4 cup (95g/3 oz) golden syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (235g/7 oz) plain flour, sifted
1/2 cup (55g/ 1 3/4 oz) hazelnut meal
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Beat butter, brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until pale. Add the egg and beat well. Add the flour, hazelnut meal, spices and soda and beat until just combined.
Roll two teaspoonfuls of mixture into balls and place on baking-paper-lined baking trays, allowing room for spreading. Bake in batches for 8 minutes, or until light golden. Cool, then dust with icing sugar.
Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine, issue 12
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Now Footscray has joined the throng, with the stately old Station Hotel, built in 1864, being brought into the modern era by highly regarded chef Sean Donovan. Footscray has long been the place to go for Asian and African food but diners west of the CBD now have a more upmarket option.
Donovan, who has worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in both London and France and formerly weaved his magic south of the river at The Botanical, has waved his wand over the Station Hotel and turned it into the area’s first gastro-pub. While the surrounding area may seem less amenable to fine dining than South Yarra, London or France, his chef’s eye for detail and use of excellent produce has transformed the pub into a thriving local where it’s difficult to snare a table if you don’t book ahead.
The focus here is firmly on the food. The dining room interior is pleasantly neutral, with one wall papered in a subtle grey paisley pattern. The wooden tables, adorned with cloth napkins and heavy cutlery, are positioned quite closely together, although the noise levels never rise unacceptably and it’s possible to conduct a conversation without shouting.
When the Station first reopened, diners ordered and paid at the bar but this has been sensibly replaced by table service. The waitstaff are friendly and helpful, eager to answer any questions about the menu and not shy about complimenting patrons on their dining choices.
While the menu does reflect Donovan’s training, there are still some traditional pub favourites, albeit with a cheffy twist, such as beer-battered fish and chips or a burger with onion fries. There is a choice of eight different steaks, either Black Angus or wagyu, grain or grass-fed. Then there are the gastro-pub offerings: blinis, farro risotto and terrine de campagne. There is also evident pride in the produce used, with names such as Fratelli Galloni Prosciutto di Parma, Coffin Bay scallops, Smoky Bay oysters and the provenance of each steak detailed on the menu.
Seafood makes up the bulk of the short entree list. Marinated ocean trout is folded delicately atop four pancake-sized buckwheat blinis. The blinis are crispy and a little oily but saved by the accompanying sauces, one zinging with piquant horseradish and the other full of little salmon roe that pop sensuously in the mouth.
The Cashel blue cheese and leek tart is an upmarket, but well made, quiche. The pastry holds the firm eggy filling without sogginess but still has a flaky lightness to it. The blue cheese adds a subtle bite and the tart’s richness is offset by a salad of radicchio and thinly sliced apple.
The relative simplicity of the entrees disappears with the more elaborate mains. On paper, the spicy wagyu beef sausages with Gorgonzola, soft polenta, candied walnuts and sage – essentially a glamorous bangers and mash – sounds messy and complicated, with too many ingredients competing for attention. But there is a harmony in the dish, with the different flavours complementing each other and the smoky sweetness of the candied walnuts adding an extra sizzle of flavour. The waitress rated the sausages as “7 out of 10” in the heat stakes but our palates clearly differ, as I found the sausages to have nothing more than a pleasing warmth to them. They are coiled on a pillow of soft and creamy polenta, flecked with herbs and Gorgonzola. Radicchio and shaved parmesan add some lightness to the pure comfort food element of the dish.
Just as detailed on paper is the black pudding dish, which features Donovan’s gelatinous, slightly spicy black pudding. When the crispy, pan-fried skin is cut, the black pudding spills out over its accompaniments of caramelised onion, a brie and duck egg omelette and a mound of lentils and bacon. A slice of walnut and fruit toast adds a firm-textured dimension. Despite the many ingredients, this dish works, and the interesting juxtaposition of sweet and sour tastes makes it memorable. Black pudding is not to everyone’s taste, but if you are a fan, this is an excellent version.
The serves here are generous and desserts are no exception. A hot Valrhona chocolate cake, about the size of an entree plate, has surprise packages of poached quince pieces hidden inside. The fruit, and the bitter notes of good-quality dark chocolate, save the cake from being cloying or overly sweet, and it is finished off with a scoop of Jock’s vanilla ice-cream. The Station’s version of ubiquitous sticky date pudding is excellent: a large wedge of pudding is studded with walnuts and doused with a thick butterscotch sauce.
The Station Hotel has been embraced by locals and it’s easy to see why. While simple dishes are executed well and will not scare off those who are after a pub meal, there is enough innovation, passion and pride in the food here to attract those who want something a little more adventurous.
The Station Hotel
59 Napier St, Footscray
(03) 9687 2913
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Fruit cakes seem to have fallen out of favour over recent years. I know very few people who still bake a Christmas cake every year. Fruit cake is certainly not glamorous or showy like a chocolate or celebration cake but it does have a certain richness and comfort factor. A rich cake densely studded with plump fruit and nuts and laced with alcohol is a delicious afternoon treat with a cup of tea, especially in winter. And, although it is not ideally suited for a hot Australian summer, fruit cake has a Christmassy air about it to me. I confess that my favourite Christmas treat is now a slice of spicy, chocolatey panforte but I still have a soft spot for a good old-fashioned Christmas cake.
People often think they need to set aside a large portion of time to make a Christmas cake. However, the cake is actually very easy to make and just requires preparation and forward planning in order to allow time to macerate the fruit and then to bake the cake. Long, slow baking is the key that turns the thick batter into a rich, dense cake. The other secret is to line the cake tin with brown paper to help protect the cake from drying out through its long cooking time.
Melbourne Larder Christmas cake
Soak dried fruit in 100ml brandy overnight. (This year I soaked the fruit in 150ml Irish whisky for three days in the fridge and this gave a deeper, mellower flavour. If you have time, I recommend this; but the cake will still taste fine if you only macerate the fruit overnight.)
The next day, pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees and sift together the flour, baking powder and spices.
Cream the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and flour mix alternately. Lastly mix in the vanilla extract, soaked fruit, golden syrup and lemon zest.
Turn into a lined 20cm square cake tin.* Scoop centre into a light hollow to allow for rising. Place whole blanched almonds in a pattern around the edges of the cake. I sometimes make a little flower pattern in the centre as well.
Bake for 2 to 3 hours (cover with foil if the top is browning too much). Remove from oven and drizzle over the extra 50ml brandy. Cool completely in the tin and then turn out. Wrap the cake in several layers of greaseproof paper and then in foil and store in an airtight tin in a cool place until Christmas.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Christmas-time is my baking highlight of the year. I stress the word "baking" because savoury dishes such as turkey and ham don't really come into the equation, although I do enjoy planning the main meal as well. I love baking Christmas treats: gingerbread, panforte, panettone, lebkuchen, shortbread, mince tarts, Christmas cake ... the list is long.
It's time to load up my shopping trolley with bags of dried and glace fruit, different types of nuts, spices such as ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice, and plenty of flour, sugar, butter and eggs. The kitchen fills with the heady, mouth-watering aroma of cakes and biscuits as they cook - a spicy smell that I always associate with Christmas and its delicious traditional dishes.
There are many cliches associated with Christmas and it can be a difficult time of year for people who feel forced to try and live up to the ideal of "festive cheer". But I'm fortunate in that Christmas was always a fun and social time of the year for my family. With relatives spread around the state, it was a good chance for everyone to get together and indulge themselves with good food.
The Christmassy treats that we served up for morning and afternoon tea were just as much a part of our celebrations as the turkey, ham and plum pudding. Everyone had a specialty and we eagerly looked forward to the chance to savour delicacies only available at that time of year.
I love learning about the different traditional dishes and adding them to my repertoire. To my Anglo traditions of shortbread and mince tarts, made to my grandmother's recipes, I've added a decadent chocolate panforte and my auntie's lebkuchen biscuits. Other dishes I've tried included buche de Noel (France), stollen (Germany) and panpepato (Italy).
But each year the list grows longer, as I find more books and recipes to add to the pile. Murdoch Books has recently released Cooking for Christmas, a sumptuously photographed book that has recipes for soups, entrees such as potted prawns, main dishes with all the trimmings, puddings and edible gifts. I'm trying to resist buying another cookbook but there are some excellent recipes in there...
I have the delicious magazine Christmas special from last year, to which I've added a Women's Weekly version that I bought last week. I'm eagerly awaiting the December issues of delicious, Gourmet Traveller and Donna Hay Magazine to find out what goodies are on offer this year, and I've been busily combing through past issues of Donna Hay Magazine to gain inspiration.
What dishes will make it onto my baking list this year? Chocolate and Grand Marnier buche de Noel from Gourmet Traveller? Stefano de Pieri's panettone? Gourmet Traveller's recipe for panpepato? Or old favourites, such as my chocolate panforte or a panforte that matches perfectly with Rutherglen muscat? It's time to write out the shopping list and fire up the oven ...
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I believe that moderation is the key to eating well and I have no problem with the occasional treat of a cake or biscuit. However, I very rarely buy them. Sometimes it's because the promise never seems to live up to the taste (many cafe cakes are disappointingly dry) but it's mostly because I prefer home-made because I know exactly what is going into it and there's no hidden preservatives or additives.
So these sweet little vanilla-scented buttery biscuits are perfect. Budding little cooks will enjoy helping mix up the dough and will most of all love to decorate the biscuit with brightly coloured smarties. Quick to mix, quick to cook, a creative outlet in designing patterns on the biscuits ... this is a lovely little project that has kept Daniel amused many times. Best of all, these are certainly a lot cheaper to make than the cafe versions, which often sell for $2.50 each.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I wanted to show photos of platters filled with tasty morsels of food but, sadly, the guests gobbled them up before there was time to organise the camera. So here are the remnants of our feast, a lonely plate of leftover savouries: caramelised onion tarts, potato and fetta pastries, and corn and ham mini-muffins.
sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Hosting a party, particularly at home, brings a whole host of administrative issues on top of the catering. Cleaning, dusting, putting precious objects out of reach of 15 stampeding toddlers, sorting out toys into boxes for different age groups, sweeping the back deck, setting up outdoor furniture, arranging the pot-plants, buying the balloons and streamers ... the list is endless. But an inveterate list-maker like myself finds it satisfying ticking off each item.
Also satisfying, and much more fun, is planning the party menu. With up to 50 people coming, we can't just throw together a few platters and hope that will be enough. Luckily there are good cooks on both sides of the family and all are drafted in to help fill the white platters that are marching out of the cupboards, eager to be used. Of course we have bowls of chips and lollies to put out, but there's also pastry pinwheels, club sandwiches, potato and fetta pastries, corn and ham mini-muffins, caramelised onion tartlets and smartie biscuits.
I'll share some recipes in a future post. In the meantime, here is the fairy toadstool birthday cake that I made for the party.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
We are having a proper party to celebrate on the weekend, and I've already planned the birthday cake from The Australian Women's Weekly birthday cake book. But for our little family dinner tonight I made a sweet little marble cake, all swirls of multi-coloured cake butter, topped with rose-pink icing and silver cachous.
The marble cake is very easy to make (although it does use a few bowls) and can be whipped up in surprisingly quick time. It is a basic butter cake mix that is coloured with cocoa and pink food colouring. It makes a lovely afternoon tea cake but is also nice for a little birthday celebration, particularly for a gorgeous little girl.
This is not a huge cake, so I make it in a loaf tin, which makes a good-sized bar cake. However, you could double the mixture and make it in a square or round cake tin (you may need to adjust the cooking time to suit).
50g butter, softened
115g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 tablespoon milk, extra
few drops of rose-pink food colouring
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (160 degrees fan-forced). Grease and line a loaf tin (it usually measures about 10cm x 24cm).
Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gently beat in the egg and the vanilla extract. Sift the flour and mix in alternately with the milk. Divide the mixture into three bowls. Beat the sifted cocoa and bicarb soda and the milk into one bowl. Add a few drops of rose-pink food colouring (a little goes a long way but you do want this to have a strong colour) into the second bowl. Leave the third bowl plain.
Drop spoonfuls of mixture into the prepared cake tin. When finished, use a skewer to swirl through the mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes (you may need to cover the top with foil if the top is browning too quickly) or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Cool in the tin for about five minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
When cold, ice with a basic butter icing (beat 25g softened butter, 125g sifted icing sugar and a few teaspoons of boiling water until smooth. Add a few drops of rose-pink food colouring, mix to a smooth consistency and ice) and decorate with silver cachous or sprinkles.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
After Melbourne's cold start to spring (winter coats and flannelette sheets still a necessity), Sydney's balmy sunshine acts like a tonic. Layers are shed and upper arms exposed. Colourful spring outfits beckon from shops along Oxford St, Paddington, and credit cards are just begging to be used.
The occasion is a girls' weekend in Sydney and several girlfriends and I have flown up from Melbourne to spend time with some friends who are now Sydney-based. First stop is a fortifying sandwich at a little streetside cafe on Oxford St, where I spy a piccolo latte for $3 on the coffee menu. I first heard the term "piccolo latte" two weeks ago when a colleague from my Sydney office mentioned it was his drink of choice. Suddenly I'm seeing the term everywhere (although I've yet to order one; it sounds similar to a macchiato. Can anyone offer me more information?)
Letting six women loose along Oxford St makes for an interesting few hours (one person is heard to mutter something about "herding cats") but we manage to loosely stay together and not do too much damage to the credit cards. We freshen up at home and then it's time for cocktails at Blue Sydney at The Wharf at Woolloomooloo. The dark-toned bar is cavernous, with strategically placed low tables, comfortable couches and screens, and old hardware from the days when it was a working wharf is still visible. The cocktail menu is extensive and makes a choice difficult, so we settle for a mixture of sangria, champagne and mojitos. When the bill arrives, we also make the acquaintance of the $12 "service charge", which is applied for "table service" (although this seems a misnomer to me, as customers are steered gently but firmly to tables and I did not see a general bar where drinkers could prop). Perhaps, like the $50 main, this is a Sydney trend that is yet to filter down to Melbourne?
Dinner is at The Pier Restaurant in Rose Bay. It is a delightful setting, with a long, narrow dining room boxed with glass windows on both sides, offering beautiful views over the Harbour. Everyone chooses plump Coffin Bay oysters for entree, which are perfectly sublime with a squeeze of lemon juice. Yellowfin tuna, barramundi and John Dory and some of the options for mains. Most of the table opts for roasted barramundi, although yellowfin tuna also gets a vote. The barramundi's crispy skin contrasts nicely with the soft flesh and is complemented by sweet roasted carrots. Side dishes of salad and divinely creamy mash are wonderful accompaniments.
Although I'm normally a sweet tooth, the four options on the dessert menu leave me cold, especially at $28 per dessert. We order another bottle of Dixons Creek chardonnay and continue our reminiscing about the direction our lives have taken since we graduated from university. We take it in turns to ask the table a question (about joys, achievements and regrets). One question makes everyone think hard. What single possession would you choose to save from your house? Husbands and children are ruled out, as they are not possessions, and it is assumed that you are wearing precious engagement and wedding rings and don't need to save them. To stop everyone from giving the same answer, photos are also deemed inadmissible.
After thinking hard, my choice is my collection of cookbooks and recipe clippings collected over nearly 20 years. It would actually be very difficult to save all of these from a burning house (I would probably need a trailer or trolley to do so!) but, hey, it was a theoretical question. Some of my favourite books, such as The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander and recent titles by Maggie Beer, Gordon Ramsay, Frank Camorra, Bill Granger, Donna Hay, Jamie Oliver and Belinda Jeffrey are all still in print and available, so they could be left behind. But what about my precious scrapbook of recipes clipped from The Age's Epicure section since the early 1990s? Irreplaceable. Epicure once ran a "My Favourite Chocolate Cake" section and I diligently clipped each recipe and snapped up the book version, 50 Fabulous Chocolate Cakes when it was published by Anne O'Donovan in 1995. I can still picture myself in the bookstore in Rathdowne St buying the book, which came with a Gabriel Gate desserts book as a bonus (Not all the chocolate cakes that featured in the newspaper made it to the book, so it was worth my diligence!)
Other cookbooks to go into the save pile are a mixture of the sentimental and the no-longer-available: the metricated version of The Margaret Fulton Cookbook (the first cookbook I was given when I left home); The Cookery The Australian Way (third edition) (which I used in my year eight home economics class); my hand-written recipe book that was a Christmas present in early high school (only my absolutely favourite recipes were ever transcribed in here, but perhaps I would prefer to forget that the first risotto recipe I was given used long-grain rice!); Margaret Fulton's Book of Chocolate Cooking (picked up for $2 from an op shop in the late 1980s and the recipes and photography have stood the test of time); Irish Soups & Breads and the Kilkenny Cookbook (both mementoes from a trip to Ireland a few years ago), the RuffArtz little black book of coffee and cake (an absolute treasure trove of good old-fashioned cakes and slices from country cooks, collected to raise royalties for a small volunteer arts organisation in Ruffy in north-eastern Victoria); my mum's original copy of The Women's Weekly Birthday Cake Book (it contains some of my favourite childhood birthday cakes, which did not make it into the updated edition that I have); and my personally autographed copy of Jill Dupleix's Old Food.
Just like my old friends, these books have stood the test of time and have so much more meaning to me than just a collection of ingredients and methods. As I look at the books, I recall where I bought them, why I bought them and what I made from them. I don't know why some cookbooks occupy a more precious place in our lives than others but I like to think that sometimes it's the memories, as much as the recipes, that is the special glue that bonds me to these cookbooks.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Here is a cafe that is aptly named. Imaginative use of quality ingredients and excellent coffee makes Treat a favourite spot with locals, whether it's sharp-suited buyers' advocates and real estate agents, impeccably attired eastern suburban matrons, or designer-dressed bubs with their yummy mummies.
The outlook is pure urban industrial: a jumble of overhead train and tram cables, straggly trees wrapped around a chain wire fence that barricades the train tracks, and trams and cars jostling through the busy intersection of Malvern and Orrong roads.
But inside is elegant and refined, like much of the clientele. This wedge-shaped corner cafe is filled with light through its floor-to-ceiling windows. Designers have made clever use of the difficult triangular block, with a narrow entry widening out into a serene, inviting space that is busy without being crowded. One wall is lined with a dark brown leather banquette scattered with artsy cushions. Other small tables are grouped around the cafe, with the prize spot being a table-for-two overlooking Beattie Ave and bathed in soft sunlight.
This is a favourite spot for ladies who lunch and the menu caters accordingly. Use of excellent and expensive ingredients, such as yellowfin tuna, Atlantic salmon, ocean trout, smoked duck and zucchini flowers, makes Treat a place where you can indulge yourself with a fine meal during daylight hours.
During the warmer months, elegant salads and lighter dishes predominate on the lunch menu. A salad of crispy-skinned ocean trout fillet with kipflers and a delicate lemon caper sauce errs on the small side but is perfectly pitched to its audience.
For anyone not watching their weight or carb intake, there are more robust dishes on offer. Corned beef might be an old-fashioned ingredient not often seen on menus (although, in the post-GFC world, previously unfashionable cuts of meat are enjoying a resurgence), but here it is sexed up into elegant and satisfying comfort food. Three thick slices of warm corned beef and melted cheese is sandwiched with pickles and Dijon mayonnaise between sourdough bread. Testifying to its popularity, it's migrated from a permanent spot on the specials board to a place on the fixed menu. Another option is the satisfyingly large veal schnitzel roll. A crispy schnitzel and gruyere is folded into a roll, with roasted potatoes, braised soft red cabbage and a little bowl of garlicky mayonnaise on the side.
Sweet treats change daily and might feature a moist pistachio cake or a subtle Masala-laced date and rice pudding that is more of a tart than a pudding. Excellent cafe lattes come adorned with latte art.
If you prefer to be out and about earlier in the day, the breakfast menu also looks welcoming. Brioche French toast, salmon and sweetcorn hotcakes, semolina pancakes, toasted breakfast bagels and an egg white omelette are some of the options that should get your day off to a good start.
Treat, 736 Malvern Road, Armadale
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
For several years, I've hankered to visit Kyneton, a small town in the Macedon Ranges and a comfortable drive from Melbourne. Specifically, I wanted to visit Annie Smithers' Bistro, which kick-started the culinary revolution in Piper St and which this year received its third successive The Age Good Food Guide hat. Since the bistro opened, Piper Street's lovely old bluestone and historic buildings have slowly been revived, with cafes, cake shops, an upmarket pizzeria, a gastropub, homewares stores and a gallery all crammed into a relatively short strip just out of the main centre of an otherwise ordinary Victorian rural town.
Two weeks ago, with some time off work and the children being looked after for the day, Adam and I decided to head to Kyneton for a day trip, with the planned highlight being lunch at Annie Smithers' Bistro. It was only as we drove up to the beautiful old bluestone building that houses the Bistro, which looked suspiciously dark and unoccupied, that it dawned on me that I should have checked the opening hours. Right on cue, Adam asked me "Did you check the opening hours?" And I had to confess that not only had I not checked, but that the thought had not occurred to me. I've become so used to Melbourne's seven-day-a-week culture that I did not stop to think that country towns, especially those that rely on weekend traffic from Melbourne, were likely to have a few days off early in the week. It was a Tuesday and the bistro's opening hours were Wednesday to Sunday.
Not to worry, we consoled ourselves. There were plenty of options in Piper St, as highlighted in the article and photo spread in the September issue of Delicious magazine. But, alas, most of the other options were also closed. Thankfully, Slow Living, at 54 Piper St, was open. It's a lovely, welcoming big open space, with lots of spacious wooden tables and a central counter stocked with a coffee machine and some cakes and biscuits. There's a grassed area to one side that would be perfect on a sunny day, with plenty of space for children to play while the parents relax with food and coffee.
The smallish menu features locally grown and mostly organic food, with several breakfast options and a couple of lunch specials each day. We chose the vegetarian lentil burger, a generously sized pattie bursting with lentils, chickpeas, corn, carrot and some spices. It came on a thick slice of sourdough, with salad and spiced yoghurt to the side. It may be just mind over matter, but there seems to be so much more flavour in organic food. This lentil burger was an excellent meal in its own right and was worth the drive from Melbourne.
To rub salt into our wounds, the cover story in today's Epicure is all about the revival of Piper St and Kyneton, and just reiterated to us how much we want to visit again (probably on a weekend!) and try out some more options. Next time, I will be more organised and will definitely check ahead for opening hours!
Monday, October 19, 2009
In this article, she noted that Conde Nast recently closed down the 68-year-old food magazine Gourmet, edited by Ruth Reichl. As a fan of Ruth's books, I've looked at their website a few times and once found an inspiring section on Christmas cooking that I kept. As I find the conversions of measurements and ingredients quite time-consuming, I don't often look to US magazines for inspiration, but Gourmet did have an interesting website and it's sad news to hear that it's closing. As Jill noted in her column: "Media pundits say we will never again be able to walk into a newsagent and have such an incredible variety of magazines to choose from. Good news for trees, bad news for those who take their fave foodie mag to bed with them. How will this affect us and where will we get our foodie info, recipes and cheffy restaurant news from in the future?"
"It is sad news indeed that Conde Nast felt there was nothing they could do with Gourmet magazine but fire everyone and cancel the next print run. It would have been wonderful if, instead, they had parlayed a few of the magazine’s great resources - terrific writers, photographers, food stylists - into a new form of online food content. The very fact that they didn’t, is also perhaps one of the reasons for the magazine’s demise - it’s called not quite getting with the programme, not engaging with the new media world, not picking up on new possibilities.
"But there is no doubt the world is changing. These days, we get our recipes, cooking ideas, produce news, food shop info and inspiration from a variety of different sources as well as magazines - effectively editing our own ‘foodie magazine’ to our own taste."
I agree with these excellent points. I love nothing more than settling down with a cup of coffee and the latest glossy food magazine, flicking through and enjoying the lavish photo spreads and planning new menus. I add post-it notes to pages, make lists of dishes I want to try and transfer recipes that get the thumbs-up into my special recipe folder.
But when it comes to finding a recipe quickly, or wanting to find a new recipe to try - perhaps I was given a bag of lemons and need to find new ways to use it up - I search online, rather than through the magazines. I'll usually go to the taste.com.au or the Gourmet Traveller website but so many of their recipes are on their website that you don't have to buy each month's magazine if you don't want to. Still, I don't think anything compares to thumbing through a fresh issue and you certainly can't snuggle up in bed with the website or read it easily on the train.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Slices can be simple concoctions of a few pantry staple ingredients or elaborate mixtures with a base, filling and icing. When I was growing up, afternoon teas at the local primary school or tennis club always featured several slices, including hedgehog, jelly slice and lemon slice. A good housewife always had several decent slice recipes in her repertoire, and at least one slice in a cake tin in the pantry.
This week at work, we held a morning tea to farewell a colleague off on a six-week European and US holiday. With no sure idea of exact numbers, a slice seemed the safest bet, offering a slice of sweetness to break up the morning workload, without going over the top. One of my favourite cookbooks is Belinda Jeffrey's Mix & Bake, which has a whole chapter devoted to simple slices. Her walnut and caramel bars were the perfect morning tea solution, supplemented by some rich chocolate brownies. Although the brownies disappeared in a flash, the walnut and caramel slice receive rapturous admiration and requests for the recipe. It is extremely simple and incredibly moreish - Belinda writes in her introduction to the recipe that she is "forever trekking to and fro [from the fridge] for just another fine sliver!" Enjoy!
Walnut and caramel bars
160g plain flour
70g caster sugar
120g cool, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
70g caster sugar
70g brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
200g walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
Icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Butter a 23cm square cake tin and set aside.
For the base, put the flour and sugar into a food processor and whiz together for a few seconds. Add the butter and whiz again until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. It will seem a bit dry but that's OK. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin, shake to level, and then press down firmly on the mixture to form an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and sit it on a wire rack while you make the topping.
For the topping, put the eggs, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract into a large bowl and whisk them together until well combined. In another, smaller bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, then sift them into the egg mixture. Stir until it is well combined, then mix in the nuts.
Scrape the mixture evenly over the warm base. Return to oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until the topping is brown and firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
When the slice is cool, cut into fingers or squares in the tin. Dust with icing sugar to serve. Leftover slice can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
Recipe from Belinda Jeffrey's Mix & Bake.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
It's a deceptively simple dish that Adam raved about and I was keen to try. I love my Vegemite but I also have a soft spot for the sweeter, gentler Promite. A generously thick slice of bread is smeared with butter and Promite, then sliced avocado and tomato is jumbled across the top of two gently poached eggs perched on the bread. The combination of eggs and fresh avocado is a winner in my book anyway but the Promite adds a subtle, yeasty caramel note that lifts the dish into the realms of breakfast heaven. This is no small dish either: the kitchen does not skimp on the avocado or tomato and you will feel satisfied for hours afterwards.
We weren't the only ones in love with this dish, as plate after plate of the Promite Special appeared from the kitchen and was placed on almost every occupied table.
The finishing touch here is one of the best coffees in the inner west. Made with the Supreme blend, the long black is sweet and pure, with no need for sugar, while the cafe latte is simply perfect. It's easy to see why Le Chien inspires a strong and loyal following from locals.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
The old market ceased operating a few years ago but the popularity of farmers' markets around Melbourne continues to grow and so it was exciting to see what produce was on offer. Despite the arrival of spring on the calendar, it was a cool morning, with a few spots of rain. Early risers (the market opens at 8am) found plenty to fill their baskets with.
First stop was the Matisse sourdough bread stall. The range includes a fruit loaf, rye and sunflower seeds, fig and fennel, olive rolls, baguettes and ciabattas, as well as several varieties of home-made dips. A large loaf, generously studded with plump fruit, was the first purchase.
Past the muffin stall, generously stocked with large and mini muffins, the Arctic Fox beer tent and the Robinvale olive oil stand, we came to a stall selling sweet, juicy Pink Ladies, my favourite apple. After tasting a sliver, which was one of the most delicious apples I've ever had, we had to buy a bag. Then to counteract this healthy fruit, we came across a tart stand, with delicious combinations such as gin and lime, double chocolate and lemon curd.
Fresh vegetables, cakes and pastries, curry sauces, free-range eggs and fresh milk from Warrnambool, smallgoods, Boosey Creek cheeses, and pates and terrines were some of the other goodies on offer.
The range of produce was excellent for the inaugural market and I, for one, love to support Victoria's small producers. Many of the stall-holders had travelled long distances from rural Victoria to be at the market and I think we should do all we can to support them. The taste of a fresh apple from a small orchard cannot be compared with the supermarket specimens that spend far too much time in a coolroom.
Williamstown Farmers' Market, Nelson Place, Williamstown (Melway 56 D9).
Second Sunday of each month, 8am to 1pm.
Monday, September 7, 2009
But that is a minor quibble - chocolate chip cookies are a treat, rather than an everyday indulgence anyway. As Donna says on the box, these biscuits is "as good as baking from scratch, only foolproof." I'll definitely use this product again.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Being surrounded by fresh food and a busy kitchen from a young age is surely one of the key ingredients to becoming a cook. If you see cooking being done on a regular basis, see how easy it can be to transform simple ingredients into delicious meals, and learn that food comes from pots and pans rather than cardboard boxes or tin foil containers, that will surely teach you more about how to eat well (in season, in moderation etc) than heavy-handed nanny state messages about X food bad, Y food good.
I come from a family of excellent home cooks but I don't remember the message ever being rammed down my throat that I must learn to cook and like it. Cooking was a life skill that you acquired, along with other skills necessary to function in life, and it was a bonus that I enjoyed it. Cookbooks were in the house, recipes were clipped from magazines and we were encouraged to try our hand in the kitchen, no matter how much of a mess we made or how many mistakes happened. There's nothing wrong with making mistakes in the kitchen, as long as you learn from them. You'll only forget to grease a cake tin once; the resulting mess, and disappointment, as you try to scrape out a cake glued to the tin will stay with you and ensure you don't forget again.
My son Daniel is almost three-and-a-half and he loves helping in the kitchen. Measuring, mixing and scraping (and, of course, tasting!) are all things he can easily do to help and he gets a real buzz out of seeing how a runny mixture can be transformed into a delicious cake or biscuits (although he's not so keen on the wait involved!)
This week we decided to make "gingie men" (gingerbread biscuits). I've got dozens of recipes but this dough is easy to mix up and there's no need for it to relax in the fridge, so this is a simple recipe for rainy days or when the demand for biscuits needs to be met quickly! It's based on a recipe from Notebook magazine. You can ice your biscuits or decorate them with currants to make them fancy, but I don't usually bother.
125g butter, softened
100g brown sugar
125ml golden syrup
1 egg yolk
375g plain flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 ground cloves
Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line two oven trays with baking paper. Use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar and golden syrup together until pale and creamy. Add the egg yolk and beat until just combined. Add the sifted flour and spices and use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until it's just combined. Tip out onto a lightly floured bench and use your hands to knead the dough until smooth.
Divide the dough into two portions. Put one portion aside and roll out the other portion to about 5mm thick. Cut into shapes using biscuit cutters and bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Transfer from trays to a wire rack and cool.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
One of my favourite non-food magazines is Notebook magazine. It has an excellent food section each month but it also has very interesting, thought-provoking articles that go beyond the usual fluff about celebrities, make-overs or diets, and give you pause to reflect on relevant issues affecting us, whether it's the environment, managing finances or reading about strong, intelligent women.
The June issue featured a delicious-looking French lamb and cannelini bean casserole with rosemary dumplings. Just the title was enough to catch my interest and it was certainly worth making. The dumplings are cooked at the end, without a lid, and get a pleasant crispy crunch to them. I've adjusted the liquids from the original recipe, as I prefer my stews quite thick, and this one had a thin sauce. If you make only one more stew this winter, make this one.
French lamb and cannelini bean casserole with rosemary dumplings
Adapted from a recipe in Notebook magazine, June 2009 issue
1 tablespoon olive oil
500g lamb shoulder, cut into 3cm pieces
12 baby pickling onions, peeled
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 cup (125ml) white wine
1 cup (250ml) beef stock
1 bouquet garni
1 rosemary stalk
400g can cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
3/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Heat half the oil in a large, flameproof casserole pan over high heat. Cook the lamb in batches until brown all over, then transfer to a bowl.
Add the remaining oil to the pan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown. Add the lamb, wine, beef stock, bouquet garni and rosemary. Remove from heat and bake in preheated oven, covered, for 1 1/2 hours, or until lamb is tender. Add the cannelini beans and stir to combine. Increase the oven temperature to 200 degrees.
Meanwhile, to make the dumplings, place the flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Use your fingertips to run the butter into the flour. Add the rosemary and stir to combine. Add the milk and use a round-bladed knife to stir until mixture just comes together.
Remove the casserole from the oven. Spoon tablespoons of dumpling mixture over the top. Bake in oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until dumplings are golden brown and cooked through. Serve with steamed green beans.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Too often, though, I find myself eagerly marking up a new issue with recipes to try and then never finding the time to make my choices before the next issue arrives. So I recently made a concerted effort with Gourmet Traveller's June issue, which featured a decadent triple chocolate praline tart on the front cover (sadly, one recipe I haven't yet made from the list).
Flicking through, I found myself marking recipe after recipe to try: white bean veloute, chocolate sour cherry cake, braised lamb neck moussaka and tarka dal, from the "Fare Exchange" section (which features readers' requests for recipes from restaurants around the country). The "quick meals" section yielded scotch fillet with mash and rosemary butter, prawns with tomato, preserved lemon and couscous, char-grilled chicken with warm cabbage and celeriac salad (tick, tick and tick - all to be made again). There was a whole feature on pumpkin dishes (the pumpkin with speck and apple was particularly delicious with smoky cheese kranskys) and the "Nice as Pie" article featured both sweet and savoury pies. The brisket and Cheddar pie with sour cream pastry might have taken nearly a whole day to make but it was the best damn pie I've ever eaten in my life and worth every second of the preparation time. To top it all off, there were seven of the richest, decadent chocolate recipes I've ever seen and all will be made in the next few months.
Not only were all the dishes that I made from this issue worthy of a repeat, there was also a satisfying feeling to finally making good use of an issue, rather than just reading it and filing it away for future drooling sessions.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Available in fruit muesli or apricot muesli, the bites are GM-free and contain no preservatives. Unlike the Rounds, which had a biscuit-like texture and are marketed as a breakfast replacement, these Bites taste just like Carman's muesli. They are not too sweet and are a reasonably filling snack. The small size makes them easy to tuck into handbags or backpacks.
Carman's is an Australian-owned company, with the factory based in Melbourne, and no preservatives, genetically modified ingredients or artificial colours or flavours are used in their products.
Carman's Muesli Bites are available from all major supermarkets.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Nosh is primarily a daytime cafe, serving excellent coffee and food to cafe-starved locals, who have flocked there since it opened in 2007. It's particularly popular with local mums and bubs because of its relaxed ambiance and healthy children's menu that offers no fried food.
Nosh now opens on Friday nights, where Azzopardi, who has cooked upstairs at the Stokehouse and at Ezard's, is given more of a chance to strut his dining stuff. The inaugural wine dinner was also a chance for him to display his talent. Forty people gathered at Nosh to eat Azzopardi's food and hear Red Hill Estate winemaker Michael Kyberd discuss the wines.
Dinner started with a glass of blanc de blancs, a dry aperitif wine, matched with a chestnut soup drizzled with truffle oil. Despite the soup's rich flavouring, it was quite a light broth and this married well with the dry wine, as there was no strong contrast between the two to produce disharmony on the palate.
Next were half-shelled scallops on baba ghanoush with parsley, pine nut and preserved lemon salad, matched with a pinot grigio. The wine was sweet at first sip but then dry, with no aftertaste. It was balanced perfectly by the smoky ghanoush and juicy scallops.
A glass of buttery, full-bodied chardonnay was paired with ocean trout on sauteed kipflers, cherry tomatoes, broad beans and lemon butter sauce. This was a strong dish but the flavours of both food and wine were of equal intensity. The lemon butter sauce highlighted citrus notes in the chardonnay.
Then it was time to move onto reds. In a classic pairing, confit duck leg with marinated beetroot and watercress was matched with pinot noir. The pinot's ripe cherry taste subtly counterbalanced the saltiness of the duck. If the trout and chardonnay were examples of flavours that bridge each other, this match was an example of flavours that complement each other.
A pink grapefruit granita was served as a palate cleanser before the next dish, which was voted by the audience as the dish of the night. Beef braised in black vinegar with coconut rice, broccolini, hot and sour salad and crispy garlic was an amazing dish in its own right but even more so when paired with a full-bodied shiraz. The tender melt fell apart at the touch of a fork and the coconut rice was sublime. The shiraz stood up well to these strong flavours and its slight sweetness was balanced by the savoury dish.
A very runny, salty soft brie, from Locheilan Kaarimba, was matched with botrytis semillon. On paper, it might sound like a strange combination, but the saltiness of the cheese was well balanced by the sweet, sultana-like wine.
The final pairing of the night was liqueur muscat, made with grapes from Rutherglen, matched with a rich chocolate fondant with orange semifreddo and honeycomb. Winemaker Michael Kyberd explained that, when matching desserts, the wine needs to be sweeter than the dessert or the wine's flavours will disappear. This dish was a good example of that.
Judging by the happy patrons spilling out onto the street, Nosh @ Newport's inaugural wine dinner was a success and many are eagerly looking forward to the next one.