Total Brisbane French Festival

Friday 10th, Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th July 2015.

Brisbanites, it’s time to bring out anything red, blue or white and get dressed up for the Total Brisbane French Festival the weekend before Bastille Day.

Held over two jam-packed days with an opening Cabaret night on Friday (July 10), the festival will take over the Cultural Forecourt at South Bank to bring you all things French. Celebrating its fifth year in bringing you gastronomy, music, fashion, entertainment, wine and French products, the Brisbane French Festival will have even more on offer for you this year with five masterclasses focusing on French regional wines and cheeses along with education about the different regions of France, these events are ticketed and can be purchased here. 

Along with food, wine and entertainment, the Air France fashion show is sure to make an impressions, with designs from Jerome L'Huillier who has dressed Charlize Therone, Maria de Medeiros and Kylie Minogue. Accompanying the show is a fashion masterclass where you will meet the designers and learn about French fashion through the designer’s daily work process, from a sketch to the final product.

Enjoy French market stalls from over 40 suppliers including C’est Bon Restaurant, France Gourmet, Mariosarti, President cheese and Montrachet. 

For more information about The Total Brisbane French Festival, along with ticket prices and events head to their website: http://brisbanefrenchfestival.com.au/

Bastille Day

July 14 – French National Day.

It’s your chance to do it like the French and eat as much butter, cheese and pastries as you want, in the lead up to Bastille Day this July 14. 

Our fast paced lives leave little time to enjoy food like Manu, with slow cooking and soufflés more a delicacy than anything else. However, French cuisine is still a classic in this ever contemporary world, a cuisine that is the basis for all others and one that will never truly die. Rich. Rustic. Refined. These are the simplistic elements behind French cuisine and the reason why there's a little bit of French in everything, from macarons, cronuts and croissants to charcuterie boards, French cheese platters and crème brulee.  

If tempted to try your hand at French cooking, we have hand-picked a few recipes for you to try:  

The deliciously delicate soufflé is something all French lovers should master; luckily for you we have six ways for you to soufflé.

Alsace Duck Confit: made with the leg of the duck, duck confit is a centuries old process of preservation. “Confit country” is in the area of Occitan, France, and is divided roughly into regions where one type of meat predominates confit preparations.

Coq au vin: Rustic and warming, this hearty dish is defiantly a staple in our winter recipe collection, typically made with Burgundy wine (although many regions of France have recipe variants, in which they incorporate their local wine into the dish).

And of course, who could forget the legendary macaron recipe; these delicate treats are a sure-fire hit for any French festivity. 

If you want to leave it to the experts, there are a number of French restaurants around Australia that will be celebrating Bastille Day with special menus paying homage to the classics.

Check out our Bastille Day specials around Australia.

If you’re anywhere near Byron Bay than you’re in luck as The Petit Snail is celebrating their 7th anniversary on Bastille Day with a grand feast menu available all week. Check their event out here.

For South Australian’s L’Atelier Gourmand Cafe will have a Bastille Dinner on July 16 at only $68pp, featuring chicken Marengo, wild boar civet, St Honoré and a glass of French champagne. Check out their event here

Brisbanites will rejoice with the return of the Total Brisbane French Festival, held from July 10 -12 at South Bank Cultural Forecourt. Get dressed up for the opening night cabaret, or save your flapper for the Air France fashion show, with designs from Jerome L'Huillier who has dressed Charlize Therone, Maria de Medeiros and Kylie Minogue. 

With five masterclasses to attend, as well as over 40 French market stalls, the Total Brisbane French Festival will have everything you need to celebrate Bastille Day. Make sure you check out our facebook page on Monday (July 6) as we will be giving away two tickets to one lucky winner to attend a masterclass! 

For more information about the festival and to book tickets head to: http://brisbanefrenchfestival.com.au/ 

Bon Appétit!

Almost French

 Olivia Méli at Montrachet.

Chef Hat award winner Montrachet in Paddington, QLD welcomes a new chef de cuisine to their team: Olivia Méli, whose charm and culinary flair has contributed to Montrachet’s continued success as one of Brisbane’s favourite French restaurants.

Born in Houston, USA to a French father and Kiwi mother, Méli has had quite a mix of cultural influences during her formative years.

“My parents were a great influence on me when I was young, they were super chefs! It was my father that taught me about having a passion for food at every meal, to have respect for produce and to never cut corners on taste,” said Méli.

“That is the French philosophy of why they love food.”

Influenced by her father’s passion and her mother’s ability to make something delicious and nutritious out of anything in their family home fridge, Méli became interested in cooking, food and the importance of using the whole produce so there’s no food wastage.  

“My mother was the queen of making something from nothing, I remember looking in the fridge when I was little and saying that there’s nothing to eat! Then, she’d whip up a meal that was delicious.” said Meli.

Méli brings five years of experience apprenticing for Joel Robuchon and Emmanuel Renaut in France to Montrachet, working alongside industry stalwart Shannon Kellam.

 “Kellam is an amazing chef, it’s a lot about how he runs his kitchen and I think that’s why we put out such wonderful food today. He’s organised down to the t, he gets that from the competitions he’s been in, utilising the most of the produce and time we are given.”

Pithivier de Caille au Foie Gras Rougier - Quail breast and foie gras baked in Montrachet's puff pastry, Savoy cabbage, juniper scented jus. 

Working with Emmanuel Renaut at Flocons de Sel, Méli began a growing appreciation for quality ingredients as she picked fresh produce straight from the gardens every morning, where some herbs were planted by Renaut but others ran wild.  

“I’ve tried to bring that here [to Montrachet], in Australia we are lucky with diversity, in France there are more stringent seasons, but here we have some things all year round,” said Méli.

From France, Méli moved to Polynesia to work at Tahiti’s exclusive The Brando resort where she learnt how the Polynesians make real coconut milk, which remains as her feature flavour.

“I worked in Polynesia for a year where they taught me the real way to make coconut milk, it was very labour intensive, you’d have to grate the coconut flesh off the coconut, then press it into a hessian bag and drain out the juice,” Meli described.

“I can’t go back to any other coconut milk, you don’t have to do anything else with it you can use it straight away and I like to season a tuna tartare with lemon and coconut milk.” 

To experience the cooking of Olivia Méli and Shannon Kellam, head to Montrachet on Bastille Day (July 14) for a delicious 3 course menu or adventurous 5 course menu dedicated to the celebration of the French.

Images by Evelyn L. 

The Masters at Home

“The weekend is a great time to cook for pleasure.” – Bill Granger

Do you want to know what Gordon Ramsay cooks for his family on weekends? What do you think is Ferran Adrià’s favourite ingredient to cook with? Finally, can you guess what Neil Perry’s guilty pleasure is? (Hint: it’s frozen Kit Kats.) These questions and more are answered in The Masters at Home, a hardcover compilation profiling 33 of the world’s greatest chefs.

Apart from an obvious love of food, the other common denominator tying these veteran culinary superstars together is the fact that they’ve all appeared on at least one episode of MasterChef. Affectionately known as ‘rock star chefs’ in mainstream media, these kitchen wizards are justifiably revered – after all, it takes more than a special person to come up with an idea as wonderfully crazy as caramelised French toast empanada complemented with sheep’s milk ice cream (we’re looking at you, Andoni Luis Aduriz). Consequently, it’s often easy for us to label these modern magicians of food as beings from an entirely different species altogether and forget that they’re, after all, humans; this is where The Masters at Home, the latest release in the MasterChef book collection, comes in to fix that.

Set away from the bright lights and fancy cameras of the MasterChef studio, the chefs reveal more about themselves in a much more relaxed and intimate environment: their home kitchen, on a weekend. Through a series of profiles, readers are able to learn more about these world renowned master chefs.

The Masters at Home sets a warm conversational tone from the first page to last, allowing each chef’s personality to shine. Each profile concisely captures the chef’s individuality through an engaging summary of their professional background and home lives, complemented by a stunning showcase of candid photographs shot by acclaimed photographer David Loftus. As a lovely touch, little known facts about the chef appear in each profile – for example, did you know that award-winning New York chef and restaurateur Joe Bastianach has his own rock band? 

Rigatoni alla Norma p. 66 by Joe Bastianich.

As a proverbial icing on the cake, each profile is accompanied by three original recipes of their favourite weekend treats. These mouth-watering recipes offer a glimpse of what the chefs love to cook for themselves and their families when they are at home, away from the pressure and heat of a commercial kitchen. While other cookbook compilations tend to adopt a uniform voice for all recipes, The Masters at Home allows each chef to maintain their own tone and personality throughout each recipe – for example, American molecular gastronomy specialist Wylie Dufresne talks readers through his rustic pan-roasted chicken recipe like he would if he was chatting to us over drinks at the bar of his New York restaurant, Adler.

Although these recipes are accessible to all home cooks, they vary in degree of difficulty. Those looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal may take to UK superstar Angela Hartnett’s simple but decadent wild mushroom and lardo on toast recipe while those wanting to roll their sleeves up for a challenge may like to give Peter Gilmore’s iconic guava snow egg dessert a go (good luck!). 

The Masters at Home by various (Absolute Press), $45. Available now in all good bookstores and online.

 By Libby Margo.

Six Ways to Souffle

Perfecting the art of a faultless rise is not easy – it takes a lot of patience, a strong hand and the ultimate self-control when tempted to open the oven door and check on any progress before the final product is ready. Yes, we are talking about the sumptuous soufflé.  If you have already given a classic soufflé a go, try one or more of our salutes to the soufflé in these six variations below. 

Add a dash of flavour and a touch of romance to your dinner table with this delicious Cappuccino Soufflé recipe or perhaps after a Valentine ’s Day breakfast for a delicate morning caffeine boost. This soufflé is easily whipped up in less than half an hour and includes a decadent chocolate pouring sauce.  

 

These Carrot Pudding Soufflés  make for a great main dish due to their heavier consistency with bonus points for added nutrients.  Sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon into the mix for a little extra flavour and to warm you through colder months.

Add a few Double Baked Cheese Soufflés with marmalade-braised red cabbage to the table for a meat-free dinner without sacrificing on protein or flavour. The marmalade braised cabbage makes for a great accompaniment and gives sweetness to what is typically a savoury side. 

Going Green seems to be the way of the future, so definitely jump on the band wagon with this fantastic, green coloured Matcha Soufflé. Did you know Matcha also has some added health benefits such as boosting your energy and metabolism, enhances your mood and aids in concentration?

Beautifully light with a delicate flavour; once mastered, add this Raspberry Soufflé to your culinary résumé and impress guests for years to come. 

A savoury Salmon Soufflé makes for a light spring or summertime main, and is best paired with a crisp white wine. Challenge yourself to source as many of the ingredients as locally as you can, starting from the neighbours’ eggs to your closest wine region’s best dry white. 

Our 6 Favourite Bonfire Recipes

All you need is a stick, a roaring bonfire and your favourite foods!

For awesome bonfire food, pre-heat roaring bonfire until flames are consistently mesmerising – you know this is just about right when your shoes start melting. Grab the longest stick you can find and hold one end over the flames to kill anything still crawling around on it (hygiene not guaranteed).

 For those who are a little uneasy about sticks and dirt in their food, wrap the end in a decent amount of tin foil and stick almost any of your favourite foods on the end. For a couple of cool bonfire foods you may not have tried before, continue reading and for those of us who don’t have access to a bonfire appropriate space, a cast iron backyard fire pit will do the job just fine.

1) Start with canapés, bonfire style with these Prosciutto and Mozzarella balls.

2) For a light entree, enjoy the cheesy goodness of Smokey Nachos.

3) Mains on the bonfire menu are Shishkebabs.

 4) Time to really warm up with Mulled Wine –for the adults.

5) Bonfire Banana Split – a decadent dessert with gooey marshmallows of course.

6) If the coals are still burning away the next day, throw some Orange Shell Muffins into the heat.  

(Please act responsibly around bonfire and ensure dependants are safe at all times).

A Special Wine for that Special Occasion

By David Ellis from vintnews.  

Schild Estate must rate among the Barossa Valley’s more amazing family success stories, a young Edgar Schild taking the reins at just 16 years of age when his father passed away in 1956, and going on to replace his Dad’s small mixed farm with a-now 182ha (450 acres) at Lyndoch on which three generations of the family live today - and producing from it some of Southern Barossa’s finest wines. 

Leading those wines is their flagship Pramie, in German meaning bonus or premium, and which could not be more appropriate – the just-released 2013 Pramie Shiraz an exceptional limited-release for giving serious thought to for that next special-occasion dinner or celebration. 

Judy Watson, one of today’s Schild Estate family owners, says 2013 was an “incredible” year for Shiraz in their part of the Barossa, enabling the family to achieve their constant aim of creating wines reflecting both the best of the vintage, as well as the best of the land from which the wines come. 

With intense upfront plum fruit flavours and obvious but fine tannin, this is a Shiraz well worth the $70 asking price, and ideal with flame-grilled fillet of beef. Available from select retail outlets and restaurants for that special occasion; if you’ve trouble finding it, go onto schildestate.com.au

One to note: For those doing the Christmas in July thing this month, a rewarding drop to enjoy with a Christmas pudding is Rymill’s 2013 June Traminer – a luscious, botrytis-affected “sticky” whose full-on flavours will go just so well with the pudding and a dollop of custard or ice-cream.

While most consider Traminer a dessert wine to enjoy with puddings and sweet delights like lemon curd tarts and passionfruit pana cotta, you’ll find it a good drop too with such Thai cuisine main courses as beef satay with peanut sauce or Indian chicken and coconut curry, or if you are not into the hot and spicy, with pork chops heartily peach glazed. Well worth it at $21 for a 375ml bottle.

Lighter Alcohol and Fewer Calories

By David Ellis from vintnews. 

 

Lindeman's now have no fewer than eleven red, white, sweet and sparkling wines under their Early Harvest label, a range that delivers wines 25% lighter in alcohol - and that of course equates to 25% fewer calories as well – without compromising on flavour or enjoyment.  

 

So it means not only can you cut down on alcohol and calorie intake, you can enjoy that extra glass with lunch or dinner without feeling guilty, or an extra bottle with family or friends on a week when you’ve maybe decided to limit just how many nights you’ll uncap one at dinner-time.

The Early Harvest 2014 Semillon Sauvignon Blanc is a particularly nice crisp and refreshing drop sourced from vineyards across a reach of South Eastern Australia, and brings together fresh fruit flavours from the Sauvignon Blanc component, coupled with signature citrus from the Semillon.

Well priced at $16 it makes for a good choice on the table with grilled Moroccan spiced chicken and salad.

One to note: although Campbells of Rutherglen have been making their Bobbie Burns Shiraz since 1969, Winemaker Colin Campbell says he’s confident the 2013 that they’ve just-released evolved from one of their finest vintages ever.

“It was a wonderful vintage that’s sure to be very special in time,” Colin says. “Plentiful Spring rain prepared the vineyard well, and mild to warm conditions over Summer gave the fruit time to ripen evenly, and to maintain good acidity for harvest.”

While rewarding drinking now with plum and mulberry fruit flavours, fine tannins and suggestions of liquorice and cacao, it’s a wine to tuck away to age contentedly for even greater enjoyment around a decade down the track.

A great steak wine, at $22 match it nicely too with grilled lamb loin chops or a slow-roasted lamb leg.

And for an interesting conversation piece over your dinner choice, the core fruit for this wine came from 50 year old vines on the Bobbie Burns Vineyard – that was the site of the first Campbells’ plantings 145 years ago in 1870. As well, playing a role in the making of this 44th vintage wine was Jules Campbell who is Colin’s daughter, and a fifth generation Campbell Winemaker.

Taste of Kingscliff & Tweed Coast

Explore the best of Kingscliff and Tweed Coast's foodie offerings by heading down to the inaugural Taste of Kingscliff and Tweed Coast festival this July.

Running from July 10 - 19, this ten-day festival showcases a series of food-inspired, family-friendly beachside events throughout the Tweed area, with a focus on the region’s fresh local produce.

The festival will open at Babalou on Friday night for an evening of cocktails and canapés along with guests, Chef Shan Tan as well as writer and food personality Maureen Ow before moving to their signature event on Saturday called Taster@Salt which will include an array of local produce, products, food tastings, cooking demonstrations and expert commentary in the Taste of Asia tent. Rub shoulders with award winning celebrity chef Steven Snow from Fins along with local icons such as Craig Scott from Tumby Sauces and cheese-maker Debra Allard.

For wine buffs, Peppers Salt Resort & Spa is holding Wine Wars on Saturday July 11 where winemakers from Brokenwood and Rymill will go head to head with two masked wines poured in accompaniment to three featured dishes on a five course degustation menu. Seats at the Wine Wars Dinner are only $155pp and bookings are essential as spaces are selling out fast. See their website here. 

The festival will conclude at Tweed’s seaside picnic on Jack Evans Boat Harbour, an outdoor fiesta that will feature market stalls, local chef demos and live entertainment, making it the perfect family day out. 

For more information and to book ticketed events, head to their website here

Good Food, Good Life, A Book Review.

“Through tasty well-cooked food prepared with fresh, quality and seasonal produce, you can have an incredible life.” – Curtis Stone.

With recipes such as barbecued rib eye steak paired with mouth-on-fire salsa and roasted banana soufflé with caramel sauce found in Curtis Stone’s sixth book Good Food, Good Life, how is it possible not to have an incredible life?

Good Food, Good Life is all about savouring the entire experience that goes with preparing mouth-watering dishes and enjoying it with loved ones (although you may find it a little bit hard to share the highly addictive bite-sized chocolate salted caramel kisses on page 244…). True to Stone’s signature structured style, Good Food, Good Life neatly categorises the 130 recipes into seven sections from ‘in the morning’ to ‘dinners’ right down to the equally important bits in between such as ‘sweets.’

Roasted Banana Souffles with Caramel Sauce. p. 159.

The 287-page paperback also steps away from the glittering lights of the television studio kitchen and the fast-paced restaurant environment with its high-tech gadgets; instead, it focuses on dishes that Stone himself cooks at home for his family, making this book accessible for everyone. Simple meals such as penne with sausage and kale are perfect for the time-poor novice cook – the dish only takes minutes to assemble and makes do with pantry staples like tomato sauce. Of course, kale is not necessarily something that is normally found in all homes, yet the recipe works just as well without it. Meanwhile, those with a leisurely Sunday afternoon to spare might like to give Stone’s beautiful slow-braised pork with spicy chipotle sauce a go; don’t let the 8½ hour-cooking time put you off – the slow-cooker does most of the work.  

Another element that makes Good Food, Good Life a pleasure to read is the added personal touch that Stone gives to the book through anecdotes from his life, bound to make readers smile. The ‘good morning’ green juice in the ‘drinks’ section features cute little stories involving his son Hudson, while the carrot cupcakes topped with brown sugar cream cheese frosting are a nod to the wedding cake he made for his wife Lindsay on their special day.

Meat Pies. p. 71. 

Stone also pays homage to his Aussie roots through recipes such as meat pies topped with buttery pastry (“when I think of meat pies, I always think of being at an AFL footy game in my hometown Melbourne”) and pavlova with fresh strawberries and rhubarb. Furthermore, in between, there are dishes inspired by Stone’s time in the United States such as the light and zesty Californian-style Baja salad with crispy tortilla chips and the super-indulgent peanut butter, jam and banana burrito.

A delight to read from first page to last, Good Food, Good Life is sure to be a staple in both the North American and Australian kitchen. 

Good Food, Good Life by Curtis Stone (Random House Australia), $39.99. Available now in all good bookstores and online. 

By Libby Margo. 

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