An Italian Celebration

Always an Italian Restaurant Nearby

Do the Italians cook better or is it the way they serve food with such panache that makes it the go-to cuisine for the masses?  Be it for romance or good old fashioned family fun, the common consensus is "let's go out for Italian".

On Monday, 2nd June 2014 we celebrate Italy’s National Day, the ‘Festa della Repubblica’ which commemorates the fall of Fascism and rise of a new Italian republic in 1946. The colours of the Italian flag stand for hope, faith and charity; and the Italian people seem to be born with a food gene.  

For the greatest culinary adventure ever to be shared through a recipe book, you’d need to look no further than Guy Grossi’s ‘Love Italy.’ We speak to him about life, his new book and all things Italian, check it out here.

There’s no doubt that Italian food permeates every Australian kitchen in one form or another and that every food alley, even in the smallest outback towns, has an Italian restaurant.  We've compiled a few tips to help you celebrate that inherent love you have for Italian.

Italian Restaurant Options in Australia:

Italian food is unparalleled in its popularity and if you need assistance in finding a restaurant near you, wherever you are in Australia, you can use the AGFG Restaurants guide refined by cuisine type to  find Italian restaurants.

Italian Recipes for Home Cooking:

If you’re not dining out and getting ready to cook up a storm for your own festa della repubblica, don’t sweat it if Nonna’s recipes aren’t handy.  Keep your eye out for Italian dish ideas and you’ll find them in abundance:  Lasagne, Spaghetti, Risotto, Gnocchi, Pizza, Polenta and Tiramisu.

You can find Italian foods to try at home in our AGFG Recipes section.  Once you’ve picked your recipes and set out all the ingredients, turn on opera music (originating in Italy) and perhaps partake in an espresso – also an Italian god sent invention.

Book Review: Organic Fusion


Organic. Raw. Vegan. Low GI. Gluten Free. Superfoods. Everything you could ever want in Organic Fusion by Amanda Battley. 

Amanda's recipe book is more like an instruction manual for the organic, raw and vegan lovers; it is packed with juices, smoothies and breakfast ideas all the way to mains and desserts. With a history immersed in yoga and Buddhism, Amanda takes her 20 years of experience in healthy living into one book and shares it with others. Conscious food for the mind, body & soul is her tag line and it is well used with the first pages of the book dedicated to yoga, meditation, superfoods, healthy living, weight loss and increased energy. 

With a passion for the less fortunate, Amanda will also donate 10% of the profits from Organic Fusion and donate it to Classroom of Hope in Cambodia. 

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world" ~ Nelson Mandela. 

Our favourites are the tofu scramble on p49, the coconut curry with tofu on p100 and the lemon lime avocado pie on p119. 

To experience the joy of organic fusion you can get your own copy from Buddha Soul here

Spoil Mum!

This year Mother's Day is on May 11, 2014. 

There are a few ways you can celebrate your Mum this Mother's Day. Most opt for a gift or breakfast in bed, but if you want to do something special you could always cook your mum a wonderful lunch or dinner. Karen Martini recommends: 

"Ooo yeah... for something a little fancy I’d recommend my pan-seared gnocchi with scallops, mushrooms and lemon; sticky lamb shanks with dried figs and vine leaves for a heartier option; and for dessert, nothing says “thanks Mum” like my decadent Valrhona Manjari chocolate mousse."

Or if you just want to surprise her with a yummy morning tea then Poh Ling Yeow's Persimmon Cake would be perfect! 

However, if this all seems like too much and you're likely to just make a mess than something wonderful don't fret, there are a number of restaurants that are doing something special for Mother's Day, whether it be a high tea, a lunch or dinner, you can find exactly what you need in our what's on guide here, just refine it to your region.  

For the adventurous Mum, we have a wonderful competition on offer that can be used until November 2014. Win a 60 minute scenic hot air balloon flight over the Hinterlands, you will also be able to enjoy return transfers from Brisbane accommodation, a Vineyard Champagne Breakfast and a bottle of Moet et Chandon per person. This package is valued up to $365 per person and is valid for two adults. What are you waiting for? Enter NOW! This fantastic Mother's Day package will be drawn on Mother's Day, May 11 and the winner will be contacted by email. 

Greek Independence Day

Recipes and Restaurant Suggestions to help you celebrate Greek Independence Day

March 25, 2014

The Greek National Anniversary of Independence Day, also called Evangelismos, commemorates Greece's victory in the War of Independence against Turkey. On this day, Greek's traditionally eat fish. Particularly Fried Garfish (Tiganites Zarganes) with Boiled Green Vegetables (Horta). If you want some extra with this why not try: 

All above recipes are thanks to Kathy Tsaples from Sweet Greek, a Melbourne Book that will make an excellent gift for anyone that loves Greek Food. 

Earlier this month AGFG was able to speak with Jonathan Barthelmess from The Apollo, the two chef hat awarded Greek restaurant in Sydney's Potts Point. Head over to our interview with him and check out some of his recipes and remember to enter our competition to $100 to The Apollo

If The Apollo isn't in your local area but you want to celebrate along with the Greeks this Greek Independence Day, head over here and find your local Greek restaurant. 

Holi Festival of Colours

India's brightest and most colourful festival - March 17, 2014. 

This ancient Hindu festival has become popular all over the world and is known as the festival of colours. In India the entire country wears bright colours to celebrate Holi, markets are teaming with people, activities and shoppers who are making preparations for the festival. 

Many colour themselves with coloured powder and water; water bombs and guns are also used and anyone is a target. This happens all over India, in parks, outside temples and buildings. Music and celebration can be heard everything with people enjoying song and dance while spending time with their family and friends. 

Celebrate at home with our range of Indian Recipes, get your hands cooking Tempered Radish Raabu or Tandoori Style Lamb Cutlets

The significance of Holi is based around a symbolic legend, essentially a victory of good over evil, but the cultural significance is celebrated today where people can rid themselves of past errors, conflicts and enjoy a day where they can forget and forgive. People celebrate Holi differently across India, Holi in South India is not as grand as North India but there is a great communal harmony with graceful dances and performances. Those that are traditional, travel to Mathura-Vrindavan every year to feel the essence of Holi, where the tradition of playing with colours came from the legend of Krishna and Radha who played in the area. 

For more information check out www.holifestival.org for all information on the legend and celebrations. 

Autumn Delicacies

AGFG's warming you up this Autumn. 

In Autumn our minds are set on the harvest, with an emphasis on gathering seasonal produce, collecting preserves and creating earthy meals. By April we have well and truly replaced our vivid summer displays with emphasis on subdued hues and golden colours. Ambitious homemakers are already making jams, marmalade, preserves and even red wine. 

Three Heart Warming Comfort Foods: 

Mushrooms are found year-round in Australia, though their dense and meaty texture is particularly desirous in heartier Autumn dishes. They deepen the flavour of your soups, risottos and other dishes, plus there is such a wide variety out there that you can seek them out in abundance and never get bored. Try our spinach and mushroom stuffed rolled pork loin with spicy apple jam. For those vegetarians why not an eggplant parmigiana? It's brought to you by Karen Martini. 

In these colder months you can't go wrong cooking with red wine (and drinking some too). Varietals made from sangiovese or sirah grapes are particularly reminiscent of the Earth in aroma and flavour. Carrots, potatoes and turnips are classic vegetables that when paired with roasted meats will be a sure crowd pleaser. For the braised and beautiful, try our beef cheek with bacon clapshot puree and red wine jus. For those with a sweet tooth, Colin Fassnidge's crumble with poached rhubarb will be perfect! 

Colin Fassnidge: Four Kitchens

Two restaurants, 4Fourteen & Four in Hand, the outside kitchen and the home kitchen

An insight into Colin Fassnidge and his new book "Four Kitchens." 

"Well for years, like most young chefs, it's all about the food, I had tunnel vision, you don't think about anything else, we were rather selfish. When I had kids, I realised there was more to life than cooking and food. My food got better because I had two kids to feed and nourish, my head changed to quality and nourishment instead of just being fancy," Colin Fassnidge on what made him ready to write Four Kitchens. 

Growing from strength to strength Colin Fassnidge has not only graced Australia's culinary scene but also our televisions. Recently winning GQ's Chef of the Year 2013 has seen Colin grow beyond his famously known Four in Hand restaurant.  

Known for pushing boundaries and winning awards, Colin's cooking philosophy is all about bringing enjoyment to the people he is cooking for. His nose-to-tail style sees him coax as much flavour out of the produce as possible and leaving very little to waste. His first dish, made 9 years ago at Four in Hand as just a joke symbolises this, "Pigs ear Schnitzel."

"People panicked, 'your restaurant won't work,' they said, but we stood our guns, got two hats and then all these people are eating the pigs ear schnitzels and loving it with a $200 bottle of wine," said Colin.

His book Four Kitchens is a collection of favourite recipes from both Four Kitchens and 4Fourteen, plus recipes he likes to cook at home for family and friends. If you have ever wanted to get to know Colin truly, then picking up his book and immersing yourself in his creations will certainly have you understanding this Dublin-born ex-rock star Chef.      

Loving the look of that Rhubarb? Don't stress it's only just one masterpiece from Colin's 'Four Kitchens' and we have it for you here.  

Four Kitchens has just been released this month, you can purchase it here.

Images courtesy of Random House Publishing. 

Valentine's Day Recipe Rescue

Recipes to warm the heart of your loved one. 

So we're one week out from Valentine's Day and you still haven't figured out where you're going? Bad move, head over HERE to check out some steamy Valentine's Day specials, sure to be perfect for you and your loved one. 

However, if you've decided to stay in this weekend (we don't really know why you would want to but ok...) you could surprise your lover with a few homemade recipes. We are sure you will shock he or she with your glorious tasting chocolaty delights. 

Firstly, how could you go past Chocolate Mouse in between chocolate shaped hearts? It just oozes love and we are sure it taste's like it too. All you have to do is follow the recipe

Does your other half enjoy a mojito every once in a while? Well we have the perfect combination, try our white chocolate mojito cheesecake

Not a fan of dessert but want a main? I'm sorry all we have is a chocolate lasgne... it'll be perfect! 

Feel like melting into the couch together to watch that Rom Com she (or he) has been insisting on? Don't worry we got you covered, enjoy our melting moments. 

Valentine's Day - Aphrodisiacs

Spice up the weekend with your Valentine. 

Remember the days when Valentine’s Day just meant flowers and chocolate for your sweetheart? Well they are long gone! Expectations are higher, a dinner or lunch necessary and that bottle of champagne a must. 

For those that have no idea what they are doing for their loved one this year, head over here, we give you a few tips and tricks and point you in the direction of some great Valentine’s Day specials

Aphrodisiacs are as old as the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. In our modern age they are refuted more and more by scientists, but come on let’s not let the scientists spoil our romantic fun! 

So here are our top Aphrodisiacs:

Firstly chocolate, what else right? Chocolate makes us feel good all over – much like being in love (or lust – whichever you’re into this Valentine’s Day). So why not delve into a wickedly delightful chocolate fondue – everyone sells them these days. Or wanting to put some of your love into your own cooking? You could try our Frozen Raspberry Truffles or Gu Pear Belle Helene with Chocolate Genache recipes.

What goes just great with a fondue? Strawberries! Any food, lovingly hand fed to your partner is certain to ignite the flames of passion, if you’re not one for hand feeding… seems a bit 90’s romcom doesn’t it? Maybe consider our Strawberry Salsa or Sweet Strawberry Pies.  

Oysters – the aphrodisiac everyone knows about but seems to steer away from. Make a point of feasting on these beauties this year round, you could try them freshly shucked and served on a bed of crushed ice with just a squeeze of lemon or for something different try a French inspired eschallot vinegar or a Japanese dressing of mirin and grated white daikon. 

Last but not least is Champagne, which just goes down beautifully with everything mentioned above, really how can you not enjoy popping a bottle, feasting on oysters and then for those with a sweet tooth, washing it all down with strawberries and chocolate? An absolutely perfect evening! Happy Valentine’s day.

Chef Hat Award Winners Share Their Secrets

2014 Chef Hats announced, share in their recipes. 

January is always one of the most exciting months of the year for AGFG, as we have just announced the winners for the AGFG Chef Hats. So to keep your mouth's watering into the new year we have put together some recipes from some of the top award winners that you can try at home.  

First off we have Attica, awarded a 19 Chef Hat and consistently looked upon as one of the world's best restaurants. You can't go past the culinary skill of Ben Shewry without at least whispering a WOW, and one recipe that makes us WOW is Ruby's Rhubarb. A dessert created by Ben for his daughter Ruby. It also features in his book Origin - one definitely worth a read or a gander. 

Restaurant Amuse in East Perth, awarded an 18 Chef Hat, run by a husband and wife team and consistently produces some of the finest food in the country. For something creative at your next dinner party, Head Chef Hadleigh Troy's Beetroot, Coffee and Cocoa recipe will have your friend's astounded. 

For something a bit different, a bit spicy and a bit Asian, try Longrain's asian eggnet, awarded a 15 chef hat, this recipe won't disappoint.  

Another one for those that like to entertain (we're still in holiday mode right?) Enjoy Sarti'seye fillet with persian feta and caramelised onion vol-au-vent. Sarti has become one of Melbourne's most popular restaurants and with a 14 Chef Hat, it is easy to see why. 

Moving to main beach, Queensland, Chill on Tedder awarded a 14 Chef Hat can inspire you how to cook barramundi like an expert. Check out their recipe for Cone Bay saltwater barramundi with spanner crab - sure to satisfy your taste buds.  

 

Disclaimer - these recipes are a suggestion and were not involved in the judging process of the 2014 Chef Hat Awards. 

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