A fair discussion about Italian Fare

Stefano Manfredi puts Australian food culture into perspective.

As we come up to Italy’s National Day on June 2, we’re all about celebrating the influence of Italian culture on the Australian food scene. In that respect, who better to talk to then the Italian restaurant ‘Godfather’ himself, Stefano Manfredi.

Stefano Manfredi in his restaurant, 'Balla.' 

With exuberance and passion, Stefano spoke to us about growing up in Australia as an Italian family, opening authentic Italian restaurants as well as his custom work at Pretty Beach House.

“When I arrived with my family in Australia (1961), Australians ate very different to the way we do now, my mother used to have to go into a chemist for olive oil in 50ml bottles because Australians used it for swimmer’s ear,” say Stefano.

Australia’s food scene has certainly grown since then, from top restaurants, to the local street cafe as well as the home kitchen; Australians are becoming more conscious of what they’re cooking and eating. Now, with a thriving extra olive oil industry as well as balsamic vinegar and artisan cheeses, Australia is being recognised on the world stage.  

“I still think we have a long way to go though, Australia is the biggest consumer of America’s fast food chains, the oils and fats are not fantastic, we need to become more food conscience.” 

"Above all, Italian cooking relies on the freshness of the produce, which is dictated by the seasons and by simple but skillful preparation," ~Stefano Manfredi.

Stefano went on to say that although we’ve come a long way in 50 years, which is a not much time at all, it does take more than that to change a culture. For some polarity, Italians are very close to their land; food trends are based around what is being sold by the local farmers in markets where as in Australia it’s top restaurants creatively using fresh produce that influences the market. 

 “Change doesn’t happen through farmers [necessarily] it happens through restaurants, media and then it ends up on Masterchef,” says Stefano.

Headlining trends and giving the Italian loving community a place to explore Italian cuisine is Stefano’s restaurant Balla and his recent restaurant Pizzaperta. Modern Italian cuisine merged with the casual style of Osteria is what you’ll find at Balla which will have a special menu for Italian National Day along with a personal playlist of modern Italian songs curated by Stefano. Special pizzas for the day will be on show downstairs from Balla and we can also assume Pizzaperta will be honouring the day.

Coming into winter be prepared for root vegetables and fennel oranges in Stefano’s meal creations of Sicilian fennel and orange salad with prawns or scampi as well as hearty dishes such as Osso Bucco with polenta and braised lamb shanks.

“We love doing soups in the restaurant; I come from one of the soup regions of Italy, [think] veal shanks, lots of vegetables and kale. At Bells at Killcare, we have a big garden where we grow a lot of our own vegetables and herbs like parsnips, potatoes, broccoli and roman beans,” says Stefano.

Stefano and his pizza pick - Quatro Formaggi (four cheeses) at Pizzaperta.

As of April, Stefano along with Karina and Brian Barry of Bells at Killcare and Sydney designer Michelle Leslie have brought Pretty Beach House at Pretty Beach to life again.

“For more than 30 years I’ve found a passion in designing restaurants, like Balla, Pretty Beach House was a fantastic opportunity to design things; I worked with Michelle on the kitchen to create an Italianate Ambach kitchen that we built to our specifications.”

“In the old Pretty Beach House people wouldn’t eat in the kitchen while the chefs cooked, so we’ve now created a comfortable setting for this interaction,” says Stefano.

Pretty Beach House can sleep 8 people at any one time, with four private pavilions, three freestanding and one penthouse ensuring a luxurious stay.

If you’re ever visiting, be sure to check out over 100 hours of Stefano’s handpicked playlists for guests to enjoy during their stay (the in house ipod is for sale to take home).

Stefano is a passionate advocate of Italian cuisine as well as the development and evolution of the Australian food culture. If you’re ever in the area of Balla, Pizzaperta, Bells at Killcare and Pretty Beach House, make sure you accompany Stefano on an enjoyable Italian journey. 

For more information about Stefano, his restaurants, as well as his own coffee brand Espresso di Manfredi (with accompanying cups and saucers “Ceramica di Manfredi”) head to www.manfredi.com.au

Book Review: Margaret and Me by Kate Gibbs

A perfect gift for Mother’s Day has arrived and you have the chance to win a copy!

Part cookbook and part memoir, food writer Kate Gibbs makes a chronicled ‘foodoir’ with Australia’s culinary matriarch, her grandmother Margaret Fulton in Margaret and Me.

Giving all who delve inside the charming cover a privileged glimpse of a modern food dynasty and one of the nations living treasures, Margaret and Me is a richly descriptive memoir from Kate’s perspective growing up at the apron strings of Margaret.

Immerse yourself in a warm world of culinary delight, kitchen wisdom and Kate’s detailed story-telling and expression of her love and respect for both her grandmother and talented mother Suzanne. Kate’s lifelong, intertwined relationship between the pen and the knife is broken intermittently with 50 classic Australian recipes and beautiful photographs to match.

 

Scottish Shortbread p.35 

Margaret’s cultural influence is expressed in her Scottish Shortbread, Scotch broth and homemade crumpets and Kate provides a modern take on slow-roasted lamb and custard-filled chocolate profiteroles – recipes that endure as family favourites. Learn to make a French Onion Soup without a packet mix and ditch boiled meat and three veg for Flank Steak with Sweet Potato Crisps.

Between mouth-watering recipes, Kate reveals extraordinary highs and lows from her grandmother’s personal life from marriage to then raising a child as a single mother, taking over cooking classes from an alcoholic to cheekily side-stepping Andrew Denton’s questions on Enough Rope, and combines them with her own gastronomic adventures in often humorously recalled memories.

 Quickly learning as a child to read between the lines and perhaps fostering an early journalistic style of inquisition, Kate turned over culinary clues left by devious adults attempting to pepper her and her younger sister’s plates with undesirable foods. Persistent, Kate avoided New Zealand lamb tongues for dinner and discovered the secret of their family’s missing rooster. Later in life, Kate gave up city living and freelancing for an opportunity in television only to be faced with the reality of hand-butchered meat on a TV set based in a country farmhouse.  Drawing the line between cute farm pets and food was tough for an urban girl, but she pulled through and is now passing on her many years of knowledge. 

Flank Steak with mushrooms and Sweet Potato Chips, p.128 & 129.  

With stories of how Kate’s journalistic life merged into a career based around cuisine, of her mother’s ventures and her grandmothers accounts, Margaret and Me demonstrates a changing of patterns in Australia’s consumption of food. Together, they leave a rich culinary legacy that has inspired Australians and surpassed generations. 

Recipes and images from Margaret & Me by Kate Gibbs, (Murdoch Books) $39.99  available now in all good bookstores and online. 

By Annabel Rainsford. 

Your go to guide to Autumn Fare

Make use of fresh veggies that grow best in autumn weather with these five recipes.

It’s finally starting to cool down and while you dry your tears over the loss of beautiful summer fruits, get busy testing out these autumn style recipes with seasonal fruits, veggies and inspiring colours. It’s not quite cold enough for soups and roasts, but these recipes will ensure you don’t miss salads and have your kitchen skills up to par for when it’s time to create real winter-y delights. 

1 - Perfect for school lunches, wrap up a slice of Bacon and Zucchini Quiche in some baking paper and pop it in the kids’ lunch boxes with a handful of walnuts and some autumn fruits like crisp and crunchy Granny Smith apples or a few slices of sweet rockmelon.

2 - For quick and easy weeknight dinners try this Pasta Bake with pumpkin and sage. Make it a special evening with a glass (or two) of Rivendell Winery’s Howling Wolves Wine 2012 ‘Claw’ Range Premium Shiraz.

3 - Comfort foods are starting to look a little more tempting than usual but steer clear with healthy Stuffed Mushrooms with Raw Garlic Sauce instead. Pair this with a refreshing Two Metre Tall Farmhouse Poire Pear Cider made from freshly crushed Tasmanian pears – more fabulous fruits of the season!

4 - If your tummy rumbles for something that crumbles, dig into Rhubarb Crumble for dessert - cheers, Maggie Beer! Wash it down with a freshly brewed beer from the glass growler you filled up at Brisbane Brewing Co.  

5 – Serve a Beetroot and Kale Risotto for dinner with The Liquor Baroness’ spicy Virtuous Organic Chilli Vodka mixed with Ledger’s Tonic Water and a squeeze of lemon. Pop the leftover risotto into a container for lunch at work tomorrow, but be warned - your work mates will be asking for a taste test, so make sure you pack enough.

Here are some other delicious autumn veggies to make use of throughout the season:

Basil, beans, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, parsnip, peas, radish, squash. 

Head to our recipe section for more autumn inspirations.  

By Annabel Rainsford.

A Reward for a Team that's Living a Dream

By David Ellis from vintnews

Back in the 1990s Sam and Rachel Atkins (nee Fox,) David Cumming, Jane Gordon and Natasha Mooney had a dream, and that was to make, market and sell premium wines from the Barossa Valley and Adelaide hills that would one day sit amongst the great brands of the world as measured by value and enjoyment.

Having learned their trade through working with some of Australia’s largest wine companies, today they’re well on the road to achieving that dream: their boutique Fox Gordon label that they launched in 2000 recognises the founding women in the company through the surnames of Rachel and Jane, together with a logo of stylised images of Rachel and Natasha (who is the company winemaker.)

A rewarding drop reflecting these attributes and which they’ve just-recently released, is a Fox Gordon ‘By George’ Cabernet Tempranillo 2012, a quite unusual blend that delivers rich blueberry and rhubarb fruit flavours together with sweet and juicy tannins.

And it’s nicely priced at $22.95 to enjoy with a red duck curry or spicy paella.

One to Note: Mid-years not that far off, which means time to start thinking hearty puddings to go with some good “sticky” Botrytis Semillon dessert wines.

 

The Hunter Valley’s Neil McGuigan has created a particularly rewarding “sticky” in his McGuigan ‘The Shortlist’ Botrytis Semillon 2012, because in it he’s crafted a drop that will go equally well with one of those warming Winter-time puddings  – or with anything from fruit salad and ice-cream to cheese-cake, apple pie and custard, anything in the way of slices… even cheese platters.

 

Hunter Valley and Riverina fruit for this luscious dessert-matcher was left on the vine late enough to become infected with Botrytis Cinerea, the so-called “Noble Rot” that concentrates flavour, sugar and acidity to give the wine its distinctive character.  

 

At $20 a 375ml half-bottle, you’ll find it delightfully rewarding with those dessert ideas.

Aria's Long Table Dinner

May 16 at Central Park Salt Village Kingscliff.

Be dazzled by the evening stars at this year’s Aria’s Long Table Dinner at Salt Village, a perfectly delicious prelude to Taste of Kingscliff and Tweet Coast later this year (July 10 -19).

Set on Salt Village’s pristine coastal location, guests will come together and dine on a 70m long table under a blanket of Kingscliff stars where wine, food and stories will be shared. A French inspired three-course menu will complement the Moulin Rouge theme of the evening along with handpicked boutique wines.

 

Guest will be first met with a handmade selection of breads from Kingscliff Bakery Co before canapés presented by TAFE North Kingscliff will come in the form of goat’s cheese profiteroles, spanner crab and sweet basil salad as well as a traditional chicken liver parfait paired with caramelised pears and toasted brioche. 

Tian of Tuna - Steven Snow, Fins Restaurant.

One of the most anticipated dishes of the evening will be from Steven Snow’s restaurant Fins: layered yellow fin tuna sashimi with avocado, tobiko caviar, shiso cress, fish chips and mayo, while Craig Scott from Tumby Sauce will equally impress with his use of dragon fruit in his dish of Kale, Spanish onion Bhajis with dragon fruit and lime aioli.

For more tempting menu items, check out the online event menu here. 

With a night of culinary adventure comes a 10 day food festival, where TASTE of Kingscliff and Tweed Coast will host a number of unique food experiences along the picturesque Tweed Coast.  For tickets to Aria’s Long Table Dinner see here and for more information about TASTE check out the event program here

Port Douglas Carnivale

May 22 – 31, 2015 the best place to be in Autumn.

Stepping off the plane in Cairns from the sunny Gold Coast really shouldn’t be such a shock, but that blatant wall of warm humid air certainly clears your senses and sets you up for a great adventure where the word cold is rarely uttered.

Sea Temple Resort and Spa - Hotel Pullman Port Douglas.

If you’ve always wanted to take the plunge and jet up north, autumn is definitely the time to fulfil your dreams. Leave your parker at the back of your wardrobe and bring out that beach towel, hat and bikini for a holiday of sun, surf and food.

Other than the fantastic beaches, heart-warming sun and the Great Barrier Reef which is synonymous with Port Douglas, there are a number of other tropical activities that can’t be missed. Discover the Daintree Forest through Daintree Discovery Tours and take a cooling dip in Cassowary Falls, a chance of a lifetime as it is only accessible by Discovery Tours.

Cassowary Falls - A Hidden Paradise.

If you’ve always wanted to see a crocodile up close and personal the solar whisper by Wildlife Cruises will find you a few crocodiles along the Daintree River as well as number of other beautiful birds and neon green tree snakes.

Along with adventure comes culinary adventure, discover the taste of the Tropical North with Port Douglas Carnivale. Celebrating 21 years as North Queensland’s largest cultural and food festival, Carnivale showcases the best of Tropical North Queensland’s food, wine and musicians.

A 10 day celebration offering all those that attend an experience not to be forgotten with celebrity chef events, food demonstrations, samples of local produce as well as family friendly events devoted to art, sports and fun.

Delicious, Delicious Food.

To kick off Carnivale, the Longest Lunch on Friday May 22 will be celebrating its 14th year with an emphasis on fresh, locally inspired produce. Highlights of the menu include mouth watering coffee cured Atlantic salmon as well as sous vide herb rolled Lamb back strap and for those that like fresh seafood the crispy skin Barramundi with a cucumber and prawn roulade is sure to be a delicious crowd pleaser.  We also highly suggest the gold topped macha green tea tiramisu for all the sweet tooths out there. 

Palates of Port Set-Up on Sugar Wharf. 

Be a part of world class dining experiences at the Masquerade Ball, Palates of Port, held in the historic Port Douglas Sugar Wharf where local restaurants such as Harrisons, Nautilus and Salsa’s will be showcasing their creative talents. Dance the night away under the stars at Rex Smeal Park as it’s transformed into a tropical wonderland known as Club Tropicana that celebrates Port Douglas’ enviable tropical lifestyle.

Along with these signature events there will be a number of family-friendly events running throughout such as Carnivale’s backyard games which features giant jenga, tug o’ war and the mini World Esky Championship (esky racing).

To book your tickets to any of Carnivale’s events see here. 

To plan your next holiday and the amazing discoveries Port Douglas has to offer head over here.

Treat your Food-mum this Mother's Day

A Gift Guide by AGFG. 

A day for all Australians to set aside each year to spend with Mum and Grandma, close family and anyone cherished as a mother figure, Mother’s Day is a time to express love, respect and appreciation in the form of a celebration.  

Remember when a hand-made card was enough to give to mum on Mother’s Day? School teachers would even dedicate a lesson or two during the week in the lead up to May 10th just to make sure mums and mother figures of all kinds didn’t miss out. Mum received a very special cardboard something-a-rather made with love and an enthusiasm for brandishing a pair of scissors and a hot glue gun. Okay, so perhaps an egg-carton crocodile was the extent of your capabilities as a six year old, but as a fully matured, independent adult, expectations may prove a little tougher. Now, thanks to a steady income and a lack of lesson plans dedicated to arts and crafts, it’s time to make up for younger days. 

Beautiful in all their diversity, mums accept gifts of all kinds so mix up gift-giving throughout the year to suit your mum’s passions and hobbies. Fit-mum might enjoy some new neon-coloured lycra on her birthday and at Christmas time, Fancy-mum might enjoy a new handbag or one-off jewellery piece to add to a never-ending collection, but reserve Mother’s Day to treat your Mum’s foodie desires.

If Food-mum is  a wine lover, take her wine tasting at The Lane Vineyard or if she would more likely enjoy a cocktail and tapas night try Earth Tapas and Cocktail Lounge or perhaps Stillwater’s five-course degustation and dazzling views would suit her best. Does your Food-mum delight in gardens and so would enjoy breakfast at Ramon’s at Willow Pond among the flowers or is she an adventurous go-getter that would relish in a hike through the Blue Mountains and a prepared hamper of picnic foods and Salt Meats Cheese smallgoods at the top? (Yes, you’ll be carrying the picnic basket!) Refined Food-mums may like to don white gloves and enjoy a high tea at Essence Restaurant or simply give her time to relax at The Boat House by the Lake. 

Show mum how much you value her by considering what she would most enjoy and take it into account when planning the day. If your mum isn’t a Food-mum at all, then maybe send her on a Peppers Retreat instead!

For more ideas, check out our Mother’s Day What’s On guide and remember to book ahead on this busy day! 

By Annabel Rainsford. 

This Rose Makes for a Perfect Picnic

And let's face it... Autumn really is the perfect Picnic weather! 

By David Ellis from vintnews

For those of us with a passion for Rosé it was great news to learn that a drop from one of the largest and most prestigious wineries in France’s Provence region is now available on shelves here.

 

Maison Saint AIX that was founded in the early 1900s on a one-time truffle farm has long been hailed as producing amongst the most popular Rosés in France, a not-bad accolade in a country where Rosé consumption easily outstrips that of white wine. 

 

A blend of organically grown Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, the 2013 that’s just been released here is a slightly dry wine with vibrant apple and citrus to the fore and secondary rich spicy notes. There’s also a nice crisp acidity, and as Rosé buffs we liked the creamy finish that puts this one up there with the best for enjoyment with a range of foods, or simply on its own as an aperitif. 

 

Priced at $29.95 we’d suggest matching the 2013 AIX Rosé with a shellfish lunch or dinner, or take it on a picnic with cold chicken or turkey and salads – or even simply with easy multi-grain sandwiches or crispy rolls with these as fillings on that picnic. 

 

One to note: The Canberra District’s Shaw Vineyard Estate has been producing some cracker wines for a decade now, and a newly-released 2014 Isabella Riesling lives up well to the company’s reputation despite coming from a vintage that suffered some minor frosts in the growing period, and was then subjected to extreme summer heat in the lead-up to harvest. 

 

Located higher than most of its neighbouring vineyards at Murrumbateman 25 minutes north of Canberra, the company has earned a deserved reputation for fresh, crisp and balanced Rieslings, with their 2014 Shaw Vineyard Estate Isabella a lovely Germanic style whose apricot, apple, pear, sweet honey-like and citrus flavours make it great to enjoy with – and tame-down – the heat of Thai and Mexican dishes. 

 

At $30 it’s a good purchase. 

International Mother Earth Day

April 22

“I appeal to all people everywhere to raise their voices. Speak out on behalf of this planet, our only home. Let us care for Mother Earth so she can continue to care for us as she has done for millennia.” – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Established in 2009 by the United Nations General Assembly and endorsed by more than 50 member states, International Mother Earth Day recognises the necessity to maintain ‘harmony with nature and the Earth.’

This day promotes the view that the Earth sustains all living things and that we all have a shared responsibility to look after it. Every year, people from all over the world help to transform their cities – from cleaning up their communities, planting trees or something as simple as riding their bikes to work, they are doing their bit to forge a sustainable future 

You too can get involved; simply visit: http://www.un.org/en/events/motherearthday/

Book Review: The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing

by Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow and Ross O’Meara

“Classic Flavours - Real Food - Simple Recipes”

Circumnavigate Tasmania on a hunter-gatherer journey for sustainable seafood with former chef and food critic Matthew Evans and his two best chef mates Nick Haddow and Ross O’Meara in The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing. 

Japanese Uni Don with Urchin Roe and Salmon Roe 

Explore Tasmania’s crystal clear waters and abundance of lesser-known fish species on every page and share in the raw passion and experiences of these three chefs.  The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing demystifies everything from abalone to sea urchin and snapper to octopus. These chefs no longer regard the humble cockle as simply fish bait and would much prefer a bream on the end of their line than the excitement of reeling in a big tuna any day. As they describe each species’ gastronomic potential, enthusiastic commentary jumps out of the pages with the re-telling of small wins and unbridled adventure. With chapters ‘From The Shore’ , ‘Reef and Rockpools’, ‘Rivers, Estuaries and Bays’, ‘The Deep Blue’ and ‘Preserving Seafood’ this book is a celebration of what our ocean and rivers have to offer.

 
Introducing each new section of seafood with a story of diving, waiting for tides to change or the patience of floundering in the night, this book can be used like a guide with its helpful tips on how to enjoy successful hunting, foraging and gathering. A few varying recipes then demonstrate and instruct how to prepare succulent seafood worthy of the most reputable restaurants.

Drawing inspiration from cuisines of Japan to Spain, India to Mexico as well as classic Australian seafood dishes, The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing offers flavoursome meals for the table wherever you are. With this recipe book in hand, picnics by the water are soon to be accompanied by simple seafood creations like classic abalone fritters with fresh lemon and Tabasco sauce or crab rolls with Meyer lemon mayonnaise. Dinner guests will surely be impressed with homemade smoked mackerel pate on toasted rye bread before enjoying a zesty, Asian inspired Thai squid with green papaya and peanut salad or a whole-baked leatherjacket with white wine and herbs.

Riddled with humour throughout, from stripping down to undies and fishing off the wash of breakers to an octopus attack in the dark, this entertaining book of knowledge and recipes is sure to have you untangling fishing rods and dusting off cray pots before the last page is turned. 

Recipes and images from The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing By Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow and Ross O'Meara,

Published by Murdoch Books. On Sale Now!

By Annabel Rainsford. 

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