Chicken thighs prompt a lively debate.
THE AVERAGE AUSTRALIAN DINER
may not know Melbourne-based architect Pascale Gomes-McNabb by name, but they’ve certainly heard of the restaurants she’s had a hand in bringing to life. In designing high-profile establishments such as the original Cutler & Co. and Cumulus Inc. in Melbourne, Sydney’s Bentley Restaurant & Bar, Cirrus and Monopole, and SA’s Penfolds Magill Estate Restaurant (to name but a few), she’s had a hand in the way Australians dine at the top end of town.
We’re gathered at Pascale’s latest masterpiece – the North Melbourne terrace she calls home – to break in her new digs (not that these guys need much of an excuse to pop a bottle of Champagne). It’s full of her signature dark metals, contrasting textural finishes and pops of colour by way of bowerbird curios.
The guests include chef Matt McConnell of Bar Lourinhã; his wife and business partner, Jo Gamvros; close friend Linda Jones of Alimentari; Felix Allsop of cocktail bar The Everleigh; his mate Joe Jones from cocktail bar Romeo Lane and restaurant The Mayfair… and yours truly.
Matt’s eclectic Latin-spiked cuisine displays an ease and generosity of flavour, with an uncomplicated style that belies the extensive experience he’s picked up from his travels and years spent overseas. “Fun is kind of crucial,” he adds.
Cocktails are mixed by former chef Joe Jones, who has built his drinks career on elegantly simple beverages with classic roots and minimal fuss.
There’s a sign at Bar Lourinhã that reads ‘Good Times’, and those are certainly had every time these friends get together.
CORN CRISPS, STEAK TARTARE & SMOKED HERRING ROE SERVES 8 AS A CANAPE
You will need a pasta machine for this recipe.
1/4 tsp dry garlic granules 180g best-quality Wagyu topside,
very finely diced Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 2 tbs lemon thyme leaves 2 tbs lemon-infused olive oil
(substitute extra virgin olive oil) Avruga black ‘caviar’ (a fish product made from smoked herring – from gourmet food shops and selected fishmongers, substitute caviar or roe), to serve
CORN CRISPS (SUBSTITUTE STORE BOUGHT)
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour 75g fine polenta, plus extra to dust
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease 2 baking trays.
For the corn crisps, combine flour, polenta and a pinch of salt flakes in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in 1/3 cup (80ml) water. Using a wooden spoon, stir to form a soft dough. Cover the surface directly with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to rest.
Divide rested dough into 6 even pieces and lightly dust each with polenta. Start on the thickest setting of your pasta machine. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, run dough through 3 times, folding in half each time, until elastic. Now roll the dough once through each setting, without folding, reducing the thickness each time, until you reach setting 6. Place dough on a prepared tray and repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light golden and crisp. Cool on a wire rack, then break into large shards.
Meanwhile, to make the steak tartare, using a mortar and pestle, crush garlic granules to a fine powder. Transfer to a bowl with beef, lemon zest, thyme, oil, 2 tsp salt flakes and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Toss well to combine.
Transfer the steak tartare to a chilled serving bowl. Arrange the corn crisps on a platter and serve with the tartare and Avruga.
“COCKTAILS ARE FOR DRINKING, NOT OVERTHINKING. KEEP IT SIMPLE WITH NO MORE THAN THREE OR FOUR INGREDIENTS THAT EVERYONE LOVES.” – JOE JONES
SCALLOP, LARDO, SMOKY CHILLI SERVES 4 AS A STARTER
12 scallops, cleaned, in the half shell 1 tsp olive oil 6 thin slices lardo (lard-based cured meat – substitute pancetta), halved lengthways, cut into 7cm strips
6 long red chillies
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil 1 small garlic clove, crushed 1 tbs sherry vinegar
1/4 tsp ground allspice Pinch of ground chipotle (from
For the smoky chilli, heat a chargrill pan to high heat. Toss chillies in oil and grill, turning halfway, for 5 minutes or until blistered. Transfer to a zip-lock bag and stand for 10 minutes. Peel chillies, discarding seeds, and chop. Transfer to a bowl, stir through remaining ingredients and a pinch of salt flakes, and set aside. Preheat oven to 220°C. Drizzle scallops (in their shells) with oil. Place on a baking tray and roast for 3- 4 minutes or until just cooked through.
Arrange lardo slices on scallops. Top with smoky chilli and serve immediately.
WHITING CRUDO WITH RADISH SERVES 4-6 AS A STARTER
Juice of 3 limes
1/ 3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil 350g sashimi-grade whiting,
very thinly sliced 2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded 2 radishes, very thinly sliced
(we used a mandoline) 1 small red chilli, seeds removed,
cut into thin matchsticks Coriander sprigs and snow pea tendrils
(optional), to serve
To make the dressing, place lime juice and oil in a bowl, season and whisk until well combined.
Arrange whiting on a chilled serving platter. Scatter with kaffir lime leaf, radish,
BEEHIVE PUNCH MAKES 6 CUPS
100ml runny honey 300ml London Dry gin Juice of 2 lemons Juice of 1 pink grapefruit, plus grapefruit slices to serve 1/ 2 tsp Angostura Bitters 2 cups (500ml) Champagne Fennel fronds (optional), to serve
To make the honey syrup, combine the honey and 100ml boiling water in a heatproof bowl and whisk to combine. Chill until needed.
Combine honey syrup, gin, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, bitters and a handful of ice in a large container with a fitted lid. Cover and shake until chilled and aerated.
Place 1 large block of ice in a punchbowl (make this by freezing water in an ice cream container). Pour over gin mixture, then Champagne. Scatter with grapefruit slices and fennel fronds, if using, to serve.
TEQUILA NEGRONI MAKES 1 COCKTAIL
11/ 2 tbs each blanco tequila, fino sherry and Cynar (bitter Italian liqueur – from bottle shops, substitute Campari) 2 dashes orange bitters Ice cubes and thickly pared orange
zest, to serve
Pour all ingredients over ice into a glass. Stir to combine. Add zest and serve.
Corn crisps, steak tartare & smoked herring roe
Beehive punch (recipe p 53).
Tequila Negroni (recipe p 53).
Potato ‘salad’, vinegar, bottarga “More of a chunky mashed potato than a salad, but delicious nonetheless,” says Matt. “Eat it hot, warm or even cold.”