Matt Mcconnell And Jo Gamvros' new book, Eat at the Bar, presents recipes that would be right at home in their iconic Melbourne restaurant, Bar Lourinhã. From cooling cocktails to classics with a twist, it's easy eats on another level.
Discover the inspiration behind Melbourne’s Bar Lourinhã.
WE’VE ALWAYS LIKED to eat at the bar, so it’s logical that we opened one of our own (Bar Lourinhã). We love the flexibility, looseness, immediacy and intimacy of bars. They’re exciting, unpredictable. They capture a philosophy about enjoying what’s good in the moment, with no expectations of what will be on offer. Intuition and conversation play a part in how your night is going to be. The bar’s culture is as important as its food.
For us, the adventure started with our first trip to Spain in 1997. It seems like every town and city in Spain has at least one market surrounded by bars in the nearby streets that all serve what’s local and available from the market that day.
We based the way we present our specials at Bar Lourinhã on this relationship between the bars and markets we saw in Spain. We never write our specials down – they’re about having a conversation with our customers. It also taps into one of the things we like best about bar dining – the flexibility of a menu driven by what’s fresh and available that day. You’re in the hands of the chef, but you can also choose what to eat so you can make your own adventure.
PETRUCCIO MAKES 1
1/4 cup (55g) caster sugar 11/ 2 tbs Beefeater gin
(substitute other gin) 11/ 2 tbs Aperol 3 tsp lemon juice 1 eggwhite Ice cubes, for shaking Peychaud’s bitters (from selected bottle shops – substitute Angostura bitters), to serve
To make the sugar syrup, combine the sugar and 1/4 cup (60ml) water in a saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved (sugar syrup can be stored, covered and chilled, for up to 6 months and used for a variety of cocktails).
To make Petruccio, combine 3 tsp sugar syrup, gin, Aperol, lemon juice and eggwhite in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Top with ice and shake well again. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve with a few drops of bitters.
TINTO VERANO MAKES 605ML
1/4 cup (60ml) Licor 43 (Spanish liqueur – from selected bottle shops) 1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice 1/ 2 orange, cut into 5 wedges 15 mint leaves, torn 360ml rosé 1/ 2 cup (125ml) lemonade Ice cubes, to serve
Place all ingredients in a large serving jug. Top with ice and stir well before serving immediately.
TUNA ‘LOMO’ AND ALMONDS SERVES 6
“We fifirst served this when you could get tuna at a reasonable price – that’s hard to do now, which is good, because the price reflflects the fact it’s being fifished sustainably. The sauce is loosely based on an almond sauce we had in Cádiz, but that one was always served with meat. We thought it would be a great fifit with the richness of the tuna.”
1/4 cup (40g) raw whole almonds, to serve 1/ 2 tsp olive oil, plus extra oil to serve Snow pea tendrils or wild leaves such as amaranth, rocket or chickweed, to serve
1 tbs sweet paprika 1 tbs sea salt flflakes 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper 1 tsp caster sugar 1 tsp ground allspice 300g sashimi-grade skinless yellowfifin
1/ 2 cup (50g) flflaked almonds, toasted 1 cup (250ml) thickened cream 1 long green shallot (white part only), thinly sliced 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
For the tuna lomo, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and rub the mixture into the tuna loin. Wrap the tuna in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the fifish from the plastic wrap and lightly pat dry with paper towel, being careful not to remove too much of the cure. Re-wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
For the almond sauce, combine all ingredients in a saucepan and quickly bring to the boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool before blending to a smooth sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Combine the almonds with oil and 1/4 tsp salt flflakes in a roasting tin and roast for 4 minutes or until toasted. Allow to cool, then crush in a mortar and pestle.
Arrange some almond sauce on a serving plate and lay fifine slices of tuna on top. Serve with the snow pea tendrils, crushed nuts, a little salt and pepper, and a drizzle of extra olive oil.
CRISPY ZUCCHINI FLOWERS AND STRETCHED CURD MAKES 12
“This is a tribute to Jo’s grandmother, Lidia. When Matt was trying to work out this cooking thing, spending time with her in her backyard [garden] in Box Hill started to define how he wanted to go about it. There are great photos of Matt picking zucchini flowers with Lidia. We’ve refined the batter slightly, but the filling is exactly as Lidia would have done it.”
12 zucchini flowers, trimmed,
stamens removed 1 fior di latte (fresh mozzarella – substitute bocconcini), cut into 12 cubes Light olive oil (substitute sunflower oil),
for deep-frying Sea salt flakes, to serve
4 egg yolks 1 tbs Dijon mustard 4 garlic cloves, crushed 440ml blended olive oil (substitute
sunflower oil) 2 tbs white wine vinegar
1/ 2 cup (75g) self-raising flour 1 cup (250ml) chilled soda water
For the aioli, put egg yolks, mustard, garlic and some salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper in a food processor and whiz well. Very slowly, add olive oil, starting with a drop at a time to allow the mixture to emulsify before adding the next drop. As aioli thickens, slightly increase the rate of drips, being careful not to pour too quickly. Once the oil has been incorporated, mixture should resemble a very thick mayonnaise. Add the vinegar, followed by
“WE ORDERED THE CHICKPEAS AND SPINACH. STRAIGHT AFTER, WE WROTE THE RECIPE DOWN AND IT HAS BEEN ON OUR MENU SINCE.”
1/4 cup ( 60ml) hot water to make a shiny, smooth aioli about the consistency of cream. Check and adjust seasoning, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
For the batter, put the flflour in a mixing bowl and form a well in the middle. Pour in soda water and whisk briskly to combine. The batter should be the consistency of thick cream. Refrigerate until needed.
To stuff the flflowers, gently tear one side of the flflower open. Place a cube of cheese inside and twist to seal it shut.
Add enough oil for deep-frying to a large, heavy-based saucepan or deep-fryer and heat the oil until it reaches 180°C on a cooking thermometer. Working with one at a time, dip each flflower in the batter and coat well. Using your fifingers, gently wipe off a little excess batter. Fry flflowers quickly for 2 minutes or until lightly golden, then drain on paper towels. Serve warm with a sprinkling of sea salt and a side of aioli.
SPICED CHICKPEAS AND SPINACH SERVES 6
Begin this recipe 1 day ahead.
“This comes from Seville. We ate it the fifirst time in Macarena, north of the city. Some of the places look a little scary to walk into, but there was this smell coming out of one of them, punchy and heady. We went in and they only had a couple of things so we ordered the chickpeas with spinach. Straight after, we walked to the market, bought the spices, dried chickpeas and a big bag of spinach leaves, and cooked it straight away. We wrote the recipe down and it has been on our menu since.”
220g dried chickpeas
1/ 2 cup (125ml) olive oil 1 onion, sliced 1 dried bay leaf 3 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tsp each coriander and cumin seeds,
roasted, ground 1 tsp fennel seeds, roasted, ground 1 tsp each ground allspice and ground cinnamon 1/ 2 cup silverbeet leaves and stems (optional), blanched, chopped 100g English spinach, stems discarded Juice of 2 lemons Sea salt flflakes, to serve
Place chickpeas in a bowl, cover with water, cover and stand overnight to soak.
The next day, drain chickpeas, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for 45-55 minutes or until tender (top up with water if needed). Drain.
Heat 100ml oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Sweat onion, bay leaf and garlic with the 1 tbs fifine sea salt and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper for 6 minutes or until onions are translucent and soft but not coloured. Add spices, mix well, then remove from heat. Mix in the chickpeas and silverbeet (if using). Transfer to fridge to cool until ready to re-cook.
Heat remaining 25ml oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. When oil is hot, add an even layer of chickpea mixture to the pan, spreading it out to cover base of pan, and cook for 3-5 minutes. This will allow chickpeas to caramelise on the bottom. Do not stir mixture until the chickpeas have become quite brown, almost burnt.
Quickly add spinach and stir until it begins to soften. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Serve piping hot with a sprinkle of sea salt.
CHILLI-PICKLED CUCUMBERS SERVES 4
“Often, when returning from Europe to Australia, we would stop somewhere in Asia. This recipe was inspired by those trips. It’s crunchy and refreshing, great for the warmer months when cucumbers are at their peak. Use these pickles as a garnish for cocktails. They lend a spicy, savoury twist to favourites such as a Bloody Mary.”
1/4 cup (60ml) rice wine vinegar 2 tbs salsa picante (Mexican hot sauce
– use 1 tbs for mild) 1 tsp dried chilli flflakes 1 tsp caster sugar 2 shallots, thinly sliced 500g Lebanese cucumbers,
partially peeled, chopped 2 tbs chopped dill
Combine all the ingredients except the cucumber and dill in a bowl, stirring until well combined. Stir through cucumber,
1/2 tsp salt flflakes and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Top with freshly chopped dill.
This is an edited extract fromEat at the Bar by Matt McConnell with Jo Gamvros (Hardie Grant Books, RRP $50). Available in stores nationally.
Spiced chickpeas and spinach