Straits Chi­nese to Span­ish, class-act Tan cooks up storm

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - Susan Kuro­sawa

WON the Queen’s Birth­day long week­end, this tem­po­rary De­tec­tive was in Melbourne check­ing out the flash new premises of the Tony Tan Cook­ing School in Toorak. Malaysian-born Tan has been run­ning suc­cess­ful classes for years but a pur­pose­built pavil­ion ad­join­ing his res­i­dence is now the cus­tomised venue for a se­ries of year-round cour­ses, from Masala Magic (In­dian) to Sin­ga­pore Style. Tan says he is mak­ing head­way on his much-an­tic­i­pated cook­book of Per­anakan (Straits Chi­nese) cui­sine and putting the fi­nal touches to a gourmet food tour he’s lead­ing to Spain in Oc­to­ber. Mean­time, the classes are al­ways busy; Tan told De­tec­tive that Tony’s Choice, which melds sea­sonal pro­duce with ‘‘ freestyle cook­ing’’, is among the most pop­u­lar. Also book­ing fast are New Shang­hai (July 2 or 3) classes in­spired by the ex­per­i­men­tal cui­sine of Shang­hai restau­ra­teur and cook­book au­thor Jereme Leong, whose food, Tan says, has ‘‘ wow fac­tor’’. As at the best of cook­ing classes, par­tic­i­pants get to eat the spoils; great ITH FoodDe­tec­tive El­iz­a­beth Mery­ment on ma­ter­nity leave and Act­ingDe­tec­tive Ju­dith Elen on an­nual hol­i­days, it falls to your usual Depar­tureLounge colum­nist to swap board­ing pass for wooden spoon and go un­der­cover this week. value from $105, wine in­cluded. (03) 9827 7347; www.tony­tan.com.au.

STILL in Vic­to­ria, Alla Wolf-Tasker ex­ec­u­tive chef and force of na­ture at The Lake House, Dayles­ford, is un­der­stand­ably full of joy that a mem­ber of her brigade, Jasper Avent, has been named as one of three re­cip­i­ents of the in­au­gu­ral Thierry Marx Ca­reer De­vel­op­ment Award, spon­sored by Restau­rant & Cater­ing Vic­to­ria for promis­ing young chefs. Avent will travel to France and work for a month un­der the guid­ance of Marx at his two Miche­lin-starred Chateau Cordeil­lan-Bages in Bordeaux. Join­ing Avent will be ap­pren­tices Scott Steven­son of Pet­tavel Win­ery & Restau­rant in Gee­long and Sa­man­tha Go­gol of Wild Oak Restau­rant & Wine Bar, Olinda.

NOOSA’S Hast­ings Street, the Sun­shine Coast town’s best-known eat­ing precinct, is to get a lo­cal coun­cil and tourism in­dus­try­funded $9.8 mil­lion up­grade. Start­ing in July, the makeover will in­clude ‘‘ a more pedes­trian-friendly en­vi­ron­ment [while] qual­ity seat­ing and gath­er­ing ar­eas are to be con­structed’’. Such de­vel­oper-speak aside, Hast­ings Street As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Jim Ber­ardo, of the splen­did Ber­ardo’s Restau­rant & Bar and Ber­ardo’s Bistro on the Beach, tells De­tec­tive it will be busi­ness as usual dur­ing the work, which will carry through to just be­fore Christ­mas and restart on Jan­uary 28 af­ter the peak hol­i­day pe­riod. Aro­mas Noosa, one of Hast­ing Street’s most con­vivial cafes and break­fast venues, is glam­ming up, too, with a re­vi­talised in­te­rior, ex­tended bar area and more em­pha­sis on re­gional cui­sine in menus cre­ated by Philip John­son of Bris­bane’s E’cco and Aro­mas Noosa’s Jules San­tini.

FAIR­FAX’S Syd­neyMorn­ingHer­ald ’ s Good Food Guide Tues­day liftout has a new chief. TheDai­lyTele­graph ’ s food and wine ed­i­tor Sue Ben­nett takes over from act­ing ed­i­tor Melissa Gau­dron on July 9. Bri­tish­born Ben­nett, who has been with News Lim­ited, pub­lisher of TheAus­tralian and TheDai­lyTele­graph, for 21 years, says she has been a jour­nal­ist al­most all her work­ing life and has un­der­taken myr­iad news­pa­per roles in NSW and Bri­tain, spe­cial­is­ing in food and wine about a decade ago. Ben­nett at­tributes her love of cook­ing to her mother, whom she de­scribes as ‘‘ a won­der­ful home cook’’; she also says that spend­ing time in food-ob­sessed France dur­ing her child­hood was a fac­tor in fu­elling her pas­sion. Fair­fax’s gain is News Lim­ited’s loss on this oc­ca­sion and De­tec­tive wishes Ben­nett all the very best.

CON­GRAT­U­LA­TIONS are also in or­der for Asian food guru Charmaine Solomon who was awarded a Medal of the Or­der of Aus­tralia in the Queen’s Birth­day hon­ours list. De­tec­tive first met the ever-gra­cious Solomon in the early 1970s when she was work­ing on TheCom­pleteAsianCook­book and en­listed the as­sis­tance of De­tec­tive’s then hus­band, restau­ra­teur Ted Kuro­sawa, with the Ja­panese recipe pages. The book has been re­ferred to as ‘‘ the green bi­ble’’ in De­tec­tive’s kitchen ever since, al­though its smart for­est-green cover is now in sorry tat­ters and stained with rem­nants of cur­ries and condi­ments past.

What many fans of Solomon’s food may not know is that her hus­band Reuben is a tal­ented jazz mu­si­cian. De­tec­tive likes to think her lak­sas and stringhop­pers sing with ex­tra flavour when pre­pared to a CD recorded by the Solomon fam­ily, with Reuben on alto sax and daugh­ter Nina war­bling Bil­lie Hol­i­day- wor­thy vo­cals.

MELBOURNE-BASED choco­late com­pany Koko Black is open­ing its sixth choco­late salon and the first out­side Vic­to­ria. You’d ex­pect pop­u­la­tion-heavy Syd­ney to be the cho­sen site but, in a bold move, Koko Black is head­ing to the na­tional cap­i­tal. The ‘‘ Euro­pean-style choco­late salon’’ opens in Bunda Street, Can­berra, on June 21. This is no or­di­nary candy store with pre-pack­aged rocky road, nut swirls and soft cen­tres. Koko Black’s ‘‘ on-site choco­latiers’’ will be hand­craft­ing fresh choco­late pro­duce (think orange and Coin­treau truf­fles or milk ganache in­fused with chai) in open-plan kitchens. Koko Black founder, Shane Hills, says cos­mopoli­tan Can­berra is ‘‘ a nat­u­ral new home for a choco­late ex­pe­ri­ence so loved by Mel­bur­ni­ans’’ and award-win­ning cho­co­latier Clarissa Louey, who be­gan her ca­reer as a pas­try chef at the Grand Hy­att Melbourne, has been ap­pointed Koko Black Can­berra’s res­i­dent cho­co­latier: now there’s a job de­scrip­tion for the ca­reer wish list. www.kokoblack.com.

FIND of the week: Syd­neysiders be quick: Si­mon John­son Qual­ity Foods is hav­ing a ware­house clear­ance to­day. Head to 24a Ralph St, Alexan­dria (cor­ner of Doody Street) for up to 75 per cent off se­lected gourmet items, in­clud­ing olive oils, pasta, herbal teas and pre­serves.

DE­TEC­TIVE loves: Adam Fos­ter’s lim­it­ed­pro­duc­tion wines from Heath­cote, Vic­to­ria, un­der the Syrahmi la­bel. Not a dod­dle to find, but the ut­terly de­li­cious Syrahmi V2 Shi­raz 2005 is avail­able for $42 at www.eas­t­end­cel­lars.com.au.

The seven spe­cial teas served at Green T House, re­cently opened in Hong Kong (a spin-off from the Bei­jing orig­i­nal). Who can refuse a cup of cha with a name as lyri­cal as Sword Green Jade or Tran­quil Spirit? 208 The Ar­cade, 100 Cy­ber­port Rd, Hong Kong; www.green-t-house.com.

DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: The pep­per grinder saga con­tin­ues. Last week’s rant to wait­ers who wield gi­ant grinders but refuse to leave them on din­ers’ ta­bles has drawn 100 per pos­i­tive reader re­sponse (that is, you all hate this pro­pri­eto­rial non­sense as much as your De­tec­tive colum­nists). Michael Jones of New Farm, Queens­land, sums it up by declar­ing he will take his own pep­per grinder to restau­rants to make the point.

Off to France: Avent

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