Country moves for pure and seasonal farm produce
REGIONAL food has taken another leap forward with chef Ryan Crossley’s move from Melbourne to take up country-house cooking as head of the kitchens at Campaspe House in Victoria’s Macedon Ranges. Crossley’s earlier stints have included Taxi in Federation Square and Lamaro’s in South Melbourne.
He has also lured Rohan Hehir from Grossi Florentino in Melbourne to join the Campaspe team as sous chef.
Crossley tells FoodDetective Campaspe House is committed to regional, seasonal food. Featuring strongly on the menu are local products such as Holy Goat cheeses from Sutton Grange Organic Farm, near Castlemaine. Favourites are the farm’s fromage frais, a goat’s milk curd with an alluring citrus finish, and Black Silk, a pyramid of fresh curd coated in ash.
Fernleigh Farm, breeder of the fabulous black-and-white Wessex saddleback pigs, supplies succulent organic pork as well as fresh vegetables. And then there’s Tuki Trout Farm at nearby Smeaton. Who would want to work in the city?
Crossley had a fine taste of community last Sunday at the Glenlyon Fine Food and Wine Fayre, a local annual fair with a suitably old-world feel and a showcase for local produce. Campaspe House featured duck and mushroom boudin among the house products on its stand, along with its chutneys and other goodies. www.campaspehouse.com.au.
BALDUCCI’S, the high-end US food suppliers, with 10 shops in North America, including two flagship stores in Manhattan (Chelsea and Lincoln Square), has taken up Western Australia’s precious black truffles from the Wine and Truffle Company ( Food Detective , July 14-15).
Wally Edwards, head of the Manjimupbased company, tells Detective the Austrade-organised stand the company set up at New York’s Summer Fancy Foods Show facilitated the crucial toe in the door; that and the enthusiasm of NewYorkTimes food writer Florence Fabricant.
The French Laundry in California’s Napa Valley is one of the top restaurants using the truffles (a sample menu includes boudin blanc de Saint Pierre with black winter truffles, pignons de pins, green garlic, globe artichokes and arugula pudding). One of the attractions of the WA product is having black winter truffles available in the northern summer. Balducci’s is selling the truffles by special order for $US1495 ($1740) a pound (453g), with a quarterpound the smallest order, at $US373.75. www.wineandtruffle.com.au; www.balduccis.com; www.frenchlaundry.com.
CHEF Christine Manfield has launched her eagerly awaited return to Sydney’s restaurant scene. Her new venture, Universal, in the Republic 2 Courtyard in Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, will be operating at full strength from Monday week; for those who love dress rehearsals, the doors are open but dishes are being added progressively. Reports soon. www.universalrestaurant.com.
MARK Maric, executive chef at Lure Seafood Restaurant at The Coro in Brisbane, is celebrating following Lure’s third consecutive win as the city’s best seafood restaurant. Lure netted the award at the HOSTPLUS regional restaurant and catering awards last Monday. Best state seafood restaurant is Lure’s next target. The state award will be announced at a grand dinner at Gianni Events at Portside next month. www.thecoro.com.
VICKI Bright, manager of the cooking school at Black Pearl Epicure in Queensland’s Fortitude Valley, says the number of men enrolling in classes is a refreshing shift. They also have distinct preferences, she tells Detective . Sessions relating to food education, on truffles or cheeses, for example, are favourites, as are travel-linked cuisines and robust, hands-on encounters with pasta or sausage-making.
Black Pearl invites some of the country’s top chefs to lead sessions. The August program includes French Moroccan and cheese making; from $65 to $130, about three hours. www.blackpearl.com.au.
CORDON blokes continued: Peter Kenyon, an economics professor at Curtin University in WA, has launched a new venture. Blokes are the target of the Cooking Professor’s Cooking Classes, and he focuses on the basics. Kenyon has long included kitchen skills in his unofficial CV and even did a three-month stint at the wonderful Loose Box restaurant at Mundaring, in the Perth hills.
The first set of lessons began successfully this week and will continue for the next three Wednesdays at Tarts Cafe, 121 Lake St, Perth. Individual classes can be taken. And a new series will begin in September. www.thecooking professor. com.au.
FOOD supplier Simon Johnson and chef Serge Dansereau are hosting a Frenchthemed dinner at The Bathers’ Pavilion at Balmoral Beach in Sydney on August 23. Both recently back from France, the pair will talk about their experiences, while the kitchen serves up a menu inspired by Dansereau’s tour. Tickets are $125 for a three-course meal with matched wines. (02) 9969 5050; firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEEP-COUNTRY tucker is the focus of the LifeStyle Channel’s series The Outback Cafe, which is about to resume. The engaging Mark Olive, also known as Black Olive, traverses remote river and mountain country and ventures into Australia’s desert heart in search of wild foods. The landscape is alluring and insights from local cooks unlock the secrets of native spices and berries. Taking to the kitchen, Olive shows how these seasonings are used in modern Australian food. Series two starts on Sunday, August 19, at 7.30pm.
And if you think bush tucker is as dry as dust, you’re missing out on a palette of great new tastes. Detective has tasted Tanami Fire (ground tanami apples, native pepperberry, lemon aspen and chilli), Dried Mountain Pepper (mild, flaked mountain pepper leaf) and, her favourite, Dried Saltbush (fine flakes that taste like a subtle, herby seaweed). Olive cooks with these on the program; there are 14 blends available online and a selected range from Woolworths and Safeway nationwide.
The bonus: this is a sustainable, indigenous industry, creating jobs and experience for outback communities. www.lifestylechannel.com.au.
READER and lone diner Peter Davy, responding to Detective ’ s loathing of strange attitudes to single diners ( Travel& Indulgence , July 28-29), as well as to Tom Norrington-Davies’s feature on real English pies (in the same edition), reports on the excellent seafood pie he sampled recently at Melbourne’s Lamaro’s. He agrees with Pam Lamaro that there should be more good English-style pies served in Melbourne restaurants in the wintry months. Davy recommends Lamaro’s pie of the day, usually a cracker, he says, for about $22. www.lamaros.com.au.
DIARY alert: Gusto 2007, a joyous celebration of the cuisine of Italy, to be held at the Sydney Seafood School, Sydney Fish Market, will feature cooking demonstrations, masterclasses and tastings. Sunday, August 26, 10am-5pm. According to the winter newsletter of the Council of Italian Restaurants in Australia, sponsor of the festivities, down under is sometimes referred to as Italy’s 21st region. www.cira.com.au.
A READER from Parma, Italy, has been in touch to say she enjoyed the feature ‘‘ Pigs do fly’’ ( Travel&Indulgence , June 9-10), but reminds us that chef Massimo Spigaroli, also from Parma, produces the highest grade prosciutto known as culatello; even though the ham comes from Parma, it is not simple prosciutto di parma.
DETECTIVE loves: The Club Bar at the InterContinental Sydney. Sipping a slow cocktail recovers every ounce of imagined glamour when it’s done in this dimly lit glass rectangle on the top floor, the spangled jewel box of Sydney Harbour glittering below. www.sydney.intercontinental.com.
DETECTIVE loathes: The shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables in Sydney after the floods and an unusually cold winter. The sellers hate it as much as the buyers, according to Serge Dansereau, who also sources his produce from Victoria and elsewhere; even though their prices are high, they can’t get the supplies.
The humble zucchini, was recently selling for $20 a kilogram at an inner-Sydney supermarket. Dansereau says, ‘‘ Zucchini are often hidden away for regulars, tomatoes you are lucky to get, rocket is now a precious commodity.’’ There are plenty of apples but it’s pretty difficult to write a whole menu based on apple, he says.
FIND of the week: Tantalising treats at JPB restaurant, Swissotel Sydney, where chef Steve Sweetman is offering fondues and other Swiss delights until August 17. www.sydney.swissotel.com.
The Prof: Peter Kenyon