Food stars move in for a fresh re­gional taste of Down Un­der

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Ju­dith Elen

RICK STEIN, Bri­tish celebrity chef, seafood afi­cionado and reg­u­lar vis­i­tor to Aus­tralia, will be one of the in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors at South Aus­tralia’s bi­en­nial food get-to­gether, Tast­ing Aus­tralia, this week­end un­til Oc­to­ber 20 (www.tast­ing-aus­ Food De­tec­tive caught up with Stein in Syd­ney and dis­cov­ered he has in­ter­est­ing views on food re­gions and tourism.

‘‘ As a restau­ra­teur liv­ing in a tourist part of the UK,’’ he tells De­tec­tive , ‘‘ I think re­gion­al­ity and lo­cal­ness are im­por­tant; they’re what peo­ple come to Corn­wall for, the more we can keep our lo­cal iden­tity, the more we es­tab­lish our­selves as be­ing dif­fer­ent from ev­ery­where else.’’

Stein has been to two or three TAs in the past, and loves them. They’re like a con­fer­ence, he says, great for meet­ing peo­ple in­volved in food from around the world, as well as the peo­ple who come to the free-en­try panel ses­sions, at Ade­laide’s South Aus­tralian Mu­seum.

One of Stein’s pan­els will dis­cuss ter­roir (with Mag­gie Beer and oth­ers). He tells De­tec­tive he’s still ‘‘ sketch­ing out his ideas for the ses­sion’’, but thinks al­though re­gion means dif­fer­ence and is what tourism needs, there is a limit to how much lo­cal pro­duce you want on a menu. Bal­ance is ev­ery­thing.

At Jamie Oliver’s Fif­teen restau­rant in Corn­wall one menu has to be all Corn­wall. It’s a test for the young chefs but you could not re­ally run a menu like that, Stein says.

He loves Aus­tralia and the food here. He’s been com­ing since the 1960s (when ‘‘ food wasn’t ter­ri­bly ex­cit­ing’’) and vis­its reg­u­larly, in­clud­ing Christ­mas pil­grim­ages to Mol­ly­mook on the NSW south coast.

By the way, Earl Carter’s food pho­tog­ra­phy for Mediter­raneanEs­capes (see cover story) was done in a stu­dio in Syd­ney’s Surry Hills, dic­tated by sea­sons, pub­lish­ing dead­lines and great pro­duce.

AN­OTHER ad­vo­cate of re­gion­al­ity, es­pe­cially of dis­ap­pear­ing Euro­pean food her­itage, Elis­a­beth Luard, also here for SA’s food party, chat­ted with De­tec­tive about keep­ing the past alive.

Tra­di­tional foods and meth­ods are fad­ing ev­ery­where, she says, in Spain with EU reg­u­la­tions, in east­ern Europe with the fall of com­mu­nism; but they need to be used and en­joyed rather than pre­served in mu­se­ums.

Win­ner of this year’s Glen­fid­dich Tro­phy for food writ­ing (her latest book is The­Food ofS­painandPor­tu­ga­landTruf­fles), Luard will be part of a TA panel ses­sion with Stein, Mad­hur Jaf­frey and An­to­nio Car­luc­cio.

And she, too, has more than a ca­sual link with us: her grand­fa­ther was born on a sheep farm some­where south of Syd­ney (and left with his fam­ily ‘‘ un­der a cloud’’, re­vers­ing the usual tale of the times).

She may do some back­track­ing. And she loves our food, our Asian in­flu­ences, our in­ter­est­ing chefs and our great re­gional in­gre­di­ents.

LO­CAL food hero and cheese cham­pion Will Studd, who was in­stru­men­tal in the le­gal pas­sage of un­pas­teurised cheese into Aus­tralia, presided over the launch of his new TV se­ries and hefty com­pen­dium, CheeseSlices, at The Book Kitchen in Syd­ney’s Surry Hills this week.

If any­one ar­rived un­com­mit­ted about cheese, the groan­ing ta­ble of Aus­tralian goat’s cheese, Brie de Meaux, cave-ripened tale­gio, un­pas­teurised roque­forts, a comte and a parmi­giano reg­giano, which guests nib­bled in rich chunks straight from the wheel, must surely have won them over.

Studd tells De­tec­tive , with the wedge firmly in the door on the im­por­ta­tion of un­pas­teurised cheeses, the ball is rolling on their pro­duc­tion in Aus­tralia; it should be le­gal next year, he says.

STEVE Web­ber of De Bor­toli in Vic­to­ria’s Yarra Val­ley was last week named Wine­maker of the Year at Gourmet­Trav­eller Wine ’ s 10th an­nual awards in as­so­ci­a­tion with liquor sup­plier Ke­menys, at a din­ner at Syd­ney’s Es­tab­lish­ment Ball­room.

Teusner Wines’ Kym Teusner from SA’s Barossa took the Ke­menys Medal for a young wine­maker. And the in­au­gu­ral Len Evans Award for Lead­er­ship was pre­sented to David Hohnen of McHenry Hohnen Vint­ners, Mar­garet River, in West­ern Aus­tralia. Hohnen de­vel­oped Mar­garet River’s Cape Men­telle win­ery in the 1970s and, in the ’ 80s, Cloudy Bay in New Zealand’s Marl­bor­ough re­gion.

WHILE din­ing at Quay restau­rant on the up­per level of the Over­seas Pas­sen­ger Ter­mi­nal at Syd­ney’s Cir­cu­lar Quay re­cently, Travel&In­dul­gence ed­i­tor Susan Kuro­sawa spied owner Leon Fink por­ing over car­pet sam­ples and mar­ble tiles.

Could a re­fur­bish­ment be on the cards? The swirly car­pet never could com­pete with those full-frontal har­bour views; let’s hope some­thing more re­strained is planned.

Quay’s lunch spe­cial (two cour­ses for $65; three for $80), with free park­ing on the doorstep, has to be one of Syd­ney’s best­value fine-din­ing deals. And hurry to Quay be­fore the early Syd­ney sum­mer re­ally siz­zles: chef Peter Gil­more has a sen­sa­tional eight-hour, slow-braised Flin­ders Is­land milk-fed lamb with veg­etable potage on the din­ner menu.

FIND of the week: Al­lan Cam­pion and Michele Cur­tis’s TheSea­son­alPro­duce Diary2008 (Hardie Grant Books, $29.95); pic­tures, recipes, mar­kets and space for dates.­pi­o­nand­cur­

DE­TEC­TIVE loves: The prospect of long, lazy, sum­mer sup­pers of lo­cal seafood.

DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: Big square plates my cut­lery slides into as soon as I let go of it, and the sauce on the han­dles.


Home hero: Studd

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