Food stars move in for a fresh regional taste of Down Under
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-australia.com.au). 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. www.quay.com.au.
FIND of the week: Allan Campion and Michele Curtis’s TheSeasonalProduce Diary2008 (Hardie Grant Books, $29.95); pictures, recipes, markets and space for dates. www.campionandcurtis.com.
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