Beached Jonah’s relishes a whale of a season
WHALE season surges ahead with Jonah’s at Whale Beach in Sydney today joining the elite Relais & Chateaux family, the third property in Australia to be accepted into the Francebased hotel and restaurant group.
Jonah’s chef George Francisco tells Food Detective the listing is very difficult to get and food is judged as part of the process. There have been a number of judging visits over a couple of years and Francisco was not aware of them, but on the last visit three people came and ate, he says, and they found the food just perfect.
Serendipitously unfolding at the same time as the listing is Jonah’s (Moroccaninspired, the chef says) move outdoors. Following recently won approval, tables are now out on the balcony full-ime. Francisco says, ‘‘ Instead of being a box on a hill, the place is now open to the environment.’’ Coco Republic’s Romaine Alwill has designed the outdoor furniture and Francisco’s terrace menu offers dishes such as oysters (from across Australia, shucked and prepared to order, even singly) as well as jamon and shellfish plates. People can come from midday through the afternoon and evening, to drink and nibble. ‘‘ It’s how people eat in Spain and France,’’ the chef says. Soon there’ll be a few tables on the lawn as well.
Chateau Yering in Victoria’s Yarra Valley is a member of Relais & Chateaux hotels and Sydney restaurant Tetsuya’s is the only one in the country to have been awarded a Relais Gourmand. It was Tetsuya Wakuda who nominated Jonah’s entry into the group. www.jonahs.com.au; www.relaischateaux.com.
THE groundbreaking cellar door precinct at Coonawarra’s Poplars Winery has won the South Australian Tourism Commission’s regional tourism award. Officially opened in September, the combined cellar door and cafe features a regional produce store and a cheese bar (with such stars as Meredith Dairy and Shaw River Buffalo Cheese Co). A find for wine tourists, the set-up is headed by Tim Foster, formerly of Upstairs at Hollick and Piper’s of Penola, and chef Richard Moretti. Seven days, 9am to 6pm. www.chardonnaylodge.com.au.
PARIS-BORN chef Frederic Booms is fulfilling an old dream with his long-time friend Yannick Besnard. The two met in Brisbane 15 years ago, both recent arrivals from France, and determined to one day set up a restaurant together. That day is here.
In the middle of this year Booms arrived in Sydney just as Besnard and his wife, Michele Besnard, were in the market for a restaurant. The trio bought The Local Wine Bar in Paddington, which they ran briefly before launching their real plan, L’etoile restaurant & bar. L’etoile is a sparkler. It offers Parisian bistro lite. Besnard, ex Sydney’s China Doll and Tabou, tells Detective there is no cream and sauces are all made ‘‘ as we go’’, not held in a bainmarie. Chef Booms, who has cooked at Brisbane’s Pier Nine, Ecco and Montrachet, says traditional dishes have a modern twist (snails come not in their shells but in little pots with puff pastry, a labourguignonne ). www.letoilerestaurant.com.au.
SETTLERS Tavern in Margaret River, Western Australia, whose owners Karen and Rob Gough are intermittent correspondents with this column ( Detective , July 28-29; October 6-7), has been honoured (for the second year) with Best Wine List WA Hotels and Taverns 2007 at the Australian Hotels Association’s Awards for Excellence. The tavern’s list is dominated by the luscious local wines but Europe, NZ, the US and South America are also represented. www.settlerstavern.com.
WEDNESDAY watch: Maeve O’Meara, veteran with Joanna Savill of SBS’s The FoodLovers’GuidetoAustralia , launches her new FoodSafari series, at 7.30pm on SBS, with an illuminating look at Japanese food: loved by all, cooked by few. Top chefs (including Wakuda), a sushi master and home cooks explain and show, and all becomes clear. Next comes French. www.sbs.com.au.
SOON-TO-BE Kam Fook executive chef Darren Ho ( Detective , November 24-25) shares some refreshing beer tips; with summer coming, there’ll be lots of Asian food and lots of beer, Ho says. He tells Detective some restaurants are adding knobs of ginger or ginger flowers to beer as they serve it, matching it with their dishes.
A fresh knob gives the beer a primary ginger flavour, Ho says. Also, a finger-sized twist of lemongrass, tied in a knot to bruise it and release the flavour, then tossed into beer, is fabulous with seafood.
FIND of the week: The Coffee Guide 2008
PHILIPPE Mouchel, visiting Sydney from La Brasserie in Melbourne, is teaming up with the Sofitel Wentworth Garden Court’s Jess Ong to offer a la carte ($78 two courses; $94 for three) and five-course degustation menus ($148 a person) for lunch and dinner, December 4-15. www.sofitelsydney.com.au. (Guide Enterprises, $16.95), books for Melbourne and Sydney, with the fine grind on beans, roasters, baristas, and where to buy and sip. www.thecoffeeguide.com.au.
DETECTIVE loves: Green Tabasco sauce, and she is not alone ( Detective , November 17-18; 24-25). It can be found at the USA Food Store in Melbourne (www.usafoods.com.au) and readers suggest other stockists: Chris Chambers has found it at Coles, Bendigo. Joy and Rob Haese at Robinsons department store in Bangkok and Koh Samui, and the supermarket at Chaweng. Adelaide Central Market has it, as does Coles Caloundra.
Lynne Bucknell writes: ‘‘ Wonderful Samios at Woolloongabba has been on Brisbane’s map for years and has almost everything’’, including green Tabasco.
Alison Bennett-Roberts says James St Markets, Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, has it (‘‘scrambled eggs without it are a crime’’).
Best result of all, Travel&Indulgence editor Susan Kurosawa, who started it all, has news from Kan Cheung of Tabasco Hong Kong that emergency supplies are on the way to her. There is a Santa.
DETECTIVE loathes: Good olive oil that uses cheap so-called pouring inserts from which oil drips down the bottle, leaving rings on shelves and losing luscious drops.