All fired up as Chi­nese go quackers over duck ovens

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Ju­dith Elen

AN ex­cited FoodDe­tec­tive has un­earthed a red-hot Queens­land com­pany sell­ing duck ovens to China. She has tracked down Beech Ovens di­rec­tor Brett Beech and the com­pany’s cor­po­rate chef James Gar­ton in Bei­jing, where they’re on a tour of duty.

Beech be­gan mak­ing pizza ovens for the Hy­att ho­tel group in 1990, he tells De­tec­tive; five years later he turned out his first tan­doors ( Three­sixty restau­rant in the Oberoi New Delhi has in­stalled two) and the duck ovens in 2006.

Gar­ton tells De­tec­tive that af­ter much re­search the en­gi­neer­ing for the wood-fired, stone hearth pizza ovens was trans­lated for a duck oven with high ceil­ings for hang­ing the birds and fu­elled by gas as well as wood (for ef­fi­ciency and flavour). They also look gor­geous.

The ovens have ‘‘ great vi­su­als’’, Gar­ton says. Ho­tels with open kitchens have re­quested cus­tomised win­dows and in­ter­nal spot­lights, and the stone floor is made of re­frac­tory-made tiles that look like cob­ble­stones.

About 60 to 70 Beech ovens are in­stalled across the world, in­clud­ing in many of China’s lead­ing ho­tels. The beauty of the ovens, Gar­ton says, is that they are cus­tom made so private homes, restau­rants and ho­tels can or­der them in dif­fer­ent sizes. Is De­tec­tive ’ s tiny in­ner-Syd­ney flat big enough, she won­ders? ■ IN Bei­jing, Gar­ton is learn­ing about duck dishes — un­der the wing of Grand Hy­att Bei­jing’s ex­ec­u­tive chef Martin Aw Yong and the Hy­att’s Made in China chef Nick Du — and is re­cip­ro­cat­ing with mas­ter­classes in his spe­cialty, stone hearth oven cook­ing. He tells De­tec­tive he spent the pre­vi­ous evening at Bei­jing Pin Ya Yuan Roast Duck Restau­rant un­der­tak­ing fur­ther re­search. ■ IN other news from for­eign shores, De­tec­tive has learned from a San Fran­cisco snout that next year Span­ish molec­u­lar chef Fer­ran Adria is con­sid­er­ing clos­ing his revo­lu­tion­ary restau­rant, El Bulli, just out­side Barcelona.

De­tec­tive’s Span­ish con­tacts con­firm, af­ter some leg­work, that de­spite fre­quent sim­i­lar ru­mours this time they may be true; Adria is se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing clos­ing the restau­rant ‘‘ for some time, per­haps one or two years from next year’’.

It seems the copy­ists have be­gun to wear him down and he wants to re­con­sider El Bulli’s ‘‘ con­cepts and phi­los­o­phy’’.

The fas­ci­nat­ing Beech web­site in­cludes recipes. www.bee­chovens.com.

Read­ers who were think­ing of reg­is­ter­ing for the an­nual bal­lot for a ta­ble can re­di­rect their en­er­gies. ( De­tec­tive’s San Fran con­tact, af­ter years of try­ing, man­aged to se­cure a reser­va­tion in this year’s heav­ily con­tested try-outs.) ■ A FLURRY of fab food out­lets is lined up to open their doors at Melbourne’s new West­field Don­caster fresh food precinct on April 10. Jones the Gro­cer (the group’s first Melbourne store), Browns Bak­ers of Dis­tinc­tion, Ox­fam Shop’s first food store (it has Fair Trade cof­fee among the bowls and wooden gi­raffes in Mar­ket Street, Syd­ney, and other stores). There’ll be a butch­ery at Don­caster (a resur­fac­ing breed in the cities) and a large fruit and veg shop. Jones the Gro­cer will fea­ture a glass-walled cheese room and sell cof­fee and light meals from a Jones Es­presso kiosk. www.west­field.com/new­don­caster. ■ LIME­STONE Coast pro­duce this year has its own cat­e­gory — along­side restau­rants, ac­com­mo­da­tion and the usual tourism sec­tions — in the Lime­stone Coast Ex­cel­lence in Tourism Awards. Or­gan­is­ers say the qual­ity and range of pro­duce in the re­gion con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to vis­i­tors’ ex­pe­ri­ences and helps put the area on the world map.

Nom­i­na­tion forms and en­try cri­te­ria were re­leased this week and will close April 24 (sub­mis­sions close May 30). www.the­lime­stone coast.com. ■ ORANGE F.O.O.D. Week, one of the coun­try’s old­est food fes­ti­vals, gets go­ing in the cen­tral west­ern NSW town next Fri­day (April 11), with a night mar­ket of 30 stalls in the Orange Gallery’s fore­court.

It’ll be a long, fun week, stretch­ing from Fri­day un­til Sun­day, April 20, but oth­er­wise how would it all fit? Farm­ers, cooks, or­chardists and wine­mak­ers will host sup­pers, din­ners, farm gate tours, work­shops and tast­ings; for starters, the Orange Farm­ers Mar­ket is on April 12, and cel­e­brated lo­cal chef Michael Man­ners’s Sun­day lunch is on April 13. www.or­ange­food­week.com.au. ■ CHEF Andrew Fielke, founder of the Red Ochre restau­rants in South Aus­tralia, far north Queens­land and North­ern Ter­ri­tory, and cham­pion of wild Aussie food, will serve up a ban­quet at the Prairie Ho­tel, Parachilna, SA, with the Flin­ders Ranges in the back­ground, for one night only, at Shorts Out­back short-film fes­ti­val.

Fielke’s turn at the stoves is part of an­nual food and wine fest Tastes of the Out­back, held across out­back SA, April 1827. Book a ta­ble and feast while watch­ing the films or tuck into bush tucker from a ca­sual graz­ing menu.

April 26, 5pm for 7.30pm screen­ings, $15; Fielke’s ban­quet with pre-screen­ing drinks, rov­ing en­tree, graz­ing plat­ters at a re­served ta­ble dur­ing screen­ing and petit fours and cof­fee af­ter, $60. www.short­s­film­fes­ti­val.com; www.taste­soft­he­out­back.com. ■ PROVI­DORE Si­mon John­son runs two-hour classes at the demon­stra­tion kitchen in his Pyr­mont, Syd­ney store, in the Talk Eat Drink pro­gram. Syd­ney chefs Serge Dansereau ( The Bathers’ Pavil­ion) and Lor­raine Gods­mark ( Yel­low Bistro and Food Store) are next in line; on April 12, 10.30am12.30pm, Dansereau will fo­cus on re­spect for in­gre­di­ents; May 6, 6.30pm-8.30pm, Gods­mark; $90 each. www.si­mon­john­son.com. ■ FIND of the week: Just re­leased Wily Trout 2005 Pinot Noir, a lus­cious drop from the Can­berra dis­trict. Wily Trout Vine­yard shares an ad­dress with Poach­ers Pantry smoke­house, cafe and cel­lar door; visit and stock up on gourmet good­ies with your wines, buy Wily Trout from Can­berra IGA stores or by mail or­der (in half-dozens). www.wilytrout.com.au; www.poach­erspantry.com.au. ■ DE­TEC­TIVE loves: Lindt Pe­tits Desserts; th­ese pra­line choco­lates re-cre­ate clas­sic sweets: creme brulee, mac­a­roon, tiramisu, lemon tart and meringue, $12.99 (170g); Lindt Swiss Tra­di­tion col­lec­tion is even bet­ter, in as­sorted or dark ($10.49, 140g); both from lead­ing re­tail­ers across the coun­try. ■ DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: Black­board menus with­out a black­board — or even a sheet of pa­per — which can de­feat even the mildly me­mory-chal­lenged. Re­mem­ber­ing dishes is part of a waiter’s stock in trade; rat­tling off a list of a half dozen over three cour­ses, then leav­ing din­ers to com­pare them with the printed menu usu­ally de­mands at least one re­peat run-through.

Mean­while, Queens­land reader Brian Witte hates menus be­ing whisked away as soon as an or­der has been taken and thinks it would be a good idea to leave a printed list at the ta­ble (with a dif­fer­ent look from the main menu, so wait­ers know or­ders have been taken) for din­ers to browse desserts, for ex­am­ple.

And, adds De­tec­tive , to re­mind din­ers of the fine de­tails of their orig­i­nal or­der.

in­dul­gence@theaus­tralian.com.au

Fer­ran Adria

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