All aglow with Orange confirmed as foodies’ favourite squeeze
FOODDetective has been on the trail in the western NSW region of Orange, long a vibrant hub of growers, makers and mixers, during its annual food week. She hears that NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald, the local member, has a house not far from Fiorini’s Ristorante Italiano and is at the centre of a fan club for the cottage restaurant at the corner of Canobolas and Lake Canobolas roads, a short drive from Orange.
Chefs Patrizia Fiorini and Marina Fedeli — both originally from Rome and more recently from Sydney restaurants including Cibus in Coogee— serve dishes with sophisticated Italian simplicity in a quirky cottage amid paddocks of black Angus cows and the occasional horse. Their menu featuring local meats and produce is reinforced with cheeses from Paesanella in Sydney and twice-weekly seafood deliveries from the Sydney Fish Market. Fiorini tells Detective she grows a few things in a kitchen garden but has had scant success with that Roman staple, the artichoke (three in this year’s crop), which she would dearly love to offer on the menu. (02) 6365 3863. ■ KIM Currie of Taste Orange tells Detective that when recently asked to name her favourite (excellent) restaurant in town, she couldn’t stop at less than 11. Chef Josie Chapman at the Old Convent cafe at Borenore has a big reputation (and is open only on Sundays, 9am-4pm, so book; imagine slow-cooked lamb or duck confit with beetroot relish and glazed pumpkin on an autumnal afternoon). Topping many people’s lists is another Italian kitchen, Lolli Redini, headed by non-Italian Simonn Hawke. Detective sampled Hawke’s arts at Cumulus Wines’ annual food week Barrel Hall Dinner. Preparing and serving three highly finessed courses for 180 people, with canapes to start, from a makeshift camp kitchen among the barrels, Hawke and her team triumphed. www.tasteorange.com.au; www.oldconvent.com.au; www.lolliredini.com.au.
A SPOT of elbow-rubbing on the tables at Cumulus’s dinner (its second year in Orange F.O.O.D. Week; others are held in Orange Wine Week, the next scheduled for October 18) did not detract from the excellent meal and flow of matched wines, but Cumulus’s chief executive Jeffrey Wilkinson hates the space miscalculation that produced the elbow-rubbing and tells Detective it will not happen again. Names are already being registered for the next dinner. www.cumuluswines.com.au.
ORANGE’S 10-day food week ends tomorrow; there are exhibitions and tastings throughout the weekend and 50 stalls of local produce at F.O.O.D. Affair, a highlight of the week, 10am-4pm, Orange Regional Gallery Northcourt, Byng Street. www.orangefoodweek.com.au. ■ RISING young chef Luke Croston has been chosen to represent Australia in the biennial Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest next January. In 2003, he acted as commis to Melbourne’s Press Club chef George Calombaris in his bid for the award. Last year Croston competed again, this time in the hot seat and with Vanessa Mateus acting as his commis chef, and came 12th out of 24 countries.
Croston is in training in the kitchens at Melbourne’s Crown Casino under leading lights such as Jacques Reymond, Philippe Mouchel and Alain Fabregues. Walter Wagner, executive food and beverage manager at Crown, is president of Bocuse d’Or Australia and a judge. The competition will run in Lyons, France. www.bocusedoraustralia.com. ■ MEANWHILE Fraser’s Restaurant in West Perth is over the moon, especially with hospitality skills in short supply, over a double win by its 21-year-old (now qualified) chef Brendan Pratt. He has been named as Challenger TAFE’s best overall apprentice and best apprentice chef for 2007, and sets off next month for stints cooking at Michelin-starred restaurants in Britain and Europe, including at the Ritz London. www.frasersrestaurant.com.au.
ANOTHER young performer, David Allison, 24, chef de partie at Restaurant Lurleen’s at Sirromet vineyards southeast of Brisbane, has won the commis chef competition of the Brisbane arm of La Chaine des Rotisseurs, founded in Paris in 1950. The food association has 23,000 members in 80 countries. Allison was apprentice at Whales Way Restaurant on North Stradbroke Island under Andrew Mirosch, now executive chef at Lurleen’s. Allison wrote a menu and prepared four sets of three courses, with previously unseen ingredients, in four hours. ‘‘ Once I got going everything was fine,’’ he says. National Jeune Commis Chef Rotisseurs will be held in Sydney on May 31 and the international finals in Paris on September 19. Last September Lurleen’s won its sixth consecutive award for best restaurant in a winery in the Catering Queensland Hostplus Awards for Excellence. www.chaine-des-rotisseurs.net; www.sirromet.com. ■ PROFESSIONAL wine lovers Heather Albrecht, Lynette Rae and Angela Brown are behind a unique wine venue to open in The Rocks, Sydney, in August. Wine Odyssey— bar, cellar door, self-education centre — will house intimate lounge and alfresco areas in a historic building, at Argyle and Harrington streets, showcasing independent Aussie winemakers and all with a stylish tapas menu. Details as they emerge. ■ SAVOUR New Zealand — masterclasses, dinners and tastings with local, Australian and US chefs and wine experts — runs at the Langham Hotel, Auckland, May 1-4. www.savournewzealand.co.nz. ■ THOSE intrepid Hay Plains women who produced HayFamilyFodder ( Food Detective, September 1-2, 2007) to raise funds for the local mobile children’s service, preschool kindergarten and School of the Air Parents & Citizens Association report that $22,000 has been distributed between the three organisations. ■ READING food writers such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Anthony Bourdain, Elizabeth David, Waverley Root and Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, and guided by food journalist John Newton, could set you on the path to writing about food. Sydney Writers Centre will run a University of Technology, Sydney-accredited course, Writing about Food, on three Saturdays, 10am-3pm, starting on May 17. www.nswwriterscentre.org.au. ■ FIND of the week: Barossa Valley Cheese Company’s Washington Washrind ($8.50), an alluringly smelly Barossa cow’s milk cheese made by Victoria McClurg, who also produces Pear Spice ($6.50), its perfect accompaniment. From David Jones and other good stores across the states. www.barossacheese.com.au. ■ DETECTIVE loves: For Mother’s Day on May 11, Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, created 30 years ago for yummy mummies Lauren Bacall, Sophia Loren and Jackie Onassis. The pale-gold brut reserve ($64.95, from wine retailers across the country), is recommended with lobster. www.feuillatte.com. ■ DETECTIVE loathes: Fuel-wasting restaurant kitchen practices, such as leaving gas jets burning and water running; equipment rejigs are needed to allow fast kitchen work without such waste.