Tet­suya’s Ja­panese cheese odyssey a break from the daily rind

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Indulgence - Ju­dith Elen

OUR lead­ing chefs reg­u­larly recharge their culi­nary bat­ter­ies on work­ing jour­neys over­seas. Syd­ney’s Kylie Kwong (from Billy Kwong) and Serge Dansereau ( The Bathers’ Pavil­ion) have re­cently re­turned from trips, Kwong lead­ing a tour in China and Dansereau visit­ing kitchens in Europe and the US.

This week, lead­ing Syd­ney chef Tet­suya Wakuda, pre­par­ing to jet off to Ja­pan in search of cheese, tells FoodDe­tec­tive he has been talk­ing of do­ing this trip for a few years. ‘‘ OK, I amJa­panese, but I’ve never been to th­ese places,’’ he says.

‘‘ Th­ese places’’ are bou­tique cheese­mak­ers Yoshida Farm in Okayama Pre­fec­ture and Shimizu Farm in the pre­fec­ture of Nagano.

There is noth­ing new about Ja­pan’s love of cheese (re­mem­ber the thriv­ing wine cul­ture there); Wakuda says Tokyo de­part­ment stores have huge food sec­tions over two floors, with cheeses from across Europe. But cheeses made in Ja­pan are less wide­spread. Th­ese farms are small and their prod­ucts are all hand­made. In some cases, Wakuda says, there is a wait of six months to buy the cheese and high-end restau­rants snap them up.

Wakuda tells De­tec­tive a group of lo­cal chefs some­times goes to Yoshida Farm for lunch. A friend of his, from Osaka restau­rant Ka­hala (‘‘this is my dream restau­rant, ab­so­lutely my favourite’’), is or­gan­is­ing a visit es­pe­cially for Wakuda’s trip; they’ll have a ban­quet, he says. His friend says about 30 peo­ple are go­ing from the Osaka-Ky­oto re­gion: chefs, som­me­liers, food jour­nal­ists; ev­ery­one is con­nected there. ‘‘ I will send some Aus­tralian wine for them,’’ Wakuda says.

He has tasted Yoshida’s cheese in Tokyo, but not the up-and-com­ing Shimizu’s. They both make cow’s milk cheese, but Wakuda will know more when he vis­its and he prom­ises to pass on his dis­cov­er­ies to De­tec­tive on his re­turn. They have dif­fer­ent ways of mak­ing cheese, and dif­fer­ent ways of cook­ing the cheese and us­ing it, he says.

This time, cheese guru Will Studd, who is mak­ing the trip with Wakuda, will be the one be­ing led.

KA­HALA, Osaka, where meals cost about $US250 ($260) a per­son plus drinks, is at Kishimoto Build­ing, 2F, 1-9-2 Soneza­k­iShinchi, Kita-ku; +81 6 6345 6778.

CHEFS fly­ing in: across the coun­try, a se­ries of Good Food & Wine Shows will bring a flurry of chefs from in­ter­state and over­seas. First off the rank, Melbourne Good Food & Wine Show, next week­end, will wel­come Matt Mo­ran of Syd­ney’s Aria, Eng­land-based Ben O’Donoghue, To­bie Put­tock from Jamie Oliver’s Fif­teen Melbourne and LifeStyle Chan­nel food pre­sen­ter Pete Evans from Syd­ney’s Hugo’s. Melbourne Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, from next Fri­day to June 1.

Gor­don Ram­say will be the head­liner for the Syd­ney Good Food & Wine Show next month. In eight demon­stra­tions, he’ll whip up dishes from Gor­donRam­say’sFastFood and will wield the pen at book sign­ings ( Gor­donRam­say3S­tarChef is his latest).

Pre-book a ticket ($25) to see ev­ery­one’s favourite chef from hell. Also in Syd­ney will be Mo­ran, O’Donoghue, Evans, Put­tock and Fif­teen som­me­lier Matt Skin­ner. Syd­ney Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, June 20-22.

It will be Perth’s turn in July, with O’Donoghue and an Aussie line-up in­clud­ing Alastair McLeod, of Bretts Wharf in Bris­bane. Perth Con­ven­tion & Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre, July 11-13.

The Bris­bane guest list has yet to be an­nounced, but ink in Novem­ber 7-9 to be there.

Apart from the star casts, there’ll be wine sem­i­nars and work­shops, hands-on cook­ing classes, a cof­fee school, re­gional pro­duc­ers mar­ket and more. www.good­food­show.com.au.

IN Tas­ma­nia, Cra­dle Moun­tain Lodge’s long­stand­ing an­nual food and wine fes­ti­val, Tast­ings at the Top, cel­e­brates its 14th year next month. For its three-day fes­ti­val of lo­cal food and wine, the lodge has lined up de­gus­ta­tion din­ners, cook­ing demon­stra­tions, a fresh pro­duce mar­ket and wine tast­ings; to work up an ap­petite, there is all that wilder­ness to walk in. The lodge has an ac­com­mo­da­tion and fes­ti­val pack­age, June 21-23. (03) 6492 2100; www.cradle­moun­tain­lodge.com.au.

FOOD work­ers in Queens­land’s lead­ing wine re­gion will want to know about the Gran­ite Belt Food Fo­rum: From Pad­dock to Pantry and Plate. This one-day net­work­ing and talk fest aims to de­velop strate­gies for sus­tain­able tourism in the re­gion, which edges the NSW border south­west of Bris­bane. All in­volved, from grow­ers to ser­vice peo­ple and re­tail­ers, will be wel­come. In­dus­try com­men­ta­tor Peter Howard and Taste Orange’s Kim Cur­rie will lead pro­ceed­ings on be­half of Gran­ite Belt Wine & Tourism Inc. Queens­land Col­lege of Wine Tourism, June 4, 9am-5pm. Book­ings es­sen­tial be­fore June 1, (07) 4681 1200; www.gran­ite­beltwinecoun­try.com.au.

POP your cork at Palm Cove in far north Queens­land on June 21: with a cham-cham cock­tail (Cham­bord black rasp­berry liqueur and cham­pagne) matched with oys­ter beignet and cham­pagne sabayon, just for starters. Philip Mitchell, ex­ec­u­tive chef at Sebel Reef House & Spa Palm Cove, is plan­ning an evening in cel­e­bra­tion of Cham­pagne, the re­gion and the bub­bles, at Sebel’s Reef House Restau­rant. Cham­pagne Un­corked will fea­ture cham­pagnes from Bollinger, Pol Roger, Lan­son, Veuve Clic­quot, Ni­co­las Feuil­latte, Tat­tinger and Pom­mery matched with Mitchell’s north­ern France-in­spired dishes. $110 a head for din­ner and cham­pagne.

Sebel is also of­fer­ing a bub­bles pack­age with two nights in a veranda spa room, a bot­tle of Bollinger, break­fasts and Cham­pagne Un­corked din­ner for two. (07) 4055 3633; www.reef­house.com.au.

A FILIPINO Food Fes­ti­val at Syd­ney’s Grace Ho­tel will have guest chefs from Manila’s Travel Cafe Philip­pines pre­par­ing tang­halian (lunch) and ha­punan (din­ner) for 11 days in June. The TCP is a se­ries of con­cept cafes, from Tokyo and Seoul to San Fran­cisco, fran­chised from Philip­pines Tourism. Grace’s buf­fets will fea­ture East­West dishes such as filipino tri­o­let, a dessert trio of leche flan with maca­puno, turon in mango sauce, and su­man with co­conut (you’ll have to go to find out), and Span­ish favourites such as mack­erel ce­viche, from June 11 to 22. Lunch $35, $45 on Sun­day; din­ner $45. Book­ings es­sen­tial: (02) 9272 6636.

AND in a touch of coun­try magic this week­end, the Goomeri Pump­kin Fes­ti­val lets rip. In the tiny Queens­land town of Goomeri, 265km north­west of Bris­bane (78km from Gympie), Goome­ri­ans and vis­i­tors alike (they claim 13,000 come) cel­e­brate the pump­kin. In a proper rural show (Cly­des­dale com­pe­ti­tions, work­ing dog de­mos, mar­ket stalls, street pa­rade, not to men­tion pump­kin soup, pump­kin damper scones, pump­kin pie and pump­kin fudge), the cen­tre­piece is the Great Aus­tralian Pump­kin Roll (down Po­lice­man’s Hill; De­tec­tive be­lieves bet­ting is in­volved). If you’re not in the neigh­bour­hood, mark it in for May next year. www.goomeri.org.au/pump­kin­fest.

FIND of the week: Ap­ple­ton Es­tate Ja­maica Rum, around since the 17th cen­tury; shake 60ml rum, 90ml orange juice, 30ml Gal­liano with a squeeze of lime juice and set sail for the is­lands with your Yel­low­bird cock­tail. Four ages: five years old to 21, $39.99-$229.99. Ap­ple­ton has a vir­tual yacht race on its web­site with great prizes. www.ap­ple­ton­es­tate.com.au.

DE­TEC­TIVE loves: Lindt’s Lin­dor Strac­ciatella; white choco­late balls with tiny crunchy co­coa pieces, the flavour of Ital­ian bis­cuits and cream. Avail­able for a lim­ited pe­riod from Coles, Kmart and Tar­get, $9.99; www.lindt.com.au.

DE­TEC­TIVE loathes: Dessert menus that are en­tirely healthy.

GET set for a sale at provi­dore Si­mon John­son’s Alexan­dria ware­house in Syd­ney: food and home­wares, in­clud­ing brands such as Or­tiz, Duchy, Mariage Fr­eres and Val­rhona. June 14, 8am-5pm. www.si­mon­john­son.com.

Home­ward bound: Tet­suya Wakuda

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