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