Easter eating

Easter represents a much-needed break for many. A shack up the river or over on Yorkes. Camping in the Flinders. Rugged up beach walks.

If you’re not one of the lucky, it’s an opportunity for stress-free entertaining, casual but tasty eating making the best of the autumn produce around.

I’m starting to think about Easter menus and dishes.

What would be on your shopping list?

Leg of lamb? Whole chicken. Seafood for Good Friday?

Rhubarb and new stone fruits such as plumbs? Oranges?

These Nigel Slater Easter recipes, while designed with the northern hemisphere’s Spring season in mind, got me thinking.

I think they’re transferable – sort of trans-seasonal – as they’re not too summery yet.

I’ve also discovered this young American chef, Amy Thielen; her cooking show and book are called Heartland Table. I like the sound of this recipe, Greens with Spiced Butter and Ricotta (although I think I might short-cut with good shop bought ricotta).

I usually make Honey and Orange Madeleines with chocolate sauce (thanks to chef Karen Martini) at some stage over the Easter weekend. Do you have favourites or traditions for your Easter cooking? Please share.

This weekend, I’m road-testing a new recipe for Easter – a plumb and almond tart made with polenta pastry. If it works, I’ll share it.

Honey and Orange Madeleines with chocolate sauce. Source: goodfood.com.au

In the soup

 Two kinds of gazpacho courtesy   The New York Times

Two kinds of gazpacho courtesy The New York Times

I love soup – making it and eating it. 

Almost all soups especially veggies (except pumpkin – cos it repeats on me unfortunately) but chicken, prawn and duck too.

Spicy, creamy or clear – really there’s never a wrong time to eat a soup.

So while we’re feeling chilly here in Adelaide, they’re feeling the heat in New York, which is why the New York Times Magazine has featured a food spread on cold soups. All variations on gazpacho

They’re so pretty to look at and sound so delicious. 

The best gazpacho I’ve eaten was for lunch in Madrid, the summer of ’89. The restaurant was not far from our hostal, the waiters wore traditional white and long aprons. It was bright red and served with crunchy fresh bread.

I plan to give all of these a go this coming summer. Check out the recipes here.

 Left to right: Avocado and Pea; Cucumber, Grape & Hazelnut; and Kale and Olive.

Left to right: Avocado and Pea; Cucumber, Grape & Hazelnut; and Kale and Olive.

 Left to right: Romesco Style; Grilled Gazpacho; and Tomato, Radish & Tortilla.

Left to right: Romesco Style; Grilled Gazpacho; and Tomato, Radish & Tortilla.


Going PUBLIC

It’s not really the done thing to write about Restaurant B when you’re supposed to be spruiking Restaurant A but hey, it’s my blog and I’ll wine if I want to. 

PUBLIC café/bar/restaurant opened in Waymouth St, Adelaide, in November 2012. I first ate at Public in July 2011. How is that so, you wonder? 

Public happens to be one of New York City’s best restaurants, awarded a Michelin Star last year. It was a memorable first of five nights of dining in New York on that trip and chosen by my sister Christine, who was living in Toronto at the time.

Memorable, not just for my first New York martini and the brilliant food of chef Brad Farmerie, but because after 28 hours of flying all the way from Adelaide, I opened the drink list to find they had Coopers Pale Ale and about four wines from South Australia, whites and reds, being poured. Even more were available by the bottle including Penfold's Grange. A recent check of the list online showed the SA presence hasn’t changed; you’ll find Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling 2008; Turkey Flat Grenache Shiraz, Barossa 2012; Tir Na N’Og, Grenache, 2008 McLaren Vale. If you want to check the other local wines on the list view it here.

So I recently returned to Public, this time Adelaide’s PUBLIC (their capitals not mine). A daytime café and a restaurant in Franklin St, it’s opened for dinner on Friday’s only.

 The talented and now award-winning PUBLIC head chef Stewart Wesson. All photos: Russell Millard   

The talented and now award-winning PUBLIC head chef Stewart Wesson. All photos: Russell Millard

 

A group of PUBLIC’s friends and media were invited along to taste some of the dishes that head chef Stewart Wesson has devised for the restaurant and bar’s new “Freestyle Friday”.

It's worth noting at this point that a few nights later Wesson was named Restaurant Chef of the Year at the SA Restaurant & Catering Awards. Congratulations. 

 House Cured Salmon on tapioca crackers

House Cured Salmon on tapioca crackers

 Coffin Bay Oysters

Coffin Bay Oysters

Nobody could get enough on this night of his Potato Langos – fingers of Hungarian fried potato bread used to scoop up a refreshing dill and cheese dip. The House Cured Salmon, served with cubed cucumber and avocado on puffed tapioca crackers was a dainty mixture of soft and crunchy; the lemony dressed Coffin Bay oysters were so fresh and good that my companion Roxy dropped her default reaction to decline oysters and declared the one she had delicious. The fourth taster was rectangles of thin wagyu beef wrapped in pickled daikon. A new match for me and a great combination.

 

 

Wesson told us the “food blew me away” on his recent trip to Europe, to compete in the San Pellegrino Cooking Cup.“It’s all about sharing (over there) and that’s what I wanted to bring to (PUBLIC’S) Friday night food”. One meal in Copenhagen lasted six hours.

He said the overseas experience had taught him South Australians have access to amazing produce and that diners appreciated the interaction with the kitchen staff in establishments with open cooking areas.

PUBLIC owner Danielle Elia said Wesson had returned “bursting with ideas” for Friday nights and the philosophy that “good food deserves to be shared” which had set the tone for the new menu which consists of tasting plates, small and large.

Wesson has been joined in the kitchen by Melody Herbert, who recently worked alongside Peter Gilmore at Quay, in Sydney. Expect to see some decadent desserts at PUBLIC in future.

To find out more about PUBLIC, Freestyle Fridays and its menu, visit here.

 ***All the wonderful photographs accompanying this post are by the talented Russell Millard, a friend and former colleague. You can reach Rusty at his website here.

 

Back-street newbie: Five Little Figs

Between Gepps Cross and Darlington, it can still take only 20 minutes to get most places (outside of peak hours) but many of us Adelaideans still tend to hover locally.

It’s rare, say, to drive across town for a just a coffee and the ever-present friand. Even if it’s really good.

Nevertheless, I found myself in the far east recently, in Payneham South, and a delightful back-street café/shop, Five Little Figs.

 Five Little Figs, Payneham South

Five Little Figs, Payneham South

Five Little Figs sign.jpg

My friend Alison works at Magill and Five Little Figs was chosen because it was accessible in her lunch break and away from busy Norwood. Her son Ned goes to nearby Trinity Gardens Primary and she was keen to try something recently opened in the neighbourhood.

Five Little Figs is owned by longtime Adelaide chef Michelle Campbell.

Her most recent past has been as co-owner of the award-winning Kinderchef, running cooking courses for children started well-before Junior Masterchef. She may have catered an event you attended or you may know one of her previous restaurants, The Table, in Stirling, and originally Brown Dog Café, Goodwood. She also has been guest chef for many SA food producing companies such as Menz (Fruchocs) and Beerenberg.

To describe the food at Five Little Figs as simple, seasonal and hearty is underplaying Campbell’s skill: it’s also clever, thoughtful and bursting with flavours.

 Broccoli and zucchini soup.

Broccoli and zucchini soup.

 Carrot and lentil soup. 

Carrot and lentil soup. 

There are generous bowls of soup with crusty bread, creative salads, gourmet baguettes, pot pies – daily specials are marked on a blackboard.

The eye candy is the sweeties in the lovely curved glass display cabinet.

 If you still have room, a daily selection of sweeties at Five Little Figs. 

If you still have room, a daily selection of sweeties at Five Little Figs. 

Save room for a big slice of a cake, flan or pie, a prettily decorated cake.

Vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs are all catered for.

Alison remarked that Five Little Figs reminded her of the café/shop E for Ethel, in Melbourne St. Don’t know it – out of my patch too.

Given Michelle’s recent background, Five Little Figs is very kid friendly. There's also a small retail space with children's clothing and boutique-y gardening items.

Oh, and they do breakfast 8.30am-11.30am, lunch 12-2.30pm, coffee and cake all day to 4pm.

I’ve visited twice now and left both times having enjoyed my back-street sojourn.

Have you made a back-street suburban discovery? Share it with Talking Adelaide.

Five Little Figs, corner Ashbrook Ave and Devitt Ave, Payneham South.

 

FermentAsian ….. finally finding what all the fuss is about

“Haven’t you been there yet?” seemed the repeated response when ever I mentioned Monsieur D was taking me to FermentAsian, in Tanunda, for my birthday.

It seems we are way down the foodie chain when it comes to dining at this establishment, which has been opened for a couple of years.

Our booking was made three weeks out and closer to the day, I did come across a lot more people who, like us, were yet to go and even others who had never heard of it.

Post-dinner, my suggestion is do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get there for lunch or dinner.

Fresh betel leaves with sticky caramelised pork and incendiary components.

“Divine, sublime, delicious” is my refrain whenever I really, really enjoy something: a bit like Kath & Kim’s “noice, different, unusual” – except I'm not joking.

The DSD came out this night.

I had remembered John Lathlean, in The Australian, had written previously that chef and co-owner Tuoi Do “cooks with the hand of an angel”. That almost reverential tone stuck in my memory; here’s the original review and re-reading it after our visit, it totally sums up our experience.

My reasons for recommending FermentAsian?

This is cooking with harmony. Everything is delicately flavoured and in proportion.

Quality of ingredients.

The crackling on the pork belly. The broth on the warm mushroom salad. 

It’s in the middle of Tanunda.

The service is considered with the right amount of attention.

The smart, modern and comfortable interior.

The menu. The wine list.

It’s probably the best South East Asian food you’ll eat anywhere. Yes, really.

At our lovely young waitress' suggestion, we shared two entrees and two mains but opted for a mushroom salad instead of a side of seasonal vegetables stir-fried.

You can read more about FermentAsian here – and check out the menu and wine list. Click in the arrows below to scroll through photos of what we ate.

Our choices:

Thit lon cuon la lot
 Fresh betel leaves with sticky caramelised pork and incendiary components (4) $14

Nen Ha Noi 
Hanoi spring rolls with salad of fresh herbs and 
classic Vietnamese dipping sauce (2) $14

Tom sao ot 
Stir fried SA squid with chilli jam and Thai basil $26

Lon voi gung va cam
 Barossa Berkshire pork belly with ginger and orange sauce $26

Goi nam 
Warm mixed mushroom salad with galangal dressing $22

Bru lee chanh 
Lime brûlée $12

Meat-free Mondays: Black Pepper Mushrooms

This recipe comes from the Qantas inflight magazine, November 2008 edition, and unfortunately the tear sheet doesn’t show whom it should be attributed to.

Beef fillet was used in the original but Monsieur D substituted mushrooms (white and/or brown, Swiss: whatever was available) and it soon became a signature dish in Chez Wayville.

Being a stir-fry, I don’t think the quantities of ingredients such as oyster and soy, kecap manis (Indonesian syrupy soy) matter – it’s about personal taste. Start with less, you can always add more but you can’t take away.

As the original recipe also says, this dish relies on the freshness of the peppercorns, so buy them in small amounts regularly and crush them. This goes well with or without rice and a side dish of steamed greens. Serves 2

 

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Meat-free Mondays: Eggplant Brinjal

This Indian recipe owes attribution to chef Ben O’Donoghue who originally cooked this on The Best in Australia, on Foxtel's Lifestyle Food channel.

It’s normally a side dish to go with Ben’s harissa-crusted leg of lamb cooked tandoor-style but on a Meat-Free Monday it’s the hero dish. It could be served with any kind of greens, bok choy, beans or broccoli, for example, and a bit of rice.

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Chic happens on Bastille Day

It’s Bastille Day on Sunday. And the Francophile Talking Adelaide will be celebrating (all weekend).

Perhaps a glass or three of Premier Cru Chablis (William Fevre of course), croissants and baguettes from Mulots Patissserie on King William Rd, home-made brioche, perhaps a cassoulet given our weather. And some Crème Anglais with roasted rhubard to finish.

Voila.

 

 Talking Adelaide's home-made brioche.

Talking Adelaide's home-made brioche.

 Mulots delicious croissants.

Mulots delicious croissants.

Meanwhile, one of my favourite fashion blogs – the weekly Fifi Report – has a totally French theme today. Check it out for yourself and be inspired. And enjoy Talking Gallery's own gallery of chic (oui, it is a bit of a homage to Ines de la Fressange). C'est magnifique!

 

Making a spectacle at the Salopian Inn, McLaren Vale

It was the out-there wishful thinking of Adelaide designer Peter Coombs to use an old bowling alley for the “gin bar” inside the newly renovated Salopian Inn, McLaren Vale.

The salvaged wood has gone into the main bar top as well as four others dotted around the Salopian, together measuring 17m in length.

Coombs was also integral to another inspired piece of recycling, choosing old Fowler Vacola glass jars for the restaurant’s interior lighting.

The Salopian restaurant and bar is a partnership involving well-known McLaren Vale chef Karena Armstrong and her husband Michael; along with wine-making couple Elena and Zar Brooks, of Heirloom Wines.

 

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