I first heard of Céline Rousseau and tasted some of her wines at Maitre Karl in Willoughby a few years back on the recommendation of Arvid, the Maitre D'. Maitre Karl has since morphed into High Street Bistro and for a few weeks now into a great Italian Restaurant Via Alta that I am due to try next week!
I have tried three times to visit the vineyard in Young and failed miserably. I finally found out through Facebook that Céline was organising a wine tasting at my (almost...) local bottle shop: Annandale Cellars. So we finally met and in between other guests had a chance to know each other a bit more.
Funnily enough, Céline relocated to Australia the same year as myself and my family in 1997. She was trained in Bordeaux before moving to Australia, and in the Pessac-Leognan appellation - not bad as a newbie! - and then worked for Pierro and Hainault in Western Australia, before settling down in Young in 1999 to be the winemaker at Chalkers Crossing. It is cool climate wine region at its best, and Céline takes full advantage of the climate and the terroir to produce some very delicate wines, and I have a very fond memory of the Cab-Sauv I tried all these years ago. Yesterday's tasting confirmed these first impressions over a much wider range of varietals. I was even impressed by the Syrah, that I usually don't like much in Australia, as they are more often than not too fruity and rich in alcohol.
Céline is a very articulate and quietly passionate winemaker who goes to great lengths to explain her winemaking choices and guide you through a great collection of white and reds organised into two collections: the entry level label CC2 and the Chalkers Crossing proper. I chose a Sauvignon Blanc from the the top range and and an unbaked Chardonnay from the CC2 range, and, as instructed, had grilled salon with it for lunch today. It ticked all the boxes and got a rave review from my wife, who likes a good unwooded Chardonnay when she finds one - She got her training picking grapes chez Michel Laroche in Chablis, not a bad place for Chardonnay! And I love a good Meursault, as well...
The tasting was well attended by people from all walks of life, some new to Chalkers Crossing and some faithful customers returning for more. A great way to spend a sunny but coldish winter afternoon!
A tiny market, right in the city next to the old Court and National School of Arts, with less than a dozen stalls where you can have breakfast with good coffee, cakes and juices, as well as buying a very limited choice of vegetables, flowers and other goodies. Good idea, but it needs more stalls and better promotion to draw the crowds!
The Urban Beehive was dreamed up by two bee fans (Doug and Vicky) who met through the NSW Beekeepers Association and decided things were getting serious with bees.
Vicky Brown started beekeeping 15 years ago and has worked in several areas around Australia. She began her career on Kangaroo Island; bee sanctuary and home to the Ligurian Honeybee. Keeping bees in an urban environment has been a long-time dream for Vicky. As one half of The Urban Beehive, she has had the pleasure to maintain apiaries all across Sydney and enjoys teaching courses and giving talks to raise awareness about earths major pollinators. Vicky's experience and love for bees has encouraged her to meet with urban beekeepers at home and around the world and she is happy to be a part of a growing international community of passionate rooftop apiarists.
Doug started in beekeeping a few years ago when he read about the worldwide bee decline and decided to do his bit. Joining his then local beekeeping association at Sutherland, he ended up getting involved with the NSW Amateur Beekeepers Association of which he is currently president. With Doug based in inner-city Darlinghurst, it made sense to also set up a Sydney Central branch of the association which he did in 2012. Doug can build or fix anything which is very usefull in beekeeping where gadgets constantly need inventing read his blog herehttp://www.thebeevangelist.com.au
Watkins Orchard has been a family-owned and managed operation since 1836 with the current orchard established at Wisemans Ferry in 1901 – the year of Federation – by John’s great great grandfather, Alfred Watkins.
Come and meet his grandson John Watkins. We grow Imperial, Hickson and Emperor mandarins on our land through the winter months.
We also grow cumquats which are picked from the middle of July.
The orchard is open for fruit picking on weekends, public holidays and school holidays. We are a member of Freshcare, a safe food program, which enables us to meet the large supermarkets requirements for food safety.
Kiwi Down Under Farm is a 25 acre Biodynamic/Organic fruit farm. Marguerite and Tom Hackett have owned and operated their farm since 1982 when they started growing and selling kiwifruit commercially using organic and biodynamic practices. (hence the name).
Marguerite and Tom had such continual interest from the general public in their farm and farming practices they decided in 1992 to open their beautiful farm to tourism and established a restaurant on the farm greeting and serving thousands of guests, educating and demonstrating the use of seasonal, quality organic produce from their farm to their plates. Success was acknowledge having received over 21 tourism awards for excellence, state and nationally.
In 2006 Marguerite and Tom closed their farm to the public dedicating their time to the farm and the organic industry. They have continued to be farmers of kiwifruit plus a large variety of other produce including bananas, mangoes, tamarillos, citrus, garlic and much more. Kiwi Down Under Farm supplies the Australian market with magnificent kiwifruit each year and have done so for the past 30 years. Marguerite and Tom have been actively involved in the organic industry over these years and have reinvented their farm to now include accommodation and opened once again to the public.
ALTO OLIVES: ALTO From Latin: altus: high
Take sunshine, clean country air, constant warm days and cool nights – add professional grove management and a dash of ingenuity – and you have ALTO Olives.
The foothills of Australia’s Great Dividing Range are home to ALTO Olives, a dynamic family enterprise producing a diverse portfolio of exceptional quality Extra Virgin Olive Oils and Table Olives.
The picturesque ALTO estate comprises 15,000 olive trees of different European origin varieties, each chosen for particular attributes – suitability to the climate, oil yield, quality and consistency. The varieties cultivated include Arbequina, Black Italian, Correggiola, Frantoio, Hardy’s Mammoth, Kalamata, Koroneiki, Leccino, Ligurian, Manzanilla, Nevadillo Blanco, Pendolino and Volos.
You can bring your own container to fill up with the particularly good Robusta EVOO, which I did, as I was running out of my favourite and less expensive La Barre, who comes only once a month.
I have been buying their Brie for a couple of weeks from my favourite retailer at the Orange Grove Organic Markets, John Clanon, a staple stallholder for 8 years I believe...This week, I have tried the Chèvre as well. These are coming from a farm near Rambouillet called Ferme de la Tremblaye.La Tremblaye farm is just outside the village of La Boissière Ecole, in the “Rambouillet country”. It is surrounded by fields and ponds and adjoins the beautiful Rambouillet forest. Rambouillet is only 15 km away. They have a dairy herd of 150 cows and a herd of 600 milk goats, a cheese dairy, a shop for retail sales and an office building. They also have 310 acres of agricultural land for producing our own animal feed (oats and maize). Hence, they can claim the "Fermier" appellation as everything is produced on the farm. They produce a nice Brie as well as you can see both side by side here:
There is also a Camembert which is not yet available in Australia, I believe. Now, these appellations are actually a bit fanciful and should rather be called Brie de caractère or Camembert de caractére, as they are not produced in Brie, or Normandy for that matter, not even really close. Here are two maps showing the French Provinces before the French Revolution and the current ones. The Brie is no longer a province or region. Rambouillet is near the border of Ile de France, Orléanais and Beauce, rather than Brie further East. Normandie is now split in two regions. Go figure! French red tape at its best!
It is time to subscribe to our next newsletter which will contain French regional recipes of our best traditional winter warmer dishes. We will cook each of these recipes for you and document them in our next newsletter to be published on June 30th. We will explore six regions and their most famous and appropriate recipes. We will add six other regions and recipes to another newsletter to be published at the end of July!
Don't forget to follow us on Facebook - www.facebook.com/ourfrenchimpressions and instagram and Pinterest at @ourfrenchimpressions! Bon appétit et à bientôt...
And now a recipe: Scallops with grilled asparagus and shaved radish - inspired by Brent Savage
I was inspired by Brent Savage's cooking at the Pyrmont Growers Market this morning, and decided to try to prepare my own version of his asparagus dish for our Sunday lunch. It wouldn't be a proper Sunday lunch though without a visit to the Sydney Fish Markets, so I went there in search of further inspiration. De Costi had beautiful scallops from Hervey Bay for less than a dollar a piece, so as these beauties are my favourite shellfish ever, the matter was quickly settled! BTW, other merchants at the SFM are selling the same product for up to 70% more, so you have been warned...
I valiantly resisted the oysters from Doyles, although they were dry shucked - retaining the original seawater in the shell - and the cakes and cheeses from the Blackwattle Deli...
Now, for this simple recipe, you will need per person:
1 garlic clove
2 st1gs of coriander
You will also need extra virgin olive oil, a drop or two of truffle infused olive oil, half a lime, salt and pepper
First, cut all the asparagus at the same length, about 12 cm each and cut some of the leftovers in thin slices. Shave a few cloves of garlic, throw everything into the pan with the olive oil already hot. Season with salt and pepper, cover and cook on high heat for about 5 or 6 mn. Remove the garlic before it might burn...and reserve.
Warm your service plates in the oven at 60 deg during that time. Also shave the radishes, remove the scallops from their shells, cut the coriander stigs and reserve.
When cooked, deglaze with the lime juice and plate the asparagus in a triangular pile - 4 at the bottom, then 3, then 2, then 1. Spead the garlic around the plate and keep warm in the turned off oven.
Quickly grill the scallops in a pan ( I would recommend you clean the pan you used for the asparagus beforehand or use a new one, as you don't want the scallops to get the flavours of the asparagus, garlic and al...).
When the scallops are grilled and just cooked through, finish the plating with the radish, coriander, and more ground pepper. Et voilà!
Brent Savage prepares an egg emulsion that looks like an aioli with a sous vide machine - but I have not tasted it and I arrived too late to get the whole story. So, instead I decided to cook shaved garlic with the asparagus and the truffle olive oil to add some flavours to the dish.
And a CHATEAU SAINTE MARIE RESErVE ENTRE DEUX MERS 2011 to drink with that...
Entre Deux Mers is a region of Bordeaux famous for their dry white wines. This one is primarily Sauvignon Blanc, with 18% Semillon and 5% Muscatelle. All Entre Deux Mers need to have at least 25% Sauvignon Blanc and have generally a high content of Semillon, but not this one.
It is one of those years where two members on a family reach a major birthday within weeks of each other. So, my sister-in-law, a talented interior architect living in Perth since mooing from Scotland to Australia in the 80s, decided to celebrate in style and book the entire room at Rochelle Adonis for a very special High Tea, and invited members of the family and close friends to share the delightful creations of Rochelle, a two course affair with a palate cleanser in between and Champagne a gogo!
Rochelle is a true perfectionist, a French Canadian born in Montreal, she has honed her skills in various parts of the World including London and Vienna and in 1998, Rochelle focused on restaurant work, landing the role of pastry sous chef at Sydney’s 41 with Dietmar Sawyere, before moving to Moran’s as head pastry chef, the early Potts Point eatery of Matt Moran. Rochelle flourished working at this unique establishment that was one part fine dining and one part cult cafe, as she had the freedom to create fine plated desserts as well as gorgeous cakes, tarts and ice creams. It was the perfect stepping stone to working with Matt as head pastry chef when he opened his celebrated Circular Quay restaurant, Aria. Until 2001 when she moved to Perth and slowly built a reputation there to the point where she decided to go full speed ahead and started this current business in 2008. As they say, the rest is history...
The decor, the lighting, the vintage crockery collected over the years create a sense of casual luxury, a place where you fill immediately at ease, this feeling being reinforced by the relaxed professionalism of the crew. And all this before you even look at the food...
Everything was sublimely executed, the flavours immense and the presentation impeccable...and I particularly enjoyed the cucumber sandwich - out of this world, really - the carrot soup and the ham hock terrine for the savoury course, and the meringue and the caramelised nougat tart.
Rochelle also makes cakes for other pastry shops and her lemon tart is famous all around Perth and beyond. Although it was not on our menu, Rochelle managed to create a few of them specially for us!
And they are up here with the best I had anywhere in the World! So rush there for your next event!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
A link here for our non-metric readers: