Martin Boetz and Sam Christie started Mongrain in Surry Hills, Sydney 15 years ago and branched out in Melbourne a few years later. Two years ago, Martin left Mongrain to concentrate his fledgling Cooks' Co-op produce business centred around a rural property he lives on near Sackville, on the Hawkesbury River - not far from our friends at Willowbrae Cheese - and supplying a raft of other successful restaurants in and around Sydney. It is a great space and I was lucky to be invited to this trade only event, thanks to my good friends at Prince Wine Store, Philip Rich and Jon Osbeiston. It was fitting as a good 70% of the wines were French. And I had a chance to finally meet Andrew Guard who specialises in organic and biodynamic wines and Jean-Paul Prunetti of France Soir restaurant fame in Melbourne where I have dined a few times.
Champagne, Riesling and Alsace, Sancerre, Chablis, Bourgogne, Cotes-du-Rhone were all very well represented, but Bordeaux was more or less absent. The Italians were there in force and I even tried some Argentinian Malbec, a wine I really like. And then there was a 2010 Corton Grand Cru from Lucien Le Moine, an appropriate name for a sacred wine! I think this was the best white wine I have ever tasted...I was really tempted to drink a full glass, but reason prevailed...(see last photo)
The Beaches Market takes place every Friday in Warriewood on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
You won't get a view though as it is tuck away being the main road and screened from the Warrewood Beach by a ridge on top of which one can find a a few good cafés and watch the hand gliders and the young - and not so young surfers. The market is quite large and is split into 40% food/wine stalls and 60% fashion/jewellery and lifestyle products. I took advantage of a visit to a good client in the 'hinterland' to pay a short visit to these markets that a few loyals recommended.
Originally from South America and discovered and brought to Europe by Pizzaro, the potato was then cultivated mainly in Spain then Great Britain and also in Italy. In France, Olivier de Serres was the culprit and its great marketer was Antoine Parmentier who gave his name to the famous "Hachis Parmentier", the French version of the shepherd pie. I had the privilege to go to school with a direct descendant of Olivier de Serres who has the same name and has developed a passion not for the humble root but for the Citroen DS - read more here in French - go figure!. Meet Anthony Cremona, an Aussie whose mother-in law is Italian, with an English father-in-law. They started growing tomatoes as any good Italian would do, and then the English took over...BTW, Anthony also comes to the Orange Grove Market where I failed to spot him for almost a year...
Even happier when I spotted Silvia Colloca and Richard Roxburgh with their two boys in tow. They stopped to look at another stand across from Gourmandise and they were gracious enough to have a chat with Our French Impressions. This foodie couldn't have been happier! Time for a treat!
Roughly one in four Australians - and probably many other people around the globe - won't buy fruits and vegetables which do not look good. Harris Farm Markets have now decided to sell them at a reduced price to prevent these "non-calibrated" produce to go to waste. And frankly, if you are making a soup or jams or a roast of lamb with roasted vegetables, one should be more concerned about how they were grown that how they look like. Organic vegetables in particular have a tendency to grow wilder and have funny shapes - see photos in my previous article. About a year ago, The Youth Food Movement organised Crop Fest with a number of other organisations like Oz Harvest to do something about it and made a video of it that I have just discovered via the website of Studio Neon, a very "outside of the square" food, photography and other creative arts space in Sydney. - see photo below. And here is the video!
I have not been to these markets for a while - in fact three years almost "jour pour jour"... The EQ market has grown up quite significantly and a number of the usual suspects have a stall there (Ocello, Boovability, La Bastide, 2 Ducks...). But I did manage to make a few new friends, below
Riverside Organic Market - Huntleys Point
I have no excuses for not visiting this market more often as it takes place every Saturday literally just across the road from where I live...It is a small market which is struggling to get to the critical mass required to attract enough visitors. However a recent marketing campaign has brought new stallholders and with them, hopefully new clients. It is worth visiting if you are a local and you will a great bunch of lovely and passionate people there. Here my report in images.
OUR FIRST INTERVIEW IS LIVE! LES BISTRONOMES IN CANBERRA
As a food blogger, it seemed like a "have to go and report" kind of event, if one just looks at the impressive list of Chefs and providers, wineries and entertainers listed on the website. It was great to mingle with a youngish crowd, all obviously here to have a good time, and not worried about spending their well earned cash. And cash, you will need a plenty: before you can even taste anything, you will have to fork at least 60$ for entry for two and two mandatory, non-refundable plastic glasses costing 5$ each. Then you have to buy food and wine and this can easily turn into a 100$ bill or more. The first taste at Taste was quite a bad one, as I could have spent the same money for a proper dinner in some of the featured restaurants...
having said that, we had great fun talking to a few people we know, like Frank Camorra who generously gave us one of his fabulous "brochettes" of lamb, or watching Colin Fassnidge butchering a piglet on stage and having the crowd in hysterics over his constant jokes and finally getting introduced properly to the lovely Kate Gibbs. We loved the brochettes from Frank so much, that we returned to buy some more and try his fabulous ice-cream. We drank a GSM from Tobreck & Vintners and Billi Billi Shiraz from Mont Langi Ghiran, a winery I had discovered at last Designex .
There was great frustration in accessing the restaurants we would have like to taste, due to long queues and time constraints, as each session last really only 4 hours and you may have to wait a good 20mms at each stall. Besides we privileged watching Colin Fassnidge show.
Some of the people we visited
Some of the places we would have liked to try out
And now onto the Colin Fassnidge Show
I don't think I need to present Colin Fassnidge to my Australian readers, but maybe I need to do it for my international readers (yes, all of you over in America, Asia and Europe...).
Dublin born Colin Fassnidge has been Head Chef of The Four in Hand Dining Room since October of 2005. Since starting at The Four in Hand, Colin’s unique style has seen the Four in Hand hold one Chefs Hat for four years and adding the prestigious second hat in 2010.
He has since opened a second restaurant in trendy Surry Hills 4Fourteen with Carla Jones.
Learning very early that he had a passion for cooking, Colin moved to England where he did his apprenticeship at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons under Raymond Blanc in Oxford. Blanc, a self taught Chef instilled in his staff a sense of seasonality and also tasting at every stage, a trait Colin uses in his kitchen today.
With a passion for travelling Colin arrived in Australia in 1999 working at some of Sydney’s most acclaimed Restaurants, including Liam Tomlin’s celebrated institution that was Banc.
Colin’s Nose to Tail philosophy and his diligence for sourcing the best local ingredients has seen him turn the most undesirable off cuts into beautiful, delicious dishes. He is also now a -sometimes controversial - judge on My Kitchen Rules, together with French Chef Manu Feidel and Aussie paleo diet ambassador extraordinaire Peter Evans, " bringing sexy back to TV on My Kitchen Rules". He seems to have a great female following as well, and is a great bloke.
Kate Gibbs is a Sydney-based journalist, food writer and author. She has written two cookbooks and her first non-fiction book will be released in 2015. She has written for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Wall Street Journal, Sunday Style magazine, Sunday Life in The Sun Herald, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Broadsheet Sydney, The London Evening Standard, frankie magazine and Cosmopolitan magazine among others. She also happens to be Margaret Fulton's granddaughter, not a mince feast, as Margaret is a a Scottish-born Australian food and cooking 'guru', writer, journalist, author, and commentator. She was the first of this genre of writers in Australia.
Her early recipes encouraged Australian housewives (!) to alter the Australian staple of "meat and three vegetables" and to be creative with food. She 'discovered' food from exotic places such as Spain, Italy, India and China and as Cookery Editor, 'brought these into Australian homes through her articles in the Woman's Day magazine'. Fulton realised that chefs who did television shows tended to lose their audience. Accordingly, she remained a writer who regularly appeared only as a 'guest' on various TV shows. Her early recipes encouraged Australian housewives to alter the Australian staple of "meat and three vegetables" and to be creative with food. She 'discovered' food from exotic places such as Spain, Italy, India and China and as Cookery Editor, 'brought these into Australian homes through her articles in the Woman's Day magazine'.
A bit of video action - Not for the faint hearted...
Come and dine in French Style at 1300 restaurants around the World, with 1300 menus approved by no other than Chef and French Cuisine Ambassador extraordinaire Alain Ducasse!
A few restaurants in Australia have met with Monsieur Ducasse approval and I am happy to share the list here. I have also hand picked my own selection of restaurants that I believe will meet with YOUR approval. Some are famous like Guillaume and all his restaurants around the country, some are more humble bistros in the burbs of Sydney, like the two venues of Antoine Moscovitz in the inner west suburb of Concord, near Sydney, and some are as far afield as our Nation's Capital in Canberra, like Sage and Les Bistronomes, that we have just reviewed. Take your pick and report!
Here is the complete picture of the Australian Crew.
As you can see great choice all around the country! I have chosen to share with you the menus of some of my favourite people. Bon Appetit! You can check everybody, anywhere in the world here:
Guillaume Brahimi in Paddington
LE PELICAN - SYDNEY - SURRY HILLS
ANTOINE'S GRILL - SYDNEY - CONCORD
Provence by Antoine - CONCORD
Serge Dansereau - The Bather's Pavillon - Balmoral
Lucas Julien-Vauzelle - The French Brasserie - Melbourne
Philippe Schwind - Le Bistro de Philippe - GORDON
Just posted our new review of Les Bistronomes in Canberra, a French restaurant recently opened and participating in Gout de France on the 19th of March, one of only 1300 restaurants around the World participating in the event organised by the French Tourist Office and chaired by Alain Ducasse, not a small honour to be chosen by the best ambassador of French Cuisine.
James Viles the youngest Australian Chef to receive two hats for his locavore restaurant Biota Dining in Bowral, in the Southern Highlands of NSW, was the guest of honoour at the SMH Growers Market in Pyrmont for this month. He was there (very...) early to start the fire and slow roast a whole 10kgs pig in time for the first demo at 8.30am. I was not there and almost missed the 10.00am session as I was recovering from two nights of debauchery, including first screening of son Grégoire first film as a director (Summer Nights) and another one as DoP (1919) , part of the Break program of Metroscreen, and family reunion with the Scottish side of the clan...
I made it just in time to catch some leftover bits of this deliciously slow cooked cochon
James Viles explains to us and host PoRkStar Marketing Manager Mitch Edwards how the pig was cooked
James went on to prepare blood sausages - boudin noir - to an attentive but somehow bewildered crowd who were told that they could make this at home... A lot of collateral damage, including the host Mardi Gras outfit, happened, as fresh blood ended up splattered every where on stage and beyond. All this happened as a very cool and collected James was crumbing bread into a bowl, adding various spices and plenty salt, while telling us the story of his (young...) life and the genesis of Biota Dining. I have already reported on this, so I will refer you to my restaurants review page.
Over time, James and myself have built a friendship based on a common passion for local produce and food. He has pushed the "locavore" concept to the hilt, as he grows his own herbs and vegetables on the 4-acre property and sources most other ingredients within a 25kms radius around Bowral. Exception are the selfish he brings from the South Coast and some wines, although most of them are from the region (Centennial Wines and Far Ago Hill, just to name the two I know personally). We have been foraging together and I have been gently threatened with an invitation to go hunting hare together... He is a passionate individual and very hard working Chef, who also treats his personnel very nicely, taking them in turn to such event, like Joel today, his Executive Chef. The boudin noir was absolutely stunning, one of the best I ever tasted, including the divine apple and boudin noir feuilleté at La Tassée in Lyon, a must go to place, and the black pudding experienced in Scotland, another outcome of the Auld Alliance...
Somebody asked about the recipe for boudin blanc instead, and nobody on stage had a real clue, so I was asked to step in...You will find a good recipe by clicking the image above. Let's just say that the blood is replaced by white meat (pork, veal or chicken), the finest result coming from using veal ( not yearling...) and add cream to gel the ingredients together. When well made, this is a delicacy usually enjoyed as a second course (after oysters) for Christmas. It was invented in Champagne. Find the complete story by clicking the image below. A fish version and a specialty of Lyon is called quenelle and is even finer in texture and taste, best if one can find brochet a carnivorous river fish.
I did find the time after tasting the roasted pig to have a quick run through the market andd say hello to my good friends Steph Gourmet Foods, roi du saucisson, the Ocellos and their beautiful cheeses, Grower2u and their fabulous vegetables next to the Leppington Valley Farm who still had beautiful figs, Pepe Saya butter, Gina from Sweetness The Patisserie, Gilles Bonin Monsieur Garlic and in the process met Jenny and Cathy from new stallholders Garlicious Grown, sharing with Gilles and Victoria. I am sure we will see more of these nice ladies and great products.
Next week, we will revisit the EQ (fox Studios) and Riverside Organic Markets, and we are also interviewing James Viles at Biota Dining over tapas tomorrow and Clément Chauvin at Les Bistronomes in Canberra on Tuesday afternoon, and staying for dinner and a review...Busy week!
But first a little visit to the Everleigh Markets
Meetings with some remarkable women
Those formidable women will certainly be instrumental in helping us moving up on the world scene of food, organic farming, locavores and other ventures that this blogger is keen to involve himself with over the coming months...Stay tuned for more information about what we are trying to achieve and how you can come along for the ride.
Prince Wine Store Sydney - Chateauneuf du Pape tasting
As part of their aggressive marketing campaign for the opening of their Sydney store, Prince Wine Store had pout on a great line-up of six Chateauneuf-du-Pape all from 2012 and all quite heavy in alcohol at 15%...not for the faint hearted! I didn't even know my compatriots were engaging in that sort of behaviour... Anyway, I never had a chance before to taste so many of those wines in one go. Chest chose faith maintemant, mercy Jon!
And I love Côtes du Rhône - Chateauneuf du Pape and Gigondas figure very high on my list of preferred wines, so it was a great opportunity to compare and forge myself an opinion of the great diversity of these different wineries. My preference went straight to the Domaine de la Charbonnière, followed by Clos du Mont Olivet and Font de Michelle Cuvee Etienne Gonnet, two wines that were so similar that I don't think i could have pick one out of the two on a blind tasting. I was not too keen on the newer style of Domaine La Barroche, call me old fashioned, but these wines didn't have the right signature for me. One other Chateauneuf not represented here is Domaine de la Janasse, one of my late Dad's (and mine as well...) favourites.
NSW Food and Wine Festival - Sydney Cellar Door
Almost 70 wineries were present at this event held in the beautiful Hyde Park in the centre of Sydney, where old meet new and centenaries trees provide shadow and comfort for the thousands of visitors on this sunny late summer afternoon in our beautiful city. The Hunter Valley, the Riverina, Orange and Mudgee, the Southern Highlands and the wider area around Canberra.
Food was also well represented with Olive Oil, Oysters, Pizza, Honey, Asian food, burgers and the most exotic ingredient of all: saffron! Here some photos highlighting my preferred wineries and food outlets and some shots of the happy crowds, some quite inebriated by the time I got there, but on their best behaviour nevertheless and some very well dressed beautiful people to suit. Enjoy!
Italians do it better...
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
A link here for our non-metric readers: