The Essential Ingredient opens a cheese counter in Rozelle in style
will not be surprised if I tell you I am a regular client of the Essential Ingredient in Rozelle being almost a local, but also I regularly attend their fabulous events. And tonight, I had to squeeze in a quick visit to the opening of their cheese counter, replacing a not so successful café, mainly because there are like three of four other ones, including my friend Pierre Labancz who offers good coffee and his famous croissants and other French pastries, as well as a good range of breads. So cheese is a welcome addition to The Essential Ingredient portfolio of foods, cookware and cooking books.
This event was as usual very well organised and packed. Plenty cheeses were on offer including two French cheeses that I never had a chance to try before! Piper Heidseck Champagne was flowing freely and the knowledgeable staff were there to make sure we had a good time and we did! Thanks for having me and fellow food enthusiasts. We will be back as they say in the movie!
Burgundy dinner chez Bitton Gourmet
Although I have known of David Bitton for 15 years through mutual friends and had been to his original coffee shop years ago, We had never met until a recent Le Creuset event at The Essential ingredient in Rozelle. I was suitably impressed with his cooking skills that night and we started chating - in franglais, bien sûr - and ended up with an invitation for this Burgundy dinner then.
So, I thought it was quite amusing that I had another event at The Essential Ingredient on the same night as this dinner was happening! Hence why I had to pace myself with the cheese and Champagne there and escaped early missing out on patés and charcuterie to be served later...
Well, it was worth it, let me tell you! The original coffee shop is now a private dining room and the new restaurant is located next door in about twice the original space, catering for more than 50 people at any given time. These themed dinners are a regular treat which bring regulars and newcomers alike in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. But the food is not your average Sydney coffee shop fare! It is five star French gastronomy y at its best for a very reasonable money outlet.
It is all about precision, flavours, classic French recipes executed with the best French technique.
We were served a glass of Canard-Duchesne Champagne, a less known, but nevertheless great one.
I even learned a new work: cromesquis, in this case a potato croquette with an escargot and beurre maitre d'hotel filling. The star there was the sauce gribiche, a sauce that can be very bland in most places, but blasting with flavours chez Bitton.
The vol-au-vent which followed was textbook with the lightest pastry (hence the name...) and a perfect filling where the pros, the white wine and the béchamel blended perfectly, with no element overwhelming the others. Quite an achievement! A new Instagram hashtag was created "sur le champ" #bringbackthevolauvent. Check-it out! It was accompanied by a great Chablis from Domaine Pinson, again not a very famous name, but up there with the best and in the same hands since 1880, year of their first release. So they a thing or two about Chardonnay...
Then, we were served a beautiful Blanquette de Veau, with a Dijon mustard sauce, where the mustard was subtlety supporting the sauce without being "in your face" as we say in Oz. The meat was tasty and tender, the vegetable cooked properly and plated nicely - a treat for all senses!
We were served a great Pinot Noir, again not mainstream, and carrying the name of my middle son, Grégoire, a Hautes-Côtes de Nuit by Emanuel Giboulot (no, it is not Bigoulot, which would mean bottle with two necks...) an organic winemaker since 1985. Again textbook Pinot Noir à la française, a perfect match with the blanquette.
We were finally treated to a gorgeous dessert, an ice cream with gingerbread flavour and sprayed with lovely crumbs of pain d'épices. I had to have another glass of Pinot Noir with this. It was subtle and refreshing after a copious dinner, but again punching with flavours. Great dessert!
I normally don't drink coffee that late, but, use firs nest pas coutume, I ordered a macchiato and I was rewarded with a side of the loveliest chocolate truffle, perfect point d'rogue to a very well orchestrated dinner...Merci beaucoup David and Camilla for inviting me and thanks to Sofia for joining us at the Chef's table. Great food, great company and great conversations, this is the life!
SMH Pyrmont Growers Market - 04/10/2014
Being the launch of Good Food Month in Sydney, and the theme being the BBQ, it was no surprise to find a number of stall holders bringing their own barbie and recipes to feed the masses...
There were also a few newcomers as well as most of the regulars and the seasonals like Gilles Bonin with his fresh garlic. So here are a few photos to illustrate the event. Luckily the weather was clement!
Biota Dining and Cloudy Bay at the Everleigh Markets and a few others - 11/10/2014
Well, when I heard that James Viles would bring some his crew to cook a storm at the Everleigh Markets, I had to get up early and get myself there in a hurry! I was not disappointed as I had a chance to taste again his fabulous mandarin sorbet, with a twist this time: peach sorbet and jelly and cryogenic roses and a glass of Sauvignon blanc from Cloudy Bay NZ, way before 10.00am...
You can also read my review of the restaurant in Bowral here:
The life of a food blogger requires a stainless steel lined stomach and a galvanised liver!
A few people are returning regularly now like Oysters Unplugged and Pasta Emilia that I have not covered before. Music was provided in a better location than before by no other than cello master extraordinaire called Haydn (His mum was a piano teacher...). Again a few photos for your enjoyment!
Orange Grove Market - 11/10/2014
Saturday's market in Kings Cross and Sunday's market in Marrickville are both organised by the same people behind the Orange Grove Market in Rozelle, my local you could say...
Hence the reason why I have never wandered and visited these markets was simply that I was not aware of their existence! They are quite different and again different from the Orange Grove market, as the one in Marrickville, although full of interesting people and stalls (more on this later...) it is in a location which, in my opinion, is poorly maintained and there is feeling of dirt which doesn't go well with the "clean" organic food being on display. The Kings Cross one is near the famous fountain and under beautiful trees. It is a small market though with maybe 35 stalls, and to close to 100 in Rozelle.
Christian Estébe has named his business after his grandfather's name who had a great influence on his upbringing in Cantal, a region where cheese has been made for a couple of millennia, even mentioned by Pline The Elder as the most appreciated by the Emperor in Rome! A long tradition indeed. Christian specialises in AOC/AOP and "Fermier" cheeses which he imports directly from France, like Ocello and Australia on a Plate. He is catering for the high end of the market. If you are not familiar with those terms, then I might give you a little hint: AOC, you might be familiar with as it also applies to wine and means "Appelation d'Origine Controllée", a very strict accreditation procedure which is linked to the "terroir" where the product comes from; AOP is its European equivalent and means "Appelation d'Origine Protégée", again linked to the provenance of the product. "Fermier" on the other hand protects the way a product is manufactured: the milk needs to come from one farm, be processed on that same farm that same day or until midday the next and usually not thermally treated for the making of unpasteurised cheeses sold in France. The export market however imposes pasteurisation for cheeses aged less than 90 days, like Camembert, Brie and similar cheeses. Gruyères in all appellation - Comté, Beaufort, Emmenthal, and Roqueforts can be sold unpasteurised as they are aged for more than 90 days. As a result, Christian imports a very limited range of 25 cheeses that he sells at three markets in Sydney: Double Bay on Thursday, Kings Cross on Saturday and Marrickville on Sunday, and online everyday! He also sells charcuterie in the form of saucissons (made in Oz) and duck foie gras . Christian is expecting a new shipment in 10 days time, so look out for new and exciting cheeses!
Christian is a very dedicated and passionate young man and I encourage you to pay him a visit and sample his beautifully crafted products. You can visit his website here: www.laplanchette.com.au
I was given the opportunity to spend the morning behind the counter at the stall of my friend John Clanon, an affable Californian who settled in Australia many decades ago and is now selling cheeses at the market every Saturday. I have been a loyal customer for a while and got talking, and it became obvious that we might enjoy working together as he was looking for somebody every other Saturday.
Today was my first day, and it was interesting to experience the ebb and flow of customers from the other side of the counter. And I learned a lot about cheese as well! Specially the Italian ones, but also some of the stories behind the "fromages" I thought I knew! John and his lovely assistant Maddy have been very patient with me and my somehow slow learning curve. I have been invited back, so it looks like I was not too much of a nuisance and I certainly sold some cheese and made a few new friends!
Some of my so called Facebook friends were adventurous enough to come and meet me in the flesh and that was certainly a bonus. I totally enjoyed my time there, so I will be glad to return in 2 weeks.
Every first Saturday of the month, Sydney treats itself to a mini food festival near the Harbour in Pyrmont.
This former industrial/marine area has been progressively gentrified with blue chip companies headquarters and luxury waterfront apartments and is attracting new fancy restaurants.
This market has been going since 1999 and has grown up to about 80 stalls of produce growers that come mainly from around Sydney, but some come from as far as the Riverina like The Little General Olive Oil.
But today, let me introduce you to Willowbrae Cheese. Karen Borg is the cheesemaker and husband David look after the goats. Karen produces a range of goat cheeses that are among the best I have tasted and are up there with the best French products. Whether you try the fresh curd (called "brousse in French) or the Mt Bowen which can compete with the best Ste Maure, you are in for a treat! You can check the whole range and find out where and when to taste all of them here.
I have known David for over 12 years, as he was an architect client of mine, before moving back to the land to help Karen for at least 7 years now. I have never seen himwithout a smile since...
I heard rumors of a new website being under construction...I will let you know as soon as it is released!
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
A link here for our non-metric readers: