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
Danielle Mazet-Delpeuch returns to Sydney after a 23 years absence to promote the film based on her time in the private kitchen of the Elysee Palace, cooking for Francois Mitterand - Haute Cuisine - Les Saveurs du Palais.
We had a chance to meet her after the screening of the film and then again in a more intimate setting at the Alliance Francaise of Sydney yesterday afternoon. Today she was interviewed by Margaret Throsby on ABC Classic FM and you can listen the podcast by clicking the button below.
Danielle is a vibrant 71 year old, full of life and humour, with plenty adventures over these many decades, and my guess is she is not done yet!
A few things emerged from these three contacts I had with her:
As she says herself, she is not a chef, but just a cook, but obviously not any cook, having learned the tricks of the trade from her grandmother, then mother and many other relatives and people around her over the years.
So really the English title for the film - Haute Cuisine - is misleading and the French title suits better the task at hand and the skills required. Mitterand said to her: Cook like my grandmother and I will be happy:
"Vaste programme" like this other French President, Charles de Gaulle famously answered to his Chief of Staff after he said in a moment of frustration: "Morts aux cons!". (and yes it is quite less rude in French than the English translation will suggest...Actually, I can't print it here, not to offend anyone!)
One person in the audience at The Chauvel asked her what was the most interesting to her: politics, sex or food?
She very politically answered that she was not interested in politics, letting the other two up in the air!
Well, let me tell you, Danielle is a very skilled political animal, as she has maneuvered herself across continents, social layers and various kitchens around the World with aplomb and a sense that anything is possible if you put your mind to it! Her life is certainly a testament to that...
Another interesting comment she made - and I certainly relate to it - was that to be a good cook, you need a good audience, you need "gourmands", and in this regard, Mitterand was definitely famous for his love of good food and good company, with a penchant for the feminine one...
From the moment she started her cooking classes at La Borderie - the famous week-ends foie gras - she actually attracted the right crowd, people that have been exposed to the "Cuisine Bourgeoise" either in their childhood or later in life as they became more affluent and could afford to travel in search of this authenticity attached to it.
This in turn triggers the search for the local and seasonal ingredients and the art of designing a menu with what you have in the pantry or you can source from the farm or the local market(s).
Promoting these ideas at the time she started was completely revolutionary, although today this is becoming mainstream again, and sometime to the extreme, as Chefs around the World go foraging themselves for special herbs and vegetables. Not very different from digging truffes from your own backyard or gently force feeding geese and ducks to produce delicious meat, silky foies gras and fat to cook with. Nothing was dicarded from the animal apart from the head!
A bit of trivia gleaned here and there over her visit:
It took three people to recreate her recipes for the film:
Gerard Besson, ex owner of Le Coq Heron in Paris, now owned by and renamed Kei, a promising young Japanese Chef
Guy Legay, ex Chef de Cuisine at the Ritz, and like Gerard Besson, Meilleur Ouvrier de France, the highest distinction one can achieve in this trade
And finally, Elisabeth Scotto, a very famous stylist who write for Elle
The Antarticas scenes were in fact shot in Iceland - a tad simpler, closer and cheaper than going all the way to the Antipodes...
The book mentioned in the film "Eloges deal Cuisine Francaise" by Gerard Nignon is out of print, and is available as an antique for 700euros - that's almost 1000A$. I will be waiting for a generous benefactor!!!
Danielle said also that she dreamt of travelling at a very young age, and she certainly did catch the travel bug, having spent time in the USA, Australia, New Zealand (where she owns a plot of land destined to be transformed into a "truffiere" one day...), all over Asia and Europe.
Maybe the next adventure will be to cook for Virgin Galactic and Richard Branson...Stay tuned!
Danielle, thanks for your time in Australia and thanks for having shared with us some of your experience, adventures and wisdom.
It does not really look like a lime, it does not really smell like a lime, and it is more famous for its leaves than its fruit...I am talking about the kaffir lime. see more information on its origin and use here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaffir_lime
Until today, I had never seen one in the flesh, only used the leaves and had no idea what it would look, taste, smell like, until I found some at the fruit & veg shop at the Sydney Fish Market this morning. So I bought some for the modest sum of $2.95, less than a cup of coffee, and certainly more exotic!
When opened, it has a pungent smell, and half of a lime was enough to give an interesting twist to my scallops. But that's a story for my next post...
Camperdown, Crows Nest and now Rozelle!
This is very good news for all the Foodies in the Inner West.
It always surprises me when Sydneysiders tell me they rarely cross the Harbour Bridge and maybe I am becoming like that after 13 years here: I have never been to the Essential in Crows Nest, and I could not wait to see the new store in Rozelle !
So were a number of other people last Saturday, as the shop didn't open until 10.00am.
But today, I had no excuses , so I went...
The Essential was putting on a show with Lyndey Milan cooking for us chocolate brownies, a rhubard Tatin tart and a microwaved Porcini risotto which blew me away!
The shop looks gorgeous, with a great assortment of cookware, crockery, conserves and a nice coffee corner.
A specially fitted commercial kitchen is the perfect location for all the cooking demonstrations and classes.
So, rush there wherever side of the Bridge you are, like this couple today who made the trip from Blackheath in the Blue Mountains!
Chapeau...et merci Lyndey for a great show!
Aumonieres of figs with Willowbrae Fresh Goat Curd.
Well, since we had just visited the Pyrmomt Growers Market and bought some cheese from Karen and David, we had to use it!
Also bought figs at Harris Farm and we always have puff pastry in the freezer, so click here to go on our recipes page
Figs, Prosciutto, bocconcini, roquette and trevise salad
A perfect lunch for a warm summer day. More Italian than French, but lovely all the same!
Click here for the details
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!
You will find there inside information on our recently visited destinations.
Hopefully, you will find useful tips and insights into our own adventures in these fabulous places
Provence, and Paris are just the appetisers!
Maitre Karl and wife Paivi have just returned from a freezing tour of Europe including Helsinki, Nuremberg, Strasbourg and Paris..
It's great to have them back in Willoughby, on the Lower North Shore of Sydney Harbour, to entertain us with their stories 0ver a well brewed cup of coffee or, even better, one of their French inspired lunches.
As they correctly promise on their website, they deliver "a petite piece of Europe" in a nice and confortable decor.
The food is classical French Bistro with an Alsacian twist. The "Tarte Flambee" is the Alsacian version of an Italian pizza on a thin crust, and my favourite main course is the "Steak Frites", traditionally served with French fries and a side salad. It reminds me of a little place I used to stop for lunch in Paris near La Bastille, down to the red wine, Cotes du Rhone served by the glass. (Maybe, Maitre Karl should introduce the Australian diner to the concept of the Carafe, a 50cl measure ideal for two....).
There is plenty choice from Australia, France, Germany and New Zealand.
Prices are very reasonable and Maitre Karl is graced with a number of ladies who lunch any day of the week and it is always a good place to come with your clients for a quick business or thank you lunch.
In the evening, families and couples are the main clients who enjoy the casual chic atmosphere. There ia always a buzz, and yet you can still have an intimate conversation.
And by the way, Maitre Karl is having a very good deal for Valentine Day! Check it out and enjoy with no moderation!
Let me finish with this quote from Jeff Collerson in the Daily Telegraph in November 2005:
"There is no hurry to go though. I reckon Maitre Karl will be around for a long time. Even in fickle Sydney!
Could not be more right, Jeff!
In February 2009, I had the great opportunity to be invited to La Feniere, the restaurant and hotel that Reine Sammut owns in Lourmarin in the South of France.
It was a sweet and sour affair as it was a family reunion with my sister and my parents, one of them terminally ill and it was potentially our last celebration together. As I live in Australia, I had not seen them for five years and I was really looking forward to this treat.
Needless to say, the decor was lovely, understated, rich but not ostentatious, with a view of Provence in winter (and it was very cold outside, as snow was still on the ground less than 100kms north) through the windows.
The food was exquisite, the wine list to match (Dad treated us to a Meursault 1998...), the service diligent with none of the traditional French arrogance that you might expect in such a Michelin-starred establishment.
We had a ball!
Unexpectedly, I found out last week that Reine Sammut was in Sydney as part of Cuisine Now organised by Tony Bilson, the ‘Godfather of Australian Cuisine’, at the Radisson.
Expectedly, it was our 23rd anniversary on the 21st of January, and I had planned to treat my wife to a home cooked dinner of scallops with an Eastern treatment from a recipe by Eric Briffart accompanied by a Chateau Carbonieux 2005. (more on that story in another post later...)
I quickly changed my mind and called the Bilson's to book at table making sure Reine would be cooking that night.
I managed to keep that as a surprise until we were actually sitting at the restaurant's table and my wife asked me what was so special about the menu ( obviously, she was already impressed by being at Bilson's by then...)
So, I asked her to read the menu more attentively and she would find the surprise!
What I forgot to mention is that, although we have spent a lot of time in Provence together, we actually never made it to Lourmarin (Cucuron, Gordes and Oppedes-Le-Vieux had taken our fancy so much that we circled around Lourmarin without actually getting there...)
So, she was thrilled to find out that she would have a chance to sample Reine's famous food on the other side of the Planet!
The whole experience was very fitting, the Chablis Grand Cru Fourchaume 2006 a wild counterpoint to the Degustation Menu. Highlights were "Escabeche de Moules aux Epices", "Risotto aux Herbes et Citron vert, St Pierre Roti" and "Calisson au Roquefort" certainly the most out of the square of all 8 courses!
The cherry on the cake, so to speak, was meeting Reine Sammut who came in the restaurant around the sixth course.
Neither of us had met her before in person, but my parents had, as they have been dining at la Feniere half a dozen times, and my wife had written an article on her restaurant in a French trade magazine in Sydney.
Reine was very touched that we had all these conections and was thrilled that I could produce a photo of my parents for her to recognise.
We had a great chat and were very impressed by her simplicity and calm and she definetely enjoyed a bit of conversation in French in the middle of Sydney.
So, if you are in Provence, or in Sydney for the Festival next year, make sure you visit La Feniere, or watch out for Reine Sammut poping up at some local eatery and share the simple, yet sophisticated wonders she can create out of fresh and locally sourced produce.
If you want to read Reine's account of her trip to Sydney, click here
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
A link here for our non-metric readers: