Monthly Archives: December 2014

Food highlights 2014

Well here we are again not far off Christmas.  Turkey and panettone beckon!

Thank you so much to everyone who reads, comments, shares, or who I bump into and tells me they enjoy reading my blog – I do appreciate it!  I hope you all have a lovely festive season and all the best for 2015.

These are some of the dishes that stand out from this year – unique, clever, or just plain delicious. Auguri di buone feste and “see” you next year!

Sugar Snaps and Celtuce with Savoury Lemon Curd at Monopole.  Who would have thought lemon curd could work with vegetables?

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Tomato sorbet with a tomato jelly, pistachio and rice crumb, and parmesan custard at Berowra Waters Inn

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The Pedro Ximenez Magnum at Nomad….mmmmmm

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New England Lobster roll from Supernormal…..super good

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Scallop cake with herbs, peanuts and prawn broth at Rockpool.  Neil nails Asian once again.

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Panzerotti at Luini in Milan, my tastiest cheap eat for the year!

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Buffalo milk three ways, at Trattoria Nerino Dieci in Milan….a great little trattoria

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Three milk cake at Spice Temple (still hoping Neil will share the recipe :) )

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Pappardelle with oxtail ragu at Via Alta, fragrant and rich

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Udon noodles with pork and chilli at Cho Cho San, but most of the dishes I had here were great

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An unexpectedly good dessert called the “pavlova cake” at Gardels Bar

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Western Australian scampi scented with Japanese curry, apple, sheep yoghurt, mushroom at three hatted Sepia

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What a year. And so many places on the list for 2015! Enjoy

Almond and Lemon Biscotti

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I was inspired to make these after seeing Silvia Colloca make them on her new SBS show.   However the sugar seemed like an awful lot, so I reduced the quantity, and you could probably go even a little less if you didn’t want them too sweet. Some brandy thrown in would work well too!

Ingredients
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
300 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
450 g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tbsp melted butter
pinch of salt flakes
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
200 g blanched almonds

Making them

  • Preheat your oven to 170°C fan-forced and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
  • Place the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until pale and creamy. Add the butter, lemon zest and salt and combine.
  • Fold in the flour, then gently fold in the nuts
  • Divide the dough into two and using floured hands form two logs the length of your baking tray. Place the logs on the prepared tray, spaced well apart to allow for spreading, and bake for 30 minutes or until well risen and pale golden.
  • Remove from the oven and cool at room temperature for 3–5 minutes, and using a serrated knife, cut them on an angle into 1–1.5 cm thick slices.
  • Arrange the slices on the lined tray and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Turn them over and toast for a further 5 minutes or until crisp and golden. Cool at room temperature, then eat! Store in an airtight container.

 

In My Kitchen, December 2014

Every month the generous and talented Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial hosts a segment on her blog called In My Kitchen, where food bloggers write about, um, what’s in their kitchen! Here’s what’s currently in mine.

Mangoes! How do I make thee? Let me count the ways. Mango smoothies, mango with yoghurt, mango with crepes, mango tiramisu, mango parfait, mango trifle, the possibilities are endless. It is one of my favourite things about Summer. I am a bit of a mango snob though, I will only eat Kensington Prides.

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Panettone and Pandoro. These arrive from Italy each Christmas and Easter. I read the other day that 180 million are sold each year in Italy alone, quite staggering considering the population of the country is 60 million. Picked up this stash at my regular Italian deli the other day. One is for me to open on Christmas morning to have with my coffee (my Christmas ritual while the kids are in a mad rush of excitement opening their presents), one is to make my torta di verona for a family get together, and others for friends.

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Caramelised balsamic. Also picked this up at the deli. Husband and I recently tried the Pakura one and we loved it. There was none in stock that day so we’re giving this one a go. It is quite pricey,  both brands are around $24 a bottle, but as Joe, my friendly deli hand said, it takes more than 5 litres of balsamic to make one of these bottles.

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Zucchini flowers, courtesy of my father-in-law, who always has a bag of this, a little of that, from his garden to give us. Honestly how can anyone not love the warm months when there is food like this around!

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Rosemary. Our rosemary plant has gotten enormous. Think it will be taller than me soon. Such a great, fragrant, versatile herb.

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Callipo tuna. I discovered on one of our trips to Italy that the Callipo factory is actually quite near my mother’s village. It is our favourite tuna, so flavoursome.

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Recipes, torn from magazines and newspapers.  I will file them in my recipe folders, one day…….

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Biscotti – for Christmas gifts. This is my morning coffee biscuit recipe, I make these all the time and they are always appreciated by friends and at the office.

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Hope you are enjoying whatever is in your kitchen!

Sepia, Sydney

The year was coming to a close, and we’d worked pretty hard. Which was actually no different to any other year. But it was time to mark a big year with a dinner of appropriate gravitas. So one Friday night a bunch of us do a comparatively early runner from the office and head to the much lauded, much awarded Sepia, where I haven’t been for quite a few years.

It’s an oddly shaped dining room – which can happen when you decide to put a fine dining restaurant at the bottom of an office block after the fact – and they’ve made the most of it; the compact bar area is lovely with two small dining areas on either side. The very smooth, professional staff, who through the evening gently try and diffuse our guffaws and high fives and general excitement (we don’t get out much) are knowledgeable and patient. The sommelier is very helpful with Sepia’s well thought out and not too cumbersome wine list, and happily works within the price range we give him.

We are offered some oysters as a start and they are superbly fresh with a tangy lime dressing. The one non oyster eater on the table (being A Tea with the Queen, a slight flaw in her otherwise excellent taste) asks for some bread instead and this perfect sphere of butter is bought to the table with a soft, fluffy bread roll. A discussion about Great Butters ensues (I know I know, very trivial, but that night we needed trivial over complex financing arrangements) – the Tetsuya truffle, the Rockpool creamy, the Guillaume Myrtleford, the Scarpetta mascarpone (though you will have to travel to New York for this last one).002_marked

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What stands out over the course of the twelve dishes we try in particular are two things – firstly, that Martin Benn and his team know not only how to make food look so beautiful that it takes anticipation up a notch; and secondly, they really know how to nail it on texture. Add these to some unique flavour combinations and you end up with a pretty impressive dining experience.

The savoury dishes are below but the scampi dish leaves the table in total (temporary) silence as it is so good we don’t want any disturbance. The waitstaff are hugely relieved at this juncture and probably wondering if they can just bring us another five of these;  and the venison is stellar – this coming from a non-venison eater (some Bambi issues from childhood). Cutting the David Blackmore wagyu is like cutting butter, and I adore the crunch of the pork crackling with the tuna.

Our seven savoury courses are

Seared bonito, roasted chicken cream, sobacha
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Sashimi Yellow Fin tuna, goat milk chevre, avocado, pink beauty radish, pork crackling
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Hokkaido sea scallop, spiced tomato, horseradish, kombu, aged feta, olive oilsepia7

 

Seared smoked Saikou salmon, garlic cream, baby onion, seaweed poweder, momiji leafsepia8
Western Australian scampi scented with Japanese curry, apple, sheep yoghurt, mushroomsepia9
Grilled David Blackmore wagyu, salt pickled cucumber, native sea vegetables, chestnut mushroom, wasabi leaf buttersepia10
Seared Mandagery Creek venison, sansho pepper, roasted pumpkin, miso, artichoke
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We then move on to the desserts. Like with the savoury, there are wonderful textural elements everywhere and clearly some quite incredible skill. None of them are overpoweringly sweet which I like, though we do find the chocolate forest a little too rich when paired with the other desserts we have. We are lucky that evening to try the Pearl and the Japanese Stones, a couple of desserts that aren’t currently on the menu. We look at them in awe. How do they make them? How are those stones so perfect?

The Sepia Pearl is one of Martin Benn’s signatures.  I read that it took him three months to get the shell so fine.  Three months! Tap it gently and it explodes, inside containing finger lime pearls, frozen ginger, lime sherbert and lime cream.033

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Citrus – mandarin, blood orange, yuzu, dai dai, sudachi, thyme flowers045

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Milks – coconut, rice, cow, sheep, goat, soysepia12

 

Spring chocolate forest – soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond, lavender and honey cream, blackberry sorbet, shisho vinegar jellies, green tea, licorice, chocolate twings, bronze fennelsepia14
Sepia Japanese stones.  Made with cocoa butter and frozen with liquid nitrogen, these look like actual stones from the garden.  Ours are filled with chocolate, passionfruit cream, and raspberry jelly061
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The only little let down of the evening? Probably the cocktails. As we are ordering, A Tea with the Queen says, “I hope they bring us beautiful glassware, a cocktail isn’t quite the same in a boring glass”. And the glasses, though probably fine crystal, are indeed boring, and not fitting for a $32 cocktail. Well, nobody’s perfect. In every other sense, this is a meal you should experience at least once.

Sepia, 201 Sussex St Sydney, Phone 02 9283 1990
http://www.sepiarestaurant.com.au

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