Food News October 27, 2011

October 2011

So much to eat, only one mouth

We’re offering you a cornucopia of food events this column, starting with our favourite live food.

Oysters galore, alive and kicking, at Oysters in the House at the Opera Kitchen (Opera Kitchen, Promenade, Sydney Opera House) on October 30 with magnificent molluscs from 15 growers as far away as Coffin Bay and Albany WA as well as our own NSW growers. Oyster judge John Susman and wine writer Nick Stock will be giving two master classes: $30 gives you five oysters and a tasting glass (extra oysters $3 each). So in the words of the (unusually) amusing press release:“Let these mollusc mongers and vino vendors shuck you all afternoon long beneath the shimmering shells of the Sydney Opera House.” Indeed. Book online at

Anyone who’s ever been to San Sebastian has wandered around the old town — el parte vieja — which has one of the highest concentrations of bars in Europe (I counted 49 before it got too hard), each of which serves the most exquisite tapas and pintxos (tapas on skewers) on Earth. Hispanophile chef Chris Cranswick-Smith of Emmilou (413 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, Ph 9360 6991) is holding a San Sebastian night on October 27 where, for $60 a head, you can eat all the tapas and pintxos you can squeeze in, prepared in front of you by the chefs as they do in San Sebastian. But hurry — two nights are already sold out. Email with your name, total guests, mobile number, credit card number and expiry date. The email assumes you acknowledge that: “I understand that my card will be charged right away and cancellations are accepted until 72 hours before hand.” Andale! Andale!

The other event rolling around once again is the strange ritual of a bunch of Equus ferus caballi running around and around so a few humans can win lots of money — and others lose lots. If you really want to watch this wacky happening, why not do it munching on Greek salad and more at La Cantina (Shop 1/321 Kent Street, Ph 9262 4321) in the CBD? For just $50 per punter, you get good food, a complimentary glass of bubbly and big screens to see the neddies whiz by.

Or escape the madding crowd in the relative peace of The Pavilion (1 Art Gallery Road, Ph 9232 1322), a leisurely stroll across The Domain. Also good munga, big screens, sweeps and $65 for three courses or $75 with a glass of bubbly on arrival.


Champion cheeses

The Australian Specialty Cheesemakers’ Association is, as the name suggests, an association of our best and brightest Aussie cheesemakers. And every year they put on a show and award gongs to winners. There’s a lot of nasty stuff around about our cheeses being not good enough because they’re not made from raw milk. Well, here’s the way I look at it. A good cheese is made by a good cheesemaker and we have some bloody good ones. Sure, it’d be nice to be able to use raw milk, but let me tell you, I’ve tasted some crook raw milk cheese and some crook pasteurised milk cheeses. It’s all about who stirs the curds, drains the whey and manipulates the moulds. If you want to look out for the champs at your local cheesemonger, here are the 2011 winners:

Show Champion: Maffra Cloth Aged Cheddar (pictured)

Champion Fresh Curd, Soft: Riverina Dairy Riverina Dairy Premium Ricotta

Champion Fresh Curd, Textured: Woodside Cheese — Manon

Champion Fresh Curd, Matured: Yarra Valley Dairy — Black Savourine

Champion Fresh Curd, Marinated: Yarra Valley Dairy — Persian Fetta

Champion White Mould: Jindi Cheese — Old Telegraph Road Triple Cream White

Champion Blue Mould: Jindi Cheese — Old Telegraph Road Heritage Blue

Champion Washed Rind: King Island Stormy

Champion Cheddar Style: Maffra Dairy — Maffra Cloth Aged Cheddar

Champion Semi-Hard Cooked Style: Heidi Farm Tilsit

Champion Hard Cooked Style: Mil Lel Superior Parmesan


Pasta masters give way to ragazzi

In a gesture of generational change, Sydney’s senior Italian chefs have given way to the young blokes for this year’s CIRA (Council of Italian Restaurants in Australia) Gala Dinner. Chefs like Giovanni Pilu (pictured left), Alessandro Pavoni (pictured right), Eugene Maiale, Nino Zoccali and Richard Ptacnik — (Ptacnik? How’d he get in there?) — will be exploiting the romantic regions of Italy for their inspiration. Think pasta Bunga Bunga Bruschetta, Linguine Lollobrigida, Carpaccio Carla Bruni. It’s on Monday October 31 at Doltone House (Jones Bay Wharf, Pirrama Road Pyrmont), $165 a head or $1500 for a table of 10.


Kakadu the key to a lighter you?

Some of you may know Vic Cherikoff as one of the pioneers of Australian native produce. Vic was a scientist at the University of Sydney many years ago, researching in the field and sending samples of these hitherto unknown foods back to a young French chef in Sydney called Jean-Paul Bruneteau, who developed a fascinating set of dishes using them (find a copy of Jean-Paul Bruneteau’s book Tukka to see what I mean).

To their and our shame, Australian chefs have largely ignored the rich variety of produce that was growing here long before we Europeans arrived. Not so Vic Cherikoff. Vic has steadily plugged away at researching the benefits of these fruits and vegetables. One of these is the Kakadu plum.

Now I don’t hold with diets — I’ve been known to say that only fat people diet — but Vic is now promoting a diet system based on a formula using Kakadu plums among other native ingredients and a philosophy of eating. It worked on him: he has lost 13 per cent of his bodyweight — around 16kg — and still indulges in red wine and chocolates.

You make up your own mind. I’ve got a lot of time for Vic and he may just be onto something. Go to www.weightlosswithsuperfoods.comand check it out if you feel you want to shed a few kilos.


Eating green at Castle Hill

It’s not a place that gets a lot of attention from the food mafia, but it is the home of Cibo e Vino (2/229 Old Northern Road, Ph 8002 0912) and that’s where one of the SIFF 100 Miles Degustation events is taking place — that is, a meal cooked using produce sourced within 160km of their front door. On offer will be six courses of terrific tucker such as hot-smoked Melanda Park pork (pictured), squid ink risotto with sautéd Hawkesbury calamari (the rice is forgiven) and gratinated black figs with vanilla bean icecream (OK, OK, the vanilla beans, too) for the far-from-princely sum of $85 a head. A treat for locals.


Picnic at Sydney City Farm

Well, we’re not quite yet but the site should be Sydney Park (corner King Street and Sydney Park Road, St Peters, opposite St Peters Railway Station). This has been the year when, after tireless lobbying, the Sydney City Farm secured a site so the picnic will be by way of a celebration of urban agriculture. You bring the food, the friends and the picnic blanket and also extra fruit and veg to build a giant chook mandala. You can even bring Fido (no one will eat him). Should be a fun day. Sunday November 6 from noon to 3pm.


Green eggs at Woollahra

And, finally, an item with only a tenuous link to food. Walking around Paddo and Woollahra the other day we found the Dr Seuss Gallery (8 Oxford Street, Woollahra, Ph 8964 9702) and what a joy it was to see the art and learn more about the wonderful life of this talented, eccentric and complex man, Theodor Seuss Geisel (pronounced Soiss you might like to know). Swiss-born Geisel was a poet, writer, cartoonist and so much more than the inventor of the immortal Cat in the Hat. There are works for sale here, including delightful sculptures under the heading of “unorthodox taxidermy”; an especial favourite is the Goo Goo Eyed Tasmanian Wolghast. A fair bit is happening in Seussland: it’s the 50th anniversary of that tricky feline in the topper, Johnny Depp has just signed to produce and star in a film about Geisel, and an animated film of the Lorax, starring the voice of Danny de Vito, will be out next year. To see what’s in store, visit the website of the Trevor Victor Harvey Gallery, the agent for the Seuss collection, at

Here’s an idea: spend an hour on Saturday at the gallery, then slip up to the Wine Library (18 Oxford Street, Woollahra, Ph 9328 1600) and place your order: “I do not like them Sam-I-Am, I do not like green eggs and ham.” 

Image credit:

Green Eggs and Ham™ & © 1960 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P.

All Rights Reserved

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