March 2009

Eggplant is proving as dependable as ever, despite floods, fire and pestilence. Try it at Café Mint in their eggplant saluki where it’s roasted, finely diced and served as a salad with julienned tomato, onion, coriander and garlic alongside lamb fillets. Billus gives it the Punjabi treatment in a dry curry cooked with potatoes and spices. Osvaldo Polletti is making the most of it, too, teaming it with capsicum for caponata to serve with the fish of the day and they’re also reviving pasta a la Norma. This traditional southern Italian dish gets a change here with cavatappi (corkscrew-shaped pasta), and meatballs, but the classic salted ricotta topping remains.

Although, strictly speaking, zucchini flowers should be scarce now, there’s a guy at Windsor growing them in igloos and Frank from Osvaldo Polletti reckons they’re as good as any he’s seen. They’re  floured and fried and served as part of a seafood fritto misto.

Fennel, from baby through to big, features on menus, too. At Sails, chef Stephen Skelly purees it and serves it with roasted scallops and preserved lemon.

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