Food Features

Good Food Month preview

by Christine Salins on April 9, 2014

Mail Attachment

Yesterday saw the launch of Good Food Month, a feast of food-related events to be held across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra later in the year. The launch was held at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane and it wasn’t hard to pull a crowd, with Ferran Adrià as the special guest.

The chef, whose elBulli restaurant in Spain was named the best in the world numerous times before it closed in 2011, spoke long and passionately about his approach to food. You can read more about what he had to say here.

GOMA executive chef Josue Lopez was given the task of designing the food served at the launch, and he certainly did the Sunshine State proud. “It’s just great how he’s put Queensland on a plate this morning,” said festival director Joanna Savill.

One gorgeous creation after another emerged from the kitchen, beginning with cute little “lollipops” made from Lockyer Valley carrots. The playful theme continued with Noosa spanner crab brandade served between “kettle potato chips”, Queensland wagyu bresaola with egg yolk “pearls”, truffle pecorino nests and little bowls of spiced blood pudding with slow-cooked egg and chorizo.

Native produce was incorporated into two awesome sweets. One had Davidson plum marshmallow and chocolate cake covered with a layer of white chocolate, and the other, “Tim Tams” made with wattleseed and Daintree vanilla.

Function food never tasted so good!

Brisbane is joining Good Food Month this year for the first time, the event having originated in Sydney before expanding to Melbourne and Canberra in the last few years. An initiative of Fairfax Media in partnership with Citi, the festival highlights the creativity, diversity, quality and innovation of each city’s food talent, with signature events including Night Noodle Markets, Shoot the Chef, Let’s Do Lunch and Hats Off Dinners.

Good Food Month will be held in Brisbane in July, followed by Sydney and Canberra in October and Victoria in November.

Festival director Joanna Savill says it’s a great way of celebrating Australian food. That Australia’s food scene is so good is not a cliché, she says. “We all know it; we all live it.”

Hawker-style stalls at the Night Noodle Markets, part of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival.

Last year 1.5 million people attended more than 1,500 events, with 600,000 attending the Night Noodle Markets alone. (Have a look at my blog post on the 2012 Night Noodle Markets in Sydney to find out more about this cool – or should that be hot & spicy? – event.) I’m so looking forward to checking out Brisbane’s first Night Noodle Markets, to be held at South Bank’s Cultural Forecourt from July 17-27.

Full program details will be available at closer to each event.

Brisbane’s event in July will coincide with the launch of the third Brisbane Times Good Food Guide.

Good Food Month dates:

Brisbane: July 1 – 31
Sydney and Canberra: October 1 – 31
Melbourne: November 1 – 30

Night Noodle Market dates:

Brisbane (South Bank): July 17 – 27
Sydney (Hyde Park): October 10 – 26
Melbourne (Alexandra Gardens): November 14 – 30

Related posts: Night Noodle Markets; Meeting Ferran Adrià.

{ 1 comment }

Meeting Ferran Adrià

by Christine Salins on April 9, 2014

Ferran Adria

Back in 2001, I had the privilege of meeting Ferran Adrià when he was in Adelaide for Tasting Australia. People were already talking about his remarkable elBulli restaurant but the Spanish chef had yet to attract the cult following he has now.

I remember sitting in the audience and hearing audible gasps from chefs and food writers when he produced an entire dessert with various elements – including granita, mousse, shavings of ice and a sauce – the entire dish made from nothing more than water and gelatine!

Yesterday, Adrià was in Australia again, this time for the launch of Good Food Month, and it was interesting to hear his reflections on how the food scene has evolved in the years since.

elBulli no longer exists, of course, having closed its doors in 2011, but Adrià hasn’t disappeared from view. He is establishing the elBulli Foundation, a creative workshop documenting the evolution of contemporary cooking around the world.

He’s also been busy producing a seven-volume boxed set of cookbooks that weighs 18 kilos and costs $750. Put that one on your Christmas wish list! Published by Phaidon, elBulli: 2005-2011 charts his ground-breaking techniques through recipes, notes and sketches.

“One of the problems in cooking is that it’s so passing,” Adrià said at the Good Food Month preview at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane. He began documenting his creations 13 years ago after one of his customers said ‘this is great but I’d like to understand it more’. … “So we created this tool called evolutionary analysis so we can understand deconstruction and why it was done.”

Adrià had a lot to say about deconstruction at that incredible session in 2001, which I wrote about in a lengthy feature in The Canberra Times soon after. (You can read that full article here.)

Adrià said yesterday that at the time of his first visit to Australia, cuisine was seen as “something elitist”. How things have changed. “Today the most important social network is not Facebook, it’s cooking. 60% of tweets are about travel and food.”

Restaurant Magazine put elBulli at number one on its Top 50 list of the world’s best restaurants for a record five times – in 2002, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Adrià featured on the cover of Time magazine and has been widely hailed as the world’s most influential chef.

“Even today, three years after the closure, some people still think it’s silly and that’s what’s so cool about elBulli,” he said yesterday. “It was avant-garde.”

Related posts: Ferran Adrià at Tasting Australia in 2001; Good Food Month preview.

{ 1 comment }

Lamb Shank and Prune Pies

by Christine Salins on April 8, 2014 Colour of Maroc, Lamb Shank and Prune Pies, Rob Palmer, Sophia Palmer, Moroccan food, Moroccan recipes, recipes for lamb shanks.What is it about lamb shanks that everybody loves?

A recipe for slow-cooked lamb shanks that I ran in the winter of 2012 continues to be Food Wine Travel’s most popular recipe. It gets an extraordinary number of hits and people just seem to love its rich, hearty flavour and meat that practically falls off the bone.

So, not surprisingly, I’m always on the lookout for lamb shank recipes and here I’ve found one that’s a little bit unique. These Lamb Shank and Prune Pies are from a fabulous book called Colour of Maroc, whose authors, Rob and Sophia Palmer, describe it as a “true celebration of both Morocco and Australia all wrapped up in a flaky golden pastry”.

In the recipe, the meat is pulled off the bone and combined with prunes and fragrant Moroccan spices in mouth-watering pies … perfect as the weather gets cooler. Colour of Maroc, Lamb Shank and Prune Pies, Rob Palmer, Sophia Palmer, Moroccan food, Moroccan recipes, recipes for lamb shanks.Morocco has long fascinated me, even though I haven’t had an opportunity yet to explore its riches. So I’m enjoying doing some armchair travel with Colour of Maroc, published by Murdoch Books.

It’s a beautiful book, with evocative photos of people, places, gorgeous buildings and delicious food, printed on quality matt paper that is lovely to touch.

Rob Palmer is a Sydney photographer responsible for most of the photos. His wife Sophia was born to a Moroccan mother and French father, and spent the first 13 years of her life in Casablanca.

Morocco has a rich and varied cuisine that reflects its many influences: from Berber tagines to Arabic-influenced b’stilla, couscous from the Ottoman Turks and contemporary dishes that blend French techniques and flavours with traditional Moroccan recipes.

The Palmers capture the essence of Morocco and its food beautifully, inspiring me to get cracking and put it higher on my ‘must visit’ list.

Related post: Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks.

Visit the Colour of Maroc website.


Serves 4

2 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
Sea salt flakes and black pepper, to season
6 lamb shanks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large brown onions, chopped
1 tbsp ras el hanout
2 cinnamon sticks
150g/5½ oz pitted prunes
¼ preserved lemon, pulp discarded, rind rinsed and finely chopped
1 tbsp honey
½ cup/125ml/4 fl oz red wine
1 tbsp harissa
Large pinch saffron threads, soaked in ¼ cup boiling water
1 cup/250ml/9 fl oz water
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat an oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas 2. Place the lamb shanks and flour in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss together to coat shanks evenly with the seasoned flour.
Heat half of the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat. Brown the lamb on all sides. Transfer lamb to a heatproof plate then wipe the dish clean of any excess oil using paper towels.
Reduce heat to low and add the remaining oil to the same dish. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until softened but not browned. Stir in the spices and cook for 1–2 minutes or until fragrant. Return the browned lamb to the dish and add the prunes and preserved lemon rind.
Whisk together the honey, wine, harissa, saffron and its soaking liquid and water in a jug. Pour the mixture over the lamb. Place a piece of non-stick baking paper over the surface of the lamb mixture and cover with a lid. Cook in oven for 2½ hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.
Remove dish from the oven and transfer lamb shanks to a heatproof plate, cool slightly, then remove all meat from the bones and tear into large pieces. Skim any excess fat from the surface of the sauce in the dish. Combine the meat and sauce and then divide among 4 x 1½ cup/125ml/4 fl oz capacity ovenproof dishes. Place dishes on a baking tray and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Increase the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Cut 4 x 12cm/4½ in rounds of pastry from the pastry. Use rounds to top lamb filling in dishes. Gently press pastry edges to rim of dishes to seal. Bake pies in oven for 15–20 minutes or until the pastry is cooked, puffed and golden. Serve immediately.

Recipe and images from Colour of Maroc by Rob and Sophia Palmer, reprinted with permission of Murdoch Books.