|Savour New Zealand has established itself as New Zealand’s premiere food and wine event. Now held annually and in Auckland at the Langham Hotel 2008 through to 2010, it’s a showcase of talent, local and imported, featuring a range of Masterclasses, tastings, special event dinners and themed lunches. It caters to the cheffing brigade as well as home cooks. Real food – that is fresh, mostly locally grown, cooked from scratch, presented with little more than the individual chef’s panache, featured prominently in this year’s May programme, but a touch of molecular gastronomy, you know, foams and spheres and things made with gel, got tongues wagging in some classes. Javier Codina from Gianni’s restaurant in Brisbane certainly got a reaction when he fried angel hair pasta BEFORE cooking it – an old Catalonian trick he reckoned.|
|The pasta was then cooked with a sofrito (gently cooked vegetables) of garlic, capsicum, onion and tomatoes, and lobster stock streaked with saffron. Not your average dinner party dish this one.|
|Salt cod is a little hard to come by round these parts, too, but Javier somehow managed to procure a couple of sides of it which he desalted and mixed with potato and olive oil puree before stuffing it into piquillo peppers. The peppers were topped with a truly remarkable petite salad of green apples, coriander (cilantro) and coriander seeds, lemon juice and olive oil. I have made stuffed piquillo peppers, but sans salted cod, using smoked fish, and it is a stunner. Next time I’ll try it with a crisp and sharpish green apple topping a la Javier.
| Govind Armstrong from Table 8 Restaurant, LA, also caused a stir. Everyone, just everyone, who attended his class was going home to make his cauliflower couscous. Govind whizzed the cauliflower into little beads in a food processor, blanched them then finished them in a pan with sizzled shallot and stock. The result? Tiny little ‘cous cous-like pellets’ of flavour-filled caulifower!
If you’re bored with your repertoire of dishes, get yourself off to a cooking class. Shabu shabu beef, Yuzu flavoured sushi, NZ Furikake crackers, Wasabi leaf & shiso salad with Pickled ginger foam anyone? No? Thought not, but you can always pop in to the George Hotel, Christchurch and have Andrew Brown whip this one up for you.
This years’ presenters included Philip Johnson from e’cco restaurant in Brisbane and Greg Malouf from MoMo restaurant in Melbourne, along with our own top team of chefs Andrew Brown (George Hotel), Paul Jobin (Pure Tastes), Jonny Schwass (Restaurant Schwass), Michael Meredith (Merediths) and Jason Dell (Blanket Bay). The programme was bulked out with the irrepressible and exceedingly knowledgeable Tony Tan, Stephanie Alexander, stalwart of the Kitchen Garden Foundation (a programme teaching kids and schools how to produce food and cook it), Claire Aldous, Food Editor of Dish magazine, zany television presenter Peta Mathias, Faith Willinger, exponent of exceptional Italian food, Master of Wine Jane Skilton and other renowned wine experts, Anthony Dias Blue (Exec Dir. San Francisco International Wine Competition), Martin Tillard (vineyard manager, Camshorn), John Trail (Pernot Ricard Wine & Spirit Trainer) and Patrick Materman (former NZ Winemaker of the Year).
Archive for May, 2008
The kitchen at The Cookbook Corner is about the size of an average western kitchen. With its sink, fridge, benches, shelves etc this space would be a fine set-up for a single cook.…but it wasn’t like that. Oh no! In the middle of the room is a very tall fridge, and all around benches, one side with a double sink, the other two with elements, or spare bench space. Things stacked all around, including my seven heavy bags, and those of other chefs, and coats and clogs, chefs’ whites and toques. Still workable. The kitchen had a door through to the demonstration kitchen, which meant there was a lot of traffic between the two spaces. Still okay. The problem? At any one point there would be 10 people in this space, all fighting to prepare their food for their upcoming dem – demonstrators, assistants from Le Cordon Bleu school, administrators and the kitchen manager. Still just about manageable if you kept your elbows pinned to your waist. People popping in to get water and others asking if they could store things in the kitchen just for a short time (where, madam, on the ceiling?) became part of the wallpaper. When the film crews decided it would be fun to film the ensuing chaos, things got a bit too tight. You couldn’t move. You couldn’t get near the fridge, let alone in it. There were big cameras in the way and heaving bodies everywhere. But it didn’t matter, because there were no prima donnas (no room for them) and everyone helped each other (thank you Chef Ramzi and Le Cordon Bleu students). The general public through the other side of the door wouldn’t have had any idea. All in a day’s work!
The previous day I had made a brief introductory presentation on stage at The Gourmand Cookbook Awards. As I walked to the stage they screened a clip from one of my breakfast television pieces where I was showing my daughter how to make rice pudding (actually, she was showing me!).
To find out more about the Gourmand Awards (these awards are in their 12th year, and award wine and drink books as well as cook books) go to www.cookbookfair.com
The London International Book Fair (LIBF) is held annually at Earls Court, London, in the northern hemisphere spring (the date for the 2009 Fair is 20-22nd April). It attracts publishing professionals from around the globe, and an enormous clutch of national and international press. It is the world’s leading international spring event for bookselling, rights trading and book production services. A good place to strut your stuff, then, if you’re either an author or self-publisher hungry to grow foreign markets, or a publisher looking for T.N.B.T. (the next big thing!).
This year, the LIBF teamed up with Edouard Cointreau, Chairman of the Gourmand Cookbook Awards and associated activities, to produce a series of cooking and drinks demonstrations over the three days of the Fair in an area named the Cookbook Corner.
Of course, I had to be there. No, I didn’t gatecrash, I was invited, but amidst such high-octane company (BIG stars such as Chef Wan from Malaysia and Chef Ramzi from Lebanon, Art Smith from Ophra’s show and the gorgeous Chagall from Portugal) I had to perform at full throttle. I showcased New Zealand lamb. I was able to pick up shortloins – that’s the succulent nut of meat cut from the rack – from my local Waitrose supermarket opposite my hotel in Gloucester Road. The hotel kept the lamb in their fridge for me over the weekend and I just hoped no one would come across it and fry it up for brunch or something.
Come the day of the demonstration, I was off, several heavy bags in tow, and eventually arrived, after a tortuously slow taxi ride, at Earls Court. I could have walked there in a matter of minutes…just not with 7 bags packed to the gunnels with lamb, baby beets, extra virgin olive oil, Greek yoghurt, rocket (arugula) and semi-dried tomatoes. What was I demonstrating? One of my favourite dishes from my book Sizzle, Sensational Barbecue Food – lamb shortloins brushed with cumin butter and seared on a hot grill, cooked to medium-rare, sliced and served on toasted baps (buns) with a rocket salad, baby beet salad with walnuts and lemon zest and a cucumber and Greek yoghurt salad. The combination is just to die-for (meaning, well, pretty delicious!). If you use thick Greek yoghurt in this way, you may never go for mayonnaise again – it provides all the creaminess without the calories.
That’s the lamb on the board, sliced up and ready to assemble. The great thing is, it only takes a few minutes to cook. More later….
I’m not going to beat around the bush – a lot of the food in New Orleans is not to my taste. I’m taking about fried starchy things which to me have no reason for being other than to add unnecessary calories to one’s diet. That said, some things stand out from my recent visit. Lunch at August restaurant, situated in the CBD in an historic four-storey ‘French-Creole’ building dating from 1800, voted 22nd in Gourmet Magazine’s Top 50 American restaurants, with John Besh at the helm – named Best Chef of the Southeast by The James Beard Foundation in 2006 – put a smile on my face. It was the start of the soft shell crab season – it runs for 3-4 months – and as I was an early diner (in the door, starving, before midday), I was the first to order the first of the soft shells! Besh had them coated in a light crisp tempura-style batter, panfried, with white trumpet mushrooms, topped off with ginger foam, and a few sprigs of dill and chervil, served with fava beans, spring peas and sugar snaps. My dining companion Dalyn gave me a forkful or two of his flaky ling in browned butter with capers and lemon confit. All perfectly executed. We preceded this with a warm spring vegetable salad of spring peas, fava beans, slivered snow peas, sautéed white scallions, mizuna leaves, parmesan crisps and crisp porky bits of cherrywood bacon. The piece de resistance was the tiny poached egg on top of the salads. You may wonder why I ordered two dishes with spring vegetables. After all the fried food, white bread, mayonnaise and other unmentionables I had been served up during the week I was in New Orleans, I was desperate for vegetables and salad. August didn’t disappoint.
301 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
And the place to stay in New Orleans?
300 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
where you can enjoy great cocktails in the airy bar, and above-average food in the hotel’s café, Cafe Adelaide.