Cooking the perfect steak – it sounds simple enough, and in reality, it is – take a look at Neil’s quick tips and put it into practice this weekend. Remember that produce is everything, so be sure to source the finest meat you can and treat it with respect. Have a great weekend everyone!
Archive for June, 2012
Chicken and crab xiao long bao
The talented kids down at SpiceTemple in Melbourne have been working hard on some new dishes – we call this the ‘Creative Council’, a concept that Neil put in place late last year across all our venues, where the chefs work away on some new and exciting dishes, sometimes individually, sometimes in a group – they get tried and tested, feedback is taken on board, they re-work, fiddle with and ultimately get things just right!
Brianna has been hard at work creating these delicious xiao long bao for her creative council dish. A Shanghainese classic, there are a lot of versions out there, but we think this one is the best!
They are a crab and chicken xiao long bao, and instead of using agar agar or gelatine (cheating!!) Bri has used an enriched superior stock with plenty of chicken bones, pork trotters and pork skin to set this delicious broth into the jelly you see in the photo. This is mixed with minced chicken, picked spanner crab meat, shallots and ginger to make a dumpling mix which is easily handled by our expert dumpling master, Betty.
The result is a dumpling full of piping hot, rich stock and a light flavoursome filling.
We will be specialling these at yum cha today and by Sunday we should have a full supply and ready to go! Hungry much?
There has been a lot of talk around the Rockpool traps recently about our wine dinners – small, intimate affairs, tasting some of the world’s best wines and matched to our sublime beef and seafood….but wait! Here’s something new!!!!!
Spice Temple Sydney is thrilled to announce our first ever regional dinner on Wednesday, July 18th. Welcome to…
“The Silk Road”
For the spice and Spice Temple lovers out there, this is a dinner not to be missed. Not just any old regional Chinese dinner, ”The Silk Road” has been designed to take you on a journey. Instead of focussing on just one of China’s extraordinary culinary regions, we will take you through various provinces, show you the contrasts, explore the contradictions, blast away the stereotypes. This will indeed be an iconic journey.
Proceedings kick off with a specially created cocktail. The ‘Zhang Qian’ is named after the explorer who first forged the Silk Road under the Han Dynasty – a dry, floral aperitif style drink, it comes with the added benefit that the Chinese believe the Mandarins bring prosperity.
From here, we lead you from Hangzhou, to Guangzhou, Peking, Shaanxi (Xian), Anxi (Yumen), Kashgar (Xinjiang)…and onto dessert!
Neil has been working closely with Spice Temple Head Chef Andy Evans to create the perfect menu for this event, and both will be in attendance on the night to ensure a faultless journey along the Silk Road…
Zhang Qian Cocktail
Tanqueray gin, mandarin jam, lemon juice, cava
Spencer Gulf prawn and iceberg salad with salted olive and black bean dressing
Fresh belly bacon with garlic and lemon
2010 Gruner Veltliner, Kurt Angerer ‘Kies’ Kamptal, Austria
Pork and fungi bean curd rolls
2010, Albarino, Valminor Rias Baixas, Spain
Pork and shallot steamed buns with hoisin
2009 Pinot Gris, Albert Mann ‘Cuvee Albert’ Alsace France
Spicy pickled cucumbers
Red braised pork belly with wood ear fungus
2008 Pinot Noir, Robert Sinskey, Los Carneros, California
Lamian (hand made tumeric noodles) with David Blackmore’s Wagyu brisket and chilli
2008 Sangiovese, Poggiopiano Chianti Classico, Tuscany Italy
Lamb shashliks, baked bread, chickpea salad and tomatoes
2010 Shiraz, Kaesler ‘Stonehorse’ Barossa Valley
2010 Muscat Blanc, La Pigeade, Beaumes de Venise, Rhone Valley, France
The Silk Road Banquet is priced at $95 per person, an additional $55 per person for matching wines
Bookings are now open and we urge to be quick as seats are limited
Please call Donna on 02 8078 1888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In Medieval Provençal times they were saumaliers, animal pack drivers who evolved during Middle French kingdom to become court officials charged with transportation of supplies. So what does a modern day Sommelier actually do? Well, Wikipedia outlines as such, “A sommelier or wine steward is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food matching. The most important work of a sommelier is in the areas of wine procurement, wine storage, wine cellar rotation, and expert service to wine consumers.”
A reasonably accurate job description although perhaps a little parched as our new-age sommelier has evolved to a higher learning with a wine Jedi cognizance and a seventh sense that can psychoanalyse a diner, marry the person, the dish and the wine in seconds. They are now the gateway to wine discovery equipped with clairvoyance in food and wine trends, inspiring thirst around the world.
Feared by winemakers, loathed by wine distributors as the arbiters’ of wine lists, the restaurant patron should embrace their knowledge, skills and talent as they are hopelessly and passionately obsessed with wine and will take you on journey of gastronomic enlightenment. And our new-age sommelier is no longer confined to fine dining and can be found in casual eateries, wine bars, gastro-pubs, winery restaurants, wine stores and you’ll even bump into an air-sommelier at 30,000ft these days. Some have hung up their waiters-friend and metamorphosed to the wine trade as brand ambassadors, distributors or consultants, but once a sommelier, always a sommelier.
This column explores the gustatory and olfactory manifestations of sommeliers all over this planet. We take a cross section of the sommelier’s stomach and intestines to reveal what and where they eat. And we dissect their taste buds and dopamine receptors as they relent to the Wandering Palate narcosynthesis and confess to their personal vinous pleasures and closely-held secrets – this is The Sommelier’s Palate.
David Lawler, Australia
Ladies and Gentleman please be upstanding for one of Melbourne’s most polished and respected sommeliers, David Lawler, Beverage Director for Rockpool Bar & Grill, Spice Temple and The Waiting Room. Lawler is also Vice-President of Sommeliers Australia www.sommeliers.com.au in keeping with his solid credentials as a Len Evans Scholar and wine show judge. The Sommelier’s equivalent of a Sandhurst leader, Lawler is a true ‘Officer and a Gentleman’ rising through the ranks in a long campaign in the trench’s of the Melbourne fine dining scene developing his skills at Marchetti’s Latin, Paul Bocuse, Bortolotto’s, Toofey’s, Ondine, Langton’s and Vue du Monde. His wine knowledge is as encyclopaedic as the Rockpool Bar & Grill wine list, acknowledged by Gourmet Traveller Wine, Judy Hirst Award for Best Wine List in Australia, 2010. He is your consummate Sommelier with impeccable standards and a most charming demeanour along with his commanding people skills and distinguished service.
Where do you currently practice your sommelier skills (restaurant, hotel, consulting etc)?
Rockpool Group Melbourne, including Bar & Grill, Spice Temple and The Waiting Room www.rockpool.com
Where have you dined recently (restaurant) that impressed you?
Loam Restaurant on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria is a very special expression of great local produce considered with utmost respect and poise. http://loamrestaurant.blogspot.sg/
Where have you dined (restaurant, wine bar) that you were mightily impressed with the wine list and service?
I had an awesome experience at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, the wine service generous, wholesome and intelligent http://www.bluehillfarm.com/food/blue-hill-stone-barns
Where is the most memorable restaurant meal you have had?
Very difficult question, certain dishes feel like they have changed my life; the Peas at l’Arpege in Paris, Prawns at Etxebarri, Veal Marrow at Stone Barns, the Pigeon at Ma Cuisine, Chanterelles at Troisgros…so many dishes, such little time!
Do you have a favourite regular restaurant?
The genuine and wholesome hospitality at Sosta Cucina in North Melbourne keeps me coming back…and the delicious wintery roasts http://www.sosta.com.au/
Do you cook at home and is there a dish you have perfected?
Ever since they took the Roast Duck with Cherries off the menu at France Soir, I have been driven to recreate this dish…I think I’m pretty close. It’s hard to get the bustling restaurant feel and those frites just right at home though…
Do you have a favourite wine bar?
In Melbourne it’s pretty hard to pass by the City Wine Store… without stopping for a glass of something interesting www.citywineshop.net.au
Do you have a favourite wine merchant?
There are many Merchants supplying many great wines in Melbourne. I have many friends within the industry but when it comes to wine; the discussion needs to be about ‘What’s in the Glass’, not who’s selling it
What wine are you drinking at the moment?
Having recently returned from Piedmont I now have to wait for the 2008 Barolo’s to land…in the meantime the 2009 Quinta do Vallado Touriga blend is dangerously delicious wintery wine http://www.wonderfulland.com/vallado/
Is there a wine that totally moved you – like no other wine – a revelation and motivation for you to pursue you wine obsession?
So many wines have moved me for differing reasons at differing stages of my career. Blain Gagnard Criots Batard Montrachet was the first wine that spoke to me clearly about a ‘sense of place’, this is the thing that keeps me so engaged with wine
What’s your latest wine discovery – new region, variety or style?
The latest vinous revelation for me has been the changing face of Australian Chardonnay; a definite move towards purity, elegance and finesse
Tell us what is your ultimate wine bargain discovery in terms of price/quality rapport? (i.e. does not have to be cheap but over-delivers in quality for the price)
For me Chablis can represent a terrifically versatile, fresh and great value glass of wine ; I am loving the delicious, bright and electric mineral drive of many 2010’s
Tell us about an inspirational wine and food pairing that has you have experienced recently.
We recently had a dish of Slow Cooked Egg, Bone Marrow and Brioche on the Menu at Rockpool Bar & Grill, a perfect match was revealed in the Equipo Navazos Oloroso No 28. Textures and flavours of both food and wine entwining to create a new completely harmonised sensory experience http://www.equiponavazos.com/en/inden.htm
What is the most enthralling wine region you have been to in terms of dramatic scenery, inspiring vineyards and good eating?
It’s very difficult to not consider the dramatic scenery of the Mosel, or the great eating and inspiring vineyards of Burgundy; but if I had to nominate a region that encapsulates all three elements, I would think most about the Douro in Portugal.
Select a six pack of wines that you think are absolutely outstanding and inspirational, and that will set people on a journey of vinous discovery and enlightenment.
Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla No. 32 – Spain http://www.equiponavazos.com/en/inden.htm
2008 JJ Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett Riesling – Mosel Germany http://www.jjpruem.com/
2009 Cullen Kevin John Chardonnay – Margaret River WA http://www.cullenwines.com.au/
2006 Domaine Ghislaine Barthod Charmes Pinot Noir – Chambolle Musigny http://www.bibendum.com.au/Ghislaine-Barthod
2004 E. Pira & Figli Cannubi Barolo – Piedmont Italy http://www.pira-chiaraboschis.com/
2005 Clonakilla Shiraz/Viognier – Canberra District ACT http://www.clonakilla.com.au/
The countdown is on. 17 days and counting till a gaggle of lucky souls take their places at “The Italian Wine Dinner” at Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth.
On Monday July 9th, we are truly excited to be presenting our 2nd wine dinner for 2012, as we take you to the heart of the Chianti Classico Region of Tuscany and onward to Sicily.
We will be showcasing wines from the Poderi Castellare di Castellina in the heart of Chianti, along with wines from Feudi Del Pisciotto Estate in Sicily.
We are additonally thrilled to be joined on the evening by renowned winemaker Dr Alessandro Cellai from Castellare di Castellina, as our guest speaker. Rated by Decanter Magazine as one of it’s “stars of tomorrow”, Dr Cellai is quite the overachiever - he races vintage cars, skis, plays soccer and runs the odd marathon – and in his ‘spare time’ produces some of Chianti’s most exciting wines – a winemaker sincerely respectful of tradition.
Salad of Buffalo Mozzarella, Roast, Pickled and Marinated Fennel with Olive Crumbs
Rocca di Frassinello Vermentino 2011
Quail with Smokey Tomatoes, Olives and Herbs
Castellare di Castellina Chinati Classico 2009
Podere Monastero Pinot Noir La Pineta 2009
Cape Grim Dry Aged 36 Month Old Grass Fed Rib-Eye on the Bone
Rangers Valley Dry Aged 300 Day Grain Fed Rib-Eye on the Bone
Potato and Cabbage Gratin and Boiled Mixed Greens
Castellare di Castellina I Sodi di San Niccolo’ 2006
Rocca di Frassinello Rocca 2006
Castellare di Castellina Vinsanto del Chianti Classico San Niccolo’ 2006
We urge you not to dally as tickets to this event are seriously limited. Tickets are $175 pp.
For bookings call 08 6252 1900 or email email@example.com
A couple of recipes for you today, taken from Good Weekend Magazine a few weekends back. If you are in Australia at the moment (North and West of NSW aside)….then I think we all know, it’s the weather for it right?! And I don’t say that in a good way! So settle in, pop the pot on the stove, pour a good glass of something and settle in front of the fire with one of these perfect Winter warmers.
Green curry of prawns
Serves 4 as part of a shared banquet
250ml coconut cream
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 kaffir lime leaves
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon grated palm sugar
500ml coconut milk
350g peeled green king prawns
4 wild green chillies, lightly crushed
3 long red chillies, halved and deseeded
10 Thai pea eggplants
5 apple eggplants, quartered
12 sweet Thai basil leaves
Green curry paste
5 coriander seeds
5 cumin seeds
5 white peppercorns
6 wild green chillies, chopped
3 long green chillies, deseeded and chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped galangal
10 red shallots, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 coriander roots, scraped and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped turmeric
Finely grated zest of 1 kaffir lime
1 tablespoon Thai shrimp paste, wrapped in foil and roasted until fragrant
To make the curry paste, lightly roast the coriander and cumin seeds and peppercorns in a dry heavy-based pan, then grind in a coffee or spice grinder. Pound the chillies, lemongrass, galangal, shallots, garlic, coriander roots, turmeric, zest and shrimp paste in a mortar with a pestle.
Pass all the ground and pounded ingredients through a mincer twice, or use a blender to process until smooth, adding a little water or oil if necessary. You can also just keep pounding with the pestle to produce a fine paste. Set 130g of paste (about ½ cup) aside for the curry (any leftover paste will freeze until next time).
To make the curry, place coconut cream and oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a high heat and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. When the coconut cream splits (the oil and solids separate), add 130g of curry paste. Crush the lime leaves in your hand, add them to the pan and fry for 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture is sizzling and aromatic (use your nose).
Add the fish sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add the palm sugar and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Add the prawns, chillies and eggplants and simmer gently for 4 minutes, or until the prawns are just cooked and the pea and apple eggplants are still a little crunchy. Stir in the basil just before serving.
Spicy chicken stew
Serves 4 as part of a shared banquet
2 tomatoes, cored and quartered
4 sticks cinnamon
5 kaffir lime leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
500g boneless and skinless chicken thigh fillet (organic if possible), thickly sliced
3 tablespoons grated palm sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons tamarind water
1 small handful sweet Thai basil leaves
3 candlenuts, roasted until golden and chopped
6 long red chillies, chopped
3 red shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2cm knob of ginger, chopped
2cm knob of galangal, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, chopped
1 finger fresh turmeric, chopped
To make the spice paste, pound all the ingredients together in a mortar with a pestle to a fine paste, or process the ingredients with a blender, adding a little water, if necessary.
Place the spice paste, tomatoes, cinnamon, lime leaves and sea salt in a large heavy-based pot. Add 1 litre of water and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer very gently for about 1 ½ hours.
Add the chicken, return the sauce to the boil, then simmer for about 8 minutes until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is cooked. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water then adjust the seasoning if necessary. Stir through the basil leaves to serve.
AN EVENING WITH…PIEDMONT
Monday July 2nd sees our incredible Piedmont Wine Dinner take place at Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne.
An exclusive event for just 10 people, it will be hosted by our Head Sommelier Ben Richards, along with Beverage Director David Lawler, who has recently returned from an inspirational trip to Piedmont, North West Italy. David will provide a fresh insight into this most prestigious Italian region, discussing communes, vintages and house styles through the eyes of benchmark producers and rare bottles of Giacosa, Mascarello, Sandrone, Giacomo Conterno and more.
To perfectly complement the wines, Neil has worked closely with our recently appointed Head Chef, Will Cowan-Lunn to create a superb menu tailored to these bottles that we have been nurturing for so long, and are now ready to share with you.
2004 Bruno Giacosa Spumante
Cured Ocean Trout with saffron pickled onions, citrus, chamomile and brioche
2009 Bruno Giacosa Arneis
Rotisserie Redgate Farm Partridge with Red Onion, Beetroot, Apples and Walnuts
2010 Bruno Giacosa Sorano di Treiso Dolcetto D’Alba
Wood fire grilled rabbit with radicchio & grapes
2009 Giacomo Conterno Barbera D’Alba
2009 E Pira & Figli Barbera D’Alba
Cape Grim 36 month grass fed rib eye
David Blackmore full blood Rump
Sauteed Mushrooms, Cavalo Nero, Cos Endive Radicchio Salad
2005 Giuseppe Mascarello Monprivato Castiglione
2005 Conterno Fantino Sori Ginestra Monforte d’alba
2005 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Serralunga
2005 Luciano Sandrone Le Vigne Barolo
2005 Marcarin La Serra La Morra
Quince and Hazelnut Tart with White Clover Honey Mousse
Vittoria Cinque Stella Coffee
2003 Berta Grappa di Barolo
Tickets are $395 per person and can be booked by calling Rose on 8648 1900.
This is a great opportunity to pull the corks on some special bottles from Piedmont and enjoy them with some great food and conversation to create a truly memorable evening.
We hope you can join us.
July sees 3 very special dinners within the Rockpool Group, in 2 different states.
On Monday July 2nd, Rockpool Bar & Grill Melbourne is pleased to announce a very special event , “An Evening with Piedmont”. At $395 per person, this event, the first in a series, will be an experience not to be missed for true wine lovers.
2004 Bruno Giacosa Spumante on arrival preceeds 5 courses of Chef Will Cowan-Lunn’s delicious food, matched perfectly throughout. Without wanting to spoil the surprise, diners can expect Cape Grim 36 month grass fed rib eye of beef and David Blackmore’s full blood Wagyu rump matched with 2005 Giuseppe Mascarello Monprivato Castiglione, 2005 Conterno Fantino Sori Ginestra Monforte d’alba, 2005 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Serralunga, 2005 Luciano Sandrone Le Vigne Barolo, 2005 Marcarin La Serra La Morra and a mystery wine.
Bookings are now open on 03 8648 1900 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Still in Melbourne, Monday July 23 and Spice Temple Melbourne brings you it’s first Regional Dinner for 2012. After great success in 2011 with these dinners, we are back and visiting Yunnan. Details are still being finalised but rest assured whatever Ben Pollard and his team put together, it will be sensational.
To secure your space at Spice Temple Melbourne’s Yunnan Dinner, phone 03 8679 1888 or email email@example.com. This event is sure to book out early.
Across the country to Perth now, Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth presents their 2nd wine dinner of the year on Monday July 9. The Barolos enjoyed during the first event were outstanding and this dinner is looking like being just as special. The “Italian Wine Dinner” will showcase wines from the Poderi Castellare di Castellina in the heart of the Chianti Classico region of Tuscany, along with wines fromFeudi Del Pisciotto Estate in Sicily.
We are thrilled to be joined on the evening by renowned winemaker Dr Alessandro Cellai from Castellare di Castellina as our guest speaker.
Tickets are $175 pp and places are very limited. For bookings call 08 6252 1900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
So that’s the big 3 for now…
But stay tuned because there is so much more coming up within the Rockpool Group in the next few months with more details on all events coming soon…
July 18 – Spice Temple Sydney throws open their doors for their first ever Regional Dinner as they journey along “The Silk Route” – a banquet style dinner with Andy Evan’s no doubt fantastic menu yet to be announced…stay tuned!
Join Neil Perry and Rockpool Bar & Grill Perth Head Chef, Dan Masters at The Mundaring Truffle Festival in WA on July 29. Being hailed as “Rockpool Rocks”, Neil and Dan will be cooking up some of their favourite truffle dishes.
And speaking of truffles, Phil Wood at Rockpool George St has been working hard on the menu for the 2012 Rockpool Truffle Dinner. We are yet to announce a date for this one but you can expect canapes and 5 courses of truffle matched superbly with wines chosen by sommelier Emma Plumridge. $360 per person will see you experience such matches as ’Truffle congee, bamboo pith, preserved eggs and truffle ketchup’ with 2009 Emmerich Knoll ‘Loibenberg’ Smaragd Gruner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria and ‘Chestnut and truffle grilled brioche with truffle infused egg and braised short ribs’ paired with 2004 David Franz ‘Benjamin’s Promise’ Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia. Not to be missed, this one.
Book your seats now at any one or more of these fantastic dinners and we look forward to seeing you there.
For his column in the June issue of Qantas’ The Australian Way Magazine in June, Neil wrote about Aussie chefs in London and the great things they are getting up to. It’s certainly a great time to be travelling to ol’ Blighty (weather aside), so if it is on your radar, read forth and enjoy…
Great Southern Chefs
We may be hoping for gold at the London Olympics, but one thing is certain, Australian chefs are already winners in some of the city’s top restaurants.
Many Australian chefs have packed their bags for London and a few have gone on to make a name for themselves. They include Perth boy Shane Osborn, who headed up the two Michelin-starred Pied à Terre (34 Charlotte Street, 020 7636 1178), but is now on sabbatical, and Brett Graham of The Ledbury (127 Ledbury Road, 020 7792 9090), which also has two Michelin stars and has just jumped 20 places to No.14 on this year’s S Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Graham is a young guy from Newcastle, NSW, who apprenticed under Liam Tomlin at Banc in Sydney, went on to work with the fabulous Phil Howard at The Square in London and then opened The Ledbury, in Notting Hill, in 2005. Not only did the Michelin stars follow, but this year it was named London’s best restaurant by the Harden’s London Restaurants 2012 guide. Graham isn’t just a fantastic cook, he’s a wonderful bloke who is full of enthusiasm and excitement, qualities that come through on the plate.
A little out of central London, but definitely worth the drive, is Petersham Nurseries Café (Church Lane, Richmond, 020 8940 5230) made famous by Australian Skye Gyngell. Set within a garden centre, it’s probably the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the world with a dirt floor. The place has recently been taken over by another Aussie, Greg Malouf of Melbourne’s MoMo, who promises to keep the Australian flag flying in Richmond.
John Torode is another expat who has made a big splash in London. As well as being a judge on BBC’s MasterChef, he owns Smiths of Smithfield (67-77 Charterhouse Street, 020 7251 7950) where you can eat and drink at just about any time of the day or night, and the focus is on quality ingredients cooked with integrity and precision.
And let’s not forget local hero Bill Granger, who has finally opened a London outpost. Granger’s style has been much imitated and Granger & Co (175 Westbourne Grove, 020 7229 9111) offers casual all-day dining in trendy Notting Hill – and, yes, both sweet corn fritters and ricotta hotcakes are on the menu. He has moved the whole family over to Blighty, so he’s clearly committed to the venture. Of course, that’s just the chefs. There are tribes of Australians working in London restaurant kitchens and, for that matter, on the floor. Let’s hope that when they are all cooking like mad during the 2012 Olympics, they will still have time to cheer on the green and gold.