Whilst I consider myself a gourmand and adventurous in my culinary delights, I have realised there are so many avenues yet to explore, even on my own doorstep, Australian native ingredients, are something I have always to be honest popped into the ‘too hard basket’.
Recently I did attend an evening in conversation with Ben Shewry from Attica Resturant in Melbourne. Ben is a leader in using native Australian ingredients. His resturant has been in the top 50 resturants for the last 2 years, this year coming in at 32. This piqued my interest.
Whilst completing my thesis for ‘Diplome D’Universite Du Gout, De La Gastronomie et Des Arts De La Table’ ( Diploma of Gastronomy, Table and Taste) I have spent many a study hour with fellow HEG (Hautes Etudes du Gout) alumni. Hilary’s paper specialised in native Australian cuisine whilst mine was based on ‘Cultural Communities’ the stories of Italian immigrants through cuisine in Australia. We decided to celebrate the completion of our papers with a dinner based on our respective themes.
Well to be honest it was all Hilary’s doing, the creation of the menu and the cooking, I did however play a leading role in the consumption of the meal.
We started the evening with a aperitif, naturally:
Ink Gin with Champagne, Ink gin is distilled by Husk Distillers on the North Coast of N.S.W at Tumblegum ( I just love that name). This award winning gin has 13 botanicals including, lemon myrtle leaf, Tasmanian pepperberry, local coriander seed and butterfly pea.
The butterfly pea gives a distinct purple colour, the gin is pH sensitive and once you add tonic it changes to a pink colour. My drink was a delightful blueish, lavender colour and simply amazing.
Parmesan crisp topped with a romesco sauce with cherry tomatoes and bush tomato powder.
Cracker with creme fresh flavoured with lemon myrtle and pepperberry topped with Parma ham.
Lamb fillet with an onion and ciabatta crust, pepperberry and Ryeberry demiglaze, macadamia pesto. Yes macadamia’s are native to Australia.
Potatoe gratin with a touch of wattle seed (in place of nutmeg)
Spinich leaves, pumpkin and mozzarella salad with a dressing containing lemon myrtle.
Baked ricotta cake, Anzac biscuit crust, Davidson plum jelly glaze and toasted coconut.
It was a celebratory dinner I will remember for some time. The combination of flavours was a delight.
Perhaps I will add a little more adventure to my cooking.
In the meantime Salut