Saturday, March 21, 2009

CHATTER 17 Obsessed with Food MFWF 09

Over the weekend 21/22 March several 100 gastrosophers, chefs, media people and foodies of every kind gathered at The Langham to listen to some of the most renowned and innovative chefs on the planet. In a series of Master Classes at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival an extraordinary variety of dishes were prepared and served to the accompaniment of explanations and discussions. We started with Jean-Paul Jeunet , looking a little nervous here, who spoke lovingly of his eponymous two Michelin star restaurant and hotel in the Jura mountains in a session called 'Secrets of the Jura'. He prepared three excellent dishes with Phillippe Mouchel translating as required. Eminently suitable for the home cook his Ragout of snails and liquorice,

a far cry from the usual butter and garlic, was fantastic

the liquorice giving it something very special. He also made sautes scallops and a pan seared veal fillet, parsnip puree and veal jus which made us want to head for France on the next plane! We next went to Sat Bains, another Michelin starred chefs session 'The food of New Britain' His recipes are a little more complex but he made a scallop-pork belly-peanut-pear-turnip dish that had the most fabulous pork belly which combined beautifully with the scallops and pear in place of the traditional apple. He followed this with a hare dish

with which he used popcorn shoots, a liquorice flavoured shoot available from the mushroom stall at Prahran market.
His dessert of chocolate cream-rapeseed oil-toast-sea salt was another variation on the salt sweet combination currently so popular. Shane Osborn, an amiable fellow despite his angry look here

Australian born, but now established with his two star restaurant Pied a Terre in England, brought his outstanding former apprentice Markus Eaves for his session on 'The Evolution of a Dish' Over the last few years he has become allergic to seafood and eggplant but this does not seem to have limited his creativity. He started with a slow poached quail egg,
crushed peas, smoked butter emulsion

a dish that should be easy to make at home and makes a great starter to a meal. This was followed by rabbit and carrot

which was simply excellent, using every part of the rabbit. Lastly poached sea trout
with fennel cream, olive and vanilla veloute, fennel and olive tuille. A beaut dish. The Nocella olives especially notable. Our last session was Carlo Cracco.

His restaurant, Cracco, is yet another two star venue rated in the top 50 in the world (43rd last year). With Guy Grossi translating Carlo explained how he has transformed the most common and universally available hens egg into something no one has ever thought of and uses it in a variety of recipes. He separates the yolks and marinates them in coarse smoked salt, sea salt would do, and sugar and a bean puree for about 8 hours. The eggs can then be used in a wide variety of ways. He made a dish of parmesan fondue, basil seeds and tomato.

Later he flattened the left over yolks and put them through a pasta machine to make egg spaghetti

with tomato's and sardines. He also prepared a risotto
with oil of anchovies, lemon cocoa and chili. These dishes were at the extreme of innovation and had great visual appeal. unfortunately, and this may have been a fault emanating from the kitchen, I found them all too salty. The addition of a dash of horseradish juice was quite special in the risotto. This was a fascinating day worth every bit of the $275 ticket price. This included endless tea coffee pastries and fruit during breaks and heaps of salads

for lunch. Four more sessions tomorrow WOW
Score: 19/20 so far

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