June 16th, 2010

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

This Week's Column - Neptune & Bacchus

Published in the City Hub and City News.

As you can see, this column’s dedicated to the gods of the sea and the vine, Neptune and Bacchus.


When your hubby’s a fisherman, you get to be pretty creative with fish. Rachel McGlashan’s new book Dinner With the Fishwife (RRP $45) is very imaginative. I’m not entirely convinced of the relationship between fish and breakfast, and I’ll still be eating my oysters as Neptune intended, but I might just try out some of her other family recipes. Most recipes use flavours the kids will not find off putting, like Coconut Crumbed Fish. McGlashan writes from a classic Australian sensibility, and has a great guide to what’s seasonally available in NSW. You’ll find every ingredient in her simple recipes available from any supermarket, and there’s not too many things to buy either. No weird tools, technology or difficult techniques; anyone could pull these dishes off – so get over your fear of fish.

Warm up winter with a series of hot classes at the Sydney Seafood School. As well as their fast-filling name brand classes with iconic chefs like Damien Pignolet (Bistro Moncur) on 10th July; Justin North (Bécasse) on 12th July and Guillaume Brahimi (Guillaume at Bennelong) on 24th July, there’s also more basic classes. You can learn to make dishes like chilli crab, bouillabaisse, Thai seafood, Spanish Paella or Japanese tempura. I popped in recently for a bit of sushi and sashimi instruction from the funny and talented Grand Master Hideo Dekura. Hideo has a surprisingly modern sensibility that incorporates convenient technology like rice cookers and “Australian Chux – very, very good.” While you’re there, poke your nose into the fish auction space for a great behind-the-scenes glimpse at Sydney’s seafood industry!


If you’re a regular reader, you’ve heard me talk about Wooing Tree’s excellent Pinot Noir. Talk’s cheap; here’s a chance to drink the bloody stuff at a corker of a restaurant. Imagine five courses of satisfying wintery dishes in the unmistakeably contemporary style of Chef Tomislav Martinovic. Tomislav is a lovely little restaurant, with stellar city views from their deck - just the place to sip Wooing Tree’s Blondie, Champion Rose at New Zealand’s Royal Easter Show. Get in quick on (02) 9356 4535 because at $120/head including wine, the dinner on Wednesday 23rd June, 2010 is sure to book out.

French Champagne and a tasting plate of chocolates with flavours reminiscent of the Middle East are on offer at Boon Chocolates all through June. Alex and Fanny Chan were inspired by the release of Sex and The City 2, though after reading Helen Razer’s scathing review, I’m going to skip the film itself and head straight for the Marakesh, a dark chocolate ganache praline infused with fresh mint leaves. So gather the gal-pals and take them for a $20/head experience they’ll really enjoy.

With a sister, a wife, his mother and an aunt all called Mary, it’s no wonder that Hunter Valley winemaker Bob Lusby has the name on the tip of his tongue. I recently had his Tintilla Estate Four Marys Pinot Noir 2007 (RRP $30.00) on the tip of my own tongue. It’s nice to see that the Hunter Valley can produce a decent Pinot Noir that can stand proudly with all of those Shirazes.

With the coffers a bit tight, I’ve also been doing some drinking at the other end of the price scale. Yellow Tail’s 2009 Pinot Noir (RRP $10.99) is on offer for less than a tenner at most bottle shops. It’s surprisingly smooth, with liquorice, berries and a hint of stem. It’d be a good choice for the budgeting cook who likes a splash in a glass as well as some in the pot.

Speaking of grapes, Il Grappolo Cucina e Pizzeria in Rozelle really knocked my socks off with a stellar meal (see review section) and a truly wonderful wine. It’s hard to get your head around all those Italian varietals, but the Quercia Antica Lacrima Di Morro D’Alba DOC 2008 is one wine that comes up smelling violets!

The best way to learn more about Italian wines is to drink them! Alessandro Pavoni and the team at Ormeggio at The Spit are running a series of Italian wine dinners, starting with the region of Brescia on Thursday 1st July. For $125/head you’ll be dining on game, “the very best quality fresh Australian game from Vic’s Meats; including Cervena venison tartare with amaranth and quinoa crust, pomegranate and mustard chestnuts” explains Alessandro. Wines come courtesy of leading Italian wine merchant, Lario International.