This weekend seemed to fly past. Even though we had a long weekend, it felt like the hours were rushing by and there was a merry-go-round of things to do. Sydney was host to the naval fleet review to celebrate 150 years of the Australian navy, the Australian Football League (AFL) grand final, we had 2 days in the Blue Mountains with a small group of friends.
Omnivore, according to its website and our MC, started in France ten years ago as a way to showcase young chefs talent. The chefs featured in these festivals are generally running their first restaurant. This year, Omnivore is touring – oh so many cities, including Sydney for the first time.
The idea behind Omnivore Masterclasses is to give us a chance to hear young chefs from different countries talk about their ideas, current menus, how they got started, the restaurant industry and food scene in their cities, and how each dish is put together. During Saturday’s Masterclass, we had chefs from Australia, New Zealand and France. The Omnivore festival also featured a pop up dinner, dinner-collaborations between Australian and international guest chefs, and a closing cocktail party (featuring the chefs’ food) which coincidentally was also a prime viewing platform for the naval fleet review fireworks. Alas, the Blue Mountains beckoned and I didn’t make it to the cocktail party.
I went into the Masterclass with high expectations and was not disappointed. By the end of the day, my notepad was filled with hasty scribbles of ideas for food and flavour combinations, bare lists of ingredients for a new recipe – perfect fodder for my experimental tendencies, and other scribbles indicating new foodstuffs to look for or restaurants to visit. Admittedly, one of those restaurants is in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris, so the visit might be a while away, but there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead, oui?
Favourite moments of the day?
- Swooning to Sven Chartier’s French accent. I want to visit his restaurant in Paris (Saturne) for culinary reasons, really!!
- Carla Jones (Four Fourteen) inviting the audience to her 30th birthday party on Sunday – after inspiring the audience with a new-found love of tongue.
- Mitch Orr (121BC) triggering the smoke alarm, and quipping “I’m not paying the fire brigade bill.” (The Maritime Museum made an official announcement asking Museum patrons not to panic. One of the funniest moment of the day.)
Favourite ideas from the day:
- Roasted butternut pumpkin with a reduced beer glaze (the chef specified trappist monk beer). The steps seemed simple, but the presentation was stunning, and even as a non-American I thought this may be a perfect fall / Halloween dish. I’m bookmarking this for Christmas.
- Croatian-style pickled vegetables. Simple and adaptable, and seems quite tasty. Unlike the Croatian families we Australians can’t keep jars of these home-made pickles for months without refrigeration, but if I make a judicious amount of pickles, there should always be friends who will lend their appetites.
- The beauty of intensely flavoured broth, enriched with shittake mushrooms and odd bits of other vegetables.
- Japanese grill. Need one. Leeks, ox tongue, even cucumber, everything is improved by a chargrill. Speaking of tongue, I want to learn to cook tongue properly, which means learning to brine. Fingers crossed.
- Italian cooking is more a state of mind, apparently.
- Curing seafood with lime juice, or rice vinegar, can be one of the most beautiful sights.
- Learning, by watching Mitch Orr, that when tea-smoking anything, do it outside the house or with the extractor fan on full.
- Free macarons, or I should say, Zumbarons, from the event’s sponsor. The wine and beer tasting stands were also fun, though sadly I missed the wine masterclass at the end of the day.
- Seeing shiny new gadgets I could daydream about. Like that Japanese shredder/slicer/spiraliser, it’s like a 3-D mandolin but infinitely more fun.
- Having a chance to see the naval fleet review ships in Darling Harbour in between Omnivore sessions.
- Pretending I’m a real photographer and jostling for space with the DSLRs and iPads, and then one of the industry guys puts a plate in front of me, saying “here you go, do you want a close up?” – Thanks!!
- And many other things, generally summed up as – a whole day of food!!!
Can’t wait for the rest of the Good Food Month.