Ferran Adria and el Bulli Foundation

While I detest the term “foodie”, I have to admit that I’m a bit of a chef groupie. I am just amazed by their passion, dedication, creativity, and hard work. Back when I did an eight-course degustation meal for charity I was nearly dead the next day. It never ceases to amaze me as to what the chefs around the globe can accomplish. So while it was a bit of an indulgence, when the opportunity to meet Ferran Adria at Tetsuya’s came up recently I just HAD to go.

I guess whether it’s shoes, clothes, books, or any other fascination it’s easy to come up with logic that justifies large cash outlays. In this case, the $750 ticket not only got me an introduction to one of the best chefs of the past century (see el Bulli’s dominance of the world’s best restaurants) and a chance to sample Tetsuya’s food, it also gave me a copy of Ferran’s seven volume epic, el Bulli 2005 – 2011. Given that, it was an absolute bargain! Thank goodness the Gourmet Female agreed…

The evening was a standup cocktail event, including about 45 people in attendance.  One of the highlights for me was to see some of Australia’s food royalty share the stage with Ferran for a photo opp.

Ferran then spent about 30 minutes talking to the group about the el Bulli Foundation and what he’s doing with Bullipedia, 1846, and el Bulli DNA. Putting food aside, his thoughts and convictions in regards to creativity and innovation were simply inspiring. He has such a passion for how the foundation is going to change the world. If only we could bring that kind of passion to everything in life!

The co-star of the night was the el Bulli 2005 - 2011 collection. It is simply a stunning set and a great investment for any fan of food, creativity, and culinary history.

I was lucky enough for Ferran to autograph the tools and techniques book. He also was kind enough to let me take a second photo - nothing like being the envy of my food-loving friends!

All in all it was an amazing night. Well, it was an amazing one and a half hours! I also got to meet the chef behind Gelato Messina. While the chance to meet Ferran is gone now, I'd highly recommend picking up the el Bulli 2005 - 2011 volume. Yes, it's pricey and damn, it's heavy... but it is one of those must-haves in the food book collection.

A Taste of Harmony

Recently I was asked at work to help out with our Taste of Harmony day by organising and championing a farmers/growers market where our employees could showcase their passions from home. With everything else on at the moment I was a bit hesitant but after asking a couple of my colleagues and getting very enthusiastic reactions I decided I was in!

I was so very lucky to have so many people jump in and bring things on the day. Jams, honeys, vegetables, cupcakes, cheese, butter, nuts, you name it! Why is this worth a post? Two reasons. First, I think it's a great opportunity for people to do this at their workplaces. It gets people together and champions some great causes like sustainability, grow local, and recycling. We had a fashion show and clothes swap as well but I was most impressed with the market!

The second reason that this is worth is a post is because I asked a couple of my contacts on Twitter to join in and they were more than happy to! They came, showcased, and talked all about their products and really threw passion into the day. Pepe Saya came and showed everyone his passion - butter! You can see that I'm at awe at the size of the 6kg butter wheel!

In addition, the team from Brasserie Bread chipped in five beautiful sourdough loaves, Orangville Pastoral brought top quality meat and donated a meat box for a charity raffle, and The Wheen Bee Foundation brought honey to tell us all about how important bees are to food sustainability. Best of all, we raised $3400 on the day for charity! And our work teams loved it. Why not do one at your workplace this autumn?

Peel A Whole Head Of Garlic In Ten Seconds? (or the day I stabbed myself with garlic)

Recently I discovered a post on Saveur about how you can peel a whole head of garlic in ten seconds. Ten seconds! That's how long it takes for a single clove with the old flat-knife method. Could it be true? And if so, could I pull it off? I just had to give it a try.

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The technique is incredibly simple. Smash the head of garlic by hitting it firmly with your hand on a sturdy counter. Word of warning here, though: hit the garlic at an angle because if you hit it straight down you may end up with an injury that no one will believe (or stop laughing about if they saw it first hand).

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Next, sweep all the garlic and skins into a large bowl and cover the bowl with another one of the same size upside down. Shake vigorously for ten seconds and voila, you have an entire head of garlic, peeled to perfection. Nice!

Sartago's Paella - Guest Post

Every now and then we've had the privilege of having top chefs from around the world share their favourite recipes on Gourmet Male. We've had Australian, Italian, English, and American chefs talk about what they love to cook. Today is no difference as Chef Riccardo Messora of Sartago Tapas Wine Bar in Richmond, VIC has chipped in with his Uncle's favourite paella recipe. And if you're a regular visitor of Gourmet Male you'll know we not only love our Spanish food, we absolutely adore paella. Enjoy! 

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My uncle's Paella “alla Valenciana”

Ingredients for 12 people:

  • 4lt        Chicken or veg Stock
  • 500 gm    Pork short ribs
  • 500 gm    Chicken thighs boned and diced
  • 1 kg        Paella rice (Calasparra, Bomba, or alternatively Arborio)
  • 2 doz        Tiger prawns cleaned (tail on)
  • 2 ½ doz    Mussels
  • 2 ½ doz    Clams        
  • 4 ea        Red capsicums (peeled from raw and sliced in ½ cm strips by 5 cm)
  • 1 ea        Onion finely chopped
  • 4 ea        Garlic cloves minced
  • 7 gm        Saffron threads
  • 1 tbs        Tumeric ground
  • 2 tbs        Paprika mild
  • 500 ml    White wine
  • 500 gm    Tin diced tomatoes
  • 500 gm    Peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 150 gm    Chopped parsley

 

Method:

1- Gather, prep and have ready all ingredients before start cooking

Note: This recipe is quite a large amount, so it is important to have a large enough pan. The ingredients don't have to be too much on top of each other, and the burner should cover almost all of the bottom of the pan. As this is a summery dish, this recipe can also be cooked on top of a BBQ outside, as long as there is an even heat all round. Paella burners, which are designed especially for this dish, and are also quite easy to purchase online or in cooking shops. No lid is required while cooking a paella.

2- Heat some olive oil in the paella pan or a shallow & wide frying pan, and brown ribs and chicken.

3- Add the capsicums, onion and garlic. Fry for 5 minutes

4- Mix all the spices together and dust them all round, fry for 5 minutes then deglaze with white wine

5- Add the rice, stir a little, spread even and pour in half of the hot stock.

6- When the stock has been absorbed, add the tin tomatoes and the rest of the stock.

7- When the tomatoes and rest of the stock starts to absorb, place all the seafood on top in an alternated circular fashion and slowly allow to cook

8- At the same time scatter the peas around the pan

9- When the rice is cooked, the dish is ready

10- Chop the parsley, sprinkle on top and serve

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Thanks, Chef! We love having new gourmet males join us on our culinary journey. I can't wait to visit soon.

Sartago Tapas Wine Bar
Chef Riccardo Messora
460 Church St
Richmond, VIC (Melbourne)