Diary of my time in Melbourne- entry no. 7

When I asked on my Twitter account what I should do on my day off, I had quite a few people tell me to go on a chocolate tour of Melbourne (www.chocoholictours.com.au).

We were taken to four different chocolate shops, given a little spiel about how the chocolate was made, and of course got to eat plenty of chocolate! It was a rather enjoyable afternoon. I love all chocolate, but I am particularly fond of dark chocolate. Previously I had eaten chocolate which contained 85% cocoa solids (the higher the percentage, the more bitter and less sweet the chocolate is). I found some chocolate though which was 100% cocoa solids, and I had to try it, knowing that it probably wouldn’t taste great because it has no sugar in it!

Tasting the chocolate it was more savoury than sweet; but it was good to try and it gave me quite a few ideas about dishes I could make with it. Maybe soon I’ll pick up some venison and finish off a sauce with the chocolate, or perhaps make the Mexican sauce Mole. Some people say you shouldn’t put chocolate in Mole, some say you should. I’m no Mexican expert so I’ll just sit on the fence for this one!

One of the places that we went to to try the chocolate was Cacao, who not only have some delicious chocolate but recently won the Melbourne Macaron competition, with their tomato, basil and strawberry flavoured macarons. I’m sure some of you may know that I love a good macaron, and I couldn’t resist trying some of their flavours. The cassis was a personal favourite, although I was a little disappointed not to be able to try a tomato, basil and strawberry!

On Friday at The Press Club we did an exclusive function, which means the restaurant was booked out by a large group, all of which were eating degustation. This means that we had to get 800 plates of food plated in the night (100 people x 8 courses), it’s not hard to imagine the difficulty of co-ordinating the courses to go out at the same time! The service essentially ran like a production line, with each person being responsible for adding one element to the plate. It was quite interesting to see how it ran and it’s easy to see how without proper organisation the whole night could have gone pear-shaped very quickly!

We have a rather delicious zucchini flower and gnocchi dish on the menu at the moment. The photo below is the dish in its original guise, but has since changed and no longer has a stuffed zucchini flower. The flower is now separated, battered and deep fried. The flower stem is then chopped and added to the regular zucchini. It is also served with a black olive puree.

This is my version of the dish to cook at home (I don’t include golden beetroots as they are very difficult to find if you’re not ordering them straight from a supplier).

I have put my gnocchi recipe on the blog before (search gnocchi or potatoes at the top of the blog in the search bar).

Ingredients: (serves 4)

1 quantity gnocchi, blanched

4 zucchini flowers

1 zucchini, diced

1/4 bunch chervil, shredded

handful broad beans, blanched

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

olive oil

1/4 cup vegetable stock

2 Tablespooons butter

goats curd and freshly grated peccorino, to serve

Method:

Separate zucchini flower from stem. Slice stem and tear each flower into three pieces.

Heat a non stick frying pan with a little olive oil. Add the gnocchi and fry on a high heat, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. The gnocchi is blanched, so you aren’t trying to cook the gnocchi too much, just warm it and give it nice colour. Remove gnocchi from pan and reserve. Wipe out pan, and add some olive oil. Add diced zucchini and stem to the pan, and cook until golden, turning on a high heat. Add the broad beans, then add the vinegar and stock. The pan should be quite hot so the stock reduces really quickly, to help steam the vegetables rather than stew them. Once stock has reduced to almost nothing, add flowers, chervil, gnocchi, and butter. Toss to coat everything with butter. Season with salt, then distribute between bowls. Serve with some goats curd spooned over and peccorino.

As cancer is something that has affected me personally, I’m supporting Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea (cancer council), which is held on thursday 26th of May next year. If you are interested in registering to host your own morning tea you can check out the website http://www.biggestmorningtea.com.au, where I’ll have my favourite morning tea recipe going up on the site soon.

Lessons learned this week:

  • When you cook pasta, you want the water salted and on a rolling boil, however, when cooking gnocchi the water should be on a more gentle boil. Gnocchi rises to the surface of the water when cooked but if the water is boiling to rapidly it is hard to tell when to remove it from the pot.
  • Organisation is the key to big functions. Be organised, everything will run smoothly. It would be very easy to completely lose the plot without adequete preparation!
  • Practise doesn’t make perfect, it makes par. Having said that, the best way to get good at something is to do it regularly. I have noticed how much faster I have been getting at jobs that I was quite slow at initially.
  • If you ever go on a chocolate tour, you are offered a hot chocolate and a chocolate mousse at the end. After eating chocolate for hours, I would advise on getting the mousse take-away. I wish someone had given me this advice!

I am rather happy to say that unless there is a last minute change of plans I am spending a day next week at Rosamond, the dessert degustation restaurant I spoke highly of in my last blog entry. I’ll try to take lots of photos for my next post!

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13 responses to this post.

  1. The chocolate tour sounds great! And I love the tomato macarons, they look just perfect.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Alex on November 28, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Hey Callum,
    The chocolate looks absolutely amazing, but not as much as the tomato macaroons! Just wondering if you are still at the Press Club, we are dying to have some lunch and come say hi around Thursday?

    Alex.

    Reply

  3. Unfortunately this Thursday I’m working at a place in Fitzroy called Rosamond, but am at the Press Club the other days of the week. The tomato macarons are stunning

    Reply

  4. Posted by divine grace ali on November 28, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Wow! A chocolate tour, I’ve heard of it but I thought it was something informal as in visiting shops on your own. I didn’t know it was an actual tour… I’ll add that to my bucket list 🙂

    Reply

  5. Posted by divine grace ali on November 28, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Wow! A chocolate tour, I’ve heard of it but I thought it was something informal as in visiting shops on your own. I didn’t know it was an actual tour… I’ll add that to my bucket list 🙂
    Is it really who’s maintaining the facebook account? I noticed it was created just recently…

    Reply

    • Yeah it was great fun. It is my facebook page, I created it recently to try and keep in touch with some of the people who watched me on the show. It turns out it’s quite difficult to respond to everyone’s messages though!

      Reply

  6. Tomato macarons look too cute! Btw I’ve problem getting hold of the lavender flavouring which you used in the show. Any idea where I can find some around Adelaide or Barossa?
    800 plates of food a night is formidable! Well done, Callum.

    Reply

    • One of the places I love going to for hard-to-find food products is called Bottega Rotolo, and is between Magill Rd and the Parade, about 10 minutes drive from Adelaide’s CBD. Look for violet flavouring alternatively. If you can’t find them, don’t get too hung up on it- there is a million different macaron flavours you can make, so maybe try another flavour!

      Reply

  7. Posted by David Charles on November 29, 2010 at 4:20 am

    WOW! a chocolate tour. I love chocolate, and as I am already a little over-weight, a chocolate tour would be disasterous. But who cares, bring on the chocolate. Callum, you are obviously leading an exciting life while learning new things.

    Reply

  8. Posted by sonia on November 30, 2010 at 10:56 am

    Some stunning pictures here Callum…specially the last one…um, where was I, yeh, I love the look of the zucchini flower and vegetables. Not really a fan of dessert or thongs, but somehow you manage to pull off both of them quite nicely. Never too late to be converted I guess.

    Reply

  9. Posted by ivy4ali on November 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I’m giggling its ridiculous! Hahaha! I was thinking it wasn’t you and I got sad and disappointed… Then I remembered the time you were made to believe that the real Crown Jewel was presented to you when it was actually just a replica. So I decided whether its really you or not, I should still be inspired. But its an ultimate high to know its really you!

    Reply

  10. Sweet post dude. I’m digging that tomato macaron vine and the recipe looks the goods.

    See you in Sydney soon!

    Matt

    Reply

  11. Posted by Varadayini on December 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Hey Callum!
    great pics!! and the macarons look tempting!!
    your lessons learned this week are lessons for us too!! Thanks mate 🙂
    Just a question since i am not an Aussie, are lamingtons to be eaten cold or warm??though i have the recipe, i am kinda confused..

    Reply

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