Diary of time in Melbourne- entry no. 8

This week I spent a service at the all-dessert café Rosamond, run by pastry chef Pierre Roelofs. I went in with big expectations, not only because I had tackled the dessert degustation twice previously, but Pierre has a resume to die for. He spent fourteen years honing his craft in Europe, spending time at three Michelin-starred restaurants, including Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck.

Needless to say I wasn’t disappointed. I arrived, knowing that although I had eaten there recently, I would not have seen any of the dishes I would be making tonight, as the menu is brand new every week. Pierre has been at Rosamond for 33 weeks now, which means 33 entirely different menus, with four desserts each. There are four desserts on each menu, so 132 different desserts in less than a year, all of high quality, with no signs of slowing down. When you see how complex each dessert is, you may begin to understand why Pierre is one of the best pastry chefs going around.

The first dish I was shown to plate up was one of the restaurant’s signatures, the test tube (containing a different combination each week). It’s a little amuse bouche, and is a fun way to start the evening.

Pear puree, tea jelly, pop rocks and vanilla gel (I forgot to take a photo so the picture is from a couple weeks ago when I ate there and is in fact chocolate).

The second of the four desserts tonight was a good combination of classic techniques (blueberry frangipan) and modern ones (blueberry gel). Pierre mentioned that many good pastry chefs turn their noses up at some classic techniques (crème pat) and whip out the molecular gastronomy kit at every chance. Food is all about taste though, and Pierre is not above any technique in order to create the perfect flavour balance.

Blueberry frangipan, coconut water jelly, coconut sago, blueberries, dried blueberries, blueberry gel, blueberry and coconut crème pat, pine nuts, rosemary parfait

The third course is on the menu as “the one in the middle” and is served in a glass. Actually, that is a bit of a lie as there is no menu as such. Even if there was, I’m not sure what you would call these dishes as they have quite a few elements! This makes it quite interesting to eat, as you continue to find new elements to the dish as you delve deeper into the glass. I think this dish is an excellent example of how important it is to not only balance flavours, but textures too.

Cheesecake, sour cream, summer pudding, gingerbread, mandarin segments, freeze dried mandarin, red wine granita, foam, chocolate soil

The fourth and final dish of the night was a stunning little dome, and had some rather unusual, but delicious elements. It’s not that often you see polenta used in a dessert, and I’d certainly never heard of freeze-dried maple syrup before!

Polenta, sour cream, freeze dried maple syrup, maple syrup gel, apricot gel, puffed wheat, freeze dried apricots, meringue, apricots soaked in verjuice

If you read the descriptions of each dish, you may notice words like ‘gel’ and ‘jelly’ pop up a few times. Below are some of Pierre’s golden rules for using gelling agents:

  • Agar for gels: 0.9 grams per 100g liquid (eg. Fruit puree) is the general rule, but sometimes a bit less if the liquid is particularly viscous. Agar needs a certain amount of liquid to work properly. If you make something with agar and it is grainy, it may be because there was not enough moisture for the agar. It is really strong in thin layers, but can become brittle if you set it thick. The liquid you wish to gel and the agar should start from cold and come up to a rolling boil as quickly as possible, whisking. As soon as it is at a rolling boil, remove from heat and cool as quickly as possible. Allow to cool completely and set, then puree in a blender to a gel.
  • Xantham gum for gels: Used when combining a fat with a non-fat liquid (eg cream and fruit juice) to stop the gel splitting when blended
  • Gellan: Used to obtain gels for thin liquid eg. Juice
  • Gelatin: 1 leaf per 100g liquid for a firmly set jelly

Pierre was kind enough to give me one of his take-home desserts. The dry mix in a packet is brought to the boil with a little milk, and turns to a finished pudding in minutes! Very clever indeed. There is gellan gum in the mixture which allows it to thicken to a pudding consistency so quickly.

Some lessons learned (from Pierre) this week:

  • You should be able to justify and validate everything you do. Why is that element on the plate? How is that element made? Don’t use an ingredient without knowing where it comes from and how it is made. Pierre’s example was the pop rocks that we were plating up. I had no idea how pop rocks are made. For the record, little pellets of really hot sugar are fired in a high-pressure environment, and then are cooled very quickly. The high-pressure means that they pop rocks trap little pockets of CO2 as they solidify. When you eat them, (or if they come in contact with liquid) they sugar melts, releasing the pockets of CO2, hence the ‘pop’.
  • Work as neat and tidy as you possibly can and you’ll be the best chef you can be. I have been told this by many respected chefs, so I figure there is something in this.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Varadayini on December 5, 2010 at 8:23 am

    omg! that third ‘glass’ dish is a stunner!!! The redness of the red wine granita and the whiteness of the summer pudding its giving it a perfect look…the taste must have been amazing!! Melbourne has a lot 2 offer for a person with a sweet tooth…thanks Cal 🙂


  2. We were there last Thursday! (And we spotted you in the kitchen on our way out.) It was our first visit to Rosamond, though we’ve previously tried a couple of Roelofs’ desserts at Interlude.

    I think the tubes were our favourite – I haven’t had pop rocks in years! I really like the attention paid to contrasting textures.


    • Yeah the tubes were really cool, I rather like the course served in the glass as I find you continue to be surprised by the elements a you work your way down. Great contrast in textures, flavours, classic and modern techniques


  3. Posted by Isabella Little on December 6, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Callum I love your cooking and how those macaroons look like tomatoes thats awsome. I was wondering my brother and I have been making quiches for my mum we were wondering if you have any recipes??


  4. Posted by mellisa on December 10, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Hi, only just seen the masterchef australia final tonight in the uk, great loved the series and me and my partner where both willing you on to win. Would be great to see a pudding cookbook for those of us with basic home kitchens. all the bes from the uk
    mellisa and john


  5. Posted by Sean Manley Kelly on December 11, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Hi callum my name is Sean and Im 10 and Im from Cobh in Ireland. I love masterchef and and I saw you in the finals and you may not think this but you definetly deserved to win and im your biggest fan and your an inpireation to me.


  6. Posted by Sean Manley Kelly on December 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    sorry there Callum I spelled inspiration


  7. Posted by Disha on December 15, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Dear Callum, You will go a long long way! You proved yourself on masterchef but the sky is the limit!


  8. Hey cal ! I’m a big fan of urs 🙂
    I really love the fact that u blog….
    I can still get a sneak peek at what youre up to
    Long after master chef is over
    (well actually the season finale just aired last night
    Here in India )
    Here s a little suggestion…
    I’m presuming you’re an amateur photographer
    It would be great if you learnt to take good macro shots (photos), learnt a bit about
    Composition , and angles to photograph from…
    Because the food u hang around is seriously beautiful,(not too many of us
    Get to hang around drool worthy food ALL the time , u see ) it would really give your blog
    A great, professional, glossy touch

    And ur like the only access to us in the


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