Cooking Across 4 Generations

Using recipes collected from 4 generations of one family


December 2011

Pilu at Freshwater: Pre-Christmas Lunch with Friends


After what seems like ages Rene and I got together with our friends Helena and John for lunch at Pilu at Freshwater. Helena had suggested Pilu so she got the reservations all set up. We decided to take the ferry to Manly to meet Helena and John at their house, and then walk over from there. Must remember when walking is involved to wear flat shoes. Taking the ferry was a good idea as I was able to relax and enjoy some wine, had I driven I would only have gotten one or two glasses.

I had heard many good reports about Pilu and was excited to finally get there. Giovanni Pilu and Marilyn Annecchini set up Pilu at Freshwater in 2004 over looking Freshwater beach, which is just along from Manly Beach. The menu has a heavy Sardinian influence reflecting the birthplace Of Giovanni Pilu, and has a wine list heavy in Italian wines with a good emphasis on wines from Sardinia. The wine list also offers a fabulous regional selection from NSW.

On arrival we ordered some sparkling mineral water (which I was thrilled to see was the Bulgari label San Pellegrino) to refresh ourselves after our walk. We settled on a bottle of Berlucchi ‘Cuvée Storica 61’ – a sparkling rose from Franciacorta, as our aperitif. Franciacorta is a region in Lombardy in the north of Italy bordering Switzerland in the north, Emilia-Romagna in the south, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto in the east and Piedmont in the west. Rene and I really must learn more about Italian wines. Often a rose can tend to a bit of sweetness, but this one was dry and perfect to get lunch started.

Our Menu

After a bit of catch up talk we decided to go for the tasting menu with matching wines.

First course was scampi with sea urchin butter, this is the second time I have had sea urchin now. Really good!! The scampi was lightly grilled and the sea urchin butter made a great sauce. This was served with Pala ‘I Fiori’ – Vermentino di Sardegna DOC 2010.

Scampi with Sea Urchin Butter

Second course was a ravioli of potato mint and pecorino with burnt butter, sage and black truffle. Served with Santadi ‘Pedraia’ – Nuragus di Cagliari DOC 2009.

Ravioli of potato, mint and pecorino

The next two courses we didn’t get photos of as we were all too busy eating and talking

Third course: Fregola with tomato and cured meat ragout. On Sunday I thought this was risotto but a bit of research has led me to find that fregola is a Sardinian pasta very similar to Israeli cous cous. It is made from semolina dough and rolled in to balls about 2 -3mm in diameter. The ragout served with this was rich and delicious. Now that I know what fregola is I will be looking out for it when shopping and eating out. Our wine changed to a red for this course Pala ‘I Fiori’ – Monica di Sardegna DOC. There are times when you really want a lighter red and this wine is it. Great flavour and it didn’t overwhelm the food.

This was followed by an orange and olive sorbet. This was served in a fancy spoon, with the sorbet sitting on top of the finely minced olives. Very nice, although personally, I would have liked the olives on top so you get the salty first followed by the sweet.

Fourth course: Snapper fillet with Vernaccia di Oristano and green olives. I love olives and these were the greenest I have ever seen, very low on saltiness (I could eat quite a lot of these if I had a bowl in front of me).  For the wine we were back to a white here, Contini ’Karmis’ – Bianco Tharros IGT 2010. A bit more research was required as Vernaccia is new to me. Vernaccia is a sherry style wine from Sardinia and apparently not often found outside of Italy.

Fifth course: Oven roasted suckling pig served on the bone with condiments. Sounds better in Italian: Porcetto arrosto. Succulent pieces of suckling pig with a nice crisp crackling, served on a wooden board. Our condiments came out on our plates, orange jam(bitter orange which went so well with the fattiness of the pork), poached apple and salsa Verdi. A bowl of roasted chats was also served. With this course we were back to a red, Tani ‘Serranu’ – Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2009.

Accompaniments for the pork
Porcetto Arrosto

Sixth course: Sardinian fried pastry filled with fresh ricotta and sultanas, served with warm corbezzolo honey. Another new ingredient (even though it is honey), Corbezzolo (also called strawberry bush) is a Sardinian native bush that flowers from October till the end of December. This honey has a hint of bitterness. This pastry was like a little ravioli and was a flavoursome little dessert. The wine was also amazing, sweet but not overbearingly so, Mesa ‘Orodoro’ – LA Vino Bianco Passito VDT 2009.

Sardinian fried pastry with sutanas and ricotta

We had the option of a further cheese course but we were full. Anything more would have been overkill. To finish our tasting we had a digestive of ‘Mezzo’ Mirto – Lucrezio. Mirto is a liqueur made from the berries of the Myrtle tree which grows freely in Sardinia. A very interesting and very different liqueur.

A great lunch and a great day out with friends. There is nothing like a lunch that takes 4 ½ hours. If you plan to make a reservation, get in early and book a seat by the window overlooking the beach.

Wishing all my Readers a Very Merry Christmas and Lots of happiness in 2012!

Wirra Wirra Dinner

December 1st saw us having our last wine dinner for the year. This time we had wines from Wirra Wirra from McLaren Vale in South Australia. Around 50 people booked for the dinner which made the atmosphere a little more relaxed and intimate. Katie Gillet our rep from Negociants was on hand with Paul from Wirra Wirra, to give our diners the lowdown on the wines and some of the history of Wirra Wirra Winery. Our diners appreciate being able to get someone from the winery to give them as much information as possible.

Our menu was quite light and perfect for summer, even though the weather wasn’t quite summery.  Some are dishes were re-interprations of family Christmas dishes, some re workings of dishes I have had before, and a few first timers.

The wines for the evening
The restaurant set for the night, few Christmas decorations to set the mood

On arrival our guests had canapes with Mrs Wigley Grenache Rose 2011. Here is Rachel dishing up the bloody Mary shots (we like to be a bit silly in the kitchen).

Rachel getting the canapes ready

First course: Chilled cucumber soup with Morrocan prawns. A bit of a contrast here cooling chilled cucmber soup with some prawns dry marinated in Ras al hanout. Ras al hanout is the famous ‘top of the shop’ spice mix from Morroco, regarded as being a spice merchants best spice blend contianing upward of 20 ingredients. My recipe I put together has around 25. The soup was inspired by one I had at the home of the original Newcastle Pudding Lady Dawn Hodgetts. We served this with a beautiful crisp riesling ‘The Lost Watch’ Riesling 2009.

Chilled cucumber soup with Morrocan prawns. They seem to have sunk a bit.

Second course: Chicken and pistachio terrrine with tamarillo chutney. This is a dish I usually make several times over summer, be it for weekend lunches or a picnic. I paired it with a Kiwi classic, tamarillo chutney. I had wanted to make tamarillo chutney for our NZ wine dinner but unfortunately they were out of season back then. So I took advantage of them being in season to pair them as a chutney with this terrine. Paired with Scrubby Rise Unwooded Chardonnay 2011.

Chicken and pistachio Terrine with Tamarillo chutney.

Third course: Boudin of seafood on pea puree, lobster bisque sauce. I have been wanting to try making a seafood boudin for a while as it is something a bit different than your usual piece of fish for dinner. I made this with a mix of slipper lobster and 3 types of fish. This was quite popular, which is gratifying, certainly makes all that weighing and rolling worth while. Just a basic bisque sauce and some delicious pea puree( I would have liked a pie with the puree). This was paired with Hiding Champion Sauvignon Blanc 2011.

Boudin of seafood, pea puree and lobster bisque sauce

Fourth course: Inside out pork, apricot stuffing, roasted potao and pumpkin, wilted spinach and prune sauce. This is a re-interpretation of one dish we used to have every Christmas. Why is it inside out pork. Because the stuffing is on the outside, Mum uses a loin roast with the flap on to stuff. I also wrapped the lot in caul fat but after steaming it wasn’t noticeable. We kids used to think the pork with the prune sauce was a bit strange(prunes were for the oldies) but we ate it and really liked it. I don’t think it was quite as good as when Mum makes it but was close. I also had a brainwave last light while making it, soaking the prunes in a bit of armagnac would add another layer of flavour(my favourite quote is: add some alcohol, it might taste even better). Of course you can’t have pork without the crackling!! We matched this with Catapult Shiraz Viognier 2009.

Inside out pork with apricot stuffing, prune sauce roasted potato and pumpkin with wilted spinach.

And finally the best course, dessert. So as I was twisting things and expected it to be hot, I decided to do a Christmas pudding macaron, our guests got pudding but not in the usual sense. The Chrismas pudding macaron was a HIT, I reckon it was because of the high rum content. The berry timbale was quite refreshing, nice and light. The gingerbread people a memory of past Christmases. We had a lovely work experience student in this week who gave me a hand with the desserts and did a great job ‘dressing’ the gingerbread people. We matched this with Mrs Wigley Moscato 2010 which was also in the timbale.

Ginger bread person, summer berry timbale and Christmas pudding macaron.

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