I had a meal this week from one of Australia’s most talked about young regional chefs. It was really pretty, it was clever, it involved a brigade of about 20 chefs, approximately the same number of movements to plate – and I was really pleased to have had the experience.
In the same week we have had the editor of the Good Food Guide in the restaurant and while she wasn’t reviewing it naturally gets you thinking about what these people are looking for when they eat out. It’s also days before the release of the 2015 Good Food Guide and this will have the usual flurry of who’s in and who’s out, what’s cool and what’s not.
As a cook it’s a time to steel myself to what I want to achieve at The Zin House. My goal is to cook simply, cook from scratch and cook local; to avoid the temptation of getting caught up in what is expected and instead deliver what is true for me.
We’re in a food age when it seems that everything on a menu must be both simultaneously constructed and deconstructed, when the importance of the chef takes precedence over the importance of the produce and when restaurants sprook provenance while boasting lists full of imported wines. I need to have a compass back to home base.
I don’t want you to come to The Zin House for boasting rights. I want you to come here to enjoy a few hours somewhere lovely with something comforting to eat and drink and go back into the world a bit more relaxed, cosseted with some nice new memories.
It’s that simple.
Honey ice-cream and rose roast rhubarb
600 ml cream
1 vanilla bean
8 egg yolks
4 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup of sugar
Bring the cream to the boil with the vanilla bean. Beat the yolks, honey and sugar together until thickened then whisk into the just boiled cream. Stir it over a low heat for a couple of minutes or until it has just thickened a little without boiling again (which would cause it to split). If in doubt taste it and if it still tastes of raw egg you haven’t taken this basic anglaise far enough. You can now use this as a simple custard or churn for ice-cream.
For the rhubarb slice the stalks, place in a roasting dish with a good splash of rose, sprinkle with sugar (about a cup for a small bunch) add a cinnamon stick and a chopped orange. Cover and cook gently until just tender. Add more sugar if it is still too tart. If you want at this stage you can also drain all the juices into a pan and reduce until syrupy to form a sauce. We serve this with homemade puff pastry and double cream. Use the bought stuff and it will still be yummy or just have the fruit and ice-cream.