For the food fair I decided to make a tarte au citron. This tart is made in many cafes and venues around the world but for me and many others it is a dessert that is associated with France. Perhaps this is due to the association of lemons as an ingredient used prolifically along the shores of the Mediterranean. Maybe it’s simply because we associate French cuisine as the world leader in pastries.
I selected this dish because it’s one that I particularly enjoy and would like to be able to make well. I was also attracted to the dish because my boyfriend’s family grow lemons in their backyard and I wanted to use the home grown produce in my tart. I felt that this aligned well with the cuisines we had studied because in every case regional dishes reflect what can be grown well in an area.
I had made this tart twice before and have always struggled to achieve the exact consistency that I desire from my lemon curd. Therefore I began by trawling the internet for a recipe that looked appropriate and settled on this one from Mary Berry. This recipe was attractive because it contained lots of lemon and less sugar than many recipes, I personally prefer things to be less sweet. I made my own crust because I used to make tarts with my family when I was a child and we always made our own pastry.
The first tart I made the tart was undercooked even though it was brown on top and I thought that the lemon filling had begun to curdle a little. I wasn’t happy enough with it and decided to make another one. This time I lowered the oven temperature to 170 degrees and cooked the tart for an extra fifteen minutes.
This time the tart turned out much better, pale and creamy and delicious! Now I was ready for the food fair.
There was so much food at the food fair and there was even another tarte au citron so there was lots of competition. I asked a few of my classmates what they thought and they were all very positive, they particularly like the pastry and the strength of the lemon taste. I asked them for a criticism for future improvement and most people agreed that the pastry was a little crumbly so it was hard to eat but this was exaggerated by the hall environment.
Overall I enjoyed the experience of making tarte au citron and I can’t wait to make it again soon.
Looking through Goodfood’s guide to Melbourne’s best Italian I was drawn to Tipo 00 because of it’s central location and it’s medium price range- not cheap but not completely out of reach of a student on a special occasion. I headed there on a Saturday night with no booking as the internet had advised me that no bookings were necessary for the seating along the bar and within ten minutes was seated comfortably at a beautiful marble bench looking straight up at the lines of exclusively Italian or Australian liquors behind the bar.
The restaurant was busy even at this late hour. The décor was modern but with touches of ‘Italia’ about the place; black and white tiles, a wine cabinet at the rear. The couple seated next to us were speaking Italian, a good sign if ever there was one.
Below: the menu
We started with two specials; Tasmanian oysters and zucchini flowers as I first tried zucchini flowers when I was in Venice and they remind me so much of Italy. Both these dishes were served simply and did well to whet our appetite.
For my main course I ordered the Orecchiette. It was a massive serving which I could only finish with my boyfriend’s help. The orecchiette were al dente and the anchovies added a delicious saltiness to the dish. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. My boyfriend got the ‘Gnocchi di patate – braised duck, porcini mushroom & pecorino ‘. He said that it was very good but he found the portion size too small, although this is a common criticism that he has. All the pasta at Tipo 00 is made on site which really adds to the authenticity of the dishes.
We debated a little while on whether or not to get a dessert and were finally tempted by the Tipomissu, the restaurants take on this traditional Italian dessert. We were so happy that we had ordered it! It was rich and decadent with the espresso beautifully offset by the mascarpone.
Overall our meal at Tipo 00 was very good. It was not Italian food like I had eaten in Italy. This food will not remind you of your ‘nonna’s. Instead Tipo 00 presents itself perfectly as authentic Italian food with a contemporary Australian setting, it acknowledges traditional Italian food and recreates it skilfully with both respect to Italian cuisine and nous to comprehend what people in Melbourne look for in a stylish inner city restaurant.
Tipo 00, 361 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD
Price: $110 for two people, 3 courses and wine
Panzanella is a very traditional salad that originates from beautiful Tuscany. It is originally a peasant dish and not one that would be found in many Italian restaurants but it is indisputably one that is synonymous with Italian country cuisine. It is a very historic dish with perhaps the earliest mention of it coming from sixteenth century poet Bronzino. In fact the dish is so old that it pre-dates the introduction of tomatoes into Italian cuisine. Now you would very rarely find a Panzanella without tomatoes but the first variations included onions instead.
This salad starts with bread, something that can be found in nearly every household in Italy. But not fresh bread. Instead the basis of Panzanella is bread that is a couple days old and has begun to stale. Italian people have a long history of poverty and perhaps for this reason their food culture emphasises the importance of minimising waste. Though this practice stems from historical hardship it is good to maintain it now, as inefficient food systems are becoming more recognised as one of the major contributors to carbon emissions.
Mussolini knew of the importance of bread to the Italian people and during the 1920’s introduced the ‘battle of the grain’ to improve the economy of Italy and encourage farmers to grow wheat rather than to import wheat. This backfired however as wheat prices shot up too high for regular Italians, no more bread and no more Panzanella! Denying the Italian people bread was like denying them a human right and the hungry Italian people began to turn on Mussolini.
If you want to try your hand hand at making this salad you will first need to find some crusty Italian bread. Luckily, here in Melbourne we have many fantastic bakeries to choose from such as Baker D. Chirico right here in Carlton.
After that its just a matter of waiting on the bread for a couple days and then mixing it in with whatever vegetables you see fit. Here’s a recipe for those of you who want to try it.
The setting is Villeréal, a small village in the Lot-et-Garonne region of south-west France. It is here amongst the green pastures and historic chateaux that every February a competition is held to find the best tourin à l’ail, a simple garlic soup.
This soup boasts cheap ingredients and is both healthy and heartening. It is not a dish that has contributed to the reputation of French cuisine as one of the finest in the world but rather a simple peasants dish, something your ‘grand-mère’ may make. Garlic is a traditional ingredient in much Mediterranean cooking and has been used for it’s medicinal properties since Ancient Egyptian times. This makes the soup not only yummy and warm but also gives its consumer additional health benefits. No wonder they throw a festival for it!
The soup may be found all over the south-west of France from Aquitaine on the Atlantic coast down to the shores of the Mediterranean near Montpellier. Below is a video of some cooks in Toulouse preparing the dish.
I’ve linked to a recipe, if you wish to try the soup yourself, it’s en français, so its a good opportunity to practice your language skills! Most recipes call for the use of duck or goose fat as the starting oil because these poultry are a major product of the region, however simple olive oil can act as a substitute if you are like me and would prefer a vegetarian soup.
Finally most recipes will call to enjoy the dish with a glass of wine as some of France’s best wines come from the same regions as this soup. Perhaps you could even ‘faire chabrot‘, an old tradition in which the diner pours red wine into the last of their soup and drinks it directly from the bowl.
The flaò is a tart that originates from an area of Spain more noted for its party scene than its cuisine, the Balearic Islands in Cataluña.
Though traditionally prepared for Easter this pastry filled with soft cheese flavoured with honey, ground almonds, local liquors or aniseed can now be enjoyed year round due to its popularity. It can be prepared as a tart or in a more portable semicircular form so that it can be enjoyed on the go.
The various locations that it is traditionally from, notably Ibiza and Menorca have varying specifications for their flaò, for example in Ibiza it is prepared with mint leaves showing the Arabic influence on the cuisine of the area. This dish is unique to Cataluña and should not be confused with tarta de queso which stems from the north of Spain. Flaò, unlike the tarta, should be made with fresh goat or sheep’s curd and other dairy may not substitute.
Flaò is an ancient dish has been around since at least the 13th Century. It is even afforded a mention in the first ever major Catalan piece of literature, the novel Blanquerna, which was written in 1283. This period is around the same time that the first usage of the term ‘Cataluña’ occurred so flaò is historically linked to the region that produced it. Catalan culture and cuisine is unique to the rest of Spain and though it was suppressed through much of the twentieth century it is alive and well now and what better way to enjoy it than with a delicious flaò.
If this post has given you a hankering for flaò then I’m sorry to say it may be hard to find one down under. The closest thing perhaps would be the ‘tarta de queso’ found at Melbourne’s Movida Next Door. The other option of course would be to try your hand at making this delicious dessert. If that’s the case then here’s a recipe that doesn’t seem too ambitious.