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Food

Impress with: Giovanni Pilu

Sardinian-born chef Giovanni Pilu speaks proudly of 17 years of restauranting in Sydney. He has had great success, starting with Cala Luna at The Spit and now at one of the most beautiful venues in Australia, Pilu at Freshwater, on Sydney’s northern beaches. But more than that, he has personally educated Australians about the unique cuisine of Sardinia, and how it fits into the deliciously varied world of Italian food.

“When I first came here Sardinian food was very unknown to Sydneysiders,” says Giovanni. “So when I started my first restaurant and cooked Sardinian food it was quite challenging. People had never seen it before, so to get them to trust what we did wasn’t easy. But they really enjoyed it. Now, people are demanding it, so it has turned a bit.”

While there are major differences in food across the regions of Italy, the cuisine of Sardinia is perhaps the most distinct.

“It is very different from say Lombardy, Lazio or Tuscany, where things can be similar because they are all attached to one another,” says Giovanni. “Being an island that was invaded by so many different cultures throughout history has resulted in a crazy diversity of food and culture and created a cuisine that is very unique.”

At the heart of Sardinian food is seafood, game and pecorino (cheese). “If people say pecorino, they know it is from Sardinia. It is a big part of our menu at Pilu, to the point that our cheese plate is only made up of pecorino.”

Watch our interview with Giovanni Pilu below:

Check out the recipe for Giovanni's beautifully simple Pecorino broth with pumpkin & chestnuts as well as his delicious recipe for Malloreddus with chickpeas, vongole, chilli and parsley.

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Food
Seasonal Salad
Words by Libby Travers on 3 Sep 2018
Ignore the importance of salad leaves at your peril. They’ve been known to make or break many a meal.   I prefer to eat my salad as the French do, that is, after the main course, before the cheese, with my fingers. There is something entirely visceral about picking up the delicate leaves one by one, in appreciation of the careful attention that has come before. The metallic tines of a fork appear to me the quickest way to erode that joy. With such simple pleasures, it is always a game of the finest details. Your choice first hangs on their freshness, as there is nothing more depressing than a bowl of wilting leaves. Once you have sought out the best-looking specimens at the market, you can start making more exciting decisions: are you looking for crunch or delicacy; bitterness, citrus or peppery notes; a creamy sauce or simple vinaigrette?  Remember, these leaves are often the vehicle for other flavours and, just as it is with wine, this is a game of matching weight for weight, in this case leaves to the dressing. The crisp form of cos and iceberg will hold up against a creamy sauce; while more delicate leaves and fresh herbs will make better friends with a gentle vinaigrette, something agrodolce with a balance of sweet and sharp; leaves from the chicory family (endive and radicchio) have an innate bitterness and pair well with an anchoïade or even blue cheese and nuts; while peppery rocket loves the salty bite of a little parmesan. Once home, your leaves need a gentle touch – this is a task for a lover, not a warrior. Salad leaves must be diligently picked, carefully washed (and dried), and dressed at the very last minute, with just enough dressing to kiss the leaves, not drown them. It is only then you’ll have a salad worth its own place at the table! Beyond the salad bowl, there is a bounty of beautiful leaves that love a little time in the frying pan. Cos, braised with the sweet spring peas and bacon is a favourite served with chicken; while endive can be cut in half and allowed to caramelise in a hot pan with a little butter and lemon juice, the cooking will help mellow the bitterness – it is brilliant with game.  Wilted greens can also take a starring role in a meal. All along the Mediterranean, the tradition of seeking the wild leaves and herbs that grow in the hills and quickly cooking them has led to beautiful pastas, egg dishes and pies. We have our very own, largely underrated, native spinach found in the sandy soil along the coastline known as warrigal greens. These leaves require blanching or light cooking to remove a poisonous compound (only dangerous in large quantities, but best avoided!). Once blanched, they have a delicate flavour and texture, and can be used in a wild weed pie or omelette to great success.  In a restaurant kitchen, working through the large boxes of leaves is often a task assigned to the apprentices. They must carefully check each leaf for damage and bugs before thoroughly washing them. It must be done each day and can take hours. I recall pointing out to a friend of mine, the head chef at one such kitchen, that this must become a little tiresome. He (correctly) chastised me, explaining that while the leaves may not seem exciting, one bruised leaf would show they didn’t care, one bug would ruin an entire meal, one grain of dirt would ruin the mouthful. The lesson is in the detail, as is the reward. Select and store Seek out beautiful, fresh salad leaves. Pick through them carefully before washing them in cold water – a little soak will also help to revive tired leaves. A salad spinner is an important friend here, as moisture will repel oil. An alternative is to lay the leaves out on a dry tea-towel and pat them dry. Salad leaves love Extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, onion, cream, cheese, nuts, honey, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon, herbs, radish, egg. Great salad recipes to try by Lyndey Milan: 
Tuna and quinoa poke bowl Crisp pork belly with Asian salad
Burrata spring salad Spiced chicken with blood orange and date salad
Food
What Curtis did Next
Words by Shonagh Walker on 30 Aug 2018
Despite two enormously successful restaurants creating a buzz throughout LA, Curtis Stone isn’t sitting still. Shonagh Walker toured California’s Central Coast with the celebrity chef, to uncover exactly what’s in store for his diners for the remainder of 2018. Curtis Stone is standing waist deep in the freezing seawater of Morro Bay, CA, shucking a Pacific Gold Oyster that he’s just plucked from the farm’s submerged harvest. He hands it to me, beaming his signature smile. Exhaustion is tugging at the corners of his sparkling blue eyes, but enthusiasm for the deep-cupped mollusc quickly turns them upwards again. We are at the tail end of a hectic 18 hours a day, five-day immersive tour of California’s Central Coast, a region famed for its local produce, stellar seafood and mind-blowing wines (divine Burgundian varietals: Pinot Noir to die for and an incredible array of Chardonnay). The aim is to seek inspiration for the upcoming menu of his Beverly Hills fine dining restaurant, Maude. While the seafood and seasonal offerings of this region are truly unsurpassed, if I’m being honest, we are really here for the wines.
You see, Curtis has yet again disrupted the concept of conventional fine dining and, as with everything he does, he’s done so with gusto. Where traditional menus decree full control to the chef, demanding wine pairings are made to meld with cuisine creativity, Curtis abdicated to Head Sommelier, Andrey Tolmachyov. The 26 year old now has the enviable task of travelling to the world’s best wine regions to curate a list based around the finest on offer. First, it was Rioja, Spain. Then came Burgundy, France and this quarter (July to September) it’s the sun-spoiled Central Coast of California. After each meticulous research trip, Tolmachyov curates the wines he is to feature for the three months. From there, Curtis and executive chef, Justin Hilbert devise a menu using ingredients from the same region to enhance the drops. It’s a change of tack for Maude, which for the past four years has focused on one ingredient per month and created a degustation experience around it, with wines stepping up only to match the food. Curtis explains: “After doing 48 menus with no dish repeated, we wanted something completely new. The wine program had really blossomed, with such amazing and talented sommeliers, but the pairings were always done last. We decided work backwards; go to a wine region, be inspired by the wine and the local regionality and dishes, then talk to the wine team about what they wanted and what would pair well with that wine and create a menu from that.”
And here we are, soaking up the afternoon sun, eating freshly shucked oysters and sipping some incredible local drops from nearby family run estate, Demetria in the picturesque town of Los Olivos. The frutti del mar is a massive hit, as is the wine. While Andrey remains tight lipped on the 2017 Rose, I get a good vibe from Curtis that the oysters will make an appearance on the menu. Thus far, the trip has taken us through what is undoubtedly some of America’s finest coastline and we have indulged in all manner of delicacy and drinks. In Santa Barbara, we’ve sampled sea urchin caught by Stephanie Mutz, a rare fishing scientist and the only female sea urchin diver in the state. In Cambria, we’ve indulged in the finest goat milk cheeses from Stepladder Creamery and we’ve sampled more exquisite wines than is fair in one lifetime, from an array of award-winning estates peppered throughout this jewel of a coastline. We’ve also scoured local farmers markets in San Luis Obispo and eaten at some of the state’s most celebrated restaurants (think: Santa Barbara’s Lark, Paso Robles’ Fish Gaucho and San Simeon’s Ragged Point Restaurant).
It sounds glamorous but it’s actually arduous, demanding and wearying. Pre-dawn starts fused into day-long driving, foraging and physical work. But such is Curtis’ way. He quite simply never stops. There’s no rest for the innovator, as it would be. The resulting debut Cali Coast dinner at Maude’s a few days later is a true feast of flavours – oyster bread (made using the aforementioned Morro Bay oysters), abalone, rock crab with summer truffles, served with grilled crab mayonnaise and spot prawn with peach fermented in beeswax and, of course, all matched with those delicious wines. So, if you’re in LA make sure you stop by Maude’s to taste Curtis’ innovative wine-focused menu. Get there now for the Tastes of California, or book in for the next quarter’s food & wine adventure – Italy’s delectable Piedmont province. Maude is located at: 212S Beverly Drive Beverly Hills, CA. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 5.30PM- 9.30PM Tel: + 1 310 859 3418 mauderestaurant.com.au
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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