Bruschetta: an exploration of futurism

I chose bruschetta as my dish for the food fair mostly because I needed something quick and easy which didn’t require an oven (I’m working a lot currently and am in the process of moving house). I still wanted to do something unique though and I knew it was unlikely that traditional bruschetta would be the only one of its kind at the fair. For something different, I decided to give my bruschetta a futurist twist.

IMG_1338.JPG

My ingredients for the bruschetta

Futurism originated as an art movement in the early 20th century in Italy. Futurist cuisine asserts that people ‘think dream and act’ in accordance with what they eat and drink. I personally enjoy the creative and hilarious approach futurism takes to food.

IMG_1339

How I presented my bruschetta (both futurist and traditional)

To really highlight the difference between futurist and traditional cuisine, I decided to present both, side by side. My futurist interpretation involved staring contemplatively at a bread roll whilst having someone spray you with tomato scented ‘perfume’ (tomato infused water in a spray bottle). Once immersed, you then take a basil-wrapped parcel of fresh garlic and onion and eat it.

As a nicety, I provided mints to ensure that those taking part in my dish didn’t walk around for the rest of the day with garlic breath. Overall, those who engaged (about 10 or so people) seemed to find the experience very bizarre and a little confronting. It can then be said that the dish was a success.

IMG_1341

All gone within 7 minutes!

The traditional bruschetta was probably better received, however, I would argue, less interesting than the futurist manifestation. Check out the video below to see futurist bruschetta in action:

 

Clafoutis

claf

Clafoutis [image credit]

Since the nationalisation of French cuisine following the French Revolution, many French dishes lost their distinct ties to their region. The Limousin dessert of clafoutis however still retains a strong sense of regionality.

limousin

Limousin, the least populated region in France [image credit]

Limousin, the least populated region of France, is known for its rurality. In terms of gastronomy, Limousin is well known for its oak, (very important for cognac and winemaking) cattle and, of course, clafoutis.

The name of clafoutis comes from occitan, meaning ‘to fill up’. Clafoutis is a cake made with fruit and then filled up with batter. Unlike other AOC protected French produce or dishes, clafoutis can still be referred to as such if it is made outside the Limousin region. As Mark Vogel explains, clafoutis traditionally must be made with cherries.

In many places around the world, the idea of clafoutis has however evolved, with variations on the recipe made to include a range of other fruits such as raspberries, rhubarb or even apricot and almond. While these recipes all claim themselves to be ‘clafoutis’, technically, they must be referred to as ‘flaugnarde’/’flognarde’.

 

In Melbourne, you should be able to find a number of traditional and ‘non-traditional‘ clafoutis (or should we say flaugnarde?). You might also be lucky enough to learn how to make traditional cherry clafoutis at the Neff Open Kitchen in South Melbourne. Otherwise, you can order a clafoutis for your next function from Let Them Eat Cake.

 

Gnudi

This risque sounding Italian dish gets its name because it is ‘nude ravioli’. In other words, it can be thought of as the ravioli filling, without the pasta. Gnudi also goes by another name, ‘malfatti’, which means ‘poorly put together’, as Cook Your Dream suggests though, this name probably doesn’t do them justice.

gnudi

Gnudi [image credit]

Ricotta is integral to the gnudi dish, yet it can be combined with a number of different ingredients, whether that be spinach, pumpkin, or butter and sage. As it is a dumpling, gnudi is similar to another Italian favourite, gnocchi, but differs in texture, being comparatively lighter and fluffier due to the little or no flour used.

Gnudi has established itself as a gastronomic point of difference between Tuscany and the rest of Italy. In a nation famous for its various pastas, the profound lack of pasta in a dish where one would normally expect it, brings it uniqueness. Throughout the rest of Italy, ravioli is much more common than gnudi, whereas in Tuscany, the reverse is true.

 

tuscany

Tuscany, the home of gnudi [image credit]

International interpretations of gnudi have managed to maintain a relatively strong sense of integrity toward the original recipe. The Spotted Pig in New York has helped put gnudi on the map.

the spotted pig.jpg

The Spotted Pig, New York [image credit]

Where exactly can you go for a gnudi run here in Melbourne?

Unfortunately in Melbourne, gnudi is absent from most Italian restaurant menus in favour of its more well known cousin, gnocchi. Throughout the years however, here and there, gnudi has revealed itself in various restaurants. If you’re looking to try a dish today, you can check out the Ascot Food Store in Pascoe Vale.

We ate at No. 8

Being a customer at the place you work can be an interesting experience, yet choosing Number 8 by John Lawson seemed natural, considering the emphasis the menu places on regional Victorian produce and how this fits in with the theory of regionality and food. It was also a lovely excuse to indulge with a few close friends and show them where I work.

No 8 by John Lawson

No 8 by John Lawson

The menu is very much ‘modern Australian‘, with a mix of European dishes and cooking styles, as well as the influence of Asian cuisine, whilst maintaining a strong focus on regional produce. Two of my friends chose the “Milawa duck breast”, a dish with a very strong French influence, (being plated up with foie gras and confit duck leg) yet, the duck breast is bred specially for the restaurant, from Milawa in Victoria.

Another spotlight on the region is evident in the ‘Victoria by the Glass‘ promotion which three of the four of us took up. Even though Number 8 has an extensive international winelist, ‘Victoria by the Glass’ encourages you to opt for Victorian wines. I had the Oakridge Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley while my friends with the duck had the Mount Macleod Pinot Noir from Gippsland.

IMG_1317

My meal: roasted cauliflower, with the sides of asparagus, heirloom baby carrots and sweetcorn succotash

I think one of the most profound takeaways from this experience was how much it made me realise I enjoy fine dining. The combination of the well balanced meals with great flavours, the carefully selected wine list and the high level of service really make you feel special.

Rabo de canguro

Rabo de Toro or ‘bull’s tail’/’ox tail’ is a regional Spanish dish dating back to medieval times.

Rabo de Toro originally comes from Córdoba where bull fighting was very popular. The Andalusian dish was conceived as way to use the parts of the bull which would normally be discarded, as well as a means to entertain a great number of people at once.

cordoba2

Cordoba, Andalusia: the home of Rabo de Toro [image credit]

The dish itself is a slow cooked stew of ox tail and vegetables, made with spices and Spanish red wine. The slow cooking of the meat for many hours allows the normally tough meat to become soft and tender and the sauce, velvety. The dish is typically quite simple to make (try a recipe here or here) however, its need to be cooked over many hours makes it one which requires some planning. It is very much an example of slow food.

Rabo de Toro is an interesting player in the debate over Spain’s national food identity. In some ways it is similar to the national Spanish dish, olla podrida. Rabo de Toro and olla podrida are both stews which use commonly discarded cuts of meat. What brings Rabo de Toro its regional identity is the dish’s history through the focus on oxtail.

rabo-de-toro1.jpg

Rabo de Toro [image credit]

In Melbourne’s Spanish restaurants, particularly during summer, you are unlikely to find Rabo de Toro. One of the great opportunities about Australian cuisine however is its prerogative to adapt and experiment with food. Melbourne chef Shane Delia’s recipe for kangaroo tail and Jerusalem artichoke is a prime alternative take on Rabo de Toro, incorporating Delia’s Middle Eastern culinary background with native Australian meat.

kangarooartichokes.jpg

Kangaroo tail with Jerusalem artichokes [image credit]

Welcome

My name is Frances and this is my blog for the Melbourne University intensive subject “A Taste of Europe” which I will be undertaking this February, 2016.

eae583ae15f87b5ac2e8b86a75252a65