Tag Archives: Olives

Dinner Club ~ Retro French Style

3 Dec

A dinner prepared by Michele is always certain to be a very stylish affair….

The Menu

Gougeres with French Champagne
Ham hock terrine with herbs and cornichons
BBQ prawn, chorizo & potato bowls
Free range d
uck confit, quatre epices, creamed puy lentils, pickled pear
Bombe Alaska with cherry sorbet, cherry ripple ice-cream

Michele and Jon run a biodynamic farm Main Ridge Olives, producing amazing table olives. Michele comes from a food focussed family with a German background and has worked as a cook in Europe as well as on the Mornington Peninsula. She always puts so much thought into every small detail… a meal prepared by Michele is always stunning, thoughtful and delicious.

The inspiration for the menu was the Bombe Alaska dessert that Michele had her heart set on making. It took many nights of prep in advance, making 2 types of iccream and sponge cakes. It set the theme for the evening. Retro French.

A special guest for this dinner club was Michele’s sister, Brigitte. They seemed to have had a lovely experience planning and cooking together for this dinner.

There were so many highlights. One of them for me were the Gougeres, based on a Phillipe Mouchel recipe, they were the most divine puffs of air, matched to Egly-Ouriet champagne, which I believe was also from a bio-dynamic French vineyard. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then my whipping up many a batch since to much acclaim, then Michele & Brigitte & Phillipe… you should be flattered!

The confit duck was also very special, a rare breed, free range duck, c’est incredible! A lovely fresh salad of bitter leaves with a chervil and mustard dressing was the accompaniment.

My wine contribution, one of my most favourite wines from the Peninsula ever and one of the reasons we moved here. Nat and Rosalie White’s Main Ridge Estate Half Acre Pinot Noir. I wish I had a couple in my cellar to be able to pull out one slightly older! What a wine.

And now, for the Piece de Resistance! La Bombe. The Inspiration. Icecream centre and sponge in tact and perfectly turned out, plates at the ready.

Italian meringue whipped perfectly

Applied expertly

Michele really enjoyed wielding the blow torch, pretty impressive & dramatic results…

The anticipation…

The first cut

Perfection

Michele just raised the bar totally out of sight. This meal will be in memory as one of the truly great ones forever.

Damn. My turn next.

Return to the Grampians – The Harvest

10 Jul

So for the second time this year, we were lucky to be invited to the Grampians, this time for an olive picking weekend and Christmas in July dinner at Laharum Grove, our friends’ grove at the foot of Mount Difficult in the Grampians.  The crop this year was abundant to say the least.  Given their manpower and available tank space, only something like 25% of the entire grove was picked.  Picking had finished for the season, and the day we picked was the last one, the press at Toscana was stopping on that day at 2pm!

It was quite anxiety inducing to be walking through the grove and see so many trees so laden with olives that from tomorrow, will be rotting on the ground. We were their last hope.

We were blessed with a beautiful day, and so we began.  First step is to lay out nets under the trees. They are very big and heavy and hard to drag around.

Olive picking, laying out the nets

Then everyone gets a very big stick and starts whacking the trees. It is reeeeeally hard.  But quite amazing how many olives rain down on your head whilst you are doing it. Even the kids could do it.

Big sticks! Knocking olives off the trees

When we walked further out into the grove it was spectacularly beautiful with the Grampians right there.

Grampians backdrop, whacking olives

Then gather all the nets up and start piffing out all the sticky/leafy stuff

Gathering up the olives - removing leaf stuff

Then you end up with a lovely big heap of juicy olives. How good do these look? When you squeeze them, they squirt oil, heaps of it. And they stain!

A pile of olives just picked

We picked about 15 bins of about 20kg each, so between 4 adults, we shared 300kg of olives. We only did a few hours picking, as the kids were getting involved which slowed us down, but apparently we could have easily picked a tonne, and some of their best workers can do that solo in a day!

The press at Toscana

We then took them to the neighbouring Toscana Grove where they have a substantial press. Our 300kg yielded a 20litre drum of oil each.  Liquid Gold.

At the Olive Press, the finished product

After all that picking, the Christmas in July dinner was looking great. 30 adults seated, about 5 courses and Santa! Awesome. I made tomato soup which went down a treat, topped with some Main Ridge Dairy chevre. And a few cases of Christmas Ale went down a treat.

Another special visit, shared with fantastic people to this amazing place.

“urbanspoon rocks”