Lunch with Yotam

Yotam Ottolenghi hardly ate more than a few mouthfuls of food as he generously gave his time, chatting with his Brisbane fans. Talk about a fleeting visit to sunny Queensland. A little less than 5 hours to spend in Brisbane and attend a lunch hosted by Gerards Bistro and goodfood.com.au.

By the time dessert was served, everyone was in love with Yotam.

DSC03792On arrival guests were served a glass of Vinaceous ‘Burlesque’ Blanc de Blanc, Great Southern WA along with the following pretty and very tasty morsels; cured mackarel, piel de sapo melon, orange blossom, puffed skin and scales (this was my favourite), Blackmore wagyu basturma, buttermilk and pickled chilli, beetroot croquant, labne and spring flowers.

DSC03783DSC03784DSC03788This was followed by a glass of Yalumba Viognier, Eden Valley SA 2013 and shared entrees: Murray cod and spring onions, grilled over coal, warm yoghurt, braised broad beans, lemon and coriander, Batata harra ( a Lebanese vegetable dish consisting of potatoes, coriander, chili, and garlic which are all fried together in olive oil.)

DSC03799DSC03793DSC03798During entree Yotam did a Q&A, even popping over to my table to sample the Batata harra. Poor man, he was probably starving. Here are some of the things I learned about him.

  • Earliest food memory: Semolina gnocchi with cheese and nutmeg made by grandma.
  • Favourite cities to eat: Istanbul and Tokyo
  • Last meal: rice and lentils with fried onions, allspice and yoghurt. A dish he would eat with his family.
  • Must have ingredients: lemon, allspice, coriander, pomegranate molasses.
  • What ingredients are gaining in popularity: black garlic, miso, tamarind.

We then enjoyed shared mains of Holmbrae duck legs braised with Jerusalem artichoke, preserved lemon and olive, lemon and curry leaf rice and roasted pumpkin, cardamom and nigella seeds, served with Yalumba Old Bush Rine Grenache, Barossa Valley SA 2013.

DSC03806DSC03810DSC03807After signing books and more photo taking, Yotam bid us farewell before dessert was served.

Shared dessert included the sensational ricotta fritters wth orange and honey and the Turkish apple sorbet, spiced rum cake, salted caramel and milk chocolate with your choice of a Spring Seeds ‘Sweet Pea’ Moscato, McLaren Vale SA 2014 or the Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viognier, Wrattonbully SA 2014. The combination of apple sorbet, spiced rum cake and milk chocolate was smile inducing.

DSC03812DSC03813Ok, so this little lunch outing was somewhat of an indulgence for me. $175 a ticket, but this also included a copy of Yotam’s new book ‘Plenty More’ and a little goodie bag with a wee jar of ‘Bee One Third’ honey, some biscotti from Jocelyn’s Provisions and a copy of the Brisbane Good Food Guide.

With a menu inspired by Yotam’s recipes, chef Ben Williamson and the team at Gerards certainly lived up to my expectations with a very memorable lunch. Now I look forward to discovering all that ‘Plenty More’ has to offer and enjoying more ways to use my bottle of pomegranate molasses.

Plenty

 

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Gerard’s Bistro

There is something very comforting about the Gerard’s Bistro dining space. I see it as a modern take on 70s chic with warm tones, cool tiles, large comfortable dining chairs and floaty curtains. It’s confident without being flashy and a perfect venue to celebrate with Al, Miss P and M on what has been a very eventful year.

DSC00658Miss P and I started with a glass of Perrier Jouet Grand Brut while the boys tried a pale ale from Lebanon.

DSC00659The Gerard’s menu is beautiful. It’s interesting, exciting and for non-adventurous eaters, some might say a little scary to read, but don’t be afraid, for want of a better word, it’s delicious!

Al and I had previously sampled the magic of Gerard’s for breakfast so we knew what to expect. You can read about that experience here.

We decided we’d share all of our dishes so our dinner began with fried cauliflower, tahini, ras el hanout (a spice mix from North Africa), smoked almonds and pomegranate ($12)

DSC00661Served at the same time was the suckling pig, peach and walnuts ($32) which Al so expertly portioned into four tasty serves.DSC00662 Next was the beautifully presented coal-grilled broccolini, kale, shallot oil and lemon ($10) along with the ‘Morasa Polow’ Iranian sweet rice, saffron, sour cherry, almond, pistachio and pomegranate ($10) and the Saltbush lamb ‘tagine’, pickled dates and carrot, candied orange and green olive ($22).

DSC00665DSC00667DSC00669Finally, the star of the show arrived, 12 hour roasted full-blood Wagyu brisket with flat bread, smoked eggplant, yoghurt dip and delicate herb salad ($42).

DSC00673DSC00677This was shredded by the waiter at the table and then you got to make up your own parcels of tasty! Beautiful flavours, melt in your mouth brisket, happy days!

DSC00684After a little rest and while enjoying the last of the Oregon Pinot ‘Evesham Wood’ we decided to finish our meal with summer berries, whipped cheese, orange blossom, white chocolate and mastic ice cream ($16) and smashed chocolate, Turkish delight and pistachio curd ($16).

(Mastic is an aromatic gum or resin exuded from the bark of a Mediterranean tree, used in making chewing gum and as a flavouring. Apparently it’s closely related to the pistachio).

The chocolate dessert, although richly flavoured with bitter chocolate and intense pistachio curd was no match for the artfully presented whipped cheese, berries and ice cream. This was a cracking dessert, beautifully balanced and light. A perfect way to end the meal.

DSC00690DSC00688In my humble opinion, Gerard’s takes the award for the most beautifully presented food I’ve experienced in 2013. It’s art on a plate but more importantly, it delivers on flavour and lots of it. Head chef Ben Williamson and the Gerard’s team have a lot to be proud of!

It’s the type of restaurant where you’d feel equally comfortable dining alone at the bar, with a large group of friends or a romantic date night. If you haven’t experienced Gerard’s, then add it to your ‘must go list’ in 2014 for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

DSC00660DSC00655Gerard’s Bistro

Open Tues – Sun: 12:00 pm – late

Open for breakfast Sat & Sun: 8am -11:30am

ph: 3852 3822
Gerard’s Lane, 14 /15 James St, Fortitude Valley

Gerard’s Bistro for breakfast

So, it’s common knowledge among foodies that Gerard’s Bistro in James Street is the hot spot for a mouth-watering middle eastern, north African inspired lunch or dinner but did you know that they do one of the best weekend breakfasts in Brisbane. This is just my opinion of course, and I know, it’s a big call, but this was seriously a brilliant breakfast and not a pancake in sight!

Gerard’s Bistro is pushing the boundaries of breakfast food and Chef Ben Williamson has to be applauded for creating food that is packed with flavour, innovative and incredibly good value for money.

Al and I attended a Tweatup breakfast banquet with some other food-lovers on a Saturday morning. We were served a selection of items from the breakfast menu and my favourite was the ‘Muhallabia’ a sweet almond pudding with rose, pstachio, Bee One Third and James St rooftop honey and pomegranate ($10). I loved the texture and delicate flavours of this dish. It was feminine and pretty and a perfect start to the more robust breakfast flavours to follow.

Muhallabia

Served next, avocado, Persian feta, za’atar, lemon and pickled radish ($12), Black pudding, fried quail eggs, manchego custard, flamed grapes, smoked almonds ($19), smoked potato croquette ($6) and a dish of Shakshouka which consists of tomato kasundi, merguez, egg, blackened onion, hung yoghurt, eggs and a herb salad ($24).

Some of the above terms I wasn’t familiar with so I did a search.

Kasundi: a rich, unctuous tomato sauce or pickle.

Merguez: a spicy sausage mixture.

Hung yoghurt: the thick creamy yogurt you are left with after you drain yogurt in a muslin or cheese cloth.

Shakshouka: meaning ‘a mixture’ in Arabic slang.  A dish of eggs in a rich tomato sauce traditionally served up in a cast iron pan with bread to mop up the sauce.

The Shakshouka is a share dish for two people. It’s hearty and if you like big, punch-you-in-the-mouth flavours, you’ll love it. It was a little too rich for me for breakfast at 8.30am but as a late brunch dish this would be very satisfying.

Shakshouka

The avocado and Persian feta dish was refreshing, I especially liked the pickled radish. I’m not a fan of black pudding but I did try the quail egg, flamed grapes, manchego custard and smoked almond crumb and this was yum. Al said the combination of all these flavours with the black pudding was a stand-out. He really loved this dish.

IMG_2030The smoked potato croquette was golden, fluffy and delightful.

IMG_2031Some of the other breakfast items include; slow poached duck egg, Jerusalem artichoke, almond migas and roasted garlic ($16), Sardines on toast with confit tomato, smoked curd and preserved lemon ($14), spiced granola, grilled fig, organic orange blossom yoghurt ($12), watermelon, berry and mint salad, cinnamon, vanilla yoghurt ($10).

Gerard’s also does a lovely choice of juices: watermelon, apple, pomegranate and mint; beetroot, apple, carrot and celery; orange, pineapple, lemon and ginger; tomato, worcestershire, harissa, lemon, all juices $4. Choices of tea are from the Byron Bay Tea Company and coffee is from Lavazza. The only disappointment of breakfast was the coffee. With so many fantastic boutique roasters in Brisbane, it would be great to see Gerard’s serving an interesting single origin bean to match up with such a creative breakfast menu.

Gerard’s Bistro has been on my list of ‘must try’ for quite a while so I was really excited about sampling their breakfast menu. I can’t wait to go back for dinner.

If you are really sick of bacon and eggs, pancakes and corn fritters then I highly recommend Gerard’s Bistro. It’s fantastic value for money. So, wake up your palate and introduce yourself to a new kind of breakfast menu.

Open for breakfast from 8am till 11:30am on Saturday and Sunday.

Open, lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Sunday: 12:00pm – late

ph: 3852 3822
Gerard’s Lane, 14 / 15 James St, New Farm