Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chef Jules visits Bracu Restaurant

Hello Friends,
I had an invite to a very special 85th birthday party luncheon the other day, held at Bracu restaurant. The restaurant, a Kauri Villa, renovated in 2005, by Ivan and Branka Simunovich, is located in 43 Main Road Bombay, rural south Auckland. With over 40.000 olive trees on the estate it is the largest privately owned olive grove in New Zealand, and makes for a very pleasant vista whilst dinning. The name "Bracu" is derived from the Adriatic Island of Brac, and is the third largest, (48km long, 14km wide) in the Croatian group of Islands, and is where the owners originate.
Our large group were seated on the veranda and given a 2 course set menu. To start we were given  freshly baked bread, accompanied by their own extra virgin olive oil and was enjoyed by all. The oil was so good I ended up buying 2 bottles to take home, so I guess it was a good marketing strategy. To follow we had a choice of;
Pan Fried Scallops with tomato passata, basil oil and black olive crumbs, or
Grilled Scotch Fillet Steak cafe de Paris butter, watercress salad and hand cut chips, or
Crisp Roast Duck Breast with baby beetroot, orange and watercress salad and apple dressing, or
Grilled Fillet of Snapper with roast garlic, chorizo, white bean, steamed clams, pea cassoulet and olive tapenade.

I chose the Snapper dish, which read very well, the ingredients, individually, are favourites of mine and together work very well and was cooked to perfection.
I also sampled the duck which tasted very good but was let down by not being crispy enough. The main courses were served with Bracu garden salad, Banyuls dressing and Sumac, rosemary fried potatoes. Overall the meals were great, the setting fabulous and the service very attentive without being obtrusive.
The wines, which I had tried before, didn't disappoint. 2008 Cable Bay Merlot Malbec Rose from Waiheke Island and 2008 Atarangi Pinot Noir, "Crimson" from Martinborough. Prices are $55 and $68 respectively.
We all finished with a special birthday cake for this very special occasion. Chocolate cake layered with berry mousse served with gelato and fresh berries, which was very nice.
The 2 course luncheon menu is $65 and the 3 course is $75. The olive oils I purchased were natural extra virgin olive oil and lemon infused extra virgin olive oil, both 250ml and $13.75, $15.40 respectively. Both oils are extremely well priced considering the quality. Looking at the dinner menu, you will find entrees around $20 and mains averaging $36 with side dishes i.e. potatoes, vegetables $7.50 each.
Chef Jules rating for Bracu Restaurant is 8/10, and special thanks to Jenny, Peter and the birthday girl, Mini for a great day.
Ciao for now

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chef Jules Vitello Tonnato Recipe

Hello Friends;
I want to share one of favourite veal recipes with you, it's really easy and quick if you have all the ingredients at your disposal. Infact it's so quick to prepare and cook that I often have it as a late night meal. Vitello Tonnato, or veal with tuna, is a great combination, and this is Chef Jules a la carte version of this popular recipe. Traditionally Vitello Tonnato is served cold, using a different cut of veal to that used in my recipe, and a mayonnaise based sauce.
When talking of Veal, different names are given related to the age and what the animal was fed, and can become confusing for some. Basically Veal is produced from very young cattle, mostly male calves and the meat should be very pale, finely textured and lean. The fact that the animal has never had the chance to frolic in green pastures and taste the green grass, and often as a consequence, is confined to a small space, has surrounded the veal farming industry with controversy from animal welfare and animal rights activists. For my views on animal welfare and sustainability, check out my "Food For Thought" posting.
A few names you may come across when searching for veal include, Non-formula-fed veal, Red or Grain-fed veal, Rose veal or Free-raised veal and shouldn't be confused or passed off as white veal. For myself, veal only deserves to be called veal if the calf is under 30 kilos  and approximately 2 weeks old when slaughtered and has had a diet consisting of entirely milk or milk products. This veal is known as Bobby Veal or White Veal.
Vitello Tonnato Recipe Ingredients (serves 2)
320g White Veal loin, cut into 6 pieces and flattened to 8mm thickness
160g yellowfin tuna, cut into 6 pieces, 5mm thickness
6 caperberries, stalk removed and sliced
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon hot English mustard
50ml white wine
30ml olive oil
knob of butter
250ml cream
6 teaspoons salmon "caviar"
1/2 cup of flour, for dusting
salt and pepper
Method for Vitello Tonnato
In a large frypan, add the oil, butter and heat until foaming. Place the flour in a tray and coat both sides of the veal, shake off excess and place in the pan, season and cook 2 minutes per side, turning once. Remove from the pan and keep to one side. Add the garlic, caperberries, cook for 1 minute, add the wine and reduce, then the mustard and cream. Reduce a little and place the tuna in to poach, 1 minute per side. Finally put the veal back in the pan to heat through and reduce to a sauce consistency.
To Serve Vitello Tonnato
On the plates, place the veal, then the tuna and spoon over the sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley and top each slice with 1 teaspoon of the salmon caviar.
That's all there is to it, hope you enjoy it.
Ciao for now.