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Lyon – a traditional Sunday lunch at Brasserie Georges

Brassiere Georges, established in 1839, was a big recommendation from our waiter Joël from Les Files Gueles. He said on Sunday, it’s busy with French families who get together for a traditional lunch.

It was a 25-minute walk from our hotel, out of the main hub of Lyon. It felt like we were in suburbia. Walking in, it was like entering a huge train station. The place was massive with high ceilings, huge windows, ornate light fittings, booths of tables with red bench seats set in long rows, tiled floor, white linen, and French groups and families everywhere. It must have sat 400 people or more. Smartly dressed waiters in waistcoats and bow ties were scurrying around delivering dishes, or at tables mixing beef tartar in front of diners and serving dishes from platters.

The menu featured traditional dishes, speciality Lyonaisse dishes, and some special sauerkraut dishes, which I thought was a bit unusual. For entree, I choose the Lyonaisse salad, like a Caesar salad with chicken, bacon, croutons, and poached egg. The chicken was a sliced roulade that had been layered with ham and smoky bacon. The salad was fresh, crunchy, and seasoned perfectly.

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Zorba had cold mullet with tomato. His dish was pretty to look at, and the tomato complemented the mullet beautifully.

For main, my eyes popped out of my head when Zorba’s sauerkraut and sausage came to the table. It was the biggest dish I’ve seen served in France with a soccer ball size of sauerkraut. Oh dear, what affects will have later on? The efficient waiter served Zorba’s meal at the table and left the platter on a rack warmed with tea-light candles. Zorba happily chomped through the frankfurt, thick slab of bacon, the sausage, gammon and potatoes, as well as eating all that sauerkraut. He hates to waste good food, clearly.

 

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I ordered veal in white wine with mashed potatoes that was delicate and delicious. The white wine sauce was creamy and thick, the veal was beautifully tender, and the rustic mash was perfectly seasoned. It says a lot when I don’t have to reach for the salt. However, I was so engrossed by the amount of food in front of Zorba that I actually forgot to take a photo of my dish – sorry!

Every so often, the waiters would stop and clap and ‘Happy Birthday’ would start to play on an organ as a birthday cake is brought out to one of the tables. All patrons would clap and sing, including us – it was lovely! Well, it was lovely for the first three times, before it started becoming a bit of an interruption. It must’ve happened 12 times during our lunch.

For dessert, we shared a crunchy chocolate praline. The top layer was smooth like a mousse, and the bottom layer was biscuity and contained crisp bits of praline. It was gorgeous, and I was glad to share it.

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We had a pot (500ml) of Chablis that was just gorgeous. I’m really enjoying the white wine in France. It’s less acidic – or so it feels – than Australian whites.

Our final bill for two entrees, two mains, one dessert, a pot of wine and bottle of sparking water came to 108 Euro. It was a fantastic experience to a traditional Sunday lunch at a French Brassiere.

Verdict: 9/10 – come for a traditional French lunch experience

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FACT FILE

Brasserie Georges

30 Cours de Verdun, 69002 Lyon

Tel: +33 (0)4 72 56 5454

www.brasseriegeorges.com

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Bellingen Community Markets

The Bellingen Community Market is one of the largest regional markets in Australia and held on the third Saturday of every month at the Bellingen Sports Oval off Church Street.  A gold coin donation to the local Rotary Club will gain you entry, and once inside be prepared for a sensory overload.

Everything and anything is for sale at the Bellingen Community Markets.  From copper pots to chainsaws, to sculptures, hand made clothing, fairy floss, fake sunglasses, polished stones, beautiful wooden chopping boards and trivets, pet supplies, home made condiments, hand crafted organic skin care, interior soft furnishing, junk jewellery, knitting supplies and everything in between.

Here is my photo essay of the colourful and eclectic Bellingen Community Markets:

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Need a box? They even sell boxes at the Bellingen Markets

Included for sale is local fresh produce, relishes, fine art, craft, antiques, plants, pottery, hats, bric’n’brac, new and second hand clothing, books, bags, toys, jewellery, gemstones, music, candles, soaps, beauty and alternative products. Pamper yourself with an outdoor massage or take a sneak peak at destiny with astrology and tarot reading. A visit to the colourful Belligen Markets is a great way to spend a day.

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Just two ingredients in this peanut butter – roasted peanuts and salt. The peanuts are ground when still warm after roasting – and it’s good, so, so good

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This stall is called ‘Shelf Respect’ – love that!

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It’s the perfect place to play, shop, eat, drink and be happy. With a smorgasbord of multi‐cultural culinary delights, tantalise your taste‐buds with delicious Italian wood‐fired pizza, German goods, Indian dishes, Mexican meals, healthy wraps, pastas, Buffalo products, Moroccan food, Asian cuisine, seafood, traditional sausage sangas, bacon and eggs rolls, pancakes, scrumptious homemade cakes, sweets, donuts and chocolates, gelato and sorbet, ice‐cream, ice treats, juices, smoothies, espresso coffee and boutique ale.

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Lift one side and you have two trivets for your table. Clever design made with beautiful local wood

 

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There’s entertainment for young and old alike at the Bellingen Community Markets

I hope you’ve enjoyed my photo essay of the Bellingen Community Markets.

FACT FILE

Bellingen Community Markets
Church St Bellingen Football Oval, Bellingen, New South Wales
Held: Third Saturday of every month

What to cook when there’s nothing in the house – Pasta!

I love pasta. Not because I’m Italian, but because it’s my go-to dinner when there’s nothing in the fridge.

In our fridge there’s always a chorizo, and in our pantry is always pasta, canned tomatoes, and chickpeas.

Barilla sent me a sample parcel to try, but I already had a box of casarecce – a Sicilian short twisted pasta that was in the gift bags at the opening night of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival last year. This pasta is great because the sauce gets trapped in the twists.Barilla Casarecce pasta

For a fab midweek dinner, try this simple pasta dish:

Pasta with chorizo and chick peas

Chop 1 onion and 1 clove garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add a whole chopped chorizo and cook for about 3-4 mins until it starts to brown. Add a drained and rinsed can of chick peas, or two cans if you want a chunkier sauce. I like the organic ones. Cook for a minute, stirring. Deglaze the pan with a glass of red wine and reduce to half. Should only take 6-7 mins. Add a can of crushed tomatoes and stir. Season with salt and pepper. You can add some chilli if you like just before adding the wine. Taste and check seasoning.Chorizo & Chickpea sauce

Meanwhile, cook pasta following cooking guide on box. For the casarecce, 9 mins in salted boiling water.

Off the heat, add half the sauce to the drained pasta and a few glugs of olive oil and stir to coat the pasta.

Serve and top with extra sauce. Too with cracked pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese (not the packet stuff from the supermarket please!)

Buon apetito!

Chorizo and chickpeas casarecce pasta, with a side of roast pumpkin

Chorizo and chickpeas casarecce pasta, with a side of roast pumpkin

Verdict:

This dish takes about 30 minutes to prepare and the chickpeas take on the flavours of the rich tomato sauce and spicy chorizo. It’s a quick and easy tasty pasta dish to prepare – and if like me you often have chorizo in the fridge, just in case, then this dish is a great one to keep up your sleeve. A pantry winner.

 

Aravina Estate: Tony Howell’s new kitchen

I gladly accepted an invitation to dine at Aravina Estate in Margaret River, keen to try the food of one of my favourite chefs in his new kitchen. Aravina’s new executive chef Tony Howell made a name for himself winning a legion of fans and numerous awards overs 15 years at Cape Lodge, listed in Condé Nast’s 2012 Gold List and named Best Boutique Hotel in Australia.

The Grounds:

From the moment I arrived, I knew I’d be impressed with Aravina Estate. A red Ferrari in the car park, a cute wooden walkway leading to lush lawns lined with eucalyptus, pretty gardens with two dams beyond, vistas of the vineyard, and a magnificent cellar door and restaurant that would not look out of place in the Hamptoms or on the set of hit television show ‘Revenge’. Outside white wooden railings surround a large alfresco terrace dining area that takes advantage of the stunning view. The beautiful grounds have hosted many weddings, including that of winery owner Steve Tobin just a couple of weeks ago.Aravina Estate15

Families will love lunching at Aravina. Eat in peace while your kids run around climbing, swinging and playing.

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From the terrace, parents can easily keep one eye on the fenced children’s playground that would be the envy of many local councils I’m sure.

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My favourite part, the kitchen garden. Executive Chef Tony Howell was almost frothing at the mouth as he talked about the massive ten-bed garden growing seasonable produce including all manner of herbs, several types of lettuce, zucchini, cucumber, beetroot, chilli, capsicum and much more. More fruit trees have also been planted.Aravina Estate21

“That’s the great thing about working here, [owner] Steve [Tobin] is open to suggestions and when I said I’d love a kitchen garden, he made it happen. Check it out!” Tony said.

“Everything in the salmon dish, except the salmon, comes from this garden, freshly picked just hours before it is served.”

Inside:

Walking in, the classy white interior, large windows letting in an abundance of light, high ceilings, lantern-style light fittings, Italian tiled floor and French inspired decor is chic, elegant, and inviting.

Indoor dining

Indoor dining

The wine tasting counter takes centre stage, as it should.  Towards the back of the building is an opulent private dining room, perfect for a party of ten.

Private dining or wine tasting room

Private dining or wine tasting room

Shelves containing cookbooks, vases, photo frames, table ware, kitchen accessories and ornaments are gorgeously displayed around the wine tasting area and also in shop floor area beyond.Aravina_shop1

The restaurant and cafe is beautiful. White linen, fresh flowers, elegant glass ware, and quality cutlery and crockery instantly set the tone for the dining experience to come.

The surprise:

Enter the building, walk past the wine tasting area, past the cafe, through the stunning gift and home ware shop and you’ll find yourself in a sports car gallery. High school memories  raced through my head as I clocked a yellow S/LR 5000 Torana, a 1972 Valient Charger, and 1973 GT Ford Falcon.

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There’s also vintage Citroen, Aston Martin, and a Daytona Ferrari as well as several of sexy modern Italian makes. The rev-head in me was squealing with delight. Who would’ve thought a posh-looking winery would appeal to car lovers or those of us that keep our inner bogan suppressed?

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The wine:

Wine maker Jodie Opie joined Aravina in 2011 after gaining experience at Lenton Brae and Voyager Estate. I liked all the wines, having said that, tasting wine is so subjective.

The vintage sparkling was light and clean. The Vermintino, and Italian varietal, was clean with an acidic finish. My palate has gone off Sauvingnon Blanc Semillon in recent years, but I really enjoyed the citrus and fresh qualities of Aravina’s. The Chardonnay was my favourite.  

Of the reds, I was delighted to see an Italian varietal Nebbiolo on offer. The tannins were tight but with time it will open up to be a beautiful wine to enjoy with winter Italian dishes. The Cabernet Merlot was easy drinking, the Cabernet Sauvignon left a beautiful plummy taste in my mouth, and I really enjoyed the Shiraz Tempranillo blend. Aravina Estate23

“We’ve planted a special varietal of Tempranillo and Malbec – it’s good to have different varietals on offer, as well as the classic ones the region is known for. It makes us different to the other wineries,” Jodie said.

James Halliday named Aravina Estate as “one of the ten best new wineries” in the 2014 Australian Wine Companion.  The wines have also won a multitude of medals at wine shows across Australia.

The food:

I put my diet on hold and threw my gluten-free ways out the window when whipped truffle butter accompanied freshly baked bread arrived at the table. We shared a number of dishes so we could try as many things as we could possibly fit in.  Aravina Estate06

The pork terrine, mustard fruits, pickled walnuts and persian feta was fantastic. The terrine on its own was rich, but perfect when mixed with the mustard fruits and the phenomenal pickled walnuts.

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The seared Esperance scallops avocado tian, tomato and chorizo crumb were delicate, and cooked perfectly. Everything married beautifully.

Aravina Estate08The special of the day, ricotta stuffed zucchini flower and house smoked salmon – it was divine.

Aravina Estate07King fish sashimi, asian omelette and ginger jelly was sensational. The asian flavours were perfectly balanced, it was fresh, light, and I could eat that dish every day and not tire of it. It didn’t look as pretty as some other dishes, that look like art in comparison, but taste-wise, it was perfect in every sense.

Aravina Estate11Smoked goats cheese. Who smokes goat cheese? Chef Tony Howell, that’s who. And it was nothing short of amazing. I’m told he uses local off cut jarrah wood chips, not oak ones that are used in the wine marking process, to smoke things in-house. Teamed with beetroot carpaccio, sous vide celery, orange and some crunchy brioche, this dish is visually stunning. The smoked goats cheese was so delicious, this wins dish of the day for originality and presentation.

Aravina Estate17The Shark Bay king prawn, compressed pineapple, green papaya, herbs and won ton was crunchy, fresh, and perfect for a hot summer’s day. The Asian flavours were beautifully balanced with the sweetness of the pineapple. It felt healthy to eat.

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Time for a refreshing mouth cleanser. Lemon sorbet with lemon and lime sherbet and citrus peel.Aravina Estate16

Feeling absolutely full after sharing the above, we just had one main dish, steamed duck yellow curry, crispy skin, fried peanuts, pickled chilli and herb salad. It looked beautiful on the plate, and smelled fantastic too. One of my lovely dining companions, Sandra, loved this dish – for her, it was the dish of the day. For me, it was too spicy and hot for my chilli-intolerant palate. I don’t mind a bit of heat, but I’m a weakling in that department.

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How pretty is this dessert? Compressed watermelon, coconut sorbet, herb syrup, lychee foam, seasonal fruit and sesame crisp. Every element was fantastic and it was beautiful and light. The perfect ending to a decedant lunch.

Functions:

Aravina Estate just completed a new function room that can seat 160 comfortably. It features a bar at one end, crystal chandeliers, Italian travertine tiles, cathedral ceilings, and large bi-fold doors so the room can incorporate the outdoor terrace. Off the function room, past the guest toilets, is a bridal suite, complete with a lounge area, dressing area, and bathroom with plenty of mirrors and bench space for the all important hair and make up touch ups.  It’s a stunning space.

Verdict:

Add Aravina Estate to your Margaret River itinerary. Not only are there award winning wines to taste and buy, but you can shop, kids can play, you can wander amongst the vines, admire the vegetable garden, and best of all, have a meal you won’t forget.

Tony Howell is producing food as good as he ever has. Despite the increase in covers, the food comes from the same quality local suppliers, is treated with the same respect and attention to detail is evident in every dish. Do yourself a favour and book in now.

My score: 9.5/10 (just lost half a mark because the curry was too hot for my palate)

Disclosure: Dianne Bortoletto was a guest of Aravina Estate and all reviews are based on merit.

FACT FILE

Aravina Estate
61 Thornton Road, Yallingup WA 6282
Tel: 08 9235 4600

The Cellar Door and Cafe are open everyday 10am-5pm and the restaurant is open for lunch everyday 11.30am-3pm. Bookings recommended.

Aravina Estate Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Free Burgers in Cottesloe Friday

Grill’d will celebrate the opening of their newest restaurant in Cottesloe this weekend by offering unlimited free burgers to all guests on Friday 14 March from 5-9pm.

There are 30 different Grill’d burgers on the menu including 100% grass fed, free range beef and lamb, lean chicken trimmed of all fat or vegetarian burgers.

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Wash your burger down with a selection of local craft beers, ciders and wine.

Sculpture by the Sea is on at Cottesloe Beach the moment, so before or after a free burger, wander through the sculpture park.

What a great free night out! Cottesloe is the place to be this Friday to get your weekend started.

FACT FILE

Free burgers Friday 14 March, 5-9pm
Grill’d Cottesloe, 6 Napoleon Street, Cottesloe