Foodstyle Review Magazine

  Winter 2009 - In this Issue Alla Wolf Tasker, Oysters, Chips, PlattersViognier, Sardines, Rigatoni

Visiting AllaAlla Wolf Tasker & Geoff Scott from Vinnies restaurant Auckland

Towards the end of the summer, ignoring bush fires, Foodstyle Review visited the culinary home of Australian regional food queen Alla Wolf Tasker at her resort and restaurant in Daylesford, Victoria. 

Some chefs just can’t put down their tools, even after a resourceful 25-year career that has brought fame at least .

"Cooking again?" 

Alla Wolf Tasker looks up from a mixing bowl and beams her signature smile.

“How are you?”
I’m excited, after a quick drive up from Melbourne, to finally be staying at her reputable Lake House resort and restaurant in the Victorian village of Daylesford. And I have planned my visitation to coincide with the region’s ‘producers day’ that Wolf Tasker and her husband Allan organise on the lake-side property every February.



Oysters - best dressed

Oysters naturalWhen it comes to tarting up oysters in the half shell for grilling or baking, the three stand-out traditional recipe toppings that have survived at least a century are – Rockefeller, Kilpatrick and Mornay. 

Rockefeller – classic American

Out of this tasty grilled threesome, the Oysters Rockefeller recipe is the most complicated. It is also the only one that hasn’t fallen completely into the public domain as every interpretation is guesswork on the original, which is still kept secret by the current owners of Antoine's in New Orleans, the restaurant that invented the dish in 1889. Antoine's, founded in 1840 by Antoine Alciatore, still serves its Oysters Rockefeller to the same tune it did in 120 years ago - a recipe said to have been originally used on the restaurant’s signature French snail dish at the time. Following a shortage of snails, the chef substituted oysters in their half shell.

Most imitation Oysters Rockefeller recipes (and there’s some wild ones out there, even using cheese!) use spinach as the base for the ‘green’ colour of the sauce topping but Antoine's owners in the past say this ingredient does not feature in the original dish.


Foodstyle Catering

New Zealand's best behaved chipAlla Wolf Tasker & Geoff Scott from Vinnies restaurant Auckland

It sounds like a contradiction – the idea of a healthful chip, yet each year there’s a national quest to find the perfect chip that tastes great but is not meant to blow-out your gut-circumference. 

Trust me, Googling the word ‘potato chip’ will make your eyes spin in different directions with the sheer volume of information. You won’t believe so much can be written about deep-fried spud cuttings.

So much history since this humble tuber vege was shipped from South America in 1536 to land in boiling hot European oil; so many names for the same chip; so many shapes; so many cooking theories; and so many condiment sauces.


Antipodes Water

A vineyard journey of three plattersVilla Maria antipasto platter

Foodstyle Review calls on three wineries – two in Auckland and one at Warkworth – that are worth visiting for their food platters alone. 

Made on the premises

Artisan Wines is a family affair, the lifestyle dream of Rex and Maria Sunde. Their website refers to them as ‘craftsmen wine makers of Oratia’ - the west Auckland suburb where the winery is located on Parrs Cross Road.

The Sunde Family has been growing grapes in the Oratia valley on the western outskirts of Auckland since 1906, with the terraced Fantail Island vineyard first planted in 1995. Much of the vine work in this vineyard is done by hand, often with three generations of the family working side by side. The vineyard produces an award winning Syrah from small vineyard blocks that are hand tended and hand-crafted, in the same approach these owners take to their menus in the vineyard café/restaurant.


Camerson Douglas - Masster Sommelier

Generation VRigatoni Ragu

Viognier re-discovered.

Don’t worry if you aren’t confident about pronouncing ‘viognier’, writes Master Sommelier Cameron Douglas, just give it a try. This rediscovered white wine varietal can offer a big package taste. It is also a varietal that is very fussy to grow, so good examples are currently few and far between.

Viognier has charm. A good one will offer the richness and texture you’ll find in chardonnay, the balance, vibrancy and acidity of sauvignon blanc, and a flavour profile that suggests the best of gewürztraminer and riesling - all in one package.


Sardines for breakfastSardines on toast

New Zealand waters are rich with small sardines, more commonly called pilchards, but you wouldn’t know it.

Sardinops neopilchardus is a small fish species revered in other countries as food source, but used almost entirely for bait in New Zealand. Darn shame, as the Kiwi pilchard is widespread in inshore waters around the North Island and the northern South Island and is very fast growing. It is fished commercially in limited quantities - with a catch limit introduced in 2002 of 2485 tonnes. Annual landings have fluctuated between 25 tonnes to 1491 tonnes over the past 16 years. Most of this catch is exported to Asia, but are available in New Zealand.


Pasta for meat eatersRigatoni Ragu

This is a robust pasta dish from Naples that will induce a culinary glow of satisfaction for the heartiest of winter appetites, yet is low in calories and inexpensive to make.

Rigatoni Ragu is the very opposite of those pretentious pasta/noodle recipes that throw fussy things into a cream saturated nest of noodles/pasta. This recipe contains no cream or diary and is relatively low in fat calories, getting its flavour from the slow-cooked ensemble of beef, stock/wine, herbs and tomatoes that breaks down over low heat for at least two hours to produce the final ragu or stew.

This recipe is also very ‘forgiving’ to make and is inspired by the "Ragù Napoletano" pasta main on the menu at O’Sarracino restaurant at the top of Mt Eden Road, Auckland. Our recipe uses dried pasta, which has a better shelf life (obviously) over fresh, has fewer calories and is easier to cook.