When all feels down in my world I can always turn to good friends… the gourmet delights that surround Sydney.
The other day, while running endless errands I found myself feeling a bit down and sorry for myself. Yet at the same time however, I found that I had just happened to drive into one of the many growing gourmet areas of Sydney - Dank St, Alexandria.
I love Dank St, it is a food-cultured street hidden amongst industrial warehouses, and ever increasing sky rises apartments. I drove home that day with a bag full of delicious vegetables, an Allpress coffee and best of all a smile on my face because I realised how great life is.
While so many seem to constantly find the negative attributes of a ‘Sydney lifestyle’ I intend do the opposite and share with you some of my favourite foodie things in Sydney.
One of my favourite gourmet splendours in Sydney:
Dank Street; though sometimes near to impossible to find a parking spot these days (as they are busy building new food havens such as Whole Foods House) there is just something I still love about this street.
I remember falling in love with Dank Street years ago after going to Dank St Depot. I was inspired by Jared Ingersoll’s food, with such a simple approach that was a celebration of the matching of flavours.
Fratelli Fresh introduced me to a new way of fresh produce shopping. Here in this warehouse was a treasure trove of fresh fruit and vegetables that were so fresh, some still lying in the boxes straight from the markets. I think it was here that I learnt the most important lesson in cooking; to create great food, by using the freshest 'in season' produce.
Fratelli Fresh continues to carry its’ Italian rustic warmth with its restaurant that is always buzzing upstairs; amongst piles of pastas, olive oils and anchovies.
Dank Street will always be a special spot in Sydney for me, although many shops and restaurants are popping up all around in a similar style, Dank Street opened my eyes to a world of great culinary adventures.
White Onion Risotto with crispy pancetta and parsley oil
This recipeis based on Jared Ingersoll’s first book, Dank Street Depot. I love this risotto because the flavours are simple yet work so well together.
750g white onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.25 litres water
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
100ml extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of salt
1 white onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
220g Arborio rice
Handful grated Parmesan
An extra knob of butter
100g thin sliced pancetta
For the onion stock. Place the onions in a cold saucepan with oil and salt. Place a lid on, and put over a low to medium heat. When the onions start to wilt stir from time to time. Keep cooking the onions with the lid on for another 10-15 minutes until the onions are translucent. It is important not to colour your onions. When your onions are soft add the cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Puree this stock in a blender and pass through a sieve. You can make this stock in advanced, and store it in the refrigerator.
For the Parsley Oil. Put all ingredients in a blender and puree until a paste forms. This makes more than you need for the risotto, but you can store it in a jar in the refrigerator for a week. Just make sure to bring it to room temperature before using. (It is great with fish!)
For the Risotto. In a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat melt the butter, and add the onions and garlic. Sauté the onions until soft and translucent. Try once again, not get any colour on your onions. In the mean time put your stock in a saucepan to heat up.(you can also heat it in the microwave)
Turn up the heat of your onions and add your rice. Stir vigorously to coat all the grains in butter, and to stop the onions from browning. Keep stirring for another 5 minutes.
Have your stock at hand and add one ladle at a time. You want to wait until each ladle is absorbed before adding the next, continuing to stir after each addition. Follow with this process until your rice is cooked. You will know when the centre of the grain is tender, but not chalky.
Turn off the heat and let your rice sit for a couple of minutes. In the meantime you can gently fry your pancetta in a dry pan until crispy. Leave to drain on some kitchen paper.
When you are ready to serve your risotto, stir almost all of the Parmesan and as much butter, as you like until your risotto is a lovely creamy consistency.
To serve, drizzle with some Parmesan oil and a good handful of crispy pancetta.