At The Books at the Brewery before Christmas a year or so ago we had the pleasure of meeting local residents who were involved in the food industry. One of these guests was Rosa Mitchell. Rosa has a farm near Yandoit in which she and her husband produce much of her vegetables at her Melbourne based restaurant ‘Rosa’s Canteen’
Although Rosa was born in Sicily she has spent most of her life in Australia but her roots are firmly from her homeland and each year she takes a group of foodie types for a tour to get a sense of her early life. In fact when I visited her restaurant with a friend I was disappointed that Rosa was leading one such tour. However her staff did not disappoint with her food. Generous portions of freshly made pasta was followed by a sublime lemon tart. Wine was served by the glass and the service professional but helpful.
So it was no surprise that I chose one of the two cookbooks that Rosa has written for our Tuesday night cook book club. One of my friends has her other cook book so we were spoilt for choice. And it was a difficult choice as you wanted to cook so many of her recipes with ingredients unfamiliar to me. Things like wild fennel and nettles and farro and hare. But I ended up choosing for a barley salad. I like barley but had never cooked it and it made a simple salad with fresh tomatoes, red onion and a dressing. Not happy with just a salad of course I could not help myself and a made a chocolate, pear and pistachio cake. Then I saw the fig and fennel biscuits. Whoever thought of such a combination. Very popular! Other favourites were fennel fritters and a ricotta and fig tart. Another successful evening with great company and delicious. A glass of masala went well with those desserts too.
Next month….will we even be getting together at all. We all hope so and I have suggested recipes from Diana Henry ‘Plenty and ‘ Simple’ which are two of her books though a friend has several others. Maybe we won’t have a book club after all or if we will it make with what you can make with a can of chickpeas or lentils, or a packetof frozen peas or from your late summer garden. Challenges regardless are in store.