Tag Archives: extra virgin olive oil

Fennel & Orange Roasted Chicken – Video Blog

31 Mar

The union of fennel with orange is one of my favourites. Thanks to Diego Bonetto’s foraging tour I learnt how to identify edible plants growing wild in my backyard including fennel.


The Inaugural Young Chef’s Showcase Dinner

30 Dec

The past few weeks have flown by and I finally have time to share with you about the beautiful dinner I attended on the 18th of December. ALMA – The  International  School  of  Italian  Cuisine, INTERNATIONAL  EXTRAVIRGIN  OLIVEOIL  AGENCY   in  collaboration  with INTERNATIONAL  OLIVE  OIL  ACADEMY – Australia presented the “Young Chef’s Showcase Dinner”.

This event followed the Armonia International Olive Oil Competition and the dishes were prepared by the winners of the professional chefs category. When I arrived at the Cammeray Golf Club I had the opportunity to mingle with some of the EVOO producers that I missed during the excitement of the awards ceremony a few weeks back.

A selection of EVOO was on offer to sample with bread, baby vegetables and champagne before we were seated for dinner.

Crudites Dipping EVOO

I sat with Alese who joined me as a winner in the enthusiasts category of the competition and Mr and Mrs Joslyn – the parents of young chef Alex who also won with his chocolate mousse. I was dying to try it since he showed me a picture!

Alex's parents

Table group shot

Jayne Bentivoglio (Director of Rylstone Olive Press) and Mauro Martelossi (International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Agency Executive Director) addressed the guests before dinner.

Jayne Mauro

We began with an Amuse Bouche of Asparagus with Dehydrated Olives.


Entree was by Elizabeth Fiducia from Jamie’s Italian Sydney

Crudo of Hiramasa Kingfish, lemon jam, peaches, apple and EVOO served with 2010 White Label Hawkes Bay Pinot Grigio


Main was by Kevin Nguyen from Quay Restaurant

Confit of Hapuka fillet, squid noodles, Shitake Speck Italiano, olive oil broth, seasonal vegetables, olive oil emulsion served with 2010 White Label Hawkes Bay Chardonnay


Dessert was by Alexanda Ian Joslyn from Ormeggio at the Spit

Olive oil white chocolate mousse, EVOO biscuit, yoghurt and rhubarb jelly served with 2011 Grant Burge Alfresco Moscato Frizzante

Mousse Dessert


 I wish I could begin to explain the harmonious flavours, the crunches, the way a rich looking emulsion and elements of the dessert simply melted like air on my tongue leaving behind the pure essence of extra virgin olive oil. No description could be vivid enough to convey how immensely delightful this meal was! The wines were superbly matched – too bad I was driving.


Congratulations to all the chefs involved. They had barely slept for 48 hours in preparation and their dedication was evident. 

Young chefs presentation

To top off the evening, Jamie’s Italian in Sydney was announced as an Extra Virgin Olive Oil Restaurant and is only the 2nd restaurant in Australia with this title following Pilu at Freshwater. This is an exclusive circle open only to those restaurants who use certified extra virgin olive oils of excellence that have gone through the very stringent selection process of the ARMONIA competition.


It’s been a fantastic journey since entering the olive oil competition and I’m very excited to see what these talented young chefs will be doing in the restaurant scene over the next few years. 

My Chocolate Mousse Wins in the Armonia International Olive Oil Competition

8 Dec

I received an email a few weeks ago from Roberta Muir (Sydney Seafood School Manager) announcing the 1st Armonia International Olive Oil Competition to be held in the Southern Hemisphere. The invitation was open to anyone who wanted to enter for a chance to compete. The condition was that olive oil must be the star ingredient and olive oil chocolate mousse immediately came to my mind. I was so excited when Roberta replied saying that I was in! I could hardly contain myself.

I made a trial batch of mousse at home and timed myself to make sure I could complete the dish within 2 hours and have it beautifully presented for the judges to taste.

When I arrived at the Sydney Seafood School on the 20th of November I met the other 9 contestants who were also passionate about food and cooking. The energy was building as we were ushered in to prepare and setup our equipment at the stations. I took all my own ingredients, except for the EVOO, and any special utensils and equipment needed including mum’s reliable old electric beater for good luck!

Sign setting up ingredients Beater

Gary Mehigan (MasterChef) and Alessandro Pavoni (Ormeggio at the Spit) were the judges and Mauro Martelossi (International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Agency Executive Director) and  Giovanni Pilu (Pilu at Freshwater) welcomed everyone and opened the competition.

Gary, Giovanni, Mauro, Alessandro

Opening competition

We tasted a variety of unlabelled EVOO and selected the ones we felt would work best with our dishes.

EVOO tasting

We began cooking and the judges circulated the room asking questions and marking us on various areas including organisation and cleanliness.

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

Gary took pictures of the dessert bowls I purchased especially for the competition. He was on the lookout for something to use at Fenix and said these would be perfect.

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography


Once my mousse was in the fridge I walked around the room to see what the other contestants were preparing. My senses were on overload with the scents and sounds of salmon poaching, cake baking, prawns sizzling and spaghetti boiling. It was like a beautiful symphony wafting through the air.

Chocolate mousse in the fridge

Spaghetti alle Vongole was the first dish completed and Alese, the contestant who cooked it, shared some with us while it was being tasted by the judges. It was absolutely delicious!

Spaghetti being cooked Cooking spaghetti

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography © Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

My Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse was next. 

Mousse is ready

I placed the bowls on the table in front of Gary, Alessandro, Mauro and Roberta and explained why I chose to prepare this dessert. “I don’t like very sweet desserts so I chose this because the olive oil adds a beautiful savoury element. The fresh raspberries add some tartness and the sprinkle of himalayan pink salt at the end brings out the notes in the chocolate and olive oil. I also added some pistachio dust and a drizzle of olive oil to finish.”

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

After I left the judges to try my mousse I ate some delicious poached salmon prepared by Kurt, freshly baked wholemeal focaccia and roasted vegetable salad by Antonella, salmon ceviche and octopus salad by Daniel, kale chips by Alison and olive oil cake by Katrina. The cake was so moreish and I found myself saying “this is my last piece” about 6 times!

Roasted tomatoes Roasted veg salad Salmon ceviche

Ross cooked a restaurant quality poached kingfish dish, Stefano made a seafood platter fit for a Roman king and Irena’s dish was a poached prawn salad that looked too good to eat.

Seafood platter Prawn Salad

We continued to eat and share recipes as we waited for the results. It was announced that we would find out at a ceremony held on the 3rd of December! We gathered together for some photos and wished each other good luck.

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography © Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography © Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

On the 3rd of December I joined my fellow food enthusiasts along with professional young chefs and olive oil producers. Awards were handed out to producers for several categories including packaging, organic and different varieties of olive oil. Congratulations to everyone but I must mention a few in particular.

Alto Olives which I see regularly at Eveleigh Markets on Saturdays,

Alto Olives

The Little General which I have posted about before (when ever I bump into Nadia we end up talking about the Festa Delle Salsicce in Griffith, yum!) and last but not least, Rylstone Olive Press. This is the mystery olive oil that I used for my chocolate mousse. They were all unlabelled, numbered bottles so we had no idea of the varieties or brands.

lucky number 21

One of the owners of Rylstone Olive Press, Jayne Bentivoglio, was at the ceremony and collected so many awards that I lost track! At one stage Jayne was asked by Joanna Savill (Director of The Sydney Morning Herald Sydney International Food Festival) to wait so she could collect a few awards at once before returning to her seat.

Jayne Award

Jayne invited Alese and I to visit the Rylstone Olive Press farm during harvest season (April – May) next year and prepare our dishes again using their oils. 2013 is going to be an exciting time!

Congratulations to all the chefs!

1st Kevin Nguyan – Quay  Restaurant (Confit of Bass Groper Cheek, Shaved Calamari, Shitake, Speck & Olive Oil Broth, Olive Oil Emulsion)

2nd Alexander Joslyn – Ormeggio  at  the  Spit (Olive Oil & White Chocolate Mousse, Olive Oil Powder, Biscuit, Yoghurt & Rhubarb Jelly)

Grand Mention Diplomas

Elizabeth Fiducia – Jamies  Italian, Sydney (White Chocolate and EVOO Risotto with Rosemary, Roasted Peaches and EVOO Pistachio Crumble)

Kyu Wang Lee – Balla  Restaurant (Poached Olive Oil Sword Fish with Asparagus Puree, Heirloom Tomato)

John Javier – Quay  Restaurant (Scampi, Macadamia, Chamomile and Olive Oil)

Peter Gilmore (Quay Restaurant) and Ross Lusted (The Bridge Room) were there to present the awards with Giovanni Pilu. Kevin was overcome with emotion when he realised that he was off to Italy for a week to attend the ALMA cuisine school. My eyes filled with tears when I saw how passionate Kevin was about the work he does with food because I feel the same spark.

Winning chef Chef announced Announcing chef

I’m not a chef but food stimulates my senses and makes me feel alive. The sensation of dough between my fingers, the fragrant notes in olive oil, the textures of food on my tongue – these experiences are as important to me as the breath in my lungs.

Alexander Joslyn showed me a picture of his dish which was an Olive Oil & White Chocolate Mousse (as mentioned above). We had much to talk about! I can’t wait for the upcoming “Young Chef’s” Showcase Dinner when I will have a chance to savour the dishes prepared by the chef contestants. I’ll be sharing a post about this special event in the coming weeks.

Alex, Giovanni, Ross, Mauro


Finally, the food enthusiast awards were announced.

3rd Alese  – Spaghetti alle Vongole

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation

2nd Ross – Olive Oil Poached Yellowtail Kingfish with Asparagus and Lime Vinaigrette

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation

1st my Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse

A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation

I couldn’t believe my ears when it was announced. In 2013 I will attend a 5 day Professional Olive Oil Sommelier Course and cooking classes at Sydney Seafood School as my prize.

Award Trophy

I’m grateful to have been involved in such an amazing competition and to have met so many people who share my love of cooking and food in various capacities.

A.NZ.SA Olive Oil Championships Presentation

My passion for olive oil is not new but my interest to learn more about this complex natural ingredient is growing. During my holiday to Spain back in 2010 I visited an olive oil museum and went nuts! Everyone that I bought presents for received tins of olive oil and its surprising that customs didn’t stop me for questioning due to the high volume of oil I packed into my suitcase. No, not shoes, olive oil. 

IMG_5111 IMG_5113 IMG_5114 IMG_5119 IMG_5121 IMG_5123

I’ve experimented with my Spanish olive oil in recipes like Zucchini, Cocoa, Olive Oil and Walnut Cake. So by this stage, one question that may be on your lips – how did I make the mousse? The answer is…

150g good quality dark chocolate (I used Callebaut 53.8%)

100g extra virgin olive oil (again, make sure it’s a good quality oil. I used a medium fruity Rylstone Olive Press EVOO)

250g pouring cream

Fresh raspberries

Pistachio dust (finely ground pistachios)

Himalayan Pink Salt (fine)

A little more EVOO to drizzle at the end

Slowly melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. When smooth and glossy, mix through the olive oil until well combined. Set aside to cool slightly while you whip the cream until it reaches soft peaks.

Gently fold the cream into the chocolate and olive oil mixture. Don’t mix it too much or you’ll knock the air out of the cream and your mousse won’t be as light and fluffy. Serve at room temperature or put in the fridge to chill for an hour. If you leave it in the fridge for longer it will set firmly and the texture will become grainy due to the fat molecules in the olive oil solidifying. It will melt in your mouth but the texture won’t be smooth and silky.

I spooned the freshly mixed mousse straight into the individual dessert glasses before putting into the fridge. To serve, sprinkle with pistachio dust and just a little salt to bring out the chocolate and olive oil notes.

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

A few raspberries are perfect to add some tartness and cut through the richness of the mousse. I prefer to use fresh berries picked from my mum’s garden when there are enough of them ripe at once.

garden fresh berries raspberries

Drizzle with a touch of EVOO. Enjoy!

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

The professional photos I’ve shared in this blog post were taken by Lyndon Marceau and can be viewed here.

You can view a full list of the winners and awards here.

Prawns with Dukkah, Lemon & Extra Virgin Olive Oil

28 Oct

The fish markets are the best place to get fresh seafood in Sydney (besides having a generous friend who likes to fish) and I rarely buy it anywhere else.

I bought some beautiful large prawns to have as entree for our family barbecue a few Sundays ago and they didn’t last long.

I have a bulk supply of pistachios on hand that I use for rolling my chocolate truffles in so I made some dukkah to go with the prawns.

1kg of prawns, peeled, deveined and tails left on
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh lemons

1/4 cup of freshly ground, roasted pistachios
2 tablespoons of golden sesame seeds (these are un-hulled and have more flavour than white sesame seeds)
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
A sprinkle of salt (I used Portuguese sea salt)
A sprinkle of chilli flakes

Natural yoghurt
Freshly chopped coriander, roots and leaves

Pan fry the prawns on high heat in some olive oil on both sides until they curl up, turn white and start to brown. They won’t take long to cook. Squeeze over a generous amount of lemon juice and transfer to a serving plate.

Sprinkle the hot prawns with salt and generously dust with the dukkah. Drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil and garnish with lots of fresh coriander. To serve, mix some fresh coriander through the yoghurt and place the bowl in the centre of the platter for dipping. Best eaten with your fingers.


Roasted Fennel, Blood Orange and Buffalo Mozzarella

24 Jul

During the warmer months I love to serve crisp fresh fennel sliced with blood orange and spanish onion.

I also crunch on fennel alone. It helps with digestion and I feel the effects immediately, even as I’m eating it. It has such a clean, fresh flavour.

Food that is so naturally beautiful and in season has to be good for you. Just looking at the stain glass pattern of these blood orange juice vesicles gives me an appreciation for this heavenly fruit.

My winter version of fennel and blood orange salad is just as simple and full of colour.

Serve this with roasted potatoes, pork and crackling and you may never want to eat a roast any other way.

1 large fennel bulb
2 blood oranges
1 buffalo mozzarella
Extra virgin olive oil

Rise the fennel and cut off the stalks. I reserve these to eat fresh while I’m cooking. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise and then in half again so you are left with quarters. Slice the quarters evenly and lay on a baking tray.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and bake at 200°c until they start to become golden and caramelised. They will still be firm but you can continue to cook them if you prefer a softer texture.

Peel and segment the oranges.

Remove the fennel from the oven and toss the orange segments into the baking tray so they are just warmed through. Layer the fennel and orange segments onto a serving dish.

Tear the mozzarella using your hands and scatter over the top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Garnish with some fennel fronds for colour and a touch of that trademark anise taste.






Fig and Hazelnut Salad with Vincotto

2 Apr

I’ve been shopping for fresh produce this weekend so I was due to start cooking! Considering how fresh the figs were I decided to let them shine through with minimal fuss. This simple salad was the perfect accompaniment to lamb cutlets that were tossed in EVOO, salt, lemon juice and a diced clove of garlic before being panfried until crispy and brown on both sides while still juicy in the centre.

Fresh figs

Green leafy mix (I used rocket and spinach)

Rosted hazelnuts

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)



To make the salad, put the leaves in a large bowl, drizzle with EVOO and vincotto (just enough to lightly coat the leaves, you can add more if it’s not enough) and a pinch of salt. Gently toss with your finger tips to spread the dressing and place it in the middle of a plate. Cut the fig into 4 segments and place over the leaves and sprinkle with hazelnuts.  Just use your instinct to make it to your taste. More fig, less hazelnuts, it’s up to you. Drizzle the salad with a little more EVOO to serve.

The potatoes I picked up at Eveleigh Markets were like little golden nuggets.

I put them in a pot of water, brought it to the boil and simmered for about 5 minutes before draining. I sliced them in half and put them in a baking tray with rosemary I picked from the garden, salt, EVOO and whole peeled cloves of garlic. They roasted at 200ºc for about 1 hour but you may need to remove the garlic earlier so it doesn’t get too brown and taste bitter.

This was the perfect dinner to end a beautiful weekend.

Arbequina Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse with Pistachio Dust, Himalayan Pink Salt and Fresh Raspberries

4 Mar

It’s been a long time since I made Olive Oil Chocolate Mousse and since a friend gave me a beautiful bottle of Robert Oately Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil last week I thought I would make it again. I don’t particularly like egg in desserts even if the flavour can’t be detected so I love this recipe that simply uses chocolate, cream and olive oil.

150g good quality dark chocolate (I used Callebaut 53.8%)

100g extra virgin olive oil (again make sure it’s good quality and not just a boring olive oil you use for cooking)

250g pouring cream

Fresh raspberries

Pistachio dust

Himalayan Pink Salt

Slowly melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. When smooth and glossy, mix through the olive oil until well combined. Set aside to cool slightly while you whip the cream until it reaches soft peaks.

Slowly pour the chocolate and olive oil mixture into the cream and fold through. Don’t mix it too much or you will knock the air out of the cream and your mousse won’t be as light and fluffy. Put in the fridge to chill for atleast an hour or until ready to serve.

Sprinkle each serve with pistachio dust and just a little salt to bring out the chocolate and olive oil notes. A few raspberries on the side are perfect to add some tartness and cut through the richness of the mousse.

Fruitful Eating

27 Dec

It’s so easy, especially during the Christmas and new year holiday period, to eat without putting much attention on the experience. I have often finished eating something and wondered why I ate so much or why I chose to eat something I didn’t really feel like in the first place. But when I make a conscious decision to slow down and engage my senses, the entire experience changes from a basic instinct to fuel and nourish my body, to an intriguing and sensual journey.

For example, I had some beautiful, ripe cherries yesterday and after eating a few, I stopped and put all my attention on the next cherry. I held the plump cherry by it’s stem and dangled it in front of my lips. I felt it’s cool, moist, smooth skin as it passed my teeth and landed on my tongue. I felt it’s weight as it rolled around in my mouth warming up to body temperature and as my teeth slowly pressed down, the crimson coloured skin burst open releasing a stream of sweet juice and flesh. Finally, I was left with the seed coated in a fine layer of fruit. It was the best cherry I’ve ever eaten!

I had a mango this morning and one of my favourite ways to savour this exotic fruit is to simply eat it out of the skin leaning over the sink as the juices run down my hands. It doesn’t taste the same cut into little cubes and served in a bowl with a fork. I bite into the juicy flesh and scrape every last bit of the cheeks off with my teeth and then make my way to the seed which always leaves fibres behind for flossing!

After watching Eat Pray Love (for the sixth time) a few days ago, the scene where Liz is indulging in a plate of spaghetti, stirred memories. I remember eating a plate of spaghetti in Rome a few years ago with my mum and it was one of the best meals of our lives. It was a simple dish and if I ate it now there would probably be many meals I could recall as being far more attractive and flavourful. The reason it was so amazing was because we were in Italy after dreaming about it for years and we were sharing the moment together.

Have you ever taken time out to slow down and really experience the smell, taste, textures, sounds, colours, temperatures and shapes of your food? Do you know what a blueberry looks like inside? Try peeling off the skin or delicately biting it in half to see what it looks like up close. Does it taste different after spending time up close and personal? Have you noticed how a cashew nut turns from hard and crunchy to creamy with eat bite? How about the difference between a tomato that has been in cold storage at a supermarket to one that was grown without pesticides and picked straight from the plant?

(These tomatoes and chillies have been freshly picked from mum’s garden)

Now try a tomato with a sprinkle of sea salt or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Do you have a new appreciation for these simple seasonings that are often taken for granted? 

If you’re a chilli lover like me, have you noticed the sensations in your mouth as the burning spreads across your tongue from mild to intense depending on how hot the seeds are? Is your face heating up as well. Is it painful or pleasurable or a combination of both? Does it make you feel excited and alive? Do you have an urge to push yourself further and try something even more intense with your next meal? Can you detect any flavour from the chillies you’re eating or are they so hot that your senses are overwhelmed?

(I drew a few sketches of chillies, mango and cherries for this post)

I invite you to take just a few minutes to really be with your food and notice if your relationship with it changes. The aim is not to label anything as positive or negative, simply open up to being curious and see where it takes you.

Buon appetito, bon appétit, buen provecho!

Bavette Pasta with Peas, Asparagus, Pesto and Smoked Salmon

3 Jul


My fresh, raw juice was enough to sustain me through a divine facial and massage today but by the time I arrived home I was starving! So I made a nice big plate of pasta (to share of course). Usually the pasta is the star and the sauce is quite minimal but I decided to bulk up on the crisp, green, seasonal vegetables.

You can adjust the ingredients to suit your taste but be careful not to add too much extra pesto. The pasta should be slightly flavoured, not thickly coated.

250g bavette pasta 


Hot water

Hand fulls of fresh peas

Handful of chopped fresh asparagus

1 clove of garlic, sliced

1 red chilli, sliced

1 lemon

Extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped dessert spoon of pesto

Smoked salmon

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil, add a generous amount of salt and toss in the pasta. Heat some olive oil in a pan and saute the garlic and chilli until fragrant. Add the asparagus and peas and as they start to turn bright green, add the pesto and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. Drain the cooked pasta and reserve some of the water. Toss the pasta through the sauce using the leftover water to loosen the sauce.

Serve the pasta piled up on a dish, sprinkle coral pink shreds of smoked salmon over the top and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Let the pasta cool slightly before topping it with the salmon to avoid cooking it. Don’t squeeze lemon juice over the pasta once it is served as the acid will cook the salmon.



Moroccan Spiced Potato, Pea and Spinach Soup

17 Jun

I’ve been in a ‘soup mood’ all week and here’s another creation! 

1 medium brown onion, finely diced

3 large cloves of garlic, finely diced

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

1 medium potato, peeled and very finely diced

300g of frozen peas

200g of spinach

1 heaped tablespoon of natural yoghurt

1 heaped tablespoon of Bitton Moroccan Spice

Chopped fresh coriander

Chopped fresh chilli


Extra virgin olive oil

Vegetable stock

White wine


Saute the onions in a generous amount of butter and olive oil until translucent but without browning. Add the garlic and celery and continue to saute for a few minutes. Add a generous splash of white wine and cook until some of the liquid evaporates. Add the Moroccan Spice and saute until fragrant.

Stir in the potato, peas and spinach, pour over enough stock to cover and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, stir in the yoghurt and leave to cook until the potato is tender. Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth.

Return to the heat, check the seasoning, add more salt and Moroccan Spice to suit your taste. Stir through more vegetable stock if the soup is too thick. Mix in some freshly chopped coriander just before serving and top with a dollop of natural yoghurt, chilli and coriander.

Some crusty toast is perfect with this to dip and wipe the bowl clean!

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