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Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter)

Food, art, culture…intertwined in a way that is both enjoyable and informative. One of the best culinary themed books I have read in 2018.

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan explores the extraordinary lives of Mirka and Georges Mora, their invaluable contributions to the art and culinary scene of Melbourne.

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Lesley and Kendrah are senior curators at the Heide Museum of Modern Art (Heidelberg, Melbourne) who have previously co-authored the books, ‘Sunday’s Kitchen: Food & Living at Heide’, ‘Sunday’s Garden: Growing Heide’ and ‘Modern Love: The Lives of John and Sunday Reed’.

I have always been a fan of Heide Museum, visiting whenever time allowed me. It all started when I first took Adi for a holiday program at the museum but it would be fair to say that I fell in love with the space. It’s more than art at Heide; the beautiful expanse of greenery around, the vegetable gardens, the café serving absolutely vibrant delicious food, all of it inspires me to keep returning to the Museum.

The first time I came across the name, Mirka, was also at Heide. There was an exhibition featuring her art works and also copies of this book at the store inside the museum. But I initially dismissed it thinking the book is going to be all about art, not even paying attention to the word ‘culinary’ in the title. Little did I know that ‘A Culinary Affair’ is not just a glorious illustration of Mirka’s works and their life story but also contains lots of classic French recipes that are absolutely brilliant.

A beautiful sky blue hard bound book filled with the most beautiful drawings and illustrations, mostly by Mirka along with many personal photographs adorns the pages. The narrative begins with a brief introduction to Mirka’s childhood in France, growing up during the period of the Second World War, the perils and tragedies faced during the Holocaust, meeting Georges and finally moving to Melbourne in 1951.

‘Bohemian’ is perhaps the best word to describe Mirka’s and Georges’s way of life. Both of them led a very colourful, enterprising, creative, free-spirited lifestyle peppered with sophisticated food, sexual intrigue and artistic endeavours.

Their contributions to the culinary landscape of Melbourne are immense with the Mirka café, Balzac Restaurant and Tolarno French Bistro. The book tells us about their journey into opening each eatery, how it became the hub for rich and famous including the likes of Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Ava Gardner, Gregory Peck etc…. to name a few.

Mirka and Georges also contributed immensely to the artistic scene of post war Melbourne. Their apartment was often the den for artists and artistic discussions. Today, the name Mora is much revered amongst the culinary and art circle of Melbourne and imprints of it can be seen at Heide Museum, MoMA etc…

The authors have done an excellent job in giving us a glimpse into the culturally rich and vibrant life of the Moras. For a relatively new migrant like me, the book is a peep into the stories of some of the people who have shaped Melbourne as we know today. And the Moras led such an exciting life than parts of it almost feels like fiction to me. I now understand that the post war Melbourne was anything but boring; it was grand, exciting and full of adventures. The only thing similarity that I can draw to the modern times is that this beautiful city that I now call home was welcoming to people from all walks of life from all over the world, just as it is today.

Coming to the recipes outlined in this book, I intend to try out each and every one. But the one that caught my attention was a recipe for Huitres Grillees Aux Amandes or Grilled Oysters with Almonds and Butter.

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 12 fresh oysters
  2. ¼ cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  3. ¼ cup almond meal (or ground almonds)
  4. 1 ½ tsp Grand Marnier (optional or replace with brandy as in original recipe)
  5. 1 small garlic clove; grated
  6. Cayenne pepper
  7. Lemon wedges, to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan forced)
  2. Cream the butter and almond meal; grate in the garlic and add the Grand Marnier. Also add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix well to combine.
  3. Pour off the extra liquid from the oysters and cover each with a tsp of the almond mixture.
  4. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately garnished with a pinch of cayenne pepper

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter)

Mirka & Georges – A Culinary Affair by Lesley Harding and Kendrah Morgan (+ a recipe for Oysters roasted with Almonds and Butter) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

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Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita

How many oyster lovers here?

We love oysters, all the three of us, including our 9 year old who started eating raw oysters when he was about 6. And that’s a fact that gets us a lot of attention when we order fresh raw oysters at any restaurant. From the staff to the people dining at neighbouring tables, we get a lot of smiling, curious faces when they see Adi golfing down raw oysters with the happiest grin on his face.

So oysters make a regular appearance in our home when we are in the entertaining mode. Of course we are mindful of how many he eats and we ensure to get our hands on the freshest oysters too (which is important for everyone).

Even though I started writing about Adi’s love for oysters, today’s recipe is not for children. It’s strictly 18+

The idea for this recipe came about when I was sent a bottle of Rameau D’or Cotes De Provence Rosé 2017 as part of a social media project.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

From the Provence region in France, this Rosé was a fabulous wine to discover. It was not too sweet unlike many of the Rosés I have had before. Delicious and smooth with hints of delicate spice and Turkish delight/strawberry sorbet sort of flavours, this Rosé was truly a delightful drop.

I enjoyed the Rameau D’or Cotes De Provence Rosé 2017 but still wanted to create a recipe using the wine. And since it was a drop perfect for spring and summer, I came up with the idea of making a granita.

Granita is an ideal summer dessert; it’s simple to make and there are a zillion flavour combinations to choose from. While I have enjoyed the fruit version before, this is the first time I went ahead with a wine based granite.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

Granita is believed to have originated in Sicily and it is basically a semi-frozen dessert that is made from fruit or any other flavourings mixed along with sugar and water. A variation of the granita is the Indian gola which is quite popular during the summer months. The difference is that the gola is basically shaved ice onto which the flavourings are poured but in a granita, the flavouring are mixed initially and then allowed to freeze.

Making a granita involves a bit of technicality; you don’t allow the liquid to freeze completely or it just turns to solid ice instead of ice crystals. The liquid is allowed to freeze for a short period of time and as it begins to freeze around the edges, the frozen bits are scraped from the edge towards the centre using a fork creating the crystals. Repeat for a couple of times to get the perfect granita.

This Rosé wine granita is a dessert on its own, a great refreshment after meal for a hot summer day if you don’t want to have any heavy desserts. Or you could pair it with fresh oysters like I did, a really fun and entertaining idea especially if you have friends over.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

The same recipe can be followed for other wine varieties too like a Prosecco, Red Wine, Champagne etc…. but you will have to play around with the quantities of lemon juice (I have used verjuice in this recipe) and sugar, both of which are essential when making a wine granita as wine alone does not freeze well.

So let’s make a batch and chill out this summer with a Rosé Wine granita. Pair it with fresh oysters for a delicious starter or finish off your meal with this stunning dessert cocktail.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups Rosé Wine
  2. ¼ cup verjuice (or lemon juice)
  3. ¼ cup raw sugar
  4. ½ cup cold water

Method:

  1. Add all the ingredients to a non reactive bowl and mix till the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Pour into a clean baking tray and place in the freezer for 1 hour.
  3. Remove after 1 hour and scrape from the edges using a fork to form the crystals. Freeze again.
  4. Repeat this every 30 minutes for the next 2 hours.
  5. Granita ready!

Note – The quantities of sugar and lemon juice/verjuice will need to be adjusted according to the flavour profile of the wine. So taste after mixing all the ingredients and adjust levels of lemon juice and sugar.

Oysters with Rosé Wine Granita - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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