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Books on the Menu with Justin Byrne

Our next guest speaker at Books on the menu was Justin Byrne. He has a way with words and is well known for writing wine columns and articles about our local wine and produce. Justin is the marketing manager for Charles Sturt University Winery. He said his home is filled with food and wine books and he subscribes to many magazines and (like most of us) keeps more than you should. A book that was instrumental in the early days was a gift – Jean Jacques seafood book. In the 80s this book took seafood to a new level. Seafood cooking was basic this brought in a lot of French techniques. It is very 80s. He pointed out the King George Whiting recipe in puff pastry, and also Mussels in a light tomato sauce, which is a recipe he still uses today.

At the time of publication, Jean-Jacques was the three-times award winner of the best seafood restaurant in Australia. His book explains not only how to prepare seafood in recipes made famous in his restaurant (located in North Melbourne, then St Kilda), but how to select, recognise freshness and buy them.

He said cookbooks reflect the changing fashions of restaurants as we mature – as a society we see it in the food. Justin also praised Japanese Kitchen by Kimiko Barber, bought in a Tokyo bookshop that spilled across 7 floors. Like a Stephanie Alexander book it gives you background on the ingredients, then the recipes. For example the different mushrooms are put into context, given a history, then directions on how might you use it.

There are also two types of Japanese stock and they can be used differently as a dipping sauce or a basis for stock – ” I highly recommend it”. There are 100 ingredients and 200 recipes. Discussion about seafood and where to purchase it in Orange followed and enthusiastic audience members called out various locations for meeting up with fish deliveries direct from Sydney markets. Great tips! Thank you Justin for stimulating appetites to try not only seafood, but Japanese cooking as well. Stay tuned, one more special guest to follow soon.

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