The first time we visited Carlton North, we loved the village atmosphere of Rathdowne street and the almost untouched feel of the surrounding area - you can imagine yourself back in the 20's when Carlton thrived as an inner city working class suburb along side of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond.
My Grandfather grew up as a boy in Carlton - we walk past his old family address in Drummond St and imagine how wonderful it would be to knock on his door and be invited in for a cup of tea. we'd love to talk to them - next project...TIME MACHINE!
Of course, the face of Carlton changed in the 50"s with an influx of Italian immigrants bravely making their way across the seas to Melbourne. At my grandfather's address there now stands a proud example of Italian 50's architecture - simple 50's box structure, the ever present concrete surrounds with stone mosaic trim dominated by a beautifully kept rose garden.
|My grandfathers' childhood address - now a great Italian palace!|
|Proud 50"s Italian Heritage - sweet as roses.|
The Italian heritage in Carlton & Carlton Nth is thick in the air and so evident when you walk the streets, so many homes bursting with fresh herbs, tomato plants of all kinds and immersed in a seasonal culture passed down through the ages. We love it here in little Italy!
Of course, in an area so molded by Italian culture - there soon follows brilliant food and restaurants & OMG how much to we love Italian food! I suppose we always have, but Kristy and I have grown a much deeper appreciation of it's respect and reliance on fresh seasonal produce. We now grow as much of our own fresh food as we can with grand plans for the worlds largest market garden on our balcony...
Not long after moving to Carlton Nth, our love of Italian people, culture and especially food drew us to a leading local Italian food establishment called "La Luna" - this the creation of proud Italian and celebrity chef Adrian Richardson. On our first visit with some friends, we simply had a nirvana dining experience (you know what it's like - when all the culinary stars align!). The restaurant is understated - modern Italian, well lit by natural light beaming in from Rathdowne St. Somehow Adrian even convinced the local council to let him plant seasonal greens in planter boxes on the street outside - these used in his cooking. Adrian's theme is to only cook with the freshest of produce- thus ensuring we enjoy the food at its freshest, tastiest and healthiest - he even butchers his own meat on premises.
|Adrian Richardson's La Luna in Rathdowne St. Carlton Nth.|
We are glad to see he doesn't get his diners involved in this!
As you may have noticed, our dining experience at La Luna sits pretty high in our best-things-to-do-in-Melbourne list. We hope you all have the chance to go there and enjoy his great food.
On our way out we couldn't help but buy a copy of his latest book - "The Good Life". We fingered through it over dinner and just had to get a copy to try some of his cooking at home.
|The Good Life - Adrian Richardson.|
|Adrian was nice enough to sign his book for us - Live the good life!|
Naturally, once we got home and pored through "The Good Life", we made a short list of meals we would attempt - stretching our little 50's kitchen to the limit. To our glee, we found Adrian (although from a strong Italian heritage) brings together tastes from across the globe in to a menu that is simply divine bistro food. This explains why our first dish cooked and highlighted here could not be further from his Italian roots - "Pot Roasted Chicken with North African Spices".
It was a OMG moment as soon as we saw the photo and read the ingredients - these ingredients slow cooked can only mean great flavors, that when you close your eyes transports you to a Moroccan souk kitchen - so cool! So here it is guys - please try it...you will Love it. We promise!
Adrian Richardson's - Pot Roasted Chicken with North African Spices.
4 free range chicken marylands - cut through the joint to separate the drumstick & things.
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium brown onions - (see Kristy's onion cutting post - it saved my eyes on this one!)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons grated ginger
2 small red chilies, seeded and finely sliced
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 teaspoons cumin seeds - toasted & ground (toasted in moderate oven for 10mins is fine)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted & ground
I teaspoon saffron threads
500 ml chicken stock
200gm green pitted olives
2 cups roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cups roughly chopped coriander leaves
Juice of 3 lemons.
Ok here we go, so preheat your oven to 180 degrees, season the chicken pieces generously with salt & pepper. Heat half the oil in a large heavy based frying pan and brown chicken pieces in batches over a medium heat. Transfer to a large casserole pot.
|Brown the seasoned chicken and transfer to large pot.|
While the chicken is browning you can prepare your spices - chopping your onion, garlic, chilies, grating the ginger and toasting the coriander & cumin seeds in the oven.
|Our spices to add...|
Add the rest of the oil to the pan, and lower the heat to medium. Fry the onion, garlic & ginger for 3-4 minutes, until the onion is soft but not colored.
Add the chilli and dried spices (coriander, cumin, paprika & saffron and fry for another minute, stirring well.
Add the stock and bring to the boil.
Stir in the olives (halved) and fresh herbs. (stand look & smell in wonder!).
|Once all of the ingredients are added - OMG!|
Poor over the chicken pieces and cover with the lid - you hard work is done - if you haven't already you should crack a bottle of Sav Blanc and bathe in the aroma of what you have created!
|Poor that goodness in!|
Bake in the oven for 40 minutes on 180 degrees. Remove the lid after this and bake for a further 20-30mins until the chicken has browned on top.
|Bake for 45 with lid on - then 20 mins lid off to brown.|
When ready, stir in the lemon juice and sprinkle with some fresh coriander leaves & take to the table to serve....
***We also like to add some Greek yogurt with salt, pepper, paprika and lemon juice to taste as a side with steamed rice of your choice.
|Pot-roasted chicken with North African spices - yum!|
As you can see this dish tantalizes all of the senses - it looks amazing, smells and tastes brilliant!
We hope you love it as much as we have bringing it to you.. . :)
ADAM & KRISTY