Rely on the kindness of strangers
Having a spot of lunch at La Table cafe in Mullumbimby, a couple of friendly international travellers came up to me – Matteus from Turin, Italy, and Lily from Marseille, France.
I asked them what they thought of food here in Australia.
‘I imagined Aussie food to be like American: food, fatty, kilojoule-laden foods’, Lily told me. She was very surprised at just how wrong she was. I mentioned the multicultural aspect of Australian cuisine and Matteus, the young Italian, quickly asserted, ‘Australia has no cuisine! It’s too young a country’.
He was right of course though only in the obvious respect. I noted that I had a tremendous salad mound of quinoa, carrot, zucchini, fetta and caramelised sunflower seeds flecked with a citrus parsley dressing and fresh greens sitting plump in front of me. I added that there was a French chef preparing this food and next door there was a modern / traditional French menu being made and sold to all nations who’d care to partake.
Australia’s cuisine definitely relies on the kindness of strangers creating fresh, fusion and traditional menus from many cultures of the world – I don’t think I’d want it any other way.
Having owned and operated food businesses, I wholly appreciate the effort people put into creating their own eateries.
Now, imagine two times the effort – cafe and bistro, and I can really appreciate the choice on offer.
The owners, Louise and Bruno Pouget, have something in common (apart from their kids) – cooking; they’re both accomplished chefs.
Their resumes suggest that their kitchen at home would be something to behold and that they really know what they’re doing in any kitchen.
Adding to this pool of experience is Wilfrid Nages, the chef looking after the bistro now on Friday and Saturday nights.
I sidled into the bistro last Friday night with a small group and ordered a dish of snails. These little treats for me evoke foggy seaside weekends somewhere in France, plentiful escargot casseroled in garlic and parsley and sides of thick sliced bread cut from ‘two pound loaves’ for soak-up.
The escargot arrived potted with a Patis (anise liqueur) herb butter and a side of sliced fresh fennel all of which satisfied my fantasy adequately.
The confit of duck leg was again served in a solid French setting, sitting centred on a sweet potato and carrot puree and flanked with a siding of perfect green beans, sprigged with thyme and set on a good shiraz glaze.
I love the simplicity of this dish so much, I will include it as a recipe down the track. Lamb fillet was also served perfectly cooked to order, pink and medium rare, at this point I won’t apologise to the vegetarians reading as I was dining with one who had ordered a fantastic goat’s cheese soufflé served with olive and almond crumbs, asparagus, tomato and roquette salad.
At La Table’s cafe everything is in place and as good as any other cafe around; fresh juices, good coffee from baristas using a Botero blend and food from breakfast to lunch that’s well executed and served in or out, garden or lounge-chaired.
La Table’s bistro next door is definitely not to be ignored. Now a Friday or Saturday evening affair, it’s wonderfully casual with a privileged feel to it, like you have your own French relative cooking for you.
You can come in before eating a meal at home, enjoy one or more dishes off the tasting plate with a drink if you so desire without being eyeballed. Selections are very well priced from $7 to $13, charcuterie and cheese boards at $16, or mains from $24 to $30.
A good wine list includes quality wine the likes of the biodynamic red ‘Chateauneuf du Pape’, Domaine de Villeneuve 2007 , ‘Vielle Vigne’ – an aged drop worth trying.
The Pougets have provided the ardent foodie with an unusual opportunity; French culture, food, wine and joie de vivre right here in Mullumbimby and on any budget – Bon Appétit!
La Table – Bistro
72a Burringbar St, Mullumbimby
Friday 4pm till late
Saturday 2pm till late
La Table – Cafe
8am – 4pm (kitchen closed at 2.30pm)
Saturdays 9am until 2pm (kitchen closed at 1.30pm)
72a Burringbar St, Mullumbimby