Quarter Twenty One is the latest ambitious undertaking by Justin and Georgia North, officially opening in Westfield Sydney late last week. The concept includes the relocated Becasse (moving from Clarence Street and shrinking in size from 70 to 24 seats), and expansion into a new modern European restaurant, cookery school, providore and a retail bakery. The size of the space is 700 square metres, with $4 million invested.
[The reasoning behind the name Quarter Twenty One]
Quarter Twenty One Cookery School
I was invited along to the first class at the Cookery School, held on Sunday. The Cookery School is enclosed within glass walls in the providore, easily visible to browsing shoppers and passersby in the mall. It's compact and organised, with induction cooktops and ovens by Fagor, motion-detection taps, and cameras above the demonstration benchtop relayed to a TV screen for participants.
Today's class is Cooking in Provence led by Alex Mackay, cookery workshop teacher for Delia Smith. He's flown out from the UK to check out his best mate's new venture - Alex was the Raymond Blanc cookery school director when he first met Justin North.
Cooking in Provence - Alex's latest cookbook
We're seated on stools at movable stainless steel counters. The class is a mix of demonstrations, front-of-the-class assistance, and hands-on pasta making. Alex is clearly at ease as a teacher - entertaining but focused, and determined to keep things fun.
Prawn heads and shells are the magic ingredient for the most amazing prawn bisque, he tells us. He pan-fries the shells first before adding tomato paste and then adds water to create a rich stock. The strained stock is then combined with a puree of cucumber, red capsicum, garlic and bread to create a cool and refreshing Tiger prawn soup.
The soup is garnished with flash-fried prawns, roasted cherry tomatoes and dollops of pistou. Pistou is simply French for pesto, and Alex's tip is to blanch the basil leaves before blending to maintain a vivid green colour.
The next dish Alex demonstrates is remarkably simple but delicious. It's a rustic mix of haricot beans, zucchini and tomato cooked with clams and mussels so their natural juices flood the pan. Sweet moist fillets of bream are grilled separately and hidden beneath a cascade of vegetables.
A conveyor belt of pasta
Alex show us how to make pasta dough and then use a pasta maker to roll it out. Everyone is impressed when he joins the two ends together to create a loop of pasta he can feed continuously through the machine.
Conveyor belt pasta
My spinach raviolo with egg yolk
We all get a chance to get our hands dirty, making the pasta dough by hand and then using the pasta machine to roll it out. We cut the dough into large squares and place a large spoonful of ready-prepared spinach and parmesan mix. In the centre we place a raw egg yolk, and then enclose it with another square of pasta dough.
Completed spinach ravioli (mine is top right)
Libby Travers, Cookery School Coordinator, adding grated parmesan cheese
The raviolis only take 4 1/2 minutes to poach. Alex recommends that all filled pastas should be cooked in water that is barely simmering - when water boils, it tends to make the pasta flimsy and increases the risk of the filling leaking out.
Alex adding burnt butter to the ravioli
My cooked spinach raviolo
The egg yolk money shot
The raviolo is divine: runny egg yolk, piquant spinach and parmesan, and the silky texture of fresh pasta.
I'm called up to help with the production of desserts, and soon everyone is involved in plating and service.
[Clockwise from bottom]: Lemon curd ravioli, layered lemon curd and red grapefruit with filo pastry, and lemon and cinnamon caramel creme brulee
It's a lemon finale with a trio of desserts each featuring lemon. The addition of cinnamon to the creme brulee does create a more adult-tasting dessert, lending an elegant complexity. I'm not so keen on the lemon curd ravioli which is a little dense and chewy, but I do like the circles of brik pastry, made by sandwiching two circles with butter and sugar (repeat on top) and baking at high heat until golden.
Quarter Twenty One
And after the class there's time for a quick browse of the shop that focuses on small local producers.
Quarter Twenty One
Dried pasta with the wine fridges at the back
Fresh fruit and vegetables
The new Quarter Twenty One restaurant seats 70
Becasse Bakery with a view of the kitchen inside
Almond crossiants $6.95
Zokoko 68% chocolate muffins $6.95
Brioche loaf $11.95
Sourdough baguettes $6.95
Fresh baked filled baguettes $9.95
and mini seeded filled rolls $7.95
Chestnut Mont Blanc $8.95
Bolivian chocolate petit pots $7.95
and petit dessert du jour $8.95
Petit gateau opera $6.95
Quarter Twenty One cooking classes start at $100 for 45-minute express classes. Upcoming classes include:
Adriano Zumbo, Monday 16 May 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Perfect pork crackling, Wednesday 18 May 5.30pm-6.15pm - $100
Jared Ingersoll, Monday 23 May 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Colin Fassnidge, Monday 30 May 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Macarons and petits fours, Saturday 4 June 10.30am-1.30pm hands-on class - $170
Will Studd, Monday 20 June 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Warren Turnbull, Monday 18 July 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
Mark Best, Monday 15 August 6.30pm-9.30pm demonstration class - $190
View Cookery School program
Quarter Twenty One
Westfield Sydney, Level 5
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5/02/2011 02:52:00 am