Books & Literature

Cookbook Review: Bondi Trattoria, by Joe Pavlovich and Alasdair France

This cookbook is a glimpse into the world of Bondi Tratt, which has been serving Bondi locals and internationals for 30 years, right over the road from Australia’s most famous beach.

Interesting recipes but perhaps too time consuming for the home kitchen.
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The Bondi Trattoria had been a local icon in Bondi, NSW, run by the same owners for more than 30 years when Joe Pavlovich and Alasdair France bought it in 2017. While keeping the Italian theme, they broadened the Mediterranean influence as can be seen in this delightful cookbook. The chapters are divided much as one would see on the menu – from breakfast through to desserts – with additional recipes for the basics, such as pizza dough, staff recipes and drinks.

The first recipe I tried was the Roasted pumpkin, silverbeet, olive, goat’s feta and wild rocket pizza on page 89. The ingredients included three basic recipes: pizza dough; pizza sauce; and caramelised onion; of which I made two – substituting vegetable relish for the pizza sauce. The basic recipes were well laid out and easy to follow and I made enough to store for next time I want pizza.

I could not find any fior de latte cheeseand so used bocconcini cheese with the goat’s feta to top the pizza. The caramelised onion takes time to make but is well worth it, as the long cooking develops a wonderful depth of flavour. I cooked the pizza on my Weber Baby Q using a pizza stone and the result was absolutely delicious.

I also cooked Parmesan & lemon thyme crusted pork cutlet with agresto and figs in prosciutto on page 120. My only substitution was pork leg steaks because all the pork cutlets looked very fatty. Agresto has been made as an accompaniment since medieval times and is a rustic sauce made from nuts, fresh herbs and verjuice, which compliments pork very well.

I am lucky enough to have a fig tree in the garden and so could wrap luscious fresh figs in the prosciutto. The combination of the soft, delicate fig flesh with the salty meat was interesting, but the texture did not appeal to my husband. I was disappointed that the recipe did not suggest some vegetables or salad to serve with the pork as lemon wedges seemed somewhat inadequate.

The intricacy of some the recipes is not a function of whether the dish is a breakfast or dinner dish – some are just quite time consuming. For example, the Roasted pumpkin with zucchini fritters, harissa yoghurt, poached egg, macadamias, currants & rocket on page 18-19 is a breakfast dish which I would estimate would take about an hour to bring to the table.

The hardcover book is a high quality production with some beautiful photographs of the dishes and of Bondi beach but it is not one which I will turn to very often. The Introduction does note that these recipes will ‘help you get into the swing of good entertaining’ but for me, many of them would take too much time. However, it does demonstrate the amount of skill and hard work which goes on in restaurant kitchens to bring us delicious meals.

Reviewed by: Jan Kershaw

Distributed by: New Holland Publishers
Released: April 2019
RRP: $45

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