Who is Andrew McFadzean? I’m the general manager at Lerida Estate winery at Lake George, between Canberra and Goulburn.
Best recent dining experience: Capitol Bar & Grill at QT on London Circuit and Raku on Bunda Street have both been highlights. Capitol Bar for Bistecca alla Fiorentina and a big red and, at the other end of the spectrum, Raku for its amazingly delicate and thoughtful dishes – sea urchin nigiri is a must-try!
Most embarrassing pantry item: The pantry is pretty OK, but the freezer is a different story! There are dozens of little bags of unlabelled stocks and sauces that I always forget to use and end up tossing out. I guess it’s less about an embarrassing ingredient and more about having great ingredients and not using them enough.
Must-buy ingredient: Sherry vinegar is king in my pantry. There are usually a few bottles on the go at any time. It brings the freshness of vinegar with a savoury complexity that is hard to beat. And tinned fish – all the tinned fish – tuna, anchovies, mussels, cockles and sea urchin, much to the dismay of most of my family.
Next big thing: I think meal times are over-rated. When we holiday with family, eating and drinking is such a central activity and the distinction between meals blends into a constant graze, from one tasty thing to the next. I’d love to see a shift towards eating throughout the day, taking a few moments to enjoy a bite and a minute to collect your thoughts. Is it going to be the next big thing? Probably not, but I’d like to live that way.
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: Breakfast isn’t as big a part of my routine as it should be. I always need coffee, so I’ll go to Highroad in Dickson for something interesting from Ona/Project Origin. Highroad’s kimchi pancake caught my eye recently and certainly delivered a welcome chilli kick to start the day. Three Mills Bakery’s bake-at-home croissants are a freezer staple for an easy and delicious weekend breaky treat, too.
My Canberra food secret: It’s not a big secret anymore, but Paranormal Wines in Campbell is a place I love to stop for its beautifully curated list of interesting left-field and natural wines. They are a far cry from the wines that we make and can be challenging from time to time, but that’s what makes it fun. The menu is small but full of delicious savoury nibbles. Pequod Wines, a little side hustle of one of our winemakers here at Lerida – Paul Williams – is also worth a shout out. So much love and attention poured into such a tiny volume of wine!
Biggest culinary influence: It has to be mum. Meat and three veg was not her bag. She was always cooking new and crazy stuff, so the pantry was full of weird and wonderful things. It was a great environment to grow up and learn how amazing the world of food and wine is.
Favourite cookbook: The Real Food Companion by Matthew Evans has to be the most used (and dirtiest!) book in the rack. I seem to gravitate to it for its simple, hearty themes and the little titbits of stories that breathe life into the recipes. Honourable mentions: mum’s copy of the Women’s Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook and my newest acquisition from the op shop, Modernist Cuisine – a multi-volume set with 2400 pages and 23.7 kg of super-technical gastronome gibberish and amazing photography.
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: While he is a business partner and close friend, I can’t go past Tony Lo Terzo from The Italian Place. He knows the trade inside out and can run a room like no one else. On the wine side, I think the Canberra District has so many great humans pushing us forward, but Ken Helm from Helm Wines and Frank Van de Loo of Mount Majura Vineyard stand out for driving amazing outcomes and promoting Canberra as a district built on making great wine.
What’s on the menu this week: Our crumbed brie with warm cranberry has been a real hit since the cooler weather arrived. It’s crispy, gooey and warm and goes beautifully with our tempranillo rose for something light, or even our shiraz if you’re after a little more grunt.
Where I’m going next: I’m dying to get over to the new Inka restaurant in Bunda Street to see what’s going on. Nikkei cuisine from such a pro team.
Death row meal: It has to be wine first, food second. So a big, and I mean big, glass of Burgundy from Vosne-Romanee and a pile of duck pancakes to match.
My COVID-19 response: In the months leading to COVID, we were already revamping our tasting experience at Lerida Estate. While we traded through the shutdown and kept the doors open for passing traffic, it was a rare opportunity to execute our plans with clarity and space that is rare in the hospitality game. We did away with bench tastings staring at a concrete wall and moved out into the bay windows, offering spectacular views of Lake George. Operating under limited venue capacities also shone a light on how easy it is to think that more business is better business. Fewer customers in the space gave us more time to spend with our guests and show them our real and honest hospitality. This has made us a better business.
My really simple recipe tip: Super easy tray-baked chicken. Toss chicken thighs, red onion, red capsicum and half a dozen garlic gloves in an oven tray with liberal glugs of extra virgin olive oil and plenty of smoked paprika and chuck it in a super-hot oven for about 30 minutes. When done, add lots of salt and pepper, parsley and capers and serve with crusty bread. Don’t throw out the juices in the tray – drink them like soup or put them in a zip-lock bag in your freezer and forget about them! Drink with our soon-to-be-released trophy-winning 2019 Lerida Estate Shiraz.
Lerida Estate is a 30-minute drive from Canberra and produces a range of cool-climate wines made from pinot noir, chardonnay, shiraz, riesling and more. Its cafe and cellar door are open daily.