A book review by Franz Scheurer
Dietmar Sawyere single-handedly resurrected Berowra Waters Inn to its former glory under the Bilson/Kyritsis days. There is no doubt in my mind that the place injected a new vitality into chef as much as chef injected new life into the venerable restaurant. A total refurbishment, in keeping with the original Murcutt design, transformed the place into the 21st Century and made it workable for the crew and enjoyable for the diner. How Dietmar Sawyer had time to write a book eludes me, but here it is, Table By The River, and if I may say so: it’s a must-have book. It is full of achievable recipes for the home cook and there are a number of dishes that will capture the imagination of the professional cook, too. Then it is a lovely coffee table book showcasing Graeme Gillies excellent photography.
The book is divided into:
A short discourse on cooking and dining, followed by:
The Amuse Gueule
The First Course
The Crustacean Course
The Vegetable Course
The Fish Course
The Soup Course
Poultry And Game Birds
Game Meat And Offal
Followed by base recipes, acknowledgements and a workable index.
When you eat at Berowra Waters Inn, one thing that immediately stands out, is Dietmar Sawyere’s commitment to attention to detail; nothing is left to chance and this attitude comes through in the book. Nothing is quite right unless it is perfect. Recipes as deceptively simple as ‘Sugar-cured Salmon, Spiced Avocado, Crisp Tortilla’ reach new levels of presentation, flavours and textures and his interpretation of ‘Canapé of Eggs and Chips’ using Oscietra Caviar is a hoot (and it tastes so good!) Dietmar Sawyere is a strong believer that it is the customer who decides what is a signature dish and not the chef. Well, they have decided. It would be unthinkable for chef to remove the ‘Chilled Vichyssoise, Oscietra Caviar, Beignets of Hawkesbury Oysters’ from the menu and once you’re eaten it, you know why. I love the way chef combines Australian produce with traditional European fare and his ‘Steamed Kangaroo Island Yabbie, Risotto alla Milanese’ is proof of that. If you are vegetarian you will love dishes like ‘Buffalo Ricotta Spinach Ravioli, Sage Butter, Wood Mushrooms’ or ‘Spaghettini ‘En Papillote’ with Rocket, Wild Mushrooms, Garlic and Chilli Oil’. One of my favourite dishes (and I’m stoked that it is in the book) is on page 129, the ‘Sweetcorn Velouté, Balmain Bug Dumplings’. It’s sweet, alluring, moreish and delicious. With his Swiss background, chef also excels in cooking meat and the ‘Seared Duck Breast, Grilled Balsamic Fig, Salted Walnuts, Foie Gras Cromesquis’ shows off his finely honed skills. His background is probably also responsible for dishes like ‘Fromart Raclette, Shiitake Mushrooms, Walnuts, Wild Arugula’ or ‘Nespresso Granita, Mascarpone Sabayon, Hazelnut Ricotta Cake’.
This is a superb book and it’s a book that deserves a space in your kitchen. If it is too pretty to use, buy two, one for the kitchen and one for the living room.
Available now at good book stores
Table By The River