Nougatine

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By Louise Avery

 

There is a moment when you see a bright cheekily coloured macaron and wonder what the colours taste like; then you your mouth will start to anticipate the possibility of crunch combined with something softer.  So it was when I saw a Nougatine macaron for the first time.

To eat a macaron, press the shells together, breaking them so you can observe the ganache oozing, ready to be tasted. The experience of that first brush with the bold caramel flavours of a salted caramel ganache and a crisp but not brittle, crunchy outer shell convinced me that indeed Nougatine deserved their medal from the Royal Melbourne Show.

Clement, the maker of this finery sat with me in a café in St Kilda to explain the science behind flavour combining.  This love of flavour and sustainable food found him exploring, with his partner Helene, Farmers Markets of inner Melbourne eventually joining the entrepreneurial tribe of artisan makers, bakers, sourcers and growers. Their mandarin and thyme macarons are made with The Orange Lady from Mildura’s mandarins. As Clement explained “it’s finding the right chemical aromatic family that makes it work. Orange and thyme doesn’t work but mandarin and thyme have common aromatic components, so they work”.

Clement points out that we are so lucky here in Australia, to have such direct access to the growers and makers in Victoria. Growing up in Paris even the local markets are third hand sellers now and our connection with how and what is grown is becoming distant and dissociative.

To make their macarons they have a conscious desire to create sustainable food relationships, as he said, “Why spend so much time worrying about where we get our vegetables from and then ignore how our desserts are made?” Using their food chemistry wizardry and building harmonious relationships with growers they are creating a unique and passionate flavour explosion that has solid connections to the world around them. The only exception is the chocolate as they are yet to find anything local in suitable quantities, so they use Callebaut chocolate.

Heston Blumenthal is the spiritual godfather of Nougatine, with his creativity and enthusiasm for the science of food. For them creating taste is inspired by curiosity and a sense of adventure in food and in what they produce and the occasional visit to regional Victoria sourcing products to add to their taste palette.

And they are very busy producing not only macarons but other French desserts for corporate events, weddings, parties, anything and can be caught at Farmers Markets on a weekend… selling and buying more available ingredients as well as building on the sense of community that they have found there.

I put Clement a little on the spot by challenging him to think about what he would suggest for a 1930’s style Indian wedding. He scratched his beard and wondered, changed the subject and then came back to it with a possibility for absinthe and chai… absinthe has a flavour similar to lemon balm and anis, and chai is a blend of warm spices. Absinthe for those heady pre war days in Paris and chai to offset the cooler flavours with a burst of warmth. Although, consultation with the creative brains of the operation Helene would be needed to create just the right chemistry to make this just right, however he would happily try.

Clement sees the possibility of creativity in everything they make and is passionate about locally sourced produce. My absinthe and chai macarons may not appear at his next market stall but he is always one step ahead with the next ingenious solution and intriguing flavour sensation that ensures that I am inevitably heading to his stall next time I am at a Farmers Market.

Some farmers markets in the St Kilda area you may find Nougatine at

- Elwood Farmers Markets Second Saturday of each month at Elwood High School

- Fitzroy Street Farmers Market 3rd  Saturday of each month on Lakeside Drive St Kilda.

 

www.nougatine.com.au

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