Back before the streets of Newtown were paved with burgers and fancy gelato, there was Bloodwood. Eight years ago, they were the first swell of what would be a wave of exciting new places to eat and drink in the area. As chef and co-owner Claire van Vuuren describes, “The area has changed from a place where a great community of people lived but often went elsewhere to eat and drink and party…Now diners from all over Sydney come here and we a have thriving community of locals who live, work and eat (and drink!) here. We all support one another and places like Bloodwood have grown as part of and with the other venues in the area.”
Whether you live in the area or not, Bloodwood feels like your friendly local neighbourhood restaurant; relaxed yet professional. And like any friendly neighbourhood restaurant the locals have their staunch favourites. If Bloodwood were to take polenta chips off the menu it feels like by morning there’d be a troupe of angry locals with pitchforks. If they took them off the menu would there be riots? “I'm not sure about riots but there is [a] strange infatuation with those chips. People have knocked on the windows late at night asking for a last portion and my favourite are customers who stop by on their way to Royal Prince Alfred hospital to supplement the hospital food menu,” says Claire.
They’re now in the final stages of opening a new restaurant up north in Bellingen, working with Bloodwood designer Matt Woods on the fit-out, they’ll be cooking in the kitchen’s original fireplace. “We are pretty proud to be putting together a 100% Australian spirits and cocktail list with the help of Louise Dowling from Mary's and Unicorn,” Claire tells us. They’re hoping to swing open the doors sometime in May, so before they get pulled into the hectic whirlpool of a brand new venue we stepped in to the kitchen with Claire to make this incredibly delicious tart with seasonal pine mushrooms. Thanks Claire!
Pine Mushroom and Walnut Tart
2 onions sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 sprig thyme
60ml sweet vermouth
50g castor sugar
1 onion quartered
1kg Pine Mushrooms (any mushrooms are fine to use)
Use a good quality store bought puff or be brave and make your own. Cut into rounds 2cm bigger than the top of your tart case.
1. To make the walnut filling, slice onions and garlic cook slowly till very soft in butter with thyme and salt and pepper. Add vermouth and walnuts once the onion mix is soft.
2. Blend the onion and walnut mix in a blender till smooth. Add eggs and cream, adjust seasoning. Cool mixture in the fridge.
3. Slice pine mushrooms into large pieces, add salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast in a hot oven till cooked. Drain and leave to cool.
4. Cut one onion into quarters, cover in oil, cover and cook slowing till the onion is very soft and falling apart. Remove once cooked and leave to cool in the oil.
5. To make the caramel. Add sugar and butter to a dry pan, let this melt together and form a caramel. Add sherry, salt and pepper. Let this reduce and combine.
Building the tart:
1. Line a tart case with baking paper.
2. Add one tablespoon caramel to the base of each tart case.
3. Pile a hand full of Pine mushrooms into each case. Fill with more than you think, they will reduce.
4. Add 6 pieces of confit onion.
5. Add 2 tablespoons of walnut filling to the top.
6. Place one piece of puff pastry on each tart.
7. Cook in oven for 35-45 min at 180 degree.
8. Once cooked turn out onto a plate and remove the tart casing.
Claire recommends the tart goes well with Natty Lager. Enjoy!