Food & Fish

CATCHING, cooking and eating fish is one of the prime reasons we go fishing. Being able to sustainably provide ultra fresh seafood for our families and friends is a fundamental human activity that goes right back to our hunter-gather roots. These days catching and eating fish helps give our lives meaning in a world otherwise dominated by plastic wrapped produce and an inability to relate to the natural environment.

Thus it’s no surprise to realise that many of those who make a living from feeding people also appreciate where the base ingredients – ie, things like fish – actually come from. And, as I’ve discovered in recent years, there are many top-level chefs who really enjoy the process of catching and preparing fish. Sydney restaurateur Eugenio Maiale, along with other well-known chefs like Tetsuya Wakuda and Pete Evans, is a keen angler with a passion for using fresh, sustainably caught seafood in his award-winning Darlinghurst restaurant A Tavola.

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Originally hailing from South Australia, Eugenio has a background targeting snapper, KG whiting, calamari squid and blue swimmer crabs, popular species which are great to catch and fantastic to cook and eat. More recently, Eugenio has fished around places like Fiji, landing (and eating!) top tropical sportsters like mahi mahi. Like most keen anglers, he also has a serious hankering to head north and try his luck on the barra.

Fisho will be spending some quality time with Eugenio in Sydney Harbour over the next few months, where we plan to film videos for our website showing the capture, handling, preparation and cooking of common species like squid, bream, bonito, tailor and whatever else we can catch.

Fishing World editor Jim Harnwell and writer and angling activist Martin Salter this week enjoyed an evening with Eugenio at A Tavola (which in Italian means “to the table”).
Like many Aussies who have a European family heritage, Eugenio grew up surrounded by home-made food. The culinary focus of his restaurant is on fresh pasta and the use of fresh, flavoursome ingredients to create meals of elegant simplicity. Fish and seafood obviously play a major role on the menu and Eugenio creates his constantly changing recipes using the best available fish species, depending on season.

A Tavola is ranked as one of Sydney’s best restaurants – Eugenio has won a coveted Chef’s Hat in the annual Good Food Awards and his cooking has been lauded by critics and diners alike. Leading critic Simon Thompson described A Tavola as “one of the loveliest, sexiest Italian eateries I’ve encountered” and other reviewers have described it in equally glowing terms.

Salter and Harnwell were truly spoilt when they visited earlier this week. Stand-out dishes included:

Cape Sante con Barbabietole e Rucola
(Seared scallops, baby beetroots, wild rocket, pomegranate) which was served with a knock-out 2009 Colmello Pinot Grigio wine;
Manzo Sotto Sale con Carciofi Fritti
(House cured beef in sugar, salt, pink peppercorns, rosemary, lemon with fried artichokes and radish);
Filetto di Pesce con Polip e Olive
(Pan fried monkfish (a fancy name for stargazer!), braised octopus, sugar snaps, black olives and basil); and
Pappardelle con Ragu D’Agnello
(hand cut pappardelle pasta, slow braised lamb in red wine, rosemary, tomato) which came with an amazing 2008 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico, Sangiovese, from Tuscany.

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As you can guess, the boys were pretty impressed with Eugenio’s culinary skills, and also his commitment to using sustainably caught fish teamed with the freshest ingredients.
During the meal we came up with some really good ideas to work with Eugenio to show you guys out there ways to maximise the taste and flavour of your fish via careful handling and storage, plus some simple yet ultra tasty ways to cook the catch. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out the A Tavola website at We highly recommend Eugenio’s restaurant as the place to go with someone special if you want to enjoy a really fantastic meal.

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