As I eat my way around France, including in the wine region spanning Alsace to Cote d'Azur with regular stops in the Rhone-Alps, I plan how to continue this when I return to Australia and find myself suddenly craving pate de foie gras or terrine de campagne, a country terrine made with all parts of the animal.
Fortunately, Australia is a culturally diverse country. It has thriving Asian food communities, authentic Middle Eastern eateries and good quality European cuisine. But most importantly, it has passionate chefs and artisans who've come to Australia from all parts of the world with immense knowledge about their respective food cultures.
Romain and Marion Sylvestre of Crafty Meats in Riverdale, an inner eastern suburb of Perth in Western Australia, are two of those artisan migrants. After landing in Perth in 2010, the French couple spent four years honing their skills as chefs. However, they kept craving the simple French classics of their childhood, such as terrines, pates and sausages and embarked on bringing a bit of France to Western Australia.
Romain tells SBS Food, "We started to sell our smallgoods and sausages once a month, making them fresh for our private customers. After 6 months, the word was getting around and we decided to open a small business in Rivervale." This happened in 2018.
As their popularity grew within the local community, the two chefs were convinced that childhood memories of eating French smoked meats in the countryside of Vosges for Romain and the coastal part of Vendee for Marion were good reasons to build a business.
Romain explains, "I was convinced we could start something [in Rivervale]. We then quietly opened the shop and exposed our products. We had really good support from the locals and the French community of course from the beginning."
Marion adds, "It was all Romain's idea. He was always passionate about charcuterie and butchery in general and as a self-taught chef he was frustrated with being forced to use average products and decided to focus on handmade products with local producers."
Ultimately, though, it was Romain and Marion's childhood food memories that encouraged them to open their Crafty Meats butchery, much to the delight of locals.
Unfortunately for non-Western Australian locals, the signature Parisian ham and terrines are only made for customers who visit the store, with the core of the business being about building relationships with customers, just like the French do at their local weekly farmers market.
Romain says, "Marion grew up in a family of bakers, where customer relationships were really important. In French, we say she has the 'bag out', meaning she loves to talk. We, in a sense, recreate this atmosphere you can find in French markets, small artisan and local shops all over France where it is not all about the products, but also about the relationship of feeling welcome and listened to. And Marion is the perfect person for it.
"Together our shop succeeds because she has the social part and I take care of the products. As she always says to me, 'You produce, I sell'.
"We, in a sense, recreate this atmosphere you can find in French markets, small artisan and local shops all over France where it is not all about the products, but also about the relationship of feeling welcome."
The duo make many terrines, which they rotate monthly. But the country terrine — made of pork, liver, cream and egg — is probably the best seller. Romain says customers also like terrines with nuts and fruit, such as their pork, cranberry and pistachio terrine, or the duck, walnut and prune terrine with the duck they source from Wagin in the Great Southern region of Western Australia.
Romain has many fond memories of food during his childhood in a small village in Vosges to draw upon for their butchery. "As a kid, I grew up in a small village where every year, my mum would buy a pig from the farmer next door and she would then spend days chopping, packing, preserving, making rillettes, pates, and terrines for the coming year. I was with her every minute [of the process' and getting my hands into it was the best thing," Romain says.
He says he loved every part of the process, but loved baking the terrines, making the head cheese and ham hocks the most. "The smell was incredible with all the spices, herbs and vegetables from the garden spreading throughout the kitchen. It is still my favourite part today with all the smells, while making my small goods [in Rivervale] — it is just something you can't forget.
“As chefs, every single French dish reminds us of our home in France, it can be the jambon and beurre — just a good baguette with a slice of ham, butter and cornichons, which we would take on a picnic by the road, waiting [for] the Tour de France, or a homemade terrine we ate for lunch while in the family orchard picking fruits,” shares Romain.
"Every single French dish reminds us of our home in France, it can be the jambon and beurre — just a good baguette with a slice of ham."
Romain says they've missed the croissants from their local village or the Emmental cheese, which was made across the road from Romain's childhood home. "I also miss my uncle knocking at the door with a wild boar he just hunted, which we used to hang, cut and cook with the forest mushrooms we picked after school."
However, now that the pair have a butchery, they can make whatever they miss. "While we will never forget our memories [in France], we are now in Australia and we will make new memories with our son," he says.
Pork, cranberry and pistachio terrine
Makes 1 terrine
- 400 g pork mince
- 300 g pork jowl or back fat, minced
- 200 g pork, diced
- 2 whole eggs
- 15 g salt
- 2 g white ground pepper
- Pinch of nutmeg
- few sprigs of thyme, sage
- 1 chopped shallot and garlic clove
- 30 g pistachio kernel
- 30 g dried cranberries
- 30 ml brandy
- 150 ml dry white wine
- Soak the cranberries with brandy and add warm water to cover all the fruit and set aside.
- In the meantime, gently fry the shallot and garlic for 2 minutes in a bit of butter, adding a few chopped leaves of sage and thyme, depending on your taste.
- In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together until you obtain a slightly sticky mixture.
- Arrange the terrine mix into a terrine mould, or 20 cm cake or loaf tin. Cover with some aluminium foil and set in the fridge overnight (this step will enhance the flavours).
- The next day, preheat your oven at 180°C. Place your terrine in a roasting pan and cover halfway up to the side of the terrine with boiling water. Bake for 45min, remove the foil and continue baking for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove the terrine from the oven and let it cool down for an hour, before placing it in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, remove the terrine from the mould. Slice it and serve at room temperature.
- This is best served with French cornichons (small sour crunchy pickles) and a slice of good sourdough.
I have taken one of my favourite French classics – leeks vinaigrette – and compressed it into a beautiful vegetarian terrine. The recipe uses black truffles, which are very extravagant and expensive, but a wonderful treat. For a humbler alternative, you can make the terrine with Jerusalem artichokes, whose gentle nutty flavour is a natural partner to leeks.