Bilbao at night
70,000 barrels at Bodega Campo Viejo in Rioja – an hour and a half south of Bilbao

Of inventive cuisines developing in the world now, one is a beautiful fusion of Basque and Latin American food. I covered this topic in a few new pieces for Forbes, based on another trip made there two weeks ago. Click here to read latest pieces about:

  • A special anniversary dinner at the Guggenheim in Bilbao.
  • Spain’s accidental sommelier.
  • A dynamic new Basque/Latin America restaurant, and a renowned pintxos restaurant – both in San Sebastián.
  • Bordeaux wine labels are getting a makeover.
  • An 11th generation winemaker tells how traditional Bordeaux wines are stuck in the past.

The Winemakers’ Cooking Companion Cookbook – 

The book is now formatted, the recipes cooked, and the photographs are now being edited.

To celebrate cooking a final recipe, a group of us recently gathered for a video shoot and lunch. This included the same two couples I was with almost two years ago when the idea for the book came.

In the summer of 2015, while sitting with friends Les, Clarissa, Jérôme and Valérie under the shade of a tree at the garden of Château La Rose Bellevue, Valérie served zucchini/cucumber gazpacho soup. We toasted glasses of a Grand Cru Chablis wine and the thought suddenly came – what about putting together a book of recipes from winemakers and winery owners? The recipes could come not only from France, but throughout the world. After mentioning the idea, these friends toasted and said, ‘go for it!’

The result is highlighted in a brief pre-publication informational video below (prepared by STA Marchand Productions; photo credit: Hans Herzog Estate, New Zealand).

During this recent gathering, Valérie cooked a recipe from Hans Herzog Estate of Australia for Dukkah Crusted Kangaroo – substituting ostrich meat (from a local ostrich farm here in southwest France) for kangaroo meat, because of their similar gamy flavors. Venison would also work as a substitute, but is unavailable now – meaning, out of season.

Many people in rural France are big on food being ‘in season,’ which makes sense. Show up to a friend’s home in January carrying asparagus, and they may treat you with suspicion. I once cooked a zucchini in early February, considered a veritable sin by a neighbor.

Was that imported from Morocco?” she demanded, adding, “They use a lot of pesticides!”

This focus on seasonality also applies to meat – if venison or pheasant are out of season, then substitute.

Substituting ostrich for kangaroo meat in rural France

There is a local outdoor market here twice a week. You get used to seeing produce appear and disappear, depending on seasons. It’s a contrast to many supermarkets in the USA, where often everything is available – always. No complaints about having food always available, but here in the rural region at least, there is a pervasive and acute awareness of which local food is freshest.

Kangaroo meat is certainly not local, though apparently it’s a hit around Christmas time, when it is available (imported, of course). Which wine to choose for a pairing? Apparently Shiraz (Syrah), according to Isabel Van Den Brink of Hugh Hamilton – who provided the recipe below. We enjoyed the ostrich meat substitute with a bottle of 2009 Secret from La Rose Bellevue (100% Merlot), as well as a Châteauneuf-du-Pape (which may include up to 13 grape varieties, of which Grenache and Syrah are most prevalent).

Ingredients for making dukkah


Preparing Persian feta
Crispy asparagus
A gathering of winemakers enjoying a beautiful Australian recipe
Chef Valerie (left) and film maker Sonya

The recipe is below…once again, thanks for tuning in.


Dukkah Crusted Kangaroo

From Isabel Van Den Brink, Hugh Hamilton Wines, McLaren Vale, South Australia


Preparation Time and Quantity –

1 hour to prepare and cook. Serves 4 people.


Ingredients and Amounts


Kangaroo and Vegetables

Kangaroo fillets (or venison steaks) – 1 to 1¼ lb (500 g)

Egyptian dukkah – ½ cup (75 g) [or use below recipe to make your own]

Olive oil – 2 tbs (30 m;)

Baby beetroots – 1 bunch

Asparagus spears – 1 bunch

Persian feta** – ⅕ cup (40 g)

Garlic cloves – 2

Salt and pepper – to taste

Lime zest and juice – to taste (from 1 lime)


Kangaroo and Vegetables Preparation –

  1. Pre-heat oven to 370°Fahrenheit (190°Celsius).
  2. Wash, then trim beetroot and asparagus spears.
  3. Mince or chop garlic.


Kangaroo and Vegetables Recipe –

  1. Wrap the washed, trimmed beetroot in aluminum foil and place in oven. Cook for 35 minutes.
  2. Combine 1 tbs (15 ml) of olive oil with minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
  3. Place asparagus spears on a baking sheet and coat with oil/garlic/salt/pepper dressing. Cook for 25 minutes.
  4. Butterfly kangaroo fillets so they are as even as possible in thickness.
  5. Rub thoroughly with dukkah.
  6. Heat remaining oil in a non-stick fry pan and fry kangaroo fillets until both sides are browned.
  7. Transfer kangaroo to a tray lined with baking paper and cook in the oven for another 10 minutes.
  8. Remove kangaroo from oven and allow to rest while you unwrap beetroot and serve with crumbled feta.
  9. Remove asparagus from oven after it has been there for 25 minutes and transfer to serving plate.



Nuts (any of: cashew, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, pine, pistachio) – 1 cup (100 gms)

Sesame seeds – 1/3 cup (45 gms)

Coriander seeds – 3 tbs (15 gms)

Cumin seeds – 3 tbs (18 gms)

Black pepper seeds – 1 tsp (2½ gms)

Finely chopped fresh chopped mint – as needed

Thyme (dried) – 1 tsp (1¼ gms)

Fine salt – as needed


Dukkah Preparation and Recipe –

  1. Toast sesame, coriander, cumin and pepper seeds in a pan over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Crush these seeds with a mortar and pestle.
  3. Pulse nuts in a food processor.
  4. Combine spices and nuts.
  5. Add fresh chopped mint and thyme.
  6. Add salt to taste.


Serving –

Slice kangaroo fillets and serve with beetroots, asparagus and feta.

Isabel writes –

“This dish goes beautifully with Shiraz – including the style we make here at Hugh Hamilton.”


Comments –

Isabel writes –

“Kangaroo fillets are served rare as the are very low in fat content and become tough if over cooked. All kangaroo meat is 100 percent free-range as kangaroos are not ‘farmed’ in any sense.”

Other Comments –

There are several streams of beautiful flavors in this recipe. The beetroot coated by fragrant feta is a wild ride for the taste buds, and the crunchy dukkah with earthy scents over the strong flavor of meat is incredible. The asparagus provides a bridge between the meat and beet tastes.

There are several dukkah recipes available. You can choose your own. Try combining nuts (such as roasted almonds or pistachios) and seeds (such as sesame seeds, coriander, and cumin), and middle-eastern spices. Alternatively you can purchase dukkah.

Obviously if kangaroo is not available, and if venison is out of season, improvise, adapt and substitute. We used ostrich meat from a local farm in Bordeaux.

* Persian feta is produced near Melbourne, in the Yarra Valley. It is a feta cheese marinated in fresh thyme (or, alternatively, fresh oregano), 2 garlic cloves, 2 bay leaves (finely chopped), peppercorns, fresh thyme and olive oil (you can combine different styles of olive oils), lime zest and juice of 1 lime.

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