Melbourne’s 2017 GOLDEN EMPANADA Winners

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Each year at Gauchito Gil’s Malbec Day in Melbourne, five restaurants battle it out for the coveted GOLDEN EMPANADA trophy. This year, the competition was tougher than ever, with San Telmo, CHE, The Mill House, Elyros and Gertrude St Enoteca x Little Latin Lucy vying for the prize. Here’s how it went down. 

San Telmo took out the professionals’ choice category in this year’s Golden Empanada competition for the third year running, decided by a group of Melbourne’s top food critics, from Broadsheet, Good Food, the Weekly Review and The Australian. Empanadas were brought into the judges’ chamber, blind – the judges didn’t know anything more than what was inside them – and then scored on the quality of the pastry, quality of the filling, consistency, and, most importantly, their overall deliciousness.

It’s hard to say whether there’s an advantage in being among the first empanadas to be tasted, or the last. On one hand, when you’re hungry, everything tastes good. On the other hand, if you can find room in your stomach for something when you’re completely full, then it must be seriously great. The standard across the board was the highest it has ever been since this competition’s inception – every single empanada was considered for the prize. But there’s no beating San Telmo. Not only did it win first place with its beef empanada, it also took our second place with its corn and mozzarella empanada. Elyros restaurant came third, with its sheep and goat cheese kalitsounia.

Once again, the professionals and the people disagreed. The winner of the People’s Choice Golden Empanada trophy was newcomer CHE, with its smoked beef brisket empanada. CHE is by the team behind Pastuso, and it was the first time Melbourne had had a taste (the restaurant doesn’t open until the end of May). A pretty good way to start, we think.

Thank you to all who came, ate and voted! Until next year, Melbourne.

MENU: Sydney

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We know wine tasting is hungry work, so we’ve got the following restaurants on board to ply you with empanadas, meat, cheese and biscuits.

Porteño

Empanadas $7
Beef
Veg

Steak sandwich $13

La Bastide

Saucisson cones $5
Foie gras
Terrines

Alfamores

Alfajores biscuits $2.50 each small, $4 regular, $7.50 extra large
Traditional
Cacao
Australis
Black Sesame
Espresso
Yerba Mate

Gift Box – $24

Dulce de Leche jar $12

MENU: Melbourne

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We know wine tasting is hungry work, so we’ve got the following restaurants on board to ply you with empanadas and meat and cheese. Don’t forget you can vote for your favourite empanada – the winner of the People’s Choice Golden Empanada competition will get a trophy to display in their restaurant for the entire year. Just log your vote with one of our roving Gauchitos on the day.

The Mill House

Empanadas $5 each
Smoked wagyu brisket with fois gras, truffle, and chimichurri
Arroz con pollo with salsa criolla
Chilli con carne
Bottles of Chilli Sauce $5

Gertrude Street Enoteca

Empanadas $5 each
Chorizo and lamb with chimichurri
Smoked scamorza and potato with tomatillo and jalapeño salsa

Elyros

Kalitsounia Cretan pies (the original empanda!) 2 for $8, 3 for $10
Sheep and goat cheese
Wild greens

CHE (Chicken, Helados, Empanada) 

Pollo a la braza $10
Charcoal chicken, Peruvian slaw, pickled onion and fermented chilli sauce
Empanada de carne $6
Smoked beef, Botija olives, roasted capsicum and Peruvian yellow chilli.
CHE Sundae $6
Helado (ice cream) de dulce de leche with Malbec and blueberry jam, honeycomb and shaved macadamia nuts

San Telmo

Empanadas $5
de Carne: Beef, burnt corn, capsicum, cumin and paprika
de Queso: Corn, onion and mozzarella

Meatsmith

Chorizo and pickled padron peppers $12.00
Asado beef ribs with chimichurri $14.00
Picanha and salsa verde $22.00

Yarra Valley Dairy

Cheese platter $15
A selection of three cheeses served with fresh bread, crackers and quince jam

Individual cheeses*
Persian Fetta 275g $10
White Savourine 200g $12
Black Savourine 110g $9
Hot Cow 150g $8
Yering 110g $9

*Select any three cheeses for $26

GOLDEN EMPANADA JUDGE: EMILY PAULIN

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Familiar with a little online publication known as Broadsheet? Well, this Gauchito here is a huge part of how you get your city’s goss. She’s the Social Media Manager (NATIONAL!!) so runs all its Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and does a freakin’ great job doing it. Her intimate knowledge of our country’s best restaurants makes her a perfect GOLDEN EMPANADA judge.

Tell us about your experience with Malbec

I’d get the stuff IV’ed in to my veins if it wasn’t going to damage my liver

I would do anything for Malbec, but I won’t do…

Tasting notes (I’ll come undone).

I’m all for judging food. The only thing I’m not willing to put in my mouth is…

A mocha hot cross bun.

Aside from steak, what would you cook to go with Malbec?

Slow-cooked pulled pork. Or salt and vinegar chips (not cook, just open a packet).

Where do you go for the most authentic Argentinean experience in Melbourne?

San Telmo

Where do you go for the most authentic Argentinean experience in Sydney?

Porteño

What do you drink when no one is watching?

A bottle of Baileys

Follow Emily’s food adventures here:

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GOLDEN EMPANADA JUDGE: Leanne Clancey

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Leanne Clancey (aka Tour de Clance, Clancey of the Overflow, or just plain old Clance) is a bonafide food legend. She writes about food and travel for Broadsheet, Goodfood and Australian Traveller magazine, and also works for Studio Round where she writes and puts together heaps of rad content, including for East&Co magazine. Most impressively though, Clance is an ambassador for Scarf Community and also works closely with the Sacred Heart Mission – both charitable organisations raise money for the young and disadvantaged through food and hospitality. Yasss kween.

Tell us about your experience with Malbec

Malbec makes me tango.

I would do anything for Malbec, but I won’t do…

The tango without first drinking some Malbec.

I’m all for judging food. The only thing I’m not willing to put in my mouth is…

Airport coffee.

Aside from steak, what would you cook to go with Malbec?

Some really good grilled chorizo or morcilla.

Where do you go for the most authentic Argentinean experience in Melbourne? 

I rather dig the vibes at San Telmo.

Where do you go for the most authentic Argentinean experience in Sydney? 

Maaaaaate, Porteño. Where else you gonna go?

What do you drink when no one is watching?

Goon in a tumbler, that, in theory, I reserve for cooking. Not shy about it.

Follow Leanne’s food and travel adventures here:

 

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Golden Empanada Judge: Hilary McNevin

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Before Hilary made a big giant name for herself as one of Melbourne’s top food and wine writers (her work is published in The Australian, 9Kitchen, SBS Food Online, Winestate magazine, Broadsheet, The Weekly Review and Goodfood, and she’s contributed to and co-authored a bunch of books as well), she cut her teeth working front-of-house in restaurants for 15 years. So she has ACTUAL hospitality experience to go with all her other rad achievements. She’s also just freakin’ delightful. Yay, Hilary!

MEET HILARY MCNEVIN:

Tell us about your experience with Malbec

I’d get the stuff IV’ed in to my veins if it wasn’t going to damage my liver

I would do anything for Malbec, but I won’t do…

Anything that involves moving fast in really hot weather or jumping from a great height without a safety net

I’m all for judging food. The only thing I’m not willing to put in my mouth is…

A well-done steak or something mouldy (that’s not supposed to be mouldy)

Aside from steak, what would you cook to go with Malbec?

I’d braise ox cheeks, sear fresh Yellow Fin tuna or cook up a gathering of friends and ask them to bring food and I’d provide the Malbec.

Where do you go for the most authentic Argentinean experience in Melbourne? 

San Telmo

Where do you go for the most authentic Argentinean experience in Sydney?

 I haven’t eaten much Argentinean in Sydney but the name Tequila Mockingbird always makes me smile.

What do you drink when no one is watching?

I was at the PJ Harvey concert recently and I drank cans of premixed G&T (they were incredibly cold – could have been anything – I loved them!) – and there were lots of people there. My friends saw me do it… is that why I haven’t heard from them in a while??? Hmmmm.

Follow Hilary’s food adventures here

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Gauchito Gil: Who Even Is He?

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We talk a lot about Gauchito Gil, but seeing as you’re an Aussie not an Argentine, there’s every chance you have no idea who we’re referring to. So here you go.

In short, Gauchito Gil was a nineteenth-century Robin Hood-type character, who lived life as an outlaw after refusing to fight in the Argentine Civil War. He spent his time relieving the rich of their possessions and, er, redistributing them among the disadvantaged. He was also rumoured to have miraculous healing powers.

The legend goes that he was caught by police who tortured him, strung up by his ankles over a fire. Just before he was executed for desertion and thievery, Gauchito Gil said to the sergeant: “You are going to kill me now, but you will arrive in [the town of] Mercedes tonight at the same time as a letter of my pardon. In the letter they will also tell you that your son is dying of a strange illness. If you pray and beg me to save your child, I promise you that he will live. If not, he will die.” The jerk sergeant laughed, and killed Gil anyway.

When he got home, it was as Gil predicted: his son was dying, there was a letter of pardon waiting. Desperate, the sergeant did what the dead gaucho said, and his son was saved. To assuage his own guilt, the sergeant gave Gil a proper burial and erected a red cross as a shrine over his grave.

It’s unclear how much of this story is fact and how much is fable, but what is certain is how revered he is among Argentines despite not being recognised by the Church as a true saint. His death day – January 8, 1878 – is celebrated every year with feasts, and more than 100,000 devotees flock to his hometown of Pay Ubre. Every roadside in Argentina is punctuated with blood-red monuments (see above image), and (perhaps unsurprisingly), thieves and robbers pray to him before committing crimes, believing he’ll understand. As such, he’s become the Patron Saint of Thieves.

As the spiritual home of Malbec is Argentina, it makes sense for us to honour his memory the Bottle Shop Concepts way. We’ve also updated our branding (you may have noticed) to match.

MALBEC MAKERS: Mandy Jones from Jones Winery & Vineyard

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Give us the short version of your story.

I’m Rutherglen born and bred, from fifth-generation Rutherglen winemakers. I studied Industrial Chemistry at Melbourne Uni before heading overseas. Came back and went to Charles Sturt University to study Wine Science. Then I took a vintage job in Portugal before 14 years working fulltime in Bordeaux. I came back to the family property in 2004, and now own Jones Winery and Vineyard with my brother and we have restored, renovated, rebuilt and replanted. Now we have 10 hectares under vine which we run sustainably. We prefer to make wines from grapes that we grow and have a low intervention grape growing/winemaking philosophy. We love our patch of dirt!

So, why Malbec?

I just love it. Ever since I started working with it in Bordeaux I have been fascinated by the variety. It is fickle, rustic and shows its best when it is put under pressure.  When I drank some 1970’s Malbec made by Mick Morris here in Rutherglen I was convinced that it could also be magical here in Rutherglen’s warmth.

What has been your most classic Argentinean/Malbec experience?

A whirlwind tour of Cahors!

Meat is a given, but what else do you think goes well with it?

Best with a steak that falls off the side of your plate, but it can go well with Lievre a la Royale (hare) and anything slow cooked in red wine. I also love it with bity cheese, certain pastas, and cumin-based dishes such as cumin-baked carrots.

Malbec is wine with Altitude. Discuss!

It also works at the dizzying height of 170m above sea level.

Can you remember your ‘first time’ with it?

Yep – made it into rosé as it was overcropped and useless as red wine material.

Do you tango? Have you ever tried?

No and No.

Finish this sentence: “Malbec makes…”

…my mouth water, and it makes me want to take another sip.

What can we expect from you on the day? 

Malbec as it is from our little patch of dirt here in Rutherglen.

What do you drink when no one’s watching?

Gin and tonic.

Golden Empanada Judge: Michael Harry

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As you can probably tell from his photograph, Michael Harry is one cool dude. His day job is as editor of Fairfax’s Executive Style, but he also moonlights as Good Food’s bar critic and reviews for The Age Good Food Guide. All these things make him super qualified to be a judge at this year’s Malbec Day – food, wine and that Gauchito Gil style.

Tell us about your experience with Malbec

Stuff love, I’d rather fall in to Malbec.

I would do anything for Malbec, but I won’t do…

Meatloaf.

I’m all for judging food. The only thing I’m not willing to put in my mouth is…

Mashed banana.

Aside from steak, what would you cook to go with Malbec?

Do a soft cheese and crisp lavosh count as cooking?

Where do you go for the most authentic Argentinean experience in Melbourne?

Gotta be San Telmo.

Where do you go for the most authentic Argentinean experience in Sydney?

I’m still trying to get a table at Fred’s.

What do you drink when no one is watching?

Cold apple juice straight from the bottle.

San Telmo’s Golden Empanada Award-Winning Recipe

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For the past two years at Gauchito Gil’s Malbec Day Melbourne, San Telmo has won the Golden Empanada trophy for the day’s best empanada, voted by a panel of professional food writers and critics. It has very graciously shared the recipe for its prize-winning empanada with us.

Serves 20.

DOUGH

  • 625g plain flour
  • 4g baking powder
  • 13g table salt
  • 58g duck fat
  • 300ml water

Method:

In a medium sized pot, bring half of the water and all of the duck fat up to heat until the fat has melted. Mix in the remainder of the water and cool to room temperature. Using a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, mix the dry ingredients for 3 minutes. Slowly add the cooled liquid & mix until just combined. Cover the dough with cling wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Once chilled, divide into three parts and roll each to 3ml thickness with a rolling pin. Cut out 11.5 cm diameter circles. Place between pieces of greaseproof paper. If not being used instantly, wrap and refrigerate.

FILLING

  • 625 g minced beef
  • 50 g diced red capsicum
  • 35g diced brown onions
  • 1 spring onion
  • 4 g crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1.25 tbs smoked paprika
  • 3.75 tbs sweet paprika
  • 1.25 tbs chilli flakes
  • 60 ml red wine
  • 5 tbs ground cumin
  • 60 g sliced green olives
  • 3 boiled and diced eggs
  • Sunflower oil, for deep frying

Method:

In a pot, melt lard. Then place onion and capsicum and cook until soft. Add spring onion, garlic and chilli to the mix. Add mince and season. Once beef has browned all over, add all the spices except the cumin. Add red wine and cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. Remove from heat, add cumin and olives. Adjust seasoning. Cool down, and then add chopped eggs.

To assemble, place a circle of pastry in your left hand. Take 40 grams of cold empanada mix (about one full dessert spoon) & place it in the middle of the pastry. Bring pastry edges together and pinch to create a seal. Using a fork, press sealed edges to create a linear pattern.

Heat sunflower oil in a deep saucepan to 180C. Deep-fry empanadas in batches until golden and crisp (about 3-5 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and serve.