Martinelli Pizza Bar takes the Tropic Food Challenge
Tropic Magazine recently caught up with chef Peter Martinelli at his Trinity Beach spot Martinelli Pizza Bar, where combining fresh local ingredients with the best Italian flour is all in a day’s work.
We also asked Pete to give readers one of his favourite recipes - check it out below!
HOW MUCH LOCAL PRODUCE DO YOU USE IN YOUR MENUS?
The majority of my menu is cooked from local produce. However to get the perfect base, I use a mix of Italian flours. The starter culture was fed using local produce for 40 years by my grandparents at their sugar cane farm in the pioneering cane town of Mourilyan. That’s pretty local.
I love picking fresh fruit and veg at Rusty’s Markets every Friday. I source meat from Trinity Beach Meats and prawns from Captain Cook Seafoods.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO USE LOCAL PRODUCE?
The best way to achieve local flavours is to go straight to the source. This way we also support local farmers, a way of life that is in my blood and of which I am very proud. Every time I lay heirloom tomatoes on our tomato pizza, it’s great to know my customers are getting the best of locally grown ingredients.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACING LOCAL CHEFS TRYING TO USE LOCAL PRODUCE?
Consistency of supply is a significant challenge, but I’d rather risk running out of a special local ingredient than have a guaranteed supply of inferior imported produce.
ARE THERE ANY ITEMS OF PRODUCE YOU WERE SURPRISED TO DISCOVER IS GROWN IN TNQ?
Figs and heirloom tomatoes. Before I moved here I had no idea about the quality of tomatoes that are grown in our own backyard. I am also very impressed by Daintree-grown vanilla.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE LOCAL PRODUCT OR FOOD ITEM?
I have a couple. My brother in law Sean Koch over at Captain Cook Seafoods always makes sure I know where the prawns come from, down to the name of the trawler.
Italian pork and fennel sausage from Trinity Beach Meats is the second. Brett has won awards for these and it’s great to showcase the talent of local artisans, especially when we’re practically neighbours.
RECIPE: Martinelli’s Garlic Chilli Prawn Pasta
460gm dried or fresh fettucine. We use a house made fresh pasta.
16 large shelled tiger prawns
16 cherry tomatoes
One head garlic
White wine for deglazing
Four 400ml tins peeled tomatoes or 2kg roasted fresh tomatoes
One stick celery, one medium carrot, one medium brown onion
Half bunch of parsley for garnish
2 long red chillies
Salt and pepper
Half a cup of extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 150C.
Slice the cherry tomatoes, season and lay cut side up on a lined baking tray.
Wrap the garlic in foil and place in a second tray.
Remove the tomatoes when they have shrunk by one third and set aside.
Remove the garlic when soft through the foil and set aside.
For the sauce, finely dice the onion, carrot and celery.
Preheat a medium pot on low heat and coat with vegetable oil. When the oil shimmers, add the diced vegetables. Sweat on a low heat until they are soft and sweet. Add a splash of white wine and stir any caramelised residue on the pot base.
Add the tinned or roasted tomatoes, raise heat to a medium and cook until thickened. Season with salt and sugar to taste. Remove from heat and blitz with a blender or stick blender.
Finely chop the parsley and set aside.
Finely slice chilli and set aside.
Butterfly and devein the prawns and keep chilled until needed.
Slice the base from the head of garlic and squeeze the roasted cloves into a bowl.
Heat a large pot of salted water to a roiling boil. If using dried pasta, follow the packet directions and cook till half done. Fresh pasta will only take a few minutes so wait until the sauce and prawns are in the pan.
Oil a medium pan to medium high heat, and when the oil shimmers, add chilli and garlic and cook till fragrant. Add prawns and when they curl and colour, add a splash of white wine.
Stir the residue and add 400ml of the sauce. Bring to a simmer and add tomatoes.
When the pasta is just short of al dente, drain but reserve some of the water. Add the pasta and toss in the sauce.
Reduce heat to a lively simmer. Add enough water to loosen the sauce and cook until the pasta is pleasant to eat. Add sauce if you prefer a ‘wetter’ pasta.
Season as needed.
Divide into four bowls and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
Garnish with parsley.