On the surface, the small bar in Newtown, Sydney, filled with antlers and aptly named Moose appears to have little in common with Cafe Felix, an Ann Arbor mainstay known for French-style tapas. The commonality the restaurants share appears in the form of a carefully roasted mushroom, upended to form a small cup and filled with a medley of cheeses. As a college student, I would stretch my food budget in order to indulge in the stuffed mushrooms bathed in a sage-cream sauce at Cafe Felix. The small dish had such an impact on my memory, I tried to recreate it to serve at the first dinner party I held in my first flat. As is always the case, I managed to serve my reconstructed masterpiece to a guest that despises mushrooms. I tucked the recipe away until recently, when an impromptu visit to Moose in Newtown revived my interest. Apart from tasting delicious, this cheese post also serves as a timely reminder that there are only 19 more days until the close of the 2nd annual recipe contest.

Pavlos Dionyssopoulos, Still Life with Mushrooms, 1997
wood, paper and plexiglass, 46.2 x 40 x 40 cm, Private collection

The Greek artist, Pavlos Dionyssopoulous, began making manipulated paper sculptures in the early 1960s after an introduction to the New Realists (Nouveau Réaliste) in Paris. He called his technique affiches massicotées and it consisted of cutting misprinted poster paper into thin strips that were then bent and folded into three dimensional sculptures. The layering of paper is structured and typically symmetric, presenting an ordered representation of the subject that illustrates depth and volume in a way that the original flat planes of the paper prohibited. He was celebrated as the centerpiece artist of the Greek pavilion in the 1980 Venice Biennale.

{Portabella Mushrooms Stuffed with Feta & Parmesan}

Yield: 2 servings

8 medium sized portabella mushrooms
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
8 basil leaves, thinly sliced
8 wedges of parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 200C. Completely remove the stems from the mushroom caps and brush off any visible dirt with a clean towel. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the mushrooms upside down on the tray to form a cup.

Divide the feta cheese among the mushroom cups. Add some thinly sliced basil to each mushroom and cover with a thick slice of parmesan cheese. Slide the mushrooms into the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted and turned golden.

Remove from the oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Top with some additional basil and serve while warm.