Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Another Wild Adventure

Followers may recall my recent blog about dinner at Libertine. Disappointing meal, arguing with friends, doing the splits on Collins Street...

Well, our little dining club met again on Saturday night for a meal at Auction Rooms in North Melbourne. We were much better behaved this time and the meal well and truely met with our expectations. The cafe, situated on Errol Street, is a very cool space offering casual dining and great coffee.

We basically ordered everything on the tapas menu (including some delicious parfait and Mt Zero olives) then a main course each. Four of us ordered the pork belly - sticky and crispy with onion puree, black pudding and baked apple - while T, the non-pork eater, ordered a chickpea lambshank dish that was also very tasty. We all shared a fig pudding for dessert - anything with figs is a winner in my book.

We were all very civilised and no one cried or fell over so we decided to wander up to the Town Hall Hotel for a drink or two. That was when things got wierd.

After a little while 5 became 3 and I sat with my favortie marrieds chatting and laughing. We were then rudely interupted by a very drunk fellow who seemed to take a liking to the only male in our little threesome. In hindsight I can maybe see where the mistake was made, B was sitting with two girls, he's a very snappy dresser...BUT when this drunken idiot grabbed my friend's face and lunged in for a kiss it took us very much by surprise! B's wife and I didn't know what to do, picking different objects up from the table, preparing to throw them at B's attacker. Luckily B had the intelligence and maturity of mind to gently push the guy away, quietly mention to this idiots friends that perhaps they should take control of their mate and return to our little party not to dishevelled.

It was very funny but really, the drunk guy was lucky. My friend is a decent guy and reacted appropriately but I don't think there are too many people, man or woman, gay or straight, who would take kindly to being grabbed like that. If it had been me I would have slapped him!

But it's still kinda funny :)

Seaside Special

Once in a while H has an urgent need to get out of the city. The last time was March labour day weekend. We had a great day at the red hill wineries then spent the night fighting back flood waters!

A few weeks ago H felt the urge again and suggested we head to the Bellarine Peninsula to have lunch at Loam in Drysdale - a restaurant that has been receiving a lot of good press lately. Our booking was made quite last minute and we were really lucky to secure a table in the dining room.

Loam is run by chef and owner Aaron Turner and his wife Astrid. It is a small, intimate dining room overlooking the Lighthouse Olive Grove and Queenscliff. Once we were seated we were presented with a list of in season produce, asked if there was anything we didn't eat and how many courses we would like. We went all out and asked for seven courses (for $90.00, two and four course options also available). In the end we were presented with nine courses - it helps to be in the industry! That same day there were staff from Attica and Pearl also enjoying a coastal Sunday. I think it was just the following Sunday that the entire Attica staff descended on Loam (one of the waitresses is the girlfriend of one of the chefs who works with H so I heard all about it last weekend at the winery).

We were there for five hours, a long, luxurious lunch presented to us by friendly, knowledgeable staff. Astrid was a wonderful hostess and it was lovely to chat to her while H checked out the kitchen and picked Aaron's brain for a moment.

At the end of the meal we were presented with a print out of our courses. Looking around us other tables received different dishes so it was wonderful to be able to remember exactly what we here's the blow by blow:

1. HEN'S EGG, JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE, BREAD CRUMBS, MISO - perfectly slow cooked egg, creamy artichoke, crunchy bread crumbs and salty miso broth made this rich dish a perfect start to our epic lunch.

2. PINE MUSHROOM, GARDEN SILVERBEAT, PINE NEEDLE YOGHURT - This was one of my favourites. Perfectly seasoned mushrooms with the tart yoghurt. Just yummy!

3. KINGFISH, PINK GRAPEFRUIT, WILD RICE, PONZU - very impressed with the ponzu noodle!

4. SAND CRAB, HORSERADISH, NASHI, CAULIFLOWER - I could have done without the cauliflower on this one but by no means did I dislike it.

5. SOUSED SNAPPER, CUCUMBER, SEAWATER CHEESE, MUSSEL - This was to die for. Beautifully cooked snapper. Fresh flavours of the sea, just the sort of thing I like!

6. BEEF TONGUE, GARLIC, HEIRLOOM TOMATO, QUINOA - Believe it or not I had never eaten tongue before. It sort of freaks me out. I think it's the whole 'it's tasting me while I'm tasting it' thing BUT it was heaven. H was bowled over by this one. the tongue was like the most tender beef I had ever tasted. drooooool.

7. VEAL RUMP, SPINACH, PEARL ONION, WAKAME, BLACK GARLIC - I'm not sure about the whole black garlic thing. H is a big fan but I'm not so sure! Having said that this dish was another winner.

8. OSSAU IRATY - RUBBLE - The cheese course, a very interesting version. Great cheese.

9. MANDARIN PEEL, COCONUT, ALMOND, OLIVE OIL - Loved the mandarin peel sorbet but the coconut cream and olive oil powder gave the dessert a slight fattiness that was mildly unappealing.

Overall Aaron and Astrid have something very special here and we will be time we'll make a weekend of it!

I know, I know

I'm slack. It's not that I haven't been doing anything interesting, I have! Lot's of things. I'm just too lazy to be a proper blogger!

So, stay tuned as there are a couple of reviews coming atcha very soon but for now here is an observation I have recently made...

Chefs are emotionally and socially stunted. I have always know this but just had an epiphany as to why - most of them start apprenticeships in their mid to late teens, while their mates are out on the town, being kids, chefs are working really hard, all hours of the night limiting their social interaction.

Therefore chefs never grow up properly. Case and point - on Sunday I went on a trip with H's workmates to Curly Flat winery (by the way GREAT chardonnay, totally bio-dynamic, very interesting)we had a very pleasant day but on the bus ride home they were like wild children, jumping around, laughing at bum jokes (some were pretty funny I guess) and generally behaving like hyped up kids on the way home from a school excursion.

I don't need a psychology degree but they should give me one for this discovery ;)